Olde Town Mine History Hike (OTMHH)

Olde Town Mine History Hike (OTMHH)

Difficulty: Moderate Length: 2.24 miles, roundtrip Elevation Gain: 580 feet Highest Point: 200 feet Time: 1-2 hours

Residue of History

Discover how Issaquah’s coal mining past still influences today’s thriving community.

Even in our young state, history surrounds us. Hints of the past lie just under the surface of modern life, hidden in plain sight. Roads through otherwise innocuous locations, businesses built at odd angles, random sags in the road … these are all visible clues to a colorful past, right here in Issaquah!

Olde Town

Once the railroad arrived in Issaquah, companies began to exploit the huge coal reserves hidden below. This industrial boost to the economy led to a brief construction and population boom, similar to the one occurring right now.

Proximity to the mines and railroad made Mine Hill the ideal location for families of the coal workers. To this day the area south-east of the depot is officially listed as Olde Town, in deference to its past prominence.

But wait, there's more!

Get even more information on the guided tour offered several times a year. See what new information has been unearthed and get the juicy details not covered in the digital hike!

Visit www.issaquahhistory.org or give the museum a call at (425)392-3500 to see when the next hike is scheduled!

Hike Details

Learn More About ...

Each stop will provide a location link and additional information explaining how the past is still shaping the community of Issaquah. If you still can't get enough, visit www.issaquahhistory.org or give the museum a call at (425)392-3500.

Be Prepared

For the most part this hike is on well-maintained roads and paths, but there is a section that may occasionally be a bit overgrown. Please be aware of your surroundings and use safe hiking techniques.

Don’t Forget:

• Dress for the weather. Know if excessive heat, rain or snow is expected.
• Always use sunblock and carry lip balm
• Bring water and snacks
• Have a whistle, in case of an emergency
• Bring basic first aid
• Bring basic first aid
• Bring a Camera

As you navigate to each stop, please be mindful of modern-day life: look both ways when crossing streets and don't walk while focusing on your mobile device.

Begin at the Beginning

This hike begins at the Issaquah Depot Museum and ends at the Gilman Town Hall Museum. There is plenty of free parking between the two locations.

Heading to the Foot Bridge


Once you leave the Issaquah Depot Museum, you’ll walk towards Front Street on the path between buildings to the southwest and cross the street. After you've walked past the library’s parking garage, you’ll cross the street (look both ways!) and enter the Issaquah State Fish Hatchery grounds. Keep walking towards the right and you’ll start to hear the creek ahead. The bridge is just past the main fishery building.

• There is a restroom here during daylight hours (this is the last public restroom until the end of the hike.)

Residue of History

As you leave the Depot, you’ll notice the odd angles of the buildings on either side of the intersection. This was where the train tracks crossed Front Street on its journey to the nearby mines and buildings were constructed to accommodate both modes of travel.

Just before you cross the street to the Hatchery, you might be surprised to know there is an old mine shaft 150 feet below you.

Heading to the Issaquah Creek


Keeping the fishery buildings on your left, follow the path from the bridge towards Newport Way. Use the pedestrian walk to cross the street and turn left. Continue past Gibson Park to Wildwood Blvd, turn right after the crosswalk. A short walk will bring you to a dirt road on the left, which is the beginning of the Squak Mountain Access Trail. You may see a closed gate at the entrance to the road, but it’s perfectly legal for pedestrians go around.

Residue of History

The Fish Hatchery property, apartment buildings and homes directly southwest of the Hatchery sit atop land that is riddled with nearly 100 old mine tunnels. Although their entrances were sealed in 1986, the tunnels remain open due in part to the cedar use for the support beams. The naturally water and insect resistant wood has held up for decades, with little or no maintenance.

Children worked in these damp dangerous tunnels on 10-12 hour shifts, earning $1.25 -$2.25 per day.

Heading to the Weirs


Continue south along the Access Trail and you’ll quickly reach the Issaquah Creek Weirs. There is a small outbuilding and a nicely maintained trail to continue on. The Squak Mountain Access Trail and is for public use.

Residue of History

As you walk south on this road, watch on your right for a large metal drain and a small creek. The water in this creek is coming from a mine shaft. On most days, you can smell the odor of sulfur gas in the area, also coming from the mine.

Heading to Squak Mountain


Follow the Squak Mountain Access trail up the stairs and to the left, then down the hill again to your left. When you pass the small stream at the bottom there will be a trail marker on the right leading up a steep, paved path.

Heading to the Community Hall


Follow the Squak Mountain Access Trail past the apartments and through the woods. You will come out onto Sunrise Place where you will turn right and continue to the crest of the hill (and a beautiful view!) Still following the road, you’ll head back down to Wildwood Blvd. and turn right. This road will lead you past the Wildwood Apartment Homes. Cross the street at Helper Lane (look both ways!) and you’ll see the Community Hall on your left, behind the chain-link fence.

Residue of History

At the northeast corner of Wildwood Blvd. and Sunrise Place, note the sunken area with plants and trees growing in it behind a small wooden fence. This is the sealed location of the main entrance to the Issaquah & Superior Mine. Railroad tracks from this mine portal ran to the processing plant below. This is also the approximate location of the infamous subsidence occurrence in 1969 where several individuals were overcome by mine gases.

As you walk north on Wildwood Blvd, you will pass the former location of the company wash house and hotel (on your right where the apartments now stand), and the company machine shop, offices, powerhouse, and stables (on your left) where houses now stand. This entire area is riddled with many abandoned mining tunnels.

Are you on track?

Heading to Mine Hill


Continue walking on Wildwood Blvd. until you reach Mine Hill Rd. on the left. As you follow the slight rise you’ll notice the small mine houses on either side of you.

Are you on track?

Heading to Gilman Town Hall


Follow Mine Hill down until it rejoins Wildwood Blvd. and cross the street to the sidewalk. Continue downhill, passing the Issaquah Creek trail and turn right onto Newport Way where you’ll cross a cement bridge. At the end of the block, carefully cross the street to get the far side of Front Street and turn left towards downtown. After you pass the Issaquah Pool, you’ll turn right onto Bush Street. At the left end of this street is the historic Auto Freight Building.

Across from the Auto Freight Building you’ll see a preserved steam donkey used for logging. Follow the adjoining sidewalk north towards the intersection and turn right onto Andersen Street. The Gilman Town Hall Museum will be halfway down the block on your right.

Residue of History

As you cross the cement bridge over the creek, you'll notice a large sand bank. Much of this is leftover sand and silt from the coal processing activities