Cedar Mountain Railroad Depot Mystery

We know there was a train station or rather a small depot close to the coal mines and town. Since there is next to nothing but a few memories and stray cement structures, it has been a big mystery as to where the train picked up and dropped off people and cargo.

We got real excited when my request to the Pacific Northwest Railroad Archives found this photo for us.

Cedar Mountain Pacific Coast Railroad Depot

I had contacted the Archives hoping they had a photo of this depot not digitized. At first they told me they had put all of the Pacific Coast Railroad photos they had on-line. Then a few days later to our excitment and the archives too, one of their members had a photo. What you see above is what they scanned and sent me.

At this time it was the second known photo of Cedar Mountain. Here was the photo all of us had and thought that was all we could get. (Note: the photo at the very top was a new one too).

Cedar Mountain 1889 – see the railroad running through town?

The Columbia & Puget Sound Railway (eventually sold to Pacific Coast) erected the depot around 1891. It was destroyed by fire in 1933. So, how old is the depot in our photo? Since there are two sets of track it must be after 1907 when the Milwaukee Road added their set. That is quite a span of years between 1907 & 33. I have been pondering how worn the building and dock look but I would only be guessing at this point.

Question or mystery is where was this depot located? Was it in the area close to the Jones Road Bridge or was it down by the townsite that was on what is now Seattle Public Utilities property? The main key is the background hills and how they have a slide scar plus taper off on the right. Some other clues are the river is not visible making one think it is on a hill up from the river. Here is a map I made of the what I think are potential locations. The numbering does not denote which one is my favorite but rather just from left to right.

Map of possible Cedar Mtn RR Depot locations

This first one is a location that I was not 100% sure of but the Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive’s guy thinks this makes sense. First look at this map from the 1930s of the Belmondo Reach area. At this time the area was used by the mine operation for staging. Look where the spur goes off from the main line.

K42_F Map 1932 – Mine, Hoist, RR, Roads, & Bridge

This map is from before the depot burned down. About where the track spur starts is an old fence like post that supported a telephone pole. We found a metal sheet buried next to that. It is also far enough south that the trestle from the bridge would be out of the view. Look at the photos and check out the hill peeking out of the trees.

#1 location – close to where the spur used to fork from main RR

To give you a feel for this #1 spot here is a shot showing a bit of the area.

#1 location wider view – see pole support post by tree?

Just a bit north of this spot is the current modern Jones Road Bridge over the Cedar River. This next photo is from the 1940s. It is from the PNW Railroad Archives and shows a train emerging from under one of the older bridges and shows that trestle that gave access to the area.

From PNWRA – shows trestle that was the main car access to the area

Here is what the new bridge looks like now. A bit of a modernization change!!

Jones Road Bridge from Trail/old railroad bed – just north of #1 location option.

I am not 100% sold on this spot. Here is #2 which is a little further south of this one but still in the Belmondo Reach park area.

#2 location closer to where river is up to the RR bed

The hill in the background looks a lot like the depot photo. It has the ridge lower on the right and there is a slide off to the left that the trees mask. Here is a view from a distance for perspective on the site. That bridge over the trail/old RR bed provides the current access into the park. #2 location is about where the blue stake is.

#2 location wider view – see blue stake

Another view of this #2 location is from the PNWRA. This time it is a 1958 photo of an excursion going by the Cedar Mountain Belmondo Reach area. We have debated what that wood structure on the bank between the railroad and the Maple Valley Highway is. I am betting it is a chute to load coal even though in 1958 the mines were closed. Thoughts? I am open to any comments on this.

GN excursion over PC to Black Diamond with GN and PC cabooses, Cedar Mountain, WA (going away) Sept 1958 (PNW Railroad Archives)

Another option is our #3 location. The prior two are close to where the mines are and would facilitate shipping and passengers access to the industrial area. This next location is down by where the townsite was. It would service the store and hotel. See what you think.

#3 location – just north of the town site

Alan turned me onto this location. He did some work with google maps to find our location. Here is that creation he sent me.

The yellow line is where Alan suggested the Depot was. The yellow pin is where the town site was. Note the slide in the background marked too.

Like #2 the ridge is lower on the right side. There is a slide area across the river but not as pronounced as the one by #2 & #1. Here is a look down the trail/RR bed. On the left is the location above. Further down the trail where the row of trees start is about where the store would have been. (building with x on 1889 photo)

#3 location wider view of this location

All this makes one want to visit the area and see this all first hand. I took these photos mid-January and it is possible we have less foliage in the way of the ridge.

What do you think? I accept any and all comments. Perhaps someone else has a photo of the depot or knows of it’s location. That would make my day!!

One more thing I want to cover. The feature photo at the top of the article was another shot of Cedar Mountain about 1889 or so. It was sent to me by the Renton Museum. It seems to be before they built the store so it is certainly earlier than the other photo that is from 1889.

If you want to read more about my search for lost coal mines here is a link to my directory of articles.

Shoot me any questions or better yet any information you have to add. This is a never ending deep dig into 100 year old coal mine history.

Remember Times are a changing.  Blink and all will be changed.

Locating Lost Old Coal Mines of King County

8 comments

  1. Do you have an person presentation on any of your topics or a Zoom presentation. I am part of the Renton South King Retired School Employees association. We would love for you to do a presentation on any of the local hiking, mines, etc in our area. . Please contact me at the e-mail below. I would love to speak with you personally.

  2. I’m so happy to find your blog! I have a mutual interest in the town of Cedar Mountain and the Cedar Mountain mine. I’ll share more after I’ve had a chance to consume everything you’ve written. Looking forward to it! Thank you 🙂

    • That is exciting a fellow Cedar Mtn investigator. One thing several of us are searching for is the graveyard. We know one existed because a miner from Franklin was buried at CM according to Seattle Newspaper article of 1894. Plus we found reference in an old cemetery list of it’s existence but no address. Darn!!

      Any insight would be Wonderful!! Talk soon. Email me if that is easier when it gets down to the nitty gritty.

  3. I’m now reading the Newcastle Historical Society’s 2020 edition of The Coals of Newcastle: A Hundred Years of Hidden History (got the book from the King County Library System). The photo of the hotel that you got from the Renton Museum, is better than the one in the Newcastle book! Their November 27, 2020 presentation by the same name is on YouTube and it is wonderful that they have such as active group.

    • My buddy who is all about Newcastle/Coal Creek told me about the new book. I am on the waiting list at King Co Library for it. I think I got that photo from my buddy. Alan posted it on a Facebook Group called Ghost Town Lovers. And Cedar Mtn is just that!! A ghost town on the edge of a big city. Thanx for visiting my humble blog!! Batgirl

  4. My great-great grandfather was a miner in the Newcastle area in the late 1800s. Later he mined at Cedar Mountain where his son (my great-grandfather) worked in the mine at the age of 12. My great-grandfather met his wife at the mine after she immigrated from Denmark. The destination listed on her immigration paperwork is Cedar Mountain, Washington. She had family working at the mine when she immigrated. When I see the picture of the rail depot, I wonder if she ever stood there?

    • Oh that is a wonderful way to imagine it. With someone you love waiting for the train.

      Getting photos of Cedar Mtn has been tough. I think I have only 4 at this point with this one of them.

      I have been asking everyone something I am researching… Cedar Mountain Graveyard. We know it existed but do not know where it is or was. Any clues in your family history for us?

      Thanx for visiting my humble blog. Hope you enjoy all the articles on the New Black Diamond and Cedar Mtn.

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