PCRR steam locomotive #15 pulling a load of empty coal cars towards Black Diamond

PCRR steam locomotive #15 pulling a load of empty coal cars towards Black Diamond

In 1944 Harold Hill stood on an overpass above the Pacific Coast Railroad and snapped this photo. The likely location is where S.E. 231stStreet crosses the old grade, just east of the Fire Station and Sheriff’s Office. Shown is PCRR steam locomotive #15 pulling a load of empty coal cars towards Black Diamond. This rail line was originally called the Columbia & Puget Sound, and was built in 1882. That transportation link led directly to the development of Black Diamond, Franklin, and a sawmill on the south shore of Lake Wilderness at a settlement called Eddyville.

By the 1980s much of the former rail route was abandoned with major links acquired by King County. The stretch between Renton and Maple Valley became the popular Cedar River Trail, with plans to extend it south through Black Diamond, to Flaming Geyser State Park on the Green River. Almost all the rails along this historic line have been removed save for one small section east of Lake Sawyer in Black Diamond. That short stretch of rusting rails inspired the story of the railroad as told in the HistoryLink.org essay titled “Who Laid Those Rusty Rails?”

This photo #WWAPC0144 comes courtesy of the Pacific Northwest Railroad Archives based in Burien.