Posted in History and other topics

There’s a Coal Mine under my Freeway!

You read that right. Time has almost erased any remnant of the Renton Coal Mine that was a major force in Renton about 100 years ago.

When I heard that there is actually a ruin still in existence, I got really excited. Then I had to find it and go see it. Seeing this piece of history is not as simple as it used to be. Here is my adventure and a flash to the past all in one place.

What is this relic I am seeking? It is the foundation of the hoist that pulled the coal carts out of the mine. The buildings and the mine are in the dust of time but this hunk of concrete still exists.  To give you some perspective, here is the Renton Coal Mine in all its industrial glory.

Renton Coal Mine – over 100 years ago – The view is facing west – thank you to Black Diamond Now for this photo

My adventure started at the City of Renton Townhall. It was a quiet Sunday and I parked near the front door. No need to worry about my car being stolen or broken into because there was several policeman hanging out since it is their shop too.

I started here – Renton City Hall

One cannot just drive and park next to the last piece of the mine. No wonder most folks have no idea what it is.  From the parking lot I trekked up Benson Road South, passed under the off ramp from I-405 and came upon it.

Looking back at city hall that I just left (my car is the bright orange one). The off ramp is behind me.
On Benson Rd going under the freeway off ramp.
Looking back North towards city hall and the off ramp
Benson Road South with cars whizzing by me
There it is.. first sight of the hoist foundation – nothing fancy!

Then I was there. It sits between the Benson, the off ramp and the Freeway is close by.


Renton Coal Mine hoist foundation – imagine how much coal this hauled out!

At this point I took a video which will give you a better view of how it sits, help you imagine what it must have been and see what it is now.

The next series of photos document all the sides and angles of this historical ruin. I basically walked down from the southern side and snapped away with my camera.

West side is open and the homeless have found it makes good shelter
North side there are two memorial plaques
Northeast corner shows how much concrete this is. It had to hold a lot of weight.
East side shows all the big bolts
South side of the relic from our distant past.

The two memorials on the north side can only really be seen if you walk up to the memorial or go really slow on the Benson. I don’t think you can see them from the off ramp.

Memorial telling the story of the Renton Coal Mine.
Renton City Centennial plaque.

Check out the big bolts it took to secure the machinery to this hunk of concrete!

Super close up to spark your imagination and understand what it did.

Next you need to get your imagination going and think about what it must have been before.

How the hoist lined up to the mine entrance, now under the I-405. It must be to the right of the orange construction sign.
There is a coal mine entrance right under that freeway!
1963 – Renton Coal Mine exposed during original construction of the Freeway I-405

The article this photo was published in back in the 60’s stated that the entrance was full of coal cars, fencing, and general junk. If you look close you can see how it was draining water out.

I wasn’t done yet. I walked back to my car and drove over the freeway to Historic Renton Hill which was due east of the mine entrance. It has a good over view of the whole area.

This is a community of some of the oldest homes and some of the newest too. Imagine knowing your home is built over an old mine. Need I say more about what can happen if the ground collapses below you?

From a view-point above the hoist you can see exactly how this all worked. The next three photos will give you a perspective on just how that mine entrance is truly under the freeway. Plus go back to the old photo of the Coal Mine Plant and see the now and then of the whole thing.

We are facing west just like the old photo. Lot has changed. Look for the red car right where the Benson goes out of sight. There is the hoist ruin
If you couldn’t see it on the first photo, this closer view should do it for you. Plus go back to the distant one now and see if you can see it.
Zoomed in from atop Renton Hill – there it is sitting somewhat neglected

What can I say but time changes all. Not just our technology, but what we value, how we made our machinery operate and how in a blink of this world’s eye it can all be gone.


Posted in History and other topics

Camp Long – Gift of the Past

This weekend went over to Camp Long for a change of scene. This Seattle Park is a small gem tucked on the side of West Seattle.

When I got there I decided I would use my cell phone camera in an effort to improve my skills with that technology. It started with the picture of Schurman Rock which I promptly posted on Instagram for my big brother.

He is an accomplished mountain climber having conquered several peaks in South America and to this day still skis with the best of them up on Snoqualmie. This park was where he learned and practiced his skills. His comment on the above photo to my post was almost immediate  – “Many days spent bouldering on Schurman Rock.”

Schurman Rock history is documented by the park department with the following:

This major attraction at Camp Long was designed by Clark Schurman. His dream was to build a human-made mountain incorporating every potential rock climbing problem into its design. After taking a winter to make a clay model of the rock, Schurman worked very closely with the W.P.A. workers to create his dream rock. It took 2 years to complete the 20 foot high, erratically shaped climbing rock. Schurman called it Monitor Rock after its intended purpose to “warn, remind, advise and instruct.” After Schurman’s death in 1955 the rock was renamed “Schurman Rock” to honor Clark Schurman’s contribution to Camp Long and mountaineering. On the occasion of the renaming on September 7, 1957, William G. Long gave a special radio address.

The rock is built up next to a large grassy area that is bordered by a steep hill.  Off to the side is another climbing feature. I call it the glacier.

Glacier feature – Camp Long next to the main rock from the bottom.

This angle was on my way back and I took the stairs if any one is wondering.

Stairs for the return trip.

How about a look down from the top. I think the camera shot does not give the drop justice so be sure to look at how small the items are at the bottom of the picture for some perspective.

Looking down the glacier feature at Camp Long

Greg sent me a comment on these pictures that tells a bit more of how this is used to train. It is not just climbing up either. He said “Teenager, practiced rappelling there”.

I loved the graphic visual of the rocks/bricks to build this and took the next few photos.

Not your momma’s hill to just climb.  Check out these side shots of how steep it is. I think I heard once to make it harder or more life like they poured water down it while folks climbed. Brrrrr!!

The twin routes up the glacier at Camp Long
Camp Long Climbing feature – trained many!

Now how about one of my memories. I stayed at Camp Long as a Girl Scout. Must have been in the mid-60s. The memory is so strong about the fun we had telling ghost stories in the cabin at night and hiking around in the woods. I remember exactly which cabin I was assigned to. Here it is a little bit modernized. The inside is still full of wooden bunk-beds and features that make you think you are way out in the wilderness. (not in Seattle city limits).

Cabin at Camp Long – I stayed in this as a kid.

Two things to point out here. The door you see is not the main entrance any more.  When we stayed it was right next to the fire area where we cooked and huddled to stay warm.  Second, is it a bit odd that the cabin is named after Mt. Adams? Here I am now with my married last name Adams.

Of course my brother had a comment to make on the cabin photo.  “Oh I have some great memories of Camp Long. Took my classroom there, once took all of Adams Elementary 4th grade.”

Nothing like a third reference to the name of this special cabin.

Hope you enjoyed this little peek at a Seattle Park that is not your ordinary place. Go visit some day and enjoy the trails. Maybe even rent a cabin and take a bunch of kids camping in the city. How fun and convenient could that be!

Posted in History and other topics

Longacres Relic and the Skate-Park

This week I saw on the morning news a piece on a DIY Skate-park built in Renton. As soon as I saw the pictures I knew exactly where it was. It is right under I-405 where the two Longacres Entrance Units still stand.  Here is a link to my original article about a year and half ago.  Longacres Relics

Longacres Entrance Unit under I-405 & Skatepark to right

This is a pretty good place for the skaters. It is so noisy already under the freeway they are not bothering anyone, it is covered which they told me is rare, they have cleaned up after the homeless guys living there, and are providing a place to practice their skills.

Skate-park under I-405
Longacres Skate-park
Skatepark with Railroad in distance – homeless on other side of culvert
Under I-405 from Skatepark – homeless live up under the freeway there

The City of Renton and the Boeing Security crews have not seemed to be bothered by them but now the WDOT (Washington Dept of Transportation) have come a calling. This is on WDOT property without a permit and there is worry of liability issues.

On that morning news piece the word bulldozed was mentioned. That could happen as soon as a week. Yikes!!  I got concerned because this is how good things get swept up into someone else’s trouble. That is right our 1960s Longacres Relics could be bulldozed too.

I have written to both the WDOT Maintenance Supervision, the Renton Museum, another historian I know and the TV station that aired the article. Do not want the units to become collateral damage.

Next I went down to the site on Saturday morning and had a great chat with the skaters.  Here are some current photos of the entrance units

Unit facing East on North side of Monster Road
Unit looking West
Longacres Entrance Unit with Skate Area
Entrance unit covered in brush – south side Monster Rd

Plus I found out two things:

First that they are now working permits and insurance.  The imminent bulldozing is not looming this week now.

Second and the most exciting for me is what they told me about the units. They have crawled up into the bowl to see if they could skate on them.  The inside is too textured for that and they agree that they were probably planters due to the hole.

but wait for it….. there is a date stamped inside!!  1964.  Mystery is now solved on when they were created. We were on the right trail. They came into being right after the freeway crossed over the old Longacres entrance. The racetrack was making a new pretty place to define their place.

Skatepark sign to keep it clean on Longacres entrance unit dated 1964

Thank you to everyone again.  This Longacres history has been a real adventure.

Posted in History and other topics

Slow down and Live – a 1950’s Poem

Driving to work I take my life in my hands. Things have gotten so bad lately I have been avoiding the freeway. There I find tailgaters, texters, excessive speed, lane changing inches from my bumper and decisions made with no warning.

I sell ephemera from the 50s and 60s.  Mostly maps but this week I sold a booklet called “Trip Tips – helpful hints for the motor traveler”. Here is the mid century cover art.

What does this have to do with bad drivers you ask? I found the following poem on the back page. It talks about the folly of bad driving. Think it applies today.

The Right of Way – by Edgar A. Guest

“Why do you drive at such a speed?”
I asked a motor chap.
“It would go hard with you, indeed,
In case of some mishap.
If a collision there should be,
You’d have no time to pray”
“That isn’t my lookout.” said he.
“I’ve got the right of way.”

One day the while he sped along
He felt a sudden jar,
And in a second came a throng
To pick him from his car.
“Something with pain my body fills,”
They heard him feebly say,
“But send the other man the bills.
I had the right of way.”

Oh, sorry was the moment when
The doctors came to tell
His wife and little child of ten
That he could not get well.
Their grief was pitiful to see,
Their tears they could not stay;
Nor did it help to know that he
Had had the right of way.

A widow now is robed in black,
A child is fatherless.
The comforts and the care they lack
That they should still possess.
Nor does it make one moment glad,
Nor light one gloomy day,
Because their reckless father had
The legal right of way.


Posted in History and other topics

No Birds – Just Autumn Glow

Saturday in Seattle was like a spring day except the forest was a blaze with the sun dipping to the horizon. Barely a peep from the birds except a murder of crows chasing an owl from tree to tree. so elusive that no photos were possible, just their raucous scolding as they looked for a favorite roost.  Most of my time in the leaves was so quiet.

In the leaves

I sat in a small stand of vine maple and gazed up at the special effects the sun was playing upon the forest. Fall is late in coming and this afternoon was so quiet it melted my stress away.

Off in the distance across the creek’s gully she had set the tall maples on fire in golden tones.

As I sat in my off the beaten trail spot I noticed a different glow in my camera lens.

Blue Glow

A bit of the glorious blue sky of the day cut through the green of the forest and became a soft tone contrasting to this pale leaf.

Looking up to my left I saw more of this blue glow. It was much more obvious and created leaf silhouettes cutting the sky.

Silhouette of Blue Sky

I picked myself up and wandered the trails of the park basking in the meditativeness of the moment.

Maple over trail

It is hard to depict how the vine maple frame the trail or their inspiring shapes that drape so gracefully. I wanted to zoom into them but found a larger field of view gives you an idea of her beauty.

Back up on the bluff overlooking the creek I saw contrasts of color and dark trunks. The sun was finding holes in the forest canopy and spotlighting trees for my viewing pleasure.

Dark trunks vs vivid leaves
Sun is having her way here

Looking back on the stairs I just came down I could see the gold dotting the way behind me.

Forest Stairs with gold

The glow did not end at the park’s exit. This little red maple was also basking in mother sun’s rays.

Sunshine alights this Maple

No Birds but hope you enjoyed the Trees showing their stuff today!


Posted in History and other topics

Changing Seasons

You may have noticed my blog posts have been a bit skimpy. That is because work has been crazy plus I am building two baby quilts for a pair of little girls born this month.

This weekend I did get out to a few estate sales. The feature photo is from a tree at a house I stood in line at. It so demonstrates that fall is here in the Pacific Northwest. A maple tree was vivid pinky red showing herself off. Add some lovely raindrops and you have a fall picture to die for.

Today I powered on to get the two quilt tops finished. Here they are ready to sandwich up the batting and a back.

Twin Baby Quilts

Each of the quilts have a theme panel that is made from vintage embroidery I have picked up.

The pinker quilt is using a dish towel that is a cross stitched kitty carrying a basket of food. It says Good Luck Thursday because this was the Thursday towel. A little flash back to another time when we had time to make these cute towels.

Kitty going to market theme baby quilt

Each of the quilts are balanced out by contrasting windmill squares.

The second bluer quilt uses a baby bib I picked up many years ago. She is so cute I knew she would be a great baby gift. Instead I cut her down and made her a feature panel on a quilt.

Fawn theme baby quilt

There you go.. busy time but feeling very productive and creative.

Posted in History and other topics

Forming Words for Las Vegas

For a week I have felt tangled in emotion over what happened to Las Vegas. No words is a phrase for this. Today I have to try to form a few.

First this brought into focus how I am so attached to LV. Yes this girl from Seattle is bound to what I endearingly call Lost Wages.  I have worked for a company based there since 1990. Gone there so many times to visit and meet with my team(s) I can’t even count them. My relationship to this place in the desert is not about the glamour or party most think. It is my family of friends and co-workers where deep personal connections exist.

Monday upon learning of this despicable act I was frantic. How dare someone do this to my adopted city? Who was in danger or lost to us? Just a terrible unknown.

My next conundrum of words is guns. I will make no bones about that I a liberal Pacific Northwesterner own guns. Learned to shoot at 10 years old and have a deep respect for all guns. Learned from my parents that one never plays around with them. Grew up with my mother’s loaded hand gun next to her bed. Yes!!  a conflict of time, politics,  and upbringing.

Now with that said, no one needs a gun like those used in Las Vegas. Don’t claim it is for sport or hunting. That is rubbish. Those guns are for war and mass killing. We can’t kid our ourselves that guns will leave the USA persona, however, we can bring some balance. We need to put some of the genie back in the bottle and make laws on who and what has access. Let’s get reasonable here.  Start somewhere and don’t fall to excuses.

Circle back to before last Sunday. That prior Friday I took some sunrise photos. My intent was to post them to Instagram or build a blog post around nature’s beauty. The tag line I was dreaming of on the way to work was…”Joy is everywhere in Life – be ready for it”.

Despite the sadness we feel we must truck on. Drive change best we can by telling our government we want this fixed and changed. But more important we have to be open and forgiving. Only this will help eradicate the evil that has grown due to the brokeness we are experiencing.  Talk and Listen!!  Be Open to the Joy in all things even if you disagree.  Maybe put that little screen down and hug the person next to you is a good start.

Sunrise sparks Joy


Posted in History and other topics

Time – A Conundrum

In our world of today we are stuck in a now that moves us so fast into the future we lose sight of both the past and the present. The technology we use has sped up our daily cycle of information and the pace of our lives.

We have forgotten that mother nature is the one in charge. No matter that we are buried in social media of today, nature is busy putting things back the way she wants it.

You wonder what has made me go all philosophical on my Crow Blog. This moment of retrospect was brought about when I went back to Cougar Mountain Park and the remains of the Ford Slope Coal Mine.

For those that did not see my blog post about this historical place in Newcastle, Washington, here is a link for you to get caught up before you read my latest adventure: Newcastle Coal Mining History 

Let us start today with a picture where the Ford Slope Mine pictured above looks like now. It is just typical Northwest brush and swamp.


Looking back to Ford Slope Mine shaft entrance

Here is the mine entrance and a picture looking back to the Hoist House.  If the “big H” sign wasn’t there you would not have any clue to look for the foundation that remains.

See the “Big H”? We are going there

As I cut down a trail I ran straight into this viewpoint of the foundation of the huge Hoist machinery.  These steam-powered engines ran a huge coil of cable that pulled coal cars up out of that hole you see plugged above.

Trail edge overlooking where Hoist & Steam Plant were

Check out what it looked like right around World War I. Building 5 is the Hoist building that stood right here in front of us. Imagine the noise, smoke, bustle and energy that emitted from this little valley then. Today all I heard was the wrens and chickadees in the brambles.

Ford Slope Mine – #5 building is the Hoist

Here is what it looks like now. See the “Big H” sign? Connect that with the mineshaft opening. Barely the same place is it?

Hoist foundations – one of few things left of Mining

Imagine how this place was humming as it pulled coal up out of the mine which was 100s of feet deep.

Hoist Machinery ran a cable to pull up coal cars

I then meandered down the trail enjoying the greenery and the quiet. I was having trouble getting my head around what time had done to me. Part of me was in the valley that was scrapped clean and a beehive of activity and buildings.

Then I rounded a bend and more remnants were ahead. Right in the middle of the trail were building posts.  Take a peek at what I mean.

Sawmill foundations
Remains of sawmill that a fed the mine

The trail wound around on the edge of the swamp valley to my left. Then I found a place where the creek flowed and a little bridge was built for the trail. There I found more information signage about the area. These footings I had just seen were the remains of the company sawmill. Imagine the need for timber to shore up a mine? Or to support this good size town?

Coal Creek Company Sawmill
Sawmill info sign

There was also a good map of what the area looked like. This gave me an even better perspective of how much change this small area has experienced.

See where the Hoist House is? Now go back and compare how that looks in the photo of how it looks from the trail today. Hence my spinning head. What a conundrum of time and place!

See Hoist House and Sawmill B – that was how it looked long time ago
Valley of Ford Slope Mine – unrecognizable

I have one more thing I found to share with you. It is an old dump. Yes, mining creates a mess to be cleaned up or even maintained. That is what I had stumbled upon. Not exactly the dump since that has been sort of cleaned up and is covered in bramble. Rather the deserted gate that was used to enter it.

Gate going to nowhere
Deserted Entrance to Newcastle – Coal Creek Landfill

To my surprise only a few hundred feet away from this gate to nowhere is an elite new neighborhood. It has grown up around the Newcastle Golf Club. In the early 1990s this area was developed into a top-tier club. They had to clean up most of the landfill which was full of mine waste.

Newcastle Golf Club and homes built on Mine Landfill

Time does a big number on all things. What will our world look like in another 100 years? Will mother nature be reclaiming what we built? Will that gate still tell its story? Will the new homes be there? and lastly will the Ford Slope Coal Mine seem to outlast us all.  Gives one a perspective on the rush of life today!


Posted in History and other topics

Everlasting Joy of a Letter

This letter was written in 1942 from a father to a son. It was never mailed but rather made to look like it did. Now over 75 years later I found this memento in an estate sale among the ephemera of his life.

Why did he keep this letter? I can only think of the joy it brought him as a 7-year-old well into his old age. Let us travel back in time and observe how special it was.

First I have to share an opening page in Bob’s scrapbook. It is a small shrine to his Dad and his Shell Oil Station dedication in 1938 to people’s vacations.

1938 Shell Oil commitment to customers from Mr. Kerr

Check out the little lions taped around this Shell promotion with his Dad in it. What a great touch to the presentation. The rest of the old book was full of Seattle Rainier Baseball player news clippings and Bob’s drawings of World War II bombers. He was quite an artist and turned into an engineer for Boeing.

Here is the front of the letter written in red pencil.

1942 letter from Dad to Son

When I turned it over I was entranced even more. First let us look at the formal end part of the letter with a P.S. and signature.

Back of letter from Gordon to Bobby

Then there is a formal postscript.. yes a P.S. – do we add these to emails still?  Usually not unless you came from the age before computer.

Got to appreciate the art of P.S.

Are you ready for the surprise?  It is a little piece of art from Dad.  I see where Bob got his art talent.

Red Ryder Shooter hand drawn in letter for boy

How could we not investigate who was Red Ryder?  It was a comic strip that ran from 1938 till 1964. Here is a link to read more  –   Wiki – Red Ryder article

Plus here is a comic cover to give you the flavor of this childhood hero.

Western Comic Hero of the 40s

I have to ask you? Will we look back 70 years from now (that is about 2087) and find text messages, emails or even blog posts this cherished? Not sure how that could happen. Ponder that fact and how we might want to rethink the lost art of letter writing. What joy would a rare letter of today be held in the future!

Share this, write letters, hug each other, ponder the future and the past!  Bring a change to someone’s day!