WHEN COAL WAS KING: Gaffney’s Lake Wilderness

Gaffney’s Lake Wilderness became one of the most popular destinations in south King County after acquiring McKinney’s and Diekman’s resorts and combining the three into one. The combined resort had no shortage of attractions, including a dance hall, skating rink, bowling alley, tennis courts, horses, 67 modern cottages, and picnic areas along the shoreline. A 9-hole golf course was located across from what is now Lake Wilderness Drive.  Dancing was a particular attraction, with an orchestra typically playing Thursday through Sunday. But summer fun wouldn’t be the same without waterpark features like the 40’ high Otter Slide; a three-level high dive; the flying trapeze rope swing; and a one-acre enclosed swimming area all shown in this south-facing photo. This cove location is about 750’ south of the present-day dock and beach at Lake Wilderness Park.

Up in the sky is an airplane, possibly flying to the airstrip developed just north of the Lake Wilderness Lodge on grounds now occupied by the Arboretum. The Lake Wilderness Arboretum Foundation hosts one of the world’s largest collections of Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale), with over 200 selections of the species. Today, the 117-acre Lake Wilderness Park is the crown jewel of Maple Valley’s 300 acres of park land and more than 10 miles of trails. This photo number P.00.15.34 comes courtesy of the Maple Valley Historical Society with background information provided by its President, Dick Peacock and Issaquah historian, JoAnne Matsumura.