Posted in History and other topics

Beach Phenomena

Late November all bundled up for wind and cold weather I trekked down to my local beach. Nature presented a few unusual phenomena that we humans often miss. It was a domed incoming high tide and remnants of summer clinging to past glories.

The tide got my attention because Puget Sound looks like it is a mound of water. You ask what does that mean? One imagines that bodies of water should be flat like a calm lake on a breezeless day. As the tide rushes into the sound from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean this phenomenon causes the water to bulge.  Check out these photos to see if they help you imagine this.

Puget Sound as high tide rushes in – distant shot

Now we will get a little more zoomed into the water.

Can you see the bulge now?

Those waves are pushing south toward Tacoma & Olympia the towns on the southern end of the sound. This next shot gives you an even closer look.

Now we have waves and a high domed appearance to Puget Sound

As often in photography it is hard to capture something that is more all encompassing instead of a single little shot of the occurrence. Hope you were able to add a bit of imagination and get the special moment.

Next on this same day I encountered two flowering bushes hanging onto summer on this late fall day. They are not winter bloomers like the camellia I found a week or two ago but rather summer wild flowers not giving up to winter yet.

High on the trail was this pink little thing. It looks a bit scraggly clinging to the edge of the trail.

Late Fall bloomer on the Ocean View Beach Trail

This bush even has a few buds holding out to open but I wonder if there is enough time for that?

A little bit closer to pink

Our pink flower child is beginning to look a bit ragged in the above photo. Have to admire her resilience in the cooler weather.

How rugged but delicate I am?

The zoomed in view makes one even more astounded at this late fall flower’s glorious moment.

Pink Flower combats the fall brown, yellow and red theme.

I am going to leave you with the orange California poppy that is in the very top photo of the post. Just like Pinky, he is also holding onto the summer that is now long gone.

Summer of 2019 is not quite ready to go into history
Posted in History and other topics

Spring Glen/Starkovitch Coal Mine – How to Find a Mine V3

My quest to find the Renton smaller Coal Mines continue. If you want to catch up on the prior articles, here are links to round one & two of my search:

How to Find a Coal Mine V1

More Coal Mine Searching V2

This week I went back to the site of the Spring Glen Coal Mine with a lot more info and a pair of clippers to attack the blackberry brambles.

It always seems so easy on paper. When I arrived at the lot where I found Coal Mine Hazard on the King County Parcel Viewer, the wall of blackberries and brier was more than the tools I brought. Dang, I was thwarted again. Here is a better picture of what that looked like.

Driveway to Spring Glen Mine and a house from the 1940s
Blackberry wall that I decided to not whack on.

I could have tried my luck at clipping away but I was trespassing according to all the private property signs. Decided between the wall and the potential police action that it was not a good idea to proceed. Plus with so much brush who knows what holes or metal could grab my legs or swallow me whole.

My next step was to drive around the undeveloped land area. It is quite large with marsh and trees according to the google satellite view. Found a dead-end that was not far from the driveway above. However, no trail into the forest was there and no good place to park. I feared theft or towing of my car and then always the police could be called to arrest or worse yet save my butt.

So, around the big area I drove and went back to the condo area where I found the info sign and the pet walking trail. Figured I could at least go look at the mound that was noted as the tailings pile.

Starting at the info sign again

Got a picture from the sidewalk behind one of the buildings of that small mound or hill.

Starkovitch Spring Glen Tailings pile from Avaya Apartments.

After scouting from the parking lot and sidewalks I went down to the pet trail. That has fencing along a short walk past a grassy area and into the brushy woods and blackberries. First thing I did was jump the fence into the grass area and headed over to the small hill.

To give you some idea of the area here is a snip of the google view. The red lined area is where I am about to cross the grass to the tailings pile. The blue area is where the blackberry wall was too much for me.

Google View of Spring Glen Coal MIne area. Red is where tailings pile is and blue is where the Property is marked Coal Mine Hazard

The grass was dry and I made good progress. Then I got up in the small trees and briers. Thank goodness I had my clippers.

Grassy Field with tailings hill in distance
It was requiring some bushwhacking to get to the hill
Getting closer to the Tailings Hill/Pile

Once I got past that blackberry and bush obstacles I came to the bottom of the hill. I started to go up there but realized it was covered in stinging nettles.  Since I was paying attention I didn’t get stung. I stood there pondering what to do and drank some water.

Nettles stopped me from climbing the pile for more findings.

Then I saw it!!  What looked like a coals from an old fire ring. I knew that it was COAL!!  I had found something concrete of the Spring Glen Mine.

Found COAL!!!! Clippers to give you perspective on size of chunks

I decided to turn around. Nettles are not something to fool with. A week ago I got a small sting on my left index finger. The burning and itching went on even after I used mud and water to try to remove it. The stand here would require major work to get over and getting stung was a given.

Back over the fence I went to the trail

Off I went further along the trail. Blackberries were growing over the fence and encroaching on the trail.

Deeper into the woods on the trail.

Over the fence I went again right on the right of the picture. There was a cedar tree and a small clearing there so I figured I might make some progress to get east to where the hoist house used to be. Bascially where the blackberry wall was on 116th.

Marsh stopped any hiking towards the hoist and processing area

Didn’t last long before I ran into swamp and soggy boggy ground. Back I went to the fence. I found another place to try pushing through the brush and gave it another try.

Another stab at digging into the brush

Here I found something interesting. A metal tag on a cedar tree. Was this property markers of old?  Tried to read what it said but only got sap on my hands and camera instead. Got home and even with the picture on the computer can’t make heads or tails of it. Can you?

Old Metal Tag on Cedar tree
Can you read what it says? I can’t!

Past the tree I went and what did I find? More SWAMP!!

It is a tangled mess back here too & marshy
More swamp made me turn around

That was it. I had found the coal but not the actual mine. That will have to count as a find though. Chunks of coal mean we were more than close and actually on top of it. The marsh area did not surprise me. I have pondered that maybe the mine flooded and caused all this swamp. In my investigations I read somewhere that this mine had issues with water and on the map it notes the sump pump.

I leave you with a couple of things. First, I am now working on the old Sunbeam, Talbot & Patton Mines along Talbot Road. These might be a bit tougher to find but will let you know if I do.

Lastly, I leave you with an ice age remnant- a huge boulder that has taken over a front yard about 500 feet from the tailings pile. Kind of dwarfs the house.

Big Rock in a front yard – Ice Age remnant close to Spring Glen Coal Mine site


Posted in History and other topics

More Coal Mines to be Found

Early this month I tried to find several old coal mines in the Renton, Washington area. If you have not seen or had time to read that first blog article, here is the link…  How To Find an Old Coal Mine

How about some more investigative adventure around the other two mines – The Wilson & the Starkovitch Mines.

We are going to start with Wilson. The article by Candlewood Ridge/Wood Community said:

The Wilson Mine was located just west of the Benson Highway near the site of the Summerhill apartments.

That sounds like a great clue. Find those apartments and go from there. That is exactly what I did plus roamed around a newer development behind them. Got to say that kind of freaked me out cause would you want your house on a coal mine?

Is there a Coal Mine here?
Seems weird that a Coal Mine was here?

Here I am at the back of the apartments on a road called Mill Avenue South that connects to Carr Road above Valley General Hospital. Here is what it looks like if you turn around from the above photo of the apartment parking lot.

Coal mine & a new housing development? Time does change

This area is nice and tidy at the top of the hill but full of blackberries outside of the development.

Tidy area where mine could be
Can you visualize the mine?
Hard to tell what was here

Then I climbed around a bit behind the pretty shrubbery and saw these rocks.

Coal Mine remnants?

This last photo I think is related. These rocks are old, covered in moss and just seem out of place compared to the rest of the area just above this. The housing development is close but not on this spot so makes one think it is where the mine opening was.

I also found this jersey barrier. Can’t tell what it is blocking but I am figuring this was where the road was that went to the mine.

Jersey barrier that must be blocking a long overgrown road to the mines

I took another photo or two of what was down Mill Avenue.  First shows a big undeveloped field off of Carr Road and Mill. Development is coming this way for sure. One of the houses borders Carr and is boarded up.

Undeveloped land just south of where the Wilson Mine once was.

I say once was but we have to realize a mine never really goes away. We close the entrance but the tunnels are still there. Perhaps flooded or some collapsed but they are still there for a long time.

After I went to the site I pulled the maps online of this area. With those I can align the streets and the Township/Sections to see if I am close to the location.

This one isn’t as cut and dry as the New Lake Young’s Mine next to Petrovitsky Park. There I found the coal pile. Here I can just make assumptions and logical guesses.  I know I am close but could be wrong. Only a true surveyor or other expert sources might help get us 100% sure.

Wilson Mine or Spring Brook Mines map info


Wilson Mine Map – It is called Spring Brook & in the fine print is the guys name Wilson.

There you go on that mine. Spring Brook or Wilson mines did exist and have been buried somewhere since the 1940s.

Next we will talk about Starkovitch Coal Mines.  Let’s go back to the article by Candlewood Ridge/Wood Community which said:

A few miles west of the library on 116th and near the Cascade Shopping Center there was the Starkovitch Coal Mine started in 1938.

East to find the shopping center but when I got there it reminded me that not all areas were having prosperity. This older shopping center is nearly empty. What once had a thriving bowling alley, a grocery store and several other stores is now a shell of it’s prior life in the 1960’s.

Cascade Center closed bowling alley
There was once a thriving grocery store at Cascade Shopping Center – not now!

On my first trip to find the mine I drove past the closed grocery store.  A Renton Policeman was parked there so I rolled down my window and chatted him up a bit.

He had no idea that a mine was or had been in the area. He usually worked the north end of town. However, he was interested in my quest and we had a good chat about that and several other subjects. I drove around some and left thinking I needed to do some more research. Remember how this is not as easy as one would think. Mines are filled in never to be seem or known of again. Still  kind of freaks me out that we have a thriving community on top of old mine shafts and tunnels.

Then on my second trip (working on the New Young’s Lake Mine) I drove around the area some more. I had investigated the DNR maps and found that the mine is behind condos and houses a little west of the Shopping Center. It was called Spring Glen and was worked by Charles Starkovitch. Bingo that is the right one at least.

I went into one of the apartment complexes that bordered on Benson Road. To my surprise I found an information board and a trail out of the back of the complex. This is right where I thought I needed to be. Since I was already on a mission for New Young’s Lake nor was I dressed appropriately for blackberry hard scrabble, I left with a note to come back.

That I did and found a parking spot near the Benson. I walked up to the sign and took the following pictures.

Sign at Avaya Apartments
Photo on Info Board

Next I went to the trail and figured I was going to solve this mystery. I was wrong again. The trail was just a pet walk and had fencing keep you on a path. No mining things in sight like the info board said. I went back to the info board one more time kind of disappointed. It did add one more clue. It stated that the hill behind the apartments was the coal tailings. Well that is great but I was dressed for a trail but not to bushwhack into the briers. Need to get my act together I guess on this brier fun.

About then a lady I had seen walking from my car who was out walking her dog came by. I asked her if she knew about the coal mine. Oh my.. I got deer in the lights look. Ooops she doesn’t know she is living on top of a coal mine.

Here I am home today still trying to sort out where the mine really is. I pulled up the DNR map and the sections map to see if I could connect the dots.  Here is the DNR map. Look at the lower right corner and you will see Petrovitsky and the corner of four sections. 29, 28, 32 & 33. That corner is at Petrovitsky and 116th (the road the Cascade Shopping Center is on).

So, we are in the right place but the map is hard to tell where the truck road is now and more important the mine buildings and opening.  Here is that map for you to pour over too.

Spring Glen or Starkovitch Coal Mine map from DNR

I have another tool up my sleeve, the King County Parcel Viewer. From that I poked at the lots around the area & found one that has no buildings and has a dirt road from 116th. It is 17205 – 116th. There is a house next to this but on a different lot. That house was built in the mid 1940’s.

But what got me excited and made me think I found where the mine is is on the vacant land lot is an environmental note on the parcel.  It is:

Hot Dog – that must mean the main yard where the hoist and such is on this properly. It aligns about right with the old DNR map too.

Here is what it looks like on Google street view.

I am getting closer on this one. Goes to show this is how you find a coal mine & it is time for me to go back up there and see what I can find.



Posted in History and other topics

How to Find an Old Coal Mine

You are probably asking Why? would you want to find an old coal mine. They are dirty and certainly not the environmental star of energy these days!

It is really more about how fast our world changes. How a century plus ago the Pacific Northwest had many communities around Seattle that were built on coal. Shock!!  What did you say? That is right there are communities and parks that are actually sitting on old coal mines.

It really started when I went to Cougar Mountain Regional Park. I had a time warp moment when I saw all the informational boards talking about how a large community plus an industrial complex once was thriving on the same site that is now a wooded natural area. If you want to know more about Newcastle and Coal Creek read through this post –  Coal Creek MIne – 100 years Later

That brought me to finding that the main Renton Coal Mine was basically under I-405 close to the Renton City Hall. Check that out at this link – There is a Mine under my Freeway!

There you go –  I have the wander lust now. How much can man change the landscape and then change it again and again. All in this very young part of the world were we think we are still newcomers.

Quite a while back a friend of mine told me that an old coal mine used to be up on Petrovitsky (a road on the East side of Renton headed to Maple Valley). The King County Petrovitsky Park was where it was. This bit of info for months brought me dreams and visions of an area inside a park with signs and maybe even warning signs of quick death if you enter a black hole.

Looking back on my investigating the park I have to laugh at that idealistic image. It was certainly not quite so simple with several false starts and wrong assumptions.

Two Fridays ago, July 26, 2019, I went to two Estate Sales in the Renton Highlands. My plan was after that to drive over to the park which is East of Fairwood and find this old remnant of history in it’s tidy park setting.

Right next to the park is a chunk of the old Petrovitsky Road. I did this little piece and saw the Lake Youngs Trail Head and a big King County lot that I thought was for maintenance. Lake Youngs is owned by the City of Seattle and is the source of water for the surrounding areas. It is a fenced off area that has a trail all around it. Not my idea of hiking since it is next to a chain link fence with barb wire. You can see nature but not be in it.  YUCK!

I went around the corner back to Petrovitsky Park and found it to be a nice clean area. I parked my car in the spacious but fairly empty parking lot. All paved and with tidy landscaping. They even had running water bathrooms.

Petrovitsky Park tidy lot
Park has lots of ball fields

Then I saw the athletic fields and how developed it was. Someone had said the mine was on the southern edge of the park so I tramped over towards that side including a covered picnic area. Next to it I saw a covered area with a box and the word coal on it.  That was it!!  A small sign showing that the mine had once been there.

Wrong!!  It was a place to put your BBQ coals. False lead for sure!!  Off I went to a picnic table on the woods edge. I obviously needed a trail map of the area. About 10 minutes later I realized there was no trail map because there were no trails. This was a sports orientated park. If a coal mine existed here I would have to bushwhack in the forested area adjacent to it.

That brought me to walking down a non-authorized trail that went to a series of storm water ponds, a road and several housing developments. I got my daily steps, sweat a bit in the heat and in general found NO MINE!

This is not how you find an old coal mine. Just showing up does not cut this cake or find any history. I went home unsatisfied in my quest. However, there are tools I have used before on the internet. I had found a site hosted by the Department of Natural Resources that had old Mine maps you can access. Here is a snip of the New Lake Youngs Mine Map.


DNR map of New Lake Youngs Coal Mine – 1937 with buildings & workings

From this I figured the mine was not in the actual groomed park but next to the trail-head parking lot. Looking at the road in the map I figured it was just slightly southeast of that. So, back I went to the park. I also dressed a bit more appropriate for digging in the brush.

Before I left I printed out an article I found about the minor mines in the area. I not only went back for more of New Lake Youngs Mine but also the Starkovitch mine near to Cascade Shopping Center and the Wilson Mine near Fred Meyer and Summerhill apartments. I did some investigation around these two mines and will write another post about what I found.

Again I parked in the nice clean parking lot and then crossed the road to get onto the Old road. First thing I got up close and personal with was the King County Maintenance Lot. The fence on this side had slating to conceal what was in there. Not uncommon for maintenance yards. I was able to see in still and took a few pictures. It was puzzling because it was more of a storage yard. Not just any storage yard but one full of wreaked cars and motorcycles plus a boat and other odd vehicles. This must have had buildings at one time since the frontage side had concrete foundations plus a small portable office trailer. Guess it is not a maintenance yard.

King County Storage Yard – see concrete foundations?
More cars in yard
King County Yard from South side
Storage Yard privacy fence – lots of wreaked cars & trucks

I then walked up the trail to see what I could see of the area in the woods I thought the mine was in. Not a lot to see except I have to note a lot of the way it had chain link fence with barb wire on both sides of the trail.  Early on part of it had this old fence post with metal and wire fencing. I assumed this meant this area was fenced for the mine to keep folks from hurting themselves. Old must mean history to be found.

See old run down fencing – is this mine related?

That was on the left side of the trail and before we got to the City of Seattle fencing. I noticed on the right we were at the top of a hill. I briefly pondered this as a possible site for a mine. It is easier to dig into the side of a hill than just down in the ground.

I got to the actual perimeter trail of the watershed and here is the signage saying – STAY OUT!!  Even little rebel me who often pushes the boundaries decided not worth climbing over that fence and going to jail.

The trail took me to the back side of the storage lot. Much easier to see what was there. Just wreaked cars and other odd vehicles including a shuttle van parked near the gate. Then I saw a structure to the left in the area I had figured the  mine was in. It was fenced off to the side of the lot. More I looked at it, the more I think it was a kennel or place for some livestock. It was now deserted. Not mine kind of stuff after all. Another false lead.

Coming down trail back side of lot
Old Kennel somehow related to the storage yard

Walking along I came to an area where there was a large water tank and a few old buildings. Maybe this was it? One section of that area had a big pile of dirt and from the trail a roof that looked like a deserted homestead.

Water tower from backside from trail

That was it for the trail. I circled back to the trail-head thinking more and more like the storage yard had taken over the mine. Not only did the county get storage but it kept folks from falling into a mine shaft.

Next I walked over to that small road that leads to the front entrance of the water-tower. That had some more interesting things that seemed to cement my thinking of the mine being in this area. Three things along the way stood out.

First it was the old fence posts made of cement with a bracket for barb wire. No wire left on them just a row of them from the beginning of the road up to the gate to the tower. My brain said to me this had to be mine related due to their age. Was this the east perimeter of the mine property and there to keep coal thieves out.

Old fence posts line this old road
Cement fence post with bracket for barb wire – Is this related to the mine?

Next are two wooden towers that I totally missed on my first walk up the road. When I turned around I was amazed by these old electrical power units. They are constructed of tall poles connected with a platform at about 20 feet up and then at the top had area of wiring and transformers. They were so old the wood platforms were crumbling. Was this power to the mine? or something else?  What a mystery!!

Looming in the woods is this old structure
Old power poles with platforms
Second old power type platforms

Last, I finally found a way through the brush by walking next to the tower’s fence. My target was to see what the old building next to the dirt pile was. Once I finally got over to that section between the storage lot and the tower, I discovered it was just a big pile of dirt & gravel for road maintenance. The roof I had seen was one of two buildings associated with the Soos Creek Sewer and Water District water tower.

Water Tower Gate close to old structures & concrete posts
Buildings on Water Tower property

Then I walked back to my car and the nice parking lot. While there I saw a Park guy. He did not know about the coal mine and was like a lot of folks had no clue one even existed in the area. However, he did know the lot was used by the King County Sheriff to store cars that are part of investigations.  Those would be either fatal traffic accidents or drug dealers cars.

Later that night when I was writing my friend who grew up in Fairwood about what I found, I had a moment of connecting dots.  That shuttle van was from a recent accident down at the airport where a car crossed the median and rolled a van. A poor soul died in that wreak. That was that van stored for the investigation.

Gate to King County Storage Yard
Shuttle Van from recent accident at yard

At this point I was pretty sure the mine was the storage lot and went home satisfied with my assumption. After dinner I pulled up the DNR map again and realized I might not be quite right. To confirm things I took the map’s section numbers and compared them to a map by WSDOT of Townships, Ranges & Sections.

Dang !!  I was wrong.  The mine was in that hill I noticed on the west side of the trail-head versus the east side.  See how on this map below it has the elevation shown confirming my gut feeling.

Notice that next to the 46 see the little Y mark – that is the mine entrance

This is the section map which I compared to the first map earlier in this post. On that old DNR map it has a line showing the west boundary of section 36 & where that aligns with the road.  I was able to zero in on the right location with that big clue.

Section map I used to get exact location of New Lake Youngs Coal Mine

On this recent Friday I swung by again.  Parked in the trail-head lot and wandered back up the trail. When I got to the fork in the trail I went west down the hill. About half way down was a trail into the area of question. Of course I followed it getting a bit wet and poked by blackberries.

Path around the mine site

Then it came out on a hill that overlooked a small clearing. That hill was built of coal!  I had found it at last. The only other clue was a pipe sticking out of the pile. Was this the entrance plugged with tailings or was it just the tailings pile.

Site of coal mine – is this the tailings pile or the mine itself?
Pipe is other clue to mine
Closer look at pipe
Glen below coal pile – everywhere you look one wonders is that the mine entrance?

I won’t ever really know since the area of the buildings seen on the old map was deep in blackberry brambles. It would take major tools to get though that brier. It would be a scratch fest indeed.

Brambles are where the mine buildings sat apx behind the power pole & the fir tree.

That is how you find an old Coal Mine!!  Never give up and keep digging till you match the maps up to today geography. Not very sexy in the end, just a big blackberry patch and an old pile of coal.  However, I did have great satisfaction in solving this puzzle and finding where history intersects today.

I leave you with the thought about how 100 years can change things so much. We worry we are in the middle of change now but this all started decades ago. From the Industrial Revolution to the Technology Revolution – life is constantly changing for us.


Posted in History and other topics

My Grandma’s Me Too Legend

My grandma was a force to be reckoned with. She was born in Mason County, Washington in 1894. She married early and raised a family. Between the 20s and 40s she ran a neighborhood grocery store and Shell gas station.

Evelyn Morris at her Grocery in North Seattle

This set of grandparents were my baby sitters for most of my young life and we were all close. One thing she never talked to me about was the story I am going to share with you.  It is a legend my mother told me when I was a pre-teen. Later it would give me courage to save myself when I encountered a similar attack.

The story goes that she was at the counter in the store.  A man came to the counter and placed his penis on the counter. This was in the 1930s. What she did is classic for her.  She whipped out the meat cleaver she kept next to the cash register for protection.  She said…  “Put that away or you will not have it any more”.

Dang – as a young woman I admired and kind of laughed about this. I had shared it with my girlfriends as I grew up. What a spunky lady she was!! She has inspired me, that I could do anything. It gave me courage to break down barriers for women in a man’s world like drive over the road trucks in 1980.

In the mid 80s I started working for a Tradeshow Contractor. It was a privately held company then that was eventually sold to the large corporation I still work for today (35 years in total). I was alone in the upper office doing book work and answering the phone for the exhibitor services department that I managed.

An electrician named Danny came up to get some orders, so he could prepare for the next show. It was just the two of us. That was when he pulled his penis out and laid it on my desk.

WTF!!  What was he thinking?  I think he thought he could get a date with me or maybe I would give him oral sex right there and then.

I was having nothing to do with this.  That memory of grandma flashed at me and I knew instinctively what I had to do.

I opened my desk drawer and pulled out the scissors. I said to Danny – “Put that away or you will not have it any more”

That was the end of that & he laughed, put it in his pants and left.  Bet he thought that would be the end of it.  Hell no!!

I told some of my co-workers and I talked to Bud, our Manager of Electrical. Within a couple of weeks Danny was gone and never seen at our business again.

Grandma gave me courage! She set the tone of how to deal with sexual assault of this kind. Her “Me Too” moment was a legend in our family and now it is a legend for you too. We ladies do have to stick up for ourselves. The time has come where we don’t have to be silent. We are breaking down the grip of power men have had over women every day we speak these truths!

We have come a long way from the 1930s when this was “something” that just happened. A woman defended herself with a meat cleaver but never called the police or expected any punishment for this behavior.

Women are more than half of the population and our sheer numbers when we band together will bring change to this once acceptable abuse of us.  Times they are a changing!


Posted in History and other topics

To My Loyal Readers

To my readers – Crows of Arroyos is still a blog about nature, history and my rambling through the world.  However due to the recent focus on women’s sexual abuse and attacks it has brought back to me experiences in my life. I realized that I needed to share them as another voice to make change.

WordPress is a powerful tool to compose and share this type of sensitive information coupled with Social Media. Please bear with me as I temporarily use the power of my blog to share these memories. I assure you I will continue to cover our crows, birds and the serendipity of life that is often missed in the latest news cycle.  I still am an advocate for being here now and being present. This is even more important now than ever.


Thank you for hanging with me!  Robin


Posted in History and other topics

Reconciling the Past

How does one reconcile something from 1970? Perhaps it wasn’t a favorite memory or rather it was a good one to forget. Then a thing happens that starts to change the world related to a past social mores or expectation. Do you dredge that thing or moment back from the grave?

I have one of those Pasts. For years I thought little of it.  Gave it no credit or merit to how life unfolded. We were good girls in the 60s. We wanted to satisfy that expectation of being silent and not really making a bother. One kept your chin up and moved along.

My path led me to the Pike Place Market and a booth where I was selling belts, purses and bathing suits. All were made by my 17 year old crocheting hands. It was Flower Power on Flower Row prospering. I was a shy not too girly girl. Now I was blossoming into adulthood as a PNW Outdoor Hippie girl. I had my first job and it was my own little business. I was part of the counter-culture that brewed out of protesting against the Vietnam War and what society told us we were supposed to be. We saw peace, love and a new way on the horizon

Was the World Fair Then? Ha!  Not much more than it is today. Dreams of youth become much more measured.

So here I was in the midst of my time in 1970. Along came a Pied Piper who drew me to a place that to me was freedom.  I followed – a young naive virgin. He lured me with how he could make my menstrual cramps better. Then he took that virgin thing before I even knew it had happened.

Now how do you reconcile that? Guess for years it was just that creepy thing that I sort of caused. Why tell others of something I even didn’t know was more than it was. He had disappeared not to be seen again. Plus I was ashamed that I was hoodwinked.

Looking back now 50 years later, I see it was the power of certain men, not me who caused this. Guess that little moment did change me but for the better. I became stronger and more of a rebel to change the world. Women are smart and can be what we want to be.  Moving on he was a blip on my radar. He was buried in the graveyard of the forgotten where he deserved to be.

Now a time has come where opportunities for women to clear that residue of what remains of that social mores of men with power over women. One has to dredge up that body from the grave, How could that memory stay rested?  Confront our nemesis!  Be brave and stare them down. Times they are a changing!

Past Reconciled!!

Posted in History and other topics

Franklin Ghost Town Cemetery

I had saved the Franklin Cemetery for last. It is only right that this is the third and final installment of my Franklin “the Ghost Town” adventure. I have to say I got more than I bargained for. My experience was memorable and made me respectful of things we don’t understand. A ghost town is not named just because it was something in the past. It can harbor things that do not want to let go of what was.

Want to read the the two prior pieces before you get spooked out?   Here are the links:

Franklin Coal Mine on Green River

Franklin Town Site & Old Foundations

Up the hill I went in the direction of the arrow on the sign. There is a certain unease and anticipation when one thinks of old graveyards.  They hold history but also contain the lives and perhaps the spirits of those gone years ago.

However, before I got to the end of the trail and what it held in an over 100-year-old cemetery there were more pieces of the old coal mining and town. Not till I got back home and did more research did I realize that the path up the hill was actually a residential area.  I think houses bordered this once road all along the way. Soon I crested the little hill and saw an area with railing and cement around it. I had come upon a grated mine shaft.

Franklin Mine shaft with grate and fence

Want to get a little closer?  Here it is… you can see that it has been capped in cement and a major grate. There will be no one falling into this deep deep hole in the earth. To think this was just done in 1987. One has to imagine there was something else there keeping looky loos from hurting themselves!!

There is a plaque on the little block you see in the front.  It tells us that it is the Franklin Mine #2 shaft. It is from around 1910 and is about 1,300 feet deep.  I was tagging along with a small family I met on the trail.  Two moms and a herd of 7 kids. One of the little boys tried sending a rock down to see if he could hear it hit the bottom. We had to tell him it was likely he would not due to how deep it is. To give you perspective it is about the distance of two Space Needles down.  YIKES, no wonder the state went to all the effort to cap it.

Mine shaft goes down deep into the earth
Plaque next to mine shaft at Ghost town of Franklin

I tried to take a picture downward into the shaft. Since I have fear of heights and tend to want to not die falling in I did not crawl out on the grate as some do for a photo. So, my next photo is the best one I got.  Kind of gives you some mystery huh?

Grate over Franklin MIne Shaft

Check out how sturdy they made this. It had major girders and then the metal mesh over that. Sure don’t want to drop a camera or anything valuable here.

From here the road type trail turned into just a worn path. At places it was on the edge of a drop off and even had eroded away in places.  Careful hiking was in order.

Trail across from more ruins

Not far from the mine shaft was some foundations that I think from my research was a crusher and a place to load the coal. Could be wrong but that is my best guess.

100 year old mining site at Franklin
Walls made of brick, rock and old concrete at Franklin

A sign that there was heavy machinery and mining is this cable embedded in the ground. Can you imagine what this was hauling? Coal cars?

Steel cable that is embedded from heavy use

Little bit further down the trail was some more ruins. It was a bit swampy here with drainage even in this dry summer. That thwarted me from getting closer.

Coal Mine Ruins Franklin

I did some investigating back behind a ridge and found coal visible. The family had gone ahead to the grave yard, so I picked up some for them. They were fascinated by having a small piece to take home.

Coal on the surface is still there

Just down a short path from the coal pile was this rubble of big rocks. Is this a closed mine entrance? Could be and your imagination gets to run a little wild.

Could this be a closed coal mine entrance?

Right close to this little pile of coal is a small bridge over a gap in the cliff like ridge. We thought it carried coal cars.  What else could it be?  I found out during my Franklin research this held a water line for the small city. Imagine that!

Small rail line or so I thought

I climbed up the steep incline and got the next photos. I did this on my way back from the cemetery. I was a little tired and as happens to us hikers I tripped over a root at the base. I got to the top safely but now knew I needed to be vigilant in what I was doing.

Small bridge that carried water supply to Franklin

Have I made you wait long enough for the unease of a cemetery. Get ready it is not what you expect. All of us have a vision of grave yards as peaceful grass and nice headstones. Nope.. that is not the Franklin Cemetery. I was actually distressed quite a bit by how overgrown it was.

Franklin Grave overgrown by blackberries

The family I had joined up with had a teenager with a small machete. He cut back places where the trail between the gravestones was overgrown. This sad place held graves of miners who died in one of the worst mine disasters in Washington history. In August 1894 there was fire here deep in the mines at Franklin. Plus small baby graves were visible.  Just plain sad.  God rest their souls.

Franklin Cemetery headstone of three miners killed in the mining disaster
Franklin graves not in grassy area – double sad

It was a bit dangerous here. Not only were there blackberries and vines clawing at your legs and arms but old fencing. Many of you have seen the old wrought iron fences from the Victorian era. It was not uncommon to see them in cemeteries around a family plot. Here in Franklin they used them too. However, they were pushed down and buried under briers. They were just waiting to poke someone.

Iron Fence around Mystery grave

This photo was from another blog site. Imagine this now 3 years later and more overgrow. Now the story gets spooky. I parted from the family and went down a different path. I found this headstone I could not make out. Not sure what possessed me to break my rule of not getting into positions I should not…. however, I did. What I did was step over the old fence to get a better look the stone. And a picture to see later and help me sort it out.

The fence poked my leg. Did I stop then? NO, I did not take the hint and climbed over anyway and took this photo.

Worn tombstone that attracted me like a moth to light.

I have to tell you this photo even gave me issues posting it. It took me four tries to get it to go into the post. When has that ever happened to me? I am charging ahead despite the trouble and showing you what is unexplainable.

This smells like a spirit who is not happy with all the people trucking by him. He is not at rest and has even disguised his stone. Nothing else will explain two things that I have to tell you.

First here is a picture from someone else’s blog only a few years ago,  See how the marker is readable?  How could it become so much worn in a couple of years? I have to add that this is a baby’s grave. 1 year old and gone over 100 years ago. Could his mom be watching over him still?  How will we ever know.

Tombstone less worn only a few years earlier

Now the second thing. I got home and took my snagged jeggins off and found them matted with blook.  I had a wound in my thigh. Yes the fence had poked me so bad I bled a bunch into my wet jeans and it scratched me for 3 1/2 inches down.

My scar from graveyard fence – 6 weeks later – see where the hole was and then the scrap downward?

The story goes on…  I got such a huge bruise that the following night I freaked out that it might have a blood clot problem. Then my mother’s voice rang out to me —  step on a nail and get lock-jaw!.

NOoooooOOOOO  that is terrible and my mom has been gone for years so I was even more spooked out.  I went to prompt care the next day. The doctor was enchanted by my tale of being poked by a wrought iron fence in a grave yard.  She measured my contusion as 12″ x 8″.  Told me it was not going to give me a stoke but I did get a Tetanus shot.. which nowdays is a combination of whooping-cough, diphtheria and tetanus.

This ghost left a mark on me and I am not sure what you think but I am telling you there was something going on besides me just being clumsy.

I want to end my adventure tale on a good note.  After I got down off the Franklin hill I took a shot of the parking lot. This area is visible in the drawing posted in the 2nd post about the foundations of Franklin. There was a masonic order building and several businesses down on this flat spot. Here is what it looks like today.

Looking back at the gate to the trail/road to Franklin
The parking lot looking out the exit (see the traffic cone) with my blazing copper car in sight. Oh boy. I had an adventure

But it is not over yet! Right outside the entrance is a one way bridge over the Green River Gorge.  Nature at it’s best and remember how I told you I had been here almost 50 years ago.

Green River Gorge Bridge

It has been rebuilt but memorized at the edge.

A bridge has been here a long tome

The view is something to behold!


View of Green River Gorge from bridge
Adventure over.. just have to drive home now!

Ha!!  if I had only known at this time that my Franklin Graveyard experience would haunt me for days,weeks and leave a lasting mark on my leg!

Posted in History and other topics

Franklin Town site and Old Foundations

The ghost town of Franklin in this second installment of my adventure will show you a few things. Besides seeing what remains of a bustling community, I think it is important to point out how time changes everything.

When you find yourself losing faith that life is stuck in some shallow place or you can’t quite imagine how things will change or you are wondering when will Lady Luck or the Devil tear at the  fabric of your lives.  This is when change happens… wait for it …….

Take a deep breath and realize that change is all that we can be guaranteed. Ask Franklin about this. A thriving community on a hillside.  It had industry and was supplying the West Coast with energy to develop and tame the frontier. Then along comes changes to it after many years of prosperity. The coal stopped being the big energy provider it was. The town burned down and now only a ghost of itself remains. She has taken on a new life as a place we visit and marvel in a place still wild and untamed – right next to the Green River Gorge. Yes we all will metamorphosis like Franklin as time passes.

Franklin has that magical way of making us regard our mortality and change.  Come with me now to that place.

So… here I was walking up the trail after my side track to the river.  (here is a link to that post if you missed it – Mine on the River and a Dipper )

I came upon a Y in the road or kind of an entrance to this place of old.

The official entrance to the Ghost Town of Franklin

The signs tell us who has worked to preserve some of the site plus give one directions.

I decided to visit the townsite by heading to the right. Figured I would check out the cemetery last.

The trail is really a road. I have to believe that this is the railroad grade that chugged through the heart of the town. I found this collage of old photos on another blog.  I want to thank them for so much information in one place.  Once you read through my post and want more on Franklin visit this link – Black Diamond History – Franklin – Everything you always wanted to Know 

Franklin main drag

Here I was hiking down the road and the first thing I found was a Hoist Foundation. This is a lot bigger than the one that is in Renton next to I-405. With a little imagination and orientation, I was even able to sort out where the mine entrance was.

Hoist foundation for one of Franklin Mines

How about a more up close and personal moment with this hunk of rock and concrete?

On down the road we go and soon come upon a clearing with ruins on the left hillside and on the right downward slope side.

Brick & concrete outlive the rest of Franklin

Do you think we are in the same place as this picture?

Franklin and Train

Lets get a little closer. I did a bit of hike after these photos and got really wet. I sat on the foundation to wring out my socks later.

Franklin Foundations
Ruins of Franklin the Ghost Town
Not much left at Franklin

Up on the left hillside are more remnants to be seen.

Behind me is this outcropping.  I think this is where a fan house sat that gave the mine fresh air.

see the piece of cement?

Off to the left of that cement piece is where I think the mine entrance was.  We will come back around to this after we look at the rock wall that survives to the right of this area.

But first use your imagination … look at this 1901 photo and then today photos.

Franklin about 1901
Nicely built foundation-wall survives today
Whoever built this made it last.

I kept walking along and got up on the hill behind all of these ruins. I was hoping for more but only got myself really wet and scraped up by the massive blackberry briers.  My jeans were basically snagged beyond repair and my shoes were awash in water.  I had to empty them out and wring my socks out when I got back on the road.  How did that happen?  It was a dewy morning and there was a lot of tall grass on the trail.  I was a magnet for the droplets.

View from above – this was all I found up high
Rose bushes outlived all the buildings
That piece of cement up close

When I got back to the road, I got some of the water out of my boots, and ate a sandwich. Then I climbed up to that hunk of concrete.  This looks back at the brick foundations.

Looking back at the brick foundations

Next to the cement hunk was this gash in the cliff.  What you think?  is that a mine opening?

Was this a mine entrance?

Then it was back down the road to the Y and my next phase of the adventure.  That is the cemetery and mine shaft.  Next week I will tell you how the adventure continued.

Headed back to the Y
Posted in History and other topics

Franklin Coal Mine on Green River

This June I had a quite an adventure driving up to the Ghost town of Franklin. Franklin was a coal mine town established around 1885 when the railroad built by the Oregon Improvement Company finally reached the coal fields next to the Green River Gorge. The town has been gone for almost 100 years. A real ghost town to be explored.

I have so much material I am going to split it up into three pieces:

Franklin #10 Mine on the Green River & the Dipper sighting

Franklin Town site and old foundations

Franklin Cemetery, going home and my graveyard incident

Today it is all about the Green River and the first part of my investigation. The picture you see in the title is the river from the end of road I followed down to almost the water’s edge. When I left the parking lot, having paid my $5 fee, instead of going straight up the trail to the ghost town I took a path to the left.

This area sits on a bluff over the river where it is called a gorge, since it is so deep. There is a small private resort that for years  has charged for one to walk down a long trail with stairs to the bottom of the bluff.  I have a memory of the late 1960s, going there with my boyfriend Dale and some friends. It was a hot summer day then and we had so much fun.

Downward this trail (or old road) to the river it went. Check out this vista of the river about  half way down.

Green River near Franklin #10 Mine on River

Next I came to where a cliff was on the right and the road dropped off.  One could scramble down to a small beach. I chose not to risk a fall with no one around and just admired the river.

End of Road and small beach on Green River

The rock wall had some interesting graffiti. It was not the usual tag kind.  Check them out & see what I mean:

And a final shot of what the rock wall & trail look like

End of trail and rock cliff near Green River Gorge & Franklin

To further set the stage for you, I was standing there enjoying the river and wondering what the heck this place was. At the time I did not know a lot and thought the metal box in the river was just off a bulldozer or something.

Then I heard the bird on the river. He got my attention as he flew by and landed on a rock right in the middle of the river.

Rock in Green River with Dipper – can you see him?
There is the Dipper!!
Zoomed in you can see his grey body with short tail
He turned right to me in this photo.

I have seen this bird only a few times. The first time was in the Ho Rainforest in the Olympic National Park. He is a short-tailed songbird related to the wrens, frequenting fast-flowing streams and able to swim, dive, and walk under water to feed. They like areas with cliffs and overhangs to nest and raise a family. Green River Gorge is a perfect place for them. It is pollution free and has a gravel bed that they like a lot.

So.. a dipper came into my life when I was least expecting it. Great way to start this adventure in my book.

OK – back to Coal mines and this ghost town thing. Remember how I thought the metal thing was from a bulldozer or other construction equipment? When I got home I did a bunch of research and I found this is a coal car.

Up close of the coal car in Green River

It must have been there for more than 50 years. The mine was blown up and closed in 1971.  I need to do some more research on if this is #10 or #12 but either way here are some before and after photos for you to ponder.

Looking East across Green River where Coal Mine was
Franklin #10 before Kaboom – shows bridge & Cliff
See how this is the same place?
Coal mine Franklin on Green River

I think this is the same place – see how the rocks look the same?  Then in 1971 it was blown up and gone forever.

Mine on Green River blown up!

There you go!!  The first episode of my Franklin Ghost Town Hike.  Come back for more next week.