The Coal Creek hikes within the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park consist of a lot of small trails that connect together to form a large network. Although the trails range from 0.2 to 2 miles long, you can easily hike 10 miles without stopping, seeing new scenery.
Coal mining features appear along the trail, with special ones occurring within several spurs. This post discusses the path that includes the Ford Slope Mine, and the loop off that one that shows some related features to the Ford Slope.
Ford Slope Mine
The Ford Slope Mine produced the largest amount of coal within the Newcastle mines. It operated between 1905 and 1926, with its production peak in 1917. Miners hoisted 600 tons of coal a day from the mine in 1912. In 1917, the Ford Slope produced 300,000 tons (King County n.d.a).
Large buildings once stood in Rainbow Town (where the Ford Slope Mine was situated). They included a boarding house and several coal bunkers (King County n.d.a). Apparently, Rainbow Town was named due to the color of its houses.
Rainbow Town by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. The Ford Slope Mine opening was on the north of Rainbow Town. The mine is depicted on the lower right. A bunkhouse, track, and coal bunkers, and other buildings stood in the background. They’ve since been torn down and the forest has taken a lot of it back.
Concrete Dam and Flume for Sawmill
A trail to the concrete dam and flume near the Ford Slope Mine loops south of Rainbow Town. It flanks both sides of Coal Creek. The dam and flume are remains of a millpond system that supported a sawmill.
Coal Creek Near Ford Slope Mine by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Coal Creek at the southern end of Millpond and Sawmill Trail that loops from Ford Slope Mine: the creek flows nearly 6 feet above what it did 100 years ago due to landform manipulation.
The mining company diverted Coal Creek into a flume in order to control the water. In addition, they raised the land to create level areas for better building and mining car railway support for Ford Slope Mine. However, nearly a century of storms and erosion moved the creek all over the place. It spilled into new areas on the higher surface. Now it flows six feet above its level one hundred years ago (King County n.d.b).
Mining Building Structural Footings by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Just to the north of the Millpond and Sawmill trail’s southern point, on the east side of Coal Creek, these concrete footings flank the path.
The west side of the trail loop displays a couple of other mining features. Concrete footing blocks for buildings (including the sawmill) flank the path not far from the loop’s southern end. Also, the foundation for a steam hoist is located downslope from the path near its intersection with the Porcupine Trail (before a fork – go right to get to the Porcupine Trail). A sign points it out. It hoisted five loaded mine cars at a time (King County n.d.c).
Steam Hoist Foundation by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Hard to believe that less than 100 years ago, this was an industrial area. This steam hoist foundation sits in a low spot north of the trail. The hoist lifted five cars at a time. The mining carts were filled with coal.
To learn more about the trail or to walk along it yourself, visit the King County website: http://www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/inventory/cougar.aspx.
n.d.a Ford Slope Mine. Interpretive sign (no date for posting). Located directly adjacent to the opening (now closed) of the Ford Slope Mine.
n.d.b Millpond and Sawmill. Interpretive sign (no date for posting). Located at southern end of trail loop, at point where walkway crosses Coal Creek.
n.d.c Steam Hoist Foundation. Interpretative sign like trail marker (no date for posting). Located on east side of Millpond and Sawmill Loop, less than 0.1 mile south of the Porcupine Trail intersection.
Coal Creek Hikes: Ford Slope Mine by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.