Revisiting McQuade Slope at Cedar Mountain

Have you ever had an Eureka moment? That is where you look at a thing in a new way and realize you missed some of the clues. I had that happen while investigating the 3rd Cedar Mountain Entrance location.

Close to this area along the gas pipeline right-a-way is the location of the McQuade Slope. I thought I would revisit the McQuade Slope map and verify where I thought it was located by using my superimposing skills. It is close to my current investigation and might give us some new leads. I took that old map and placed it on top of a current hill shade map marked up with my latest discoveries.

Here is a recap to refresh everyone’s memory on the McQuade Slope:

Maps and Recap

This old map is K_41A from the Washington State DNR Coal Mine Depository. It was drawn in 1920 around the Jones Brothers workings west of Lake Desire. This would lead to Pacific Coast Coal Company’s development of the large New Black Diamond Coal Mine. On this map below is the McQuade Slope in the lower right corner and the Jones Slope on the left.

K41_A Jones & Cedar Mtn Slopes 1920

Not only can you see the McQuade Slope but also the faint lines of another old Cedar Mountain mine’s gangways. They are in the lower right corner and cross under the river. The mine these are related to had it’s main entrance across the Cedar River. It was dug around 1888, abandoned a few years later and then in the late 1920s was redeveloped by McQuade.

New Mine Entrance

My excited moment occurred when I saw a mine entrance that connected to those gangways noted on the K_41A map. It is super faint, so look carefully between the McQuade Slope & the River.

Below is that map superimposed on the hillshade map of our pipeline area. See how the 1920s road follows the now 196th Ave SE roadway, then turns up the pipeline right-a-way, zigs along a path to the south and then finally over to the slope. That newly noticed entrance seems to be right on or near 196th’s current path.

1920 coal mine map from WA State DNR K_41A superimposed onto hillshade map of current area

A map can be handy but a photo tells how the lay of the land really looks.

Pipeline Right-a-way looking downhill towards the Cedar River – the hanging rail is in the trees behind the stake with a blue flag.

Next step was to add some identification markers to the map. This helps me get my head wrapped around all the pieces and is good for the uninitiated to this search.

Pipeline Area with markers including McQuade Slope map info too

What I have here is a couple of my theories wrapped up all together. They are marked by:

  • The pipeline right-a-way is that dark streak that looks like a cross. The part that goes left to right is the pipeline. The blob and streak top to bottom of the cross is drainage. That blob is one of the places I have theorized a mine entrance once was.
  • Potential mine entrance locations are marked with blue and gold star symbols. The blue ones are McQuade (lower left), newly found West Coast Mine Entrance on K_41A map (lower right), and a spot where I thought another entrance was located right on the grassy pipeline (mid map). The gold star is where I think the 3rd Cedar Mtn Coal Mine entrance was dug around 1897.
  • Location of the rail hanging off a cut out area. This rail appears to end over a loading area space. Up where the rail disappears into the dirt a manmade road is cut from the hillside and heads toward where that gold star entrance is noted.
  • Also noted is the stump holding old steel cables that hang off a cliff. To the side of that stump is another man made road carved out of the hilly terrain.
  • Current features are also marked. They are the pipeline right-a-way and the powerline tower.
  • I marked three pathways.
    • In green is the road leading from the bunker to the McQuade Slope per the K_41A coal mine map. (just mentioned above)
    • In blue I have theorized how the coal might have traveled from the potential mine entrance (gold star) to the hanging rails and then unloaded to be moved to the bunker.
    • In gold I have theorized the return road from the bunker to the hanging rails.

Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the map and my educated guess on what these features 100 years ago mean. I do have to add that it is possible that none of them are related, that they are from different eras or are related to logging versus mining. So much history about this is missing and I continue to research it hoping to find the key.

Searching for New Entrance

Now back to the newly found entrance. I had to go see what I can find off of 196th where that old entrance was. The place to start is right next to the pipeline gate. It looks like a rabbit hole cut into some sticker bushes. It leads down to where the creek/drainage goes under the road.

The opening next to the pipeline gate. Is there a clue on the old mine entrance down there?

As you duck into the area the first thing one sees are two manholes. They overlook the flowing creek below. One is your typical metal lid that covers up drainage or sewer entrances. The other is more mysterious. It is a white cement type of cover. Of course my imagination wonders if it is the mine entrance opening. However, my sane self says it is probably just another access to the drainage pipes.

Two different man hole covers? What is down there?

I picked my way over all the trash here and navigated a pallet that substitutes for a ladder. At the bottom on the road side is a berm that I assume was pushed there when they graded 196th Ave SE. It protects a little meadow area between the steep hillside straight ahead and the more gently sloped ravine that the creek/drainage runs down.

The meadow area next to 196th looking thru the cedar boughs

Vintage Concrete Found

This is about the time I noticed a rock that was square. It was not just a rock. It was white and rectangular. My heart skipped a beat. Could this be a tombstone and I have accidently tripped into the old Cedar Mountain Cemetery?

Close to this visible marker was another buried non-rock object. This is when I went back to my car and got my little shovel. With a bit of digging I discovered that the exposed piece is more the shape of an old road barrier made of concrete. The buried one was also approximately the same shape and size. These are not tombstones but road debris kicked here when the state made improvements to the road.

Is it a tombstone? Or an old road post?
Close up of first non-rock after a little excavation. It still has white paint on it.
Second chunk of cement found – Exposed with trekking pole to show size.
Third cement piece found down by the creek.

One more thing I found in this area was some brick like fragments embedded in the creek’s edge.

Red rock or red brick or tile?

That mine entrance might have been here. Seems to be the right spot according to my map. However, if it was here long ago it was buried and now covered in vegetation completely.

Lay of the Land

I wanted to continue to understand the lay of the land and walked up 196th Ave SE to check out the hill this meadow area butted up against. This new mine entrance we were seeking would enter the hill somewhere close by. From there that slope/tunnel would follow the line of 196th south. Down into the earth it would connect with the gangway that came from the east side of the river.

What I found up 196th was not earth shattering. The power line right-a-way crosses over the road about the top of that hill I am trying to trace.

Up on that hill closer to where 194th Ave SE cuts under the power lines is the McQuade Slope location. With some mapping I discovered a big sink hole that is likely connected to that slope. Here is a photo to remind you how it looks plus how it is trying to erode the road too.

The Dimples

On the map between this location of the McQuade Slope and the bottom of the pipeline right-a-way are several dimple like places. Sink Holes!!! These must be more cave ins from the mines in the area. Perhaps the mine workings connected to the mine entrance across Cedar River? or the 3rd entrance related to the hanging rails next to the pipeline? or some more discovery holes John McQuade dug looking for the lost coal seams?

Most of these dimples are just shallow holes but one is certainly a real big deal sink hole. Unlike the ones up at Cougar Park from the Coal Creek mines these are not full of water. Got to say… I am not going down into them ever on purpose. Being swallowed into mother earth’s bosom alive is not my vision of a happy ending.

Hole in the Cliff

Circling back to the top of the pipeline across the drainage ditch is an exposed sandstone cliff. That McQuade road traversed below this and towards the dimples.

The little cliff on the Southwest corner of the pipeline right-a-way

My original purpose to go up the hillside was to search for the dimples and perhaps a mine entrance right on this part of the right-a-way. There is no clue on that mine entrance so I cross over the ditch towards the cliff. I failed to gain access to the dimples area but did get to an interesting place. It looks like it is either a natural cleft in the cliff or a man-made tunnel which is plugged up. Check out the photos and see what you think.

Pondering Time

There you have it. Mysteries of the past to sort out. Not sure we will ever really know but it is a good puzzle to work on.

Final thought on time and coal. Here we are struggling with climate change and the need to wean ourselves off of oil aka fossil fuels. Looking back 100 years ago coal was king and we thought it would be around forever. Then change pushed it to the curb. Many are still struggling with coal’s long decline. What makes you think oil will not go thru a similar decline? We are on the cusp of another big metamorphous. Seems like coal, oil will go kicking and screaming into history. That is life. Lady Time just smiles as we struggle with the changes she brings.

Lot of mystery around this area. But I am never surprised on what I keep finding on Cedar Mountain. It is an enigma; a forgotten ghost town right on the edge of our suburbia. It is a story that has been forgotten and deserves more research.

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 years of old coal mine history. Locating Lost Old Coal Mines of King County

Remember Times are a changing.  Blink and all will be changed. Literally, a town can disappear!

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