Mysterious Buildings in the Woods

There are so many mysterious things in the forest. Sounds like the intro to a spooky ghost movie but just about two places I investigated that most folks wouldn’t even notice. To begin we will look at a wood structure way off trail and after that move along to an old Cold War Military site. Both were left to rot by their owners.

I got a lead on an old structure in the woods from a commenter on my blog. Got busy researching what it might be and dug into the my old maps. The location is off on the western side of the McGarvey Park and the edge of the New Black Diamond mine tunnels.

Here are two snips of a 1945 map of this area. My tipster and I zero’d in on an old drill hole site as a potential reason. We got pretty excited looking at all the old maps.

1945 Coal Mine Map overview of New Black Diamond and Cedar Mountain Mines.
Close up of area with Mysterious Structure – Drill hole is upper left (look for S 529′)

I met Glen (our tipster) at a different trailhead inside Woodside Housing Development. We then both thrashed thru the brush off trail not far from our parked cars. It wasn’t too bad with very limited sticker bushes. What we found was a newer structure made of branches and small logs. At first I thought it was a homeless encampment but there was no trash. Here is a close up of this little woodland mystery.

Wooden Structure in woods of McGarvey Park.

Soon I found a trail leading off to the formal trail. Or so I thought. Instead it went to a home’s backyard.

Trail from the mysterious structure.
Little trail did not go to main trail but to a private backyard

There was a trail going the opposite direction and it came to a place with drainage piping. Not sure why but there it was in the middle of the woods.

Glen and I trekked around a bit in the park and talked about the telephone/power poles and other odd things in the woods. This is the SW side of the park and I had not been for a long time.

When we got back to the trailhead one could see the house that the wood structure belonged too. A neighbors was out gardening and we chatted with her about the building we found. She said that the teenagers of that house had kept busy all summer building things including a small pond in their back yard and the now not-so mysterious structure.

Mystery solved. Not an old coal mine structure left standing in the woods. Just kids enjoying the northwest forest behind their home.

Glen and I parted ways and I went on to my next adventure over by the old Jones Slope – the deserted 1960s Nike Missile Launch Site.

I had made my mind up that I would find a way into the old Nike Site that is attached to the school not far from the Jones mine complex. In my search for old mine things I had found a trail that led to the back gate of the school complex. I figured that might get me into the abandoned area.

I am sure you are asking what is a Nike Site. Let us go back in time to the Cold War at the end of the 1950s and early 1960s. The US developed and installed missiles to take out any incoming missiles from our perceived enemies. If you want to read more there is a lot of material on the internet. Here is a link to an article on Wiki to get you started.

Next I found this old video of what a Nike Missile could do. It also shows how they were managed at the site and how the sites might have looked.

This site was supported by two control areas. They were numbered S-32 & S-33. Here is a link that lists all the Washington State sites. Nike sites in WA State

On that site it describes this site next to McGarvey Park as the following:

Wiki article information on Lk Youngs/Renton Nike Site

At the end of this article I have added a few photos of the Control Sites. One is pretty close the other on the other side of Lake Youngs.

Well my quest to get into the old site wasn’t that simple. The trail came to a securely locked gate in the chain link fence with barb wire on top. Not to be deterred I started walking down the perimeter of the fence. The trail followed along the fence and when I got to the corner it either went back towards the powerlines or continued to follow the fence. The trail was not as good but I kept after my quest.

Several places had the fence pushed down but this girl did not want to crawl over and get caught on the barb wire. I kept going and lo and behold… a big hole was in the fence. I mean big enough two people could walk thru together. (Note: a few of these first pictures have a dreamy blurred look. That is because my camera got on the wrong setting.)

Hole in Fence from the inside looking out

This was perfect because I came out right at the Nike site where a row of old trailers were lined up. Here is a google view of the area where you can see the trailers and some school buses parked. I came out off to the left of the 4 trailers mid photo.

2019 Nike Launch site S-32/33 – Renton WA McGarvey Park
Close up of Nike Launch Site Lake Youngs/Renton 2019

In the trees close to this spot was a metal vat. Not sure what it is but here it is.

Odd metal vat – did not see another one anywhere else (last of dreamy focus photos)

Now how about some photos of what the site looks like in general. I would say it is a bunch of paved areas with a few railings and then the 6 elevator doors. Add a lot of hatches to escape the underground plus larger stairway entrances/exits. But back to general look and photos of that overall look.

Next are a few hatches. Every one of the elevator doors had a hatch on the NE corner of them. Then there are random hatches around. A lot are close to the stairwells.

Stair exits are plentiful. These are like two big doors that are set at an angle and a staircase accessed the underground storage and maintenance area of the site. Before I share more photos here is a schematic of how each set of Nike elevator doors, the escape hatches and stairwells were configured.

Now my photos of some stairwells.

I found there was a common set up. It was a stairwell entrance and an escape hatch. They tended to be away from the elevator area. However, they were not that far in my opinion. Check out this series showing that configuration of escape routes.

Good news – the hatches and stairwell doors are all welded shut and chained up. Take a bunch of tools to enter.

Now the most prominent thing on the site are the elevator doors. Look at the Google aerial above where you can see 6 red rusty units. Check out what I found on the ground.

Here is another elevator set of doors.

On the NE side of the site was this grey building. I assumed it was a newer edition built for the church or greenhouse in the area. However, when I got up closer it sits next to a set of elevator doors and is plumbed into them. Maybe it keeps things from flooding? or keeps bad gases from forming.

The school or church years ago developed some grassy areas on the southern end away from the actual Nike Site. Here is a little view of their picnic area.

Now it was time to go. No one had even noticed me even though I could hear the kids over at the school. These next too photos look toward the church that shares the site with the school and then looks back at the old Nike Site. After I took these I put my camera away and just walked out the front gate. My car was parked a little ways down the road. Much easier than climbing through the fence and walk the long way home.

As promised above here is the info on the two Control Centers that shared the Launch Site. First we have S-32 which is on the north side of Lake Youngs. The buildings are gone now but the foundations are still there. The King County Sheriffs use this as a place to keep vehicles they need for trials or proof of a crime. First photo from IMap shows the buildings in 1998. Then we have a more current photo with it’s current use and no buildings.

1998 View of Nike Control Site S-32 off of Petrovitski – King Co Sherriff Property in 2021

2019 view of Lake Youngs S-32 Nike Operation Site
S-32 Nike Opt Site with cars parked on the foundations

The second Opeational Center is still standing. That was called Lake Youngs/Renton S-33. It is now used by the USAR Center, 104th Division, Training Center. It looks a lot like an old 1950s school. I got a few photos driving by to share.

Entrance to old Nike Operations Center S-33
S-33 Nike Operation Center now US Army Recruiting training center
From the air view of Nike Operational Site S-33 – 2019

That’s my adventure to look for mysterious buildings in the woods. Never know what one can find if they just go searching… or let serendipity take control.

This wasn’t exactly about a lost coal mine but if you would like to read about that history below is the link. Shoot me any questions or better yet any information you have to add. This is a never ending deep dig into 100 years of history. Locating Lost Old Coal Mines of King County


    • It wasn’t that scary. Spent a lot of time in this park looking for coal mine history. The worst part was walking along the fence to find a hole. I almost gave up and decided to go just a little further. Then there was the biggest hole of all. It was very deserted there. A forgotten place.. almost like they don’t want it anymore because of what it means and was. History just waiting to find.

      By the way, the county is in negotiations to buy the woods around this. They are still researching what to do with the old NIke Site. I told the lady they should make a museum of it. We shall see. There is one in the Bay Area that they did just that. Here is a link to it.

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