Russell & Ames Mill Group – First Saw Mill of Maple Valley

Posing proudly with the tools of their trade in this photograph of about 1888 were workers at the Ames & Russell sawmill in Maple Valley. Standing from left were C.O. Russell, Lot Davis, Arthur Russell, Charles Valentine, Mat Shumar and Arthur Cleveland. Seated, left, was Fred Miegel with George Russell, not of Puyallup, beside him.

Maple Valley was originally platted by C.O. Russell, after he, his brother-in-law George Ames, and “old gent” friend Henry Sidebothom prospected, claimed and named the town. Without any easily accessible roads, Ames and Russell needed a sawmill to build their new town.

Russell and Ames Mill Group was one of the earliest mills in the area, built 30 years earlier than Iverson and Woods in 1883. Perfectly situated near the Cedar River extension of the Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad, George Ames was able to work out a deal with the railroad in which he provided the grading for the lumber and they provided the ties and rails to build a logging road, allowing him to prospect further into the dense forests.

Taylor Creek, once a thriving stream located under what is today HWY 18 and Maxwell Road, powered the sawmill. The creek was dammed to create a mill pond that supported a four foot flume with a wheel catching water that dropped from 20 feet above. In its heyday, the mill produced upward of 10,000 feet of logs per day. Ames sold the logs for $6.50 per thousand at a boom in Seattle. After the mill burned down for the third time, Ames gave up and moved to Pacific, WA.

The mill workers were hard working men who hoped for a better life. They encompassed the American Dream and had the ambitious spirit of the west.

Private Charles Otis Russell

Private Charles Otis Russell was born to Ira Russell & Betsy Bickford Deering of New Hampshire on January 13,1804. A veteran of the civil war, he served in the same company and regiment as his brother at Fort Ridgely, Renville Co, Minnesota. Russell married George Ames’ sister, Sarah Frances, on April 8, 1868 in Freeborn, MN. While working at a sawmill in Renton, he met his brother in law, George. They took their “old gent” friend Henry Sidebothom from England and headed down the old maple valley wagon trail, and together found a piece of land they liked, and filed a land claim. Later they would name the town Vine-Maplevalley.  It was in his home that the first post office was setup in Maple Valley. He also helped build a school and set aside a corner of his land for the Maple Valley-Hobart Cemetery. In 1898, Russell moved his family to Seattle, opening up two boarding houses, taking advantage of gold rush fever. He later would open the 60 room Russell Hotel in Seattle. His son’s Arthur, age 7 and George Age 8, are also in the photo. The precinct was named after his son Arthur, the first baby born in Maple Valley. Arthur would move to California and George would move to Puyallup.

Lot Davis

Lot Davis was born in 1918 in New Hampshire and knew the Russells. He paid their travel expenses to the west on the pretence that they would find a way to provide for him. Apparently, Russell came through giving Lot a job at the mill. Lot died in Seattle, on 27 December 1898

Fred Miegel

Along with Russell, Fred Miegel was a Seventh-Day Adventist. Fred married Annie Koch, a widow, after her husband died in 1882. He would later sell part of his wife’s land to Olaf Olson, a famous railroad tunnel builder, whom he had met in an Idaho mine. Today the Olson mansion is the New Community Church.

Charles Valentine

Charles Valentine was born April 1861 in Iowa. He originally worked as a miller in Renton before becoming a sawmill worker. He married Minnesota born Elizabeth Goldstrip on April 26,1896 at her mother’s residence in Maple Valley. By 1920 he would reside in Maple Valley and work on a farm.  He died on January 27,1927 at the age of 65.

Mat Shumar

Mat Shumar was born in 1868 in Germany. Mat must have been great friends with Charles Valentine, because he is listed as a witness on Charles and Elizabeth’s marriage certificate. In 1889 Mat worked on the Cedar Mountain mine, located near present day Cedar Mountain Road and Maple Valley Hwy.

Arthur Cleveland


  1. Breckenridge, Roger. “Pvt Charles Otis Russell.” Find A Grave,
  2. Krall, Lorene. The Story of Our Community Maple Valley, WA. Lorene Krall, 1953.
  3. “Logging in Maple Valley.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 13 July 1887.
  4. Lorenz, Laura. Historical Sketch of the Greater Maple Valley Area. Card Sharks Printers, 1986.
  5. McDonald, Lucile. “Library Guild Members Gathering Records of Cedar River Community’s Development.” The Seattle Times, 4 Dec. 1960.