I often describe my adventures in history discovery as going down the “Rabbit Hole.” What does that actually mean? One definition I found goes like this:
People who are united by a common sense of passing into some labyrinthine, logic-defying realm that, once entered, is hard to get out of.
Today we are going into one of these realms or labyrinths. It is the search for a location long forgotten since the 1890s. Yup… 130 years plus ago. Perhaps even a bit of time travel will be required.
In searching for Veazie we started with two photos. Earlier we did a bunch of “Rabbit Hole” time looking for the location of the Veazie Russell Logging Camp photo. But wait…. there is another photo to ponder and to become spellbound by.
Below is that second photo held by The Washington State Historical Society of the Veazie & Russell Logging Company north of Enumclaw. Today I am going to theorize on where it was located. It sure looks to be taken at the same time as the other Veazie photo in my article called Lost? or Disappeared? Unravelling the Veazie Mystery.
Like that prior photo let us begin with the known clues it contains. Some facts to keep us just walking on the ledge of the logic defying realms.
- First thing to notice is the skid road coming out of the forest. The posed horse team even has a string of logs in tow. The man in front has what I assume is a pot of grease to make the logs move easier.
- It is a posed photo with the workers, a lady, a child and a dog. Hence my assumption it was taken by the same photographer as the Logging Camp photo. Photography was not an easy thing in 1890 and the gear heavy to move.
- The photographer is looking down at this area from a higher vantage point.
- There is a railroad track running off at an angle. It even has rail cars full of logs ready to go to market.
- In the distance there is a second hill. See the daylight peeking through?
Where was this Veazie logging staging area? The land there is mostly valley floor with Fell Hill the tallest spot for miles. From 1885 through the 1890s the Northern Pacific Railroad and a few primitive roads serviced the homesteads and this logging camp.
I am going to assume this second photo was not that far from the logging camp we recently sorted out. That certainly narrows the possible location.
The Veazie Gravel Pit keeps calling to me as a likely place for this photo. It is where we located the old Powder House (link to article on this find) . Maps and current aerials of the area are always a good place to start. Perhaps they will help us zero in on where this 1890 photo was taken.
Starting with the skid road, let us go review the informative but yet artistic 1907-08 Timber Cruiser Maps. The map for section 5, where Veazie is located, has a skid road noted on it. Holy Smokes Batman!!!
Below is that map and you an see how it comes across the section and ends close to the NPRR railroad.
To help us understand where this skid road was in relation to the landmarks of today, I have built an overlay of the old and new maps. This has the 1907 Timber Cruiser on top of a current King County map.
The skid road ends in an area that today was clear-cut a few years ago. It passes right past a barn and then into the clear cut. There is actually a dirt road today heading away from the old skid road’s end. That road goes west over a little hill and then down a very steep hill into a gully. Were these road built on top of existing trails from the past? Perhaps since this would be the path of least resistance.
Moving on, below is a good aerial from King County Imap where you can see the dirt roads of today and the old railroad tracks.
That gully where the roads lead to is the Veazie Gravel Pit. Let us zero in a bit on this clear cut road and access from it to the 120 year old gravel pit. The next map is lidar or as some call hill shade. It shows what is under all the vegetation. It reveals the scars, the old roads, railroads and other things hidden from the naked eye on our aerial.
As you can see from this map above, I have zeroing in on several of our photos known facts. Let us review that list; Skid Road (check), Railroad (check), a place that the Photographer could be above the work area (check), & hill in distance (check).
Let’s continue on the details of these list items. We already covered the skid road, so the next item asks the questions; Was this a posed photo?
It sure looks like it with the lady, child and dog added to a work crew. It has similarities to the first photo done at the Logging Camp with everyone getting in on the photo opt. Coincidence that this deep gully (gravel pit) is only about 1200 feet south of where we found the Logging Camp? Same Photographer sure seems very likely.
Let’s get further down my rabbit hole! Where was the photographer actually standing? What are the clues to this?
- The logging crew member is looking to his left and upward.
- There is a large work space built with skid logs
- Railroad heads off at an angle to the left and off into the woods.
- The skid road comes in from the right side of the photo at an angle crossing the railroad.
There is one spot up on the NPRR track that fits this list of criteria. Here is a close up of that small ledge from the Lidar map above.
This little ledge had caught my attention early on in the search for Veazie. I had found the remains of a power/telephone/telegraph pole there. We determined that the poles on the east side of the railroad were added around 1920. They are noted on the map I used to find the powder house. That map calls them “NP Pole Line – 8 wire 24 feet out”. Meaning it was used for electricity and they were 24 feet from the mainline.
Back to our ledge and how it could be the photographers position for our photo. This slideshow is a series of photos I took heading northward from the 392nd Street crossing.
Let us talk a little bit about the spurs that ran through the Veazie Gravel Pit and what the photographer could have captured. According to my research when the railroad was first built the NPRR used the gravel pit to build this stretch of track. The NPRR Section Map (see below) shows a spur coming off the mainline apx at my 1,100 foot marker. The map below shows how this looked before it was taken up at some unknown date. It is noted as 1,425 long and angles off through the gravel pit and ends approximately where 392nd is today.
If you look at the 1907 Timber cruiser map above there is one spur coming from the south into the gravel pit. At the time of the Timber Cruisers it did not come from the north off the RR does in the NPRR map. My assumption is that by 1907 the pit had gotten deeper and the northern entrance from above was no longer viable. They re-routed the track from the south and it terminated in the pit. Kind of reverse of the earlier approach.
At some point before the first survey in 1908 to build the undercrossing and straighten 392nd another spur originated from the south. Here is that map with those two spurs. Note the old gravel pit dotted line. Is that just showing the gravel pit or was that the first spur. I think it is the pit not the spur. Lastly, were these spurs servicing the Powder House? Were they still mining the Veazie Gravel Pit or had they moved south to develop the Fell Hill quarry? Or perhaps they were using both quarries.
Then when the county again got serious about this modification to the area in 1920 we have a lot more details. Below is that map showing how the spurs were arranged then. It is now one long spur that comes from the south and continues up towards the mainline. Can’t tell if it connects but sure looks like it might. The second spur has a note saying that it continually throws track. It ends before it gets to the powder house area.
Needless to say the area of the 1890 photo has been altered quite a bit by 1920. My instincts tell me that if you striped away all the brush in the pit area it would look the same today as it did in 1920. That includes our very special powder house remains.
The fourth item on our list is the hill in the background. The skid road comes from that direction. It came down that hill into the gravel pit and staging area. Today the two eastern entrances to the Veazie Gravel Pit are steep and used by 4 wheelers or other off road vehicles. There are two of them with the one to the north less steep and better aligned to where the skid road ends on the 1907 map. Here are a few photos of those entrances as they look today. Are you seeing our 1890 photo in these?
One thing I can’t say enough is this spot is dang close to the old logging camp and the railroad spur that originated not far form that camp. Then that spur headed down to join the skid road staging area. Here is the posed photo of that camp to refresh your memory. You can also find links to the articles on it and other Veazie topics below.
To wrap this up, I place the second 1890 photo of Veazie Logging Camp in the Veazie Gravel Pit. It is just below the steep cliff off the NPRR close to 392nd Street SE. A Skid road came west across the flat valley floor, down a hill and across the railroad spur. The photographer stood up on the NPRR looking down at the posed horse team and a dressed up lady with a child and dog.
Digging around in history is often not black and white but rather a shade of grey. This photo is in the grey area and we will probably never be 100% sure where it is but I gave my best shot at researching its location.
Wow – that rabbit hole into a 100 year old gravel pit was exciting. Do you think my theory of where the second Veazie photo was situated is correct? Love to hear from everyone on their thoughts. To me it sure seems like this gravel pit area meets all the clues we have.
This is the sixth chapter on my Veazie findings. (links to the prior five are – The Elusive Veazie, a bit of railroad fun in Which was first? Veazie or the Railroad?, all over the map with Many Faces of Veazie, the one on finding our logging camp Lost? or Disappeared? Unravelling the Veazie Mystery and The Powder House which is in the Veazie Gravel Pit.
Remember Times are a changing. Blink and all will be changed. Literally, a town can disappear into the fog.