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Thread: Southeast King County, Washington

  1. #1
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    Default Southeast King County, Washington

    King County in Washington is today known as the population and technological center of Washington state, home to Seattle, Bellevue, Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks, to mention just a handful of important modern giants.
    However, thirty miles to the southeast lies a sleepy region that harks back to the early industrial prominence of the county. Before airplanes, computers, and coffee took over, the northwest's economy was ruled by two things, lumber and coal. In the tiny communities southeast of Seattle, this legacy still shines through in a variety of relics, which I tried to document this past weekend.

    Black Diamond (Not really a ghost town, but neat nonetheless):

    Today, sleepy Black Diamond serves as the primary community in this region of the county. Though only a speck of a town, it by far is much more prominent than its neighbors.
    Black Diamond started as a coal city in the 1880's, and received a rail connection in 1884. By 1900, the town had approximately 3,500 residents, almost all employed by the Black Diamond coal Company, which sold out in 1904 to the Pacific Coast Company.
    The demand for coal stayed strong up until the great depression, when oil came to prominence, and the mines at Black Diamond had all closed their doors by 1958. Today, the town is a small bedroom community with 3,970 residents, but maintains its character through many preserved buildings from its heyday.

    A view down the old main street, Railroad Avenue. The Black Diamond Bakery on the left has been in operation since 1902.


    Ravensdale (Semi-ghost):

    Coal mining in Ravensdale, originally named Leary, began around 1899, and a post office opened in 1901. A variety of mining operations were operated in the town's vicinity, playing host to a population of around 1,000 residents, and the local mining proved to be persistent, with the last shaft closing in 1975, marking the end of underground coal mining in Washington State.
    Today, Ravensdale is also a bedroom community with 816 residents, and while putting less effort into embracing its past, also plays host to numerous historic buildings.

    Numerous company houses still line Ravensdale Way on its way through town:






    Expect more to follow!
    Last edited by Fairlane500; 11-29-2009 at 04:24 PM.
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    Continuing on with Ravensdale:

    One of the few commercial buildings still standing. The company houses are just up the hill along the road:


    The Ravensdale Market at the main crossroads in town, an area that was at one time known as the separate community of Georgetown:


    What appears to be an old commercial building in Georgetown now converted to a church:


    Next to come, the lumber town of Selleck.
    Last edited by Fairlane500; 01-22-2010 at 08:32 AM.
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    Bravo! Well done post and great pics for sure. Thanks for sharing and can't wait to see more. Need to go out there myself since the last time I was out in BD was like 1982. That bakery had some of the best food and I still like that old 2-cell jail they have/had...not sure if it's still there or not.

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    interesting! thanks!

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    Darin: I believe the jail is still there. I didn't actually ay any attention, as I was just on my way through. The next time I'm around I think I'll have to stop and get some more pictures.

    On with a couple more little towns:

    Selleck (Semi-ghost):

    This community was founded in 1908 by Pacific States Lumber Company, and centered around a new lumber mill operated by the company. In the town's heyday, somewhere near 900 company workers and their families lived in the town, including a large number of Japanese workers that lived in an area known as Lavender Town. At one time the town was home to a school, hotel, community hall, and hospital.
    The town's prosperity lasted until 1939 when the mill went bankrupt, and the entire town was sold into private hands. Today, the town is still owned by one entity, Selleck Inc, maintains one of the best preserved conglomerations of mill town structures in the state, and is home to a population of about 90 people.

    The school at Selleck, now converted to apartments:


    A row of company houses. Unfortunately I was getting some funny looks from residents, and didn't manage to get better pictures, I'll have to try my luck again some time:


    Cumberland (Semi-ghost):

    Not too much can be found about this little town. Its post office was established in 1894, and the town was centered around the Northern Pacific and Milwaukee Railroad and the local mining industry. The 1920 census registered 255 residents in Cumberland.
    A rail spur still runs through the town, and a handful of business still operate, including the City hall Saloon, which originally opened in 1893 as a hotel for coal miners.

    Sleepy Downtown Cumberland:


    Cumberland Grocery with the railroad in the background:
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    [QUOTE=Fairlane500;45593]Darin: I believe the jail is still there. I didn't actually ay any attention, as I was just on my way through. The next time I'm around I think I'll have to stop and get some more pictures.

    Yes, it is still there. It's part of the museum.
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    Here's one more little town in the area.

    Kanaskat (Near-Ghost):

    Not much is written of this little town, except for that it was a railroading town along the Northern Pacific Railroad. Over the course on 90 years, the town possessed four different train stations, of which only post-war brick station stands along the abandoned former railroad right-of-way. Supposedly a handful of other railroad structures also still stand.

    The NPRR station at Kanaskat:


    The station and an outbuilding:


    I've got one more to post for now, and I plan on visiting the area for a few more pictures in the near future.
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    Funny how that NPRR is right next to the road. The first thing that came to mind was how sad it is that we drive by it on a daily basis and probably never even think about what the building is/was (history-wise), just taking the building for granted as it sits there.

    Plenty of sun for pics today though...and a mere 35deg, too.

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    This last one is a bit of a mystery. Old maps and a history I came across list the town of Durham as located between Kanaskat and the hamlet of Kangley, however, it appears to have been across the railroad grade from this conglomeration of buildings. For all I know, this may have never have been a town, but just has the appearance of one.

    An empty old residence:


    An old store building at the grouping's center. This is what clued me in on the possibility of a town site:


    Does anyone have any ideas? My best guess is it could be a store relocated from Durham after the closing of the mines, and the dereliction of the town, but that's just a guess.
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    After a little bit of an adventure, I have some more photos from a handful of little towns a little bit to the north of the previous group.

    High Point

    In 1905 the High Point Mill Company opened a shingle mill on Tiger Mountain to the east of Issaquah, followed by a sawmill in 1910. A community developed around the mills, and at one point hosted company housing, a store, and a hotel. In addition, America's second longest incline railway was constructed to get logs down off the mountain.
    Unfortunately, the supply of wood began to dry up around 1928, and in 1932 a fire destroyed the mills. A second operation, albeit smaller, was opened in 1936, and operated until 1957 when it was bought by the state.
    This purchase was a part of the construction of US Highway 10, which obliterated the site of the mill.
    As a result, today only one side road with a handful of company homes still exists as a reminder of the community at High Point.

    The remaining company homes:


    Last edited by Fairlane500; 12-23-2009 at 09:30 PM.
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