The Elusive Veazie

Sounds like an endangered animal. Perhaps a shy person. But no this is a one hundred year old town. She seemed to move about and adapt like a special species of lore. However, she is just an old logging camp that today is just a name on the map next to a deserted railroad track.

Come with me and my two partners in crime Alan and Phil. Alan (my metal detector expert) is the hero who sparked this quest of finding lost Veazie. Late last year he sent me a text and asked me to help him research where this photo was taken. Phil is another expert on finding old metal items plus identify glass and old objects. What a team we have!!

Look closely at this place in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. It will capture your imagination too.

Veazie Logging Camp – 1890s

I found that this photo is from the Washington State Historical Society. They also had a partner photo of a skid road, horses and people posing.

They are labeled as 1986.11.1.8 & 11.1.1 Edward Sather photographer of The Veazie and Russell Logging Company. I even found this clue on a Black Diamond Now article that featured the photos. “Their logging operations included 7 horse teams and crew for dragging felled logs from the forest to rail siding along a skid road. A pretty big operation.” And so the search for information began! I was hooked.

There are a few solid facts on this little community to be found:

  • Veazie is named for Thomas Veazie of the Veazie and (John) Russell Logging Company. (Per book “Origin of Washington Geographic Names by Edmund Meany (U of W) in 1923”)
  • June 23, 1890, Veazie Post Office opens. John Russell is the first postmaster. Veazie is located 30 miles southeast of Seattle 4.5 miles northeast of Enumclaw and was on the Northern Pacific and Milwaukee Railroad lines. (per “History Link – File 511 – Veazie Beginnings: Veazie Post Office Opens on 6/23/1890”)
  • July 28, 1892 – The post office closes. (Per History Link 511)
  • A “Black Diamond Now article (June 15, 2016 article” – Veazie Boom & Bust) states “By 1890, the town had a post office only to be closed in 1893 when no coal had yet been found.” Does that mean the town disappeared in 1893 and the History link date means just the PO closed in 1892.
  • The “Postal History” internet site lists 1892 as the date. Thus I am concluding that Veazie Post Office and perhaps the town existed for sure between June 1890 and July 1892. Perhaps the BDN article just mis-stated the date of what it meant? See how fun research is?

During those rainy days of Fall 2021 and this year’s winter we took the research and started to search. Then we turned to commiserating on how we can’t seem to find where this Logging Camp was. We feel like the searchers of Amelia Earhart’s lost plane. Forever stuck looking for the unfindable. Will we overcome this impossible quest with data & grit or will this and future articles bring us a magic clue?

So, it is time to share what we found and have learned about Veazie. We will cover the history of the Enumclaw Plateau where towns boomed, busted, faded or some are still left standing. All the while concentrating on our town – Veazie! Let’s get going!

First Settlers to brave the Wilds

In 1883 two brothers Otto & Theodore Tamm came to the area.  They arrived by crossing the White River near Boise (SW of Enumclaw).  They learned of a rough road that led towards Coal Creek.  (info from The Shadow of the Mountain by Nancy Irene Hall, Courier Herald Publishing 1983)

According to my research that road went as far as where Birch was founded years later.  From there they went by a trail to Sec 8 T20 R7 and took over a couple of deserted homesteads.  This area is directly south of Fell Hill and Haystack which are major landmarks in the Veazie area.  The first permanent settlers had arrived.

You will hear a lot about Fell Hill. It is a 1,030 foot elevation hill that stands out next to the farmland around it. Here is a photo from the book Geology and Mineral Resources of King County Washington published by the state.

Fell Hill at Veazie in 1971 showing western quarry side

Here is a map to help you orientate yourself as to where Coal Creek, Birch and Veazie are. FYI – the green square just below Veazie is an Enumclaw Park that is on the SW side of Fell Hill.

This current map (King Co IMap) shows the search area. Red box is what was called Coal Creek in the 1880s.

Before there was a Birch and a Veazie, this area was called Coal Creek. It was named for a creek in the 1880s when settlers were starting to push north of current day Enumclaw. This community covered an area from what is Enumclaw’s northeastern city limits today. It encompassed Birch and continued northward up the valley past the current course of Coal Creek, the stream, to about 284th Street.

I was confused for a long time because today, Coal Creek, the stream, is so far north. The original community of Coal Creek was mostly to the south of that. How could this be?

To understand why this area is called Coal Creek, the community, we need to look at a clue sent to me by Bill Kombol (a great historian on coal mines and local history).

This clue was that Coal Creek, the stream, was diverted in apx 1910 from her centuries old course so that it turned to the north and ends at Fish Lake. Before that diversion it originally went south and joined Newaukum creek. It would often flood the valley’s farms. Below an Anderson map from 1894 shows the creek in its original position. This flood plan (drawn in the map to look swampy) and surrounding area is what was historical called Coal Creek, the community. It is bookended by Veazie and Birch to the north and south. As time went on Coal Creek was divided between these two towns. Coal Creek, the community, faded away in history and became just a memory.

Yellow highlight marks Coal Creek (stream) before it is diverted to Fish Lake.

Now that we have the lay of the land and our first settlers let us move on to what the historical record told us about Veazie. We have lots of clues to build our search on.

Roads and Schools – First Building Blocks

Imagine the world of the 1880s in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. This Coal Creek area was covered in big old growth timber. So thick that it obscured the sun except where a brave pioneer had cleared a small patch to build a cabin. A great resource I found “Pioneer history of Enumclaw” has the following quote from Mrs. William Malidore.

We had purchased a homestead near Mud Mountain, so the next day we went to see it. There was only a foot trail through the woods, some places so muddy one could hardly get thru. The forest was so dense, that the sun never shone down on this bit of a trail. It had rained and the mud came so thick and deep, that my husband had to carry me on his back to the place where our new home was to be.

The new home was a tiny two-room cabin. The woods were so dense the only place we could see the sun was to stand against the side of the cabin and look straight up.

Pioneer history of Enumclaw compiled by members of the Women’s Progressive Club

This sets the stage for you to understand how difficult road building was through this primordial forest. The mud and the briers must have been overwhelming to the faint of heart.

In 1884 the communities on the plateau started to build roads to replace the trails that settlers used to move around and bring supplies to their claims. They were also working in preparation to the railroad coming to the area. The first was called the Coal Creek Road. Best I can tell this was an improvement of the rough road that the Tamm Brothers used to find their claim. It was developed by a log rolling bee where the men gathered to punch a road from South Prairie, cross the White River at Lou Smith’s place (Sec 28 T 20 R 6) and follow the ridge to Coal Creek. They said they left roots so a wagon driver wouldn’t fall asleep. (per The Shadow of the Mountain)

King County has a series of maps they created in the 1930s to track all the different numbering and age of roads. Here is a snip of that map for the Coal Creek area. I have highlighted two roads on this. The 1884 Coal Creek Road improvement (road 109) and an 1888 Andrew Sundt Road (road 199).

King County Road Maintenance Map marked with early roads to Veazie

In 1888 Andrew Sundt petitioned the county to build a road north from Enumclaw into the Coal Creek – Veazie area. (map above highlighted above). Hence, Road 199 was approved for building. It came from Enumclaw and ended a little NW of 384th.

Below is a snip of the approved cover document and the map attached along with the surveys and other information. Note on the map that it says that the drawing is inaccurate. The written survey has it ending at the township line between 20 & 21 instead of the down by Veazie as the map drawing shows. Also of interest is it talks about the Coal Creek Road 109 that it joins at it’s northern end. Today that is 292nd Ave SE (it is at the very top of the map above where it says Rd 109). This was the main road before they finalized the Cumberland-Veazie road around 1959-60.

This 1888 Andrew Sundt road still exists. Here are two photos taken in the vicinity of Veazie and Fell Hill. It is used still used quite a bit. However, it is not the major road like the Cumberland Veazie Road has become.

Road 199 today looking south from Fell Hill Area
Road 199 today looking north – Fell Hill Quarry gate to the right

Where there are settlers there are children to education. So, in 1885 a school was built in this area – Clarence Bagley in his 1929 book “History of King County” describes the first school built “a split cedar schoolhouse had been built in 1885 on the old Coal Creek Road about ¾ of a mile from the present settlement of the same name, school was held that same winter.”

In one of the books about Enumclaw I found this story. “Teacher Blake described how he recalls the children would come trooping thru the woods in the morning; he would hear them chatting and laughing as they approached. The kids were Price, Myrtle & Clyde (kids of Charles Lee) Melissa & sister Ole, John & Charles (Robert Forest Kids), Joe, Ed, John & sister Standwidge (could be Standbridge), 3 stepchildren of Joe Fell and Thomas & Nellie Wilson (Isaac Wilson).”

These bits and pieces I found were confusing because in my research we know there were two more formal schools built later. I also was still struggling with where Coal Creek, the community, was located. At first I thought this school must have been where the above Veazie Logging Camp photo was. However, with more research I created the map below. It has the locations of the homesteads of these families and the ¾ mile circle. It also has an estimate of where the Coal Creek Road (road 109) was. Here is my analysis which gives us a fairly accurate location of this old cabin school.

A little bit more information on this map. The big S’s mark the 1905 Veazie School and the early 1900s Birch School – these replaced this old cabin first school. We will talk more about these two schools since they play an important role in where Veazie was located and where Birch used to exist.

Next Chapter – The NP RR comes to the Plateau

In my next article we will dive deep into the impact of the railroads that were built thru the Coal Creek, Veazie, Birch area. There were two of them. Next we will talk about the Northern Pacific (NP) which was the first one built. In a later article we will talk about the second one built by the Chicago Milwaukee & Puget Sound (CM&PS).

The railroad brings a lot of clues plus some very detailed maps. These railroad maps have been helpful while at the same time add more confusion to where the first Veazie stood. It is never easy piecing history together.

Similar to my other series, I will develop a directory of articles. Look for that link in the future.

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

8 comments

  1. Great information! I hope to talk with you soon! Anthony 206-841-6050

    On Thu, Mar 10, 2022 at 2:45 PM Crows of Arroyos wrote:

    > batgurrl posted: ” Sounds like an endangered animal. Perhaps a shy person. > But no this is a one hundred year old town. She seemed to move about and > adapt like a special species of lore. However, she is just an old logging > camp that today is just a name on the map next to” >

    • Thank you for the kind remarks. Since you live close by do you have any clues for us on where our elusive little town might have been? Love a good puzzle and history research is just that.

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