(Continued from the July 2015 Kennydale News)
By Pauline Kirkman
An old photo shows the first crossing was narrow-gauge and curved a little. It was replaced by a straight regular gauge. There is a photo of both before the older trestle was removed. The second of the two I do remember. Being near the school, the trestle seemed to be where all Kennydale boys proved their manhood by walking across it. Needless to say, a few steps out was all I ever managed. If I ever get my act together, we will have a showing of many old photographs that are much more descriptive than my words.
The line went on somewhat NE, along Lake Boren, and into Newcastle. Immediately north of the road's sharp bend in the old town, where a trail-head now exists, was a string of identical houses that employees rented, a common practice back then.
The railroad workers had small handcars used for their transport, for as long as there were tracks. A few workers could lift them off and onto the rails. Know where this is leading? Yes, the boys could also lift them, pumping their way up the slight grade, and then riding down almost to Renton. My brother was involved in this, but I was never invited. He did include me though, when he tested any new family car in our all-gravel neighborhood to see how fast they would go. As I was probably as guilty as he, and valued my life, I never told our Dad. How do teen-agers ever survive?
During my last year, the 8th Grade at Kennydale, a train ran again to remove the rails. Actually after the coal run ended, they took passengers a short time, which apparently was not profitable. As long as there were trains we had a few fellows ask for a meal. Many young men hopped on freight trains in those days as there was little work available, but they did see the country. The Benson boy lost a leg that way. Of course the railroad companies tried to stop this, but it did not end until times were better. Is that hill around to the East still known as Benson Hill? It was a great place for sledding. If conditions were perfect, we could get all the way down to the Boulevard.
After the rail removal, the property was offered first to adjacent owners at a most reasonable price. My grandfather bought the land adjacent to his property, also the parcel behind ours and a third parcel behind a neighbor or two who were not interested in the offer. The Pinnacle Apartment complex is on that property today. Leaving their driveway, I can see the house where I was raised, very old but still standing. Considering my age, it could be nearly 150 years old!
Apparently someone in the Renton Parks Department considered all abandoned railroads to be public trails, so they set up a hike for the Issaquah Alps. They would not listen to my telling them that my family had been paying taxes on the property for over 30 years. However, when I called the Alps group, they canceled their hike. There are even houses built on it and no legal access any where.
Times were improving a little, but the depression did not end until World WWII took over our lives, and that is the subject for next time.
Editor’s note; This is the fourth in an on-going series of articles by KNA’s Official historian, Pauline Kirkman.
KNA is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Kennydale and fostering community spirit.