Monday, August 5, 2013

Coal Mine Trail to Roslyn

I had no plans to write any more postings until we were in the Seattle area.  However, we had such an interesting day Saturday on our bike ride, that I thought our readers would enjoy hearing about it.  The Coal Mines Trail runs from Cle Elum to Roslyn.  The trail follows the right-of-way of the Northern Pacific Railroad branch line developed in 1886 to export coal from the Roslyn Cle Elum coal fields. In 1987 the railroad branch line was decommissioned and the tracks and ties were removed from the right-of-way.  The trail is 3.5 miles long, and seemed to us to be quite doable for our small bikes.  We also thought that, since the weather had been quite cool, we had no danger of becoming over-heated.  We were wrong on both counts.  It was a steady uphill climb from Cle Elum to Roslyn, on a gravel path.  We did not get over-heated, but the uphill struggle on loose rock did cause us to sweat a bit.  Then I thought that maybe it would all be worthwhile if a deer crossed our path, but all we saw was one lone squirrel.  That short distance took us about an hour- returning to Cle Elum took 15 minutes- we coasted most of the way!  On our return trip our path was shadier, and a cool breeze wafted out across our path bringing with it a wonderful pine smell.  Occasionally we could get a glimpse of the Cascade Mountains between the tall pines.  And we were surprised by the presence of a great blue heron on the bike path!  I braked suddenly, and the screeching of my brakes sent him into instant flight.  I also have to mention here the profusion of wildflowers which we saw along the trail.  It was surprising how much more pleasant that ride home was!
Our morning trip to Roslyn left us quite thirsty and tired.  After sitting and lingering over a long lunch hour in a restaurant, we felt up to tackling a hike to the historical cemetery located on a hill a short distance out of town.  As we soon found out, it was one of the most interesting cemeteries which we have ever toured.  The complex covers 19 acres of woods and hills and has within it 26 separate cemeteries from prior to the turn of the 20th century.  There are sections dedicated to the African American miners, veterans, and many different fraternal organizations.  We found one lodge which we had never heard of before- the Redman organization.  Apparently for their meetings they wore buckskin clothes and leather moccasins to “preserve American traditions”.  Heaven help us!   Seriously, the lodges were probably important for providing sick benefits, as well as caring for widows and orphans.   Work in the mines took many lives.

 As in many coal towns Roslyn was a melting pot of many nationalities.  In the cemetery there is a section for the Italians, Slovakians, and Serbians, to name but a few. In the Polish Lithuanian section is a large sign explaining that after immigration to America the two nationalities shared churches, societies, and cemetery ground.  However, due to “reawakening of nationalities” in their home countries, the two groups parted ways here in America.  I would assume that happened around the time of World War l.
There is also a section for foresters.  In 2001 a forest fire took the lives of four local young people.  Their cemetery section is quite beautiful with blooming flowers and sculptures. In the picture above two burnt stumps are placed among the animals and flowers.  It may seem a bit morbid to get excited about a cemetery, but for me this one certainly spoke to me about the lives of Roslyn's citizens through the years.

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