Memories of the Covington area and changes that have occurred as recalled by a native of the area for over forty years.
In my formative years when I was in grade school at Covington Elementary, I vividly remember playing on the (what seemed to me) huge field behind the school. The playground teachers were adamant that we could not go clear to the back of the field and climb the hill that overlooked the field and which was surrounded by a forest of trees. Kidnappers or strangers could be lurking there and we needed to be protected. I understand their concerns now, but then I was invincible. Anyway, what lay beyond that field in the trees I could only guess. I didn’t know and since it was a forbidden place it made it even scarier, but somehow intriguing.
Funny how time and experience quell those fears and reduce apprehension. The field doesn’t look nearly as big as it did then and as for the trees, well they’re gone. Yup, gone! Standing now in the place of that forest of fir and other varieties of trees a large iron structure is looming slowly into view. It is the new Valley Medical center. If you drive by on the back side by Costco and Fred Meyer, you can look at things from a different perspective, and view Covington Elementary from the back. It makes me wonder how far the children will be allowed to run on that field now? I’m sure there will eventually be a fence there to protect both children and property, but sadly future generations of kids will never experience the fear and trepidation that a dark, thick forest behind the field and playground might hold. For them it will just be another big building in an ever-expanding Covington, Washington.
Well I see that the old rental building on the corner of 164th and Kent-Kangley by the Covington library is finally gone. Years ago that was just an empty field. Then the rental building was built and it housed a few different businesses before becoming a rental place. Eventually that emptied out too.
Now the lot is just dirt. I’m wondering what the plan is. Another restaurant? A gas station? Something else? I think it would be nice to have a little more upscale restaurant there like an Olive Garden or a fish eatery. Something outside the realm of “fast food” which Covington has a lot of already. I’ll keep my eyes peeled and see if I find out anything. We might be surprised but then again the lot may stay empty for years.
So, what did you think of the snow and ice we had in January? Quite something huh? It’s pretty unusual to get that kind of weather around here.
I remember as a kid getting some deep snow occasionally. In fact, I remember one winter when we had icicles hanging off the house that were up to two feet long. I think my mom still has pictures somewhere of that. That was quite a winter. Of course, as a kid I thought it was great. No school. Playing in the snow. No big deal. But now that I’m older, not so much fun. I still had to go to work last month despite the snow. And for most of the week I shoveled snow at work to clear walkways and stairs. My back told me I was definitely NOT 18 anymore.
We’re still not out of winter yet, so we’ll see if the weather brings us anymore odd storms. Since the bullfrogs have started to croak now, I’m hoping they know more about the weather than I and that we are done with the ice and snow for this year. Time will tell.
“The area presently known as Covington was originally known as Jenkins Prairie. In the 1880s, the Northern Pacific Railroad commissioned a surveyor by the name of Covington to develop a railroad line between Auburn and Kanaskat. A stop along the route was named for him and eventually the area surrounding the depot would be called Covington,” so states Wikipedia. In 1997 Covington was incorporated. And here we are in 2012 as Covington continues to grow.
Back in the 1960′s, Covington was not like today. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know what I mean. Growth has continued in the area and changes are constant. As I sit here at the beginning of 2012, it makes me think back to a time when Covington was a small, wooded area with sparsely popluated homes and businesses spread throughout the surrounding areas. Today it is a regular city with traffic jams included. I wonder how much growth with take place in the next few years. We will wait and see. Welcome to 2012 in “Jenkins Prairie”!
When I think of salmon, I think of the ocean or a fish hatchery. But I never thought of salmon in Covington. Yet, they are here.
Not far from my house is the Little Soos Creek. Every year salmon, up to two feet long at times, make their way up the creek and spawn. Sometimes there are just a few, sometimes many. But to see these creatures of habit returning year-after-year to their breeding grounds to lay fresh eggs is amazing.
The salmon love to hide out under the edges of the creek bed where there are brush overhangs as well as where the bank is undercut due to the flow of water. The splashing of water catches your attention. As you cautiously walk up to the creek you can spot these fish in the water. Some are swimming, others are using their fins to dig in the gravel and sand to lay new eggs. Later in the year tiny salmon are seen swimming around and then they head downstream where they will start their journey again.
Sometimes the salmon are at the end of their life cycle. They make their way up the creek and lay their eggs, but then they turn dark red and die. Raccoons sometimes make their way into the creek at night for a salmon snack and other salmon just rot. So goes the cycle of life.
So, now when I think of salmon , I think first of Covington. Then I think of the ocean and fish hatcheries. Pretty amazing though!
It had been several years, but at the end of August my family and I finally made it. We took a hike up to the old mining town of Franklin between Black Diamond and Enumclaw by the Green River Gorge.
The sun was out that day. It was hot, but the shade of the trees and our bottles of water kept us cool. We made our way up the trail that would take us to the abandoned ghost town of Franklin. The incline wasn’t too steep, although some parts are steeper than others. Off to our left we could hear the distant sound of the Green River in the canyon far below. Birds flitted here and there and the smell of hot vegetation and grass tickled our noses.
After about 20 minutes of walking we reached a sort of “Y” in the trail. A sign there pointed us to the right into the old town of Franklin and to the left to the vertical mineshaft and the Franklin cemetery. We went right first.
There’s not much left to see in the old town. A few foundations, a large concrete structure used for something and the trail going through it all. Since it was summer, much of the vegetation covered areas we might have been better able to see, but we got the idea. We wandered around for a bit and then turned back to go in the other direction, our real destination on this summer hike.
Heading up another incline, we made our way up the narrow trail. About 10 minutes later the railings surrounding the old mine shaft loomed into view. This was our goal. Since I’d been here some thirty years ago with my family and then later with my wife when we were first married, I knew what to expect. But it’s funny how your mind remembers things differently. I didn’t remember the closeness of the hill behind the shaft or all the shale that had sloughed off of it. I thought the area surrounding the shaft was more like an open field but it was not. There was only fifteen feet or so of walking area around the shaft before it dropped steeply down the hill toward the river. No matter. We were there to check out the old mine shaft.
A plaque sits in front of the shaft describing when it was drilled, how it was used and the years in use, mainly the early 1900′s. The shaft itself is over 1200 feet straight down. Old railroad (coal car) tracks criss-cross the opening which are also covered by a more modern grid of iron rods welded and secured by a concrete border all around. This in turn is surrounded by a metal rail. And this is where it gets exciting for the daring.
We grabbed handfulls of rocks, sticks and other debris, walked out onto the metal grid and lay down staring into the shaft. This is not for the faint of heart! As you lay there and cup your eyes with your hands so they can become accustomed to the dark, you begin to see the shaft take shape underneath you. You are now looking straight down over a thousand feet into inky blackness. Cramming our rocks through the holes, we dropped them into the abyss. As they whistle into the darkness below, they disappear within seconds as the darkness envelops them. Another five or six seconds later you hear them hit the bottom. Occasionally a larger roar emanates from the shaft as rocks shift or the rock you dropped bounces off the side of the shaft dislodging a large chunk of rock and dirt far below. (Warning: Remove anything you have from your pockets that you don’t want to inadvertantly lose. If it slips between the grid, it’s gone!)
After an hour or more of dropping things into this hole in the earth’s crust, we decided to head back home. We had planned on walking further down the trail to look at the old cemetary, but the overgrowth was more than we’d expected. Next time we’ll have to hike earlier in the season before the vegetation takes over. Gathering up our stuff we walk the half hour or so back to our vehicle. It was a fun and relaxing day. The plan is to do it again, but to explore more.
We have a friend in her eighties who lived in Franklin as a little girl. She remembers well the town and what went on there. We mentioned we were there and she fondly comments on life back then. Maybe next time we should take her along to tell us the “real” history of the town as she remembers it.
(Note: There is a guide that occasionally takes groups up to Franklin and shares the history of the area with them. If you want to go alone, you need to get a free pass from Palmer Coking and Coal located in Black Diamond.)
I ran into a fellow graduate today. I hadn’t see them in almost 30 years. It made me wonder, “How many of those I graduated with in 1982 still live in the area?”
Even though I live in Covington, when I was in school I went to Kent-Meridian high school. I rode the bus there which took about 30 to 40 minutes each way. Kentwood was still being built when I was a junior and when it opened my senior year we were allowed to finish our schooling at Kent-Meridian which I was thankful for. Kentlake didn’t exist yet and Kentridge was too far away to attend. So I went to the coolest of the four Kent high schools. (I know some of you are vehemently saying it isn’t so, but I stand my ground, especially since my wife and two kids both graduated from Kentwood.)
It’s hard to believe that next year I’ll have been out of school 30 years. The time flew by. And when you run into others from your graduating class, it makes you realize how quickly time moves.
When was the last time you perused your annual and found some of those peers still living in your area?
I still remember that day. My family and I were driving on Covington-Sawyer road. The sunshine was out. We were laughing and talking with each other heading home. We’d just crossed the railroad tracks near the Covington substation and were headed up the hill toward Lake Sawyer. As we neared Crest Airpark passing underneath the power lines overhead, one of my brothers said ‘hey, look at that! What happened?’
Looking to the left in the open area underneath the power lines we saw a small fire burning and a few people standing around staring and talking. At first we thought it was just someone burning some old brush or something, but within seconds our minds grasped the enormity of what we were seeing. It was a small airplane that had clipped the power lines while trying to land and had crashed into the field bursting into flames. The people standing around had heard or seen what had happened, but because of the heat were unable to pull the pilot free. He died in the crash.
The joyous ride home suddenly turned somber and sickening. My stomach churned realizing that just a minute or so before another human had been alive and was suddenly dead in a field. An unfortunate accident. To realize that what you are seeing is not on TV but is the real thing makes your mind reel with thoughts about the fragility of life. To know that a person was burning up inside that plane as we passed made me sick.
Sadly, others have perished in plane crashes near Covington in years past too. I remember the plane that crashed below Crest Airpark along Thomas road around 1997. It hit a house and burned up. I remember going by that house days after the accident and having that same gut-wrenching feeling of a loss of life again. Then, near the scene of this plane crash, in 2008 another plane hit a house while the occupants were inside. Only the pilot died. Still, a tragic loss of life.
It’s always sobering to contemplate the loss of life so near your home. These incidents stick in your mind forever. I just pray another plane doesn’t go down again around Covington. Life is too precious to be cut short.
I just saw the article about the new church off of Kent-Kangley which will be finished in the fall; the Mountain Vineyard Christian Fellowship. It made me think back to my youth. The only churches I remember as a youngster in Covington was the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses which sat where Applebee’s is for some 30 plus years and is now on SE 256th St. near the fire station and the Covington Community Church (which I believe had a different name when I was young) across from McDonald’s. Other than that, I don’t remember any churches in the area.
Of course as the years passed, other church buildings were constructed. I clearly remember the Faith Tabernacle, now call Faith Academy on wax road by the highway 18 overpass being built. And then later the Cornerstone United Methodist church near the top of the hill going toward Maple Valley on Kent-Kangley was constructed. Eventually the Hope Fellowship church at the top of hill on Kent-Kangley near the Pla-Mor tavern and the new Chevron gas station came on the scene. There is also the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints near Four Corners and a plethora of other churches either in rented facilities or their own buildings within a five-mile radius of Covington. I did an online search of “churches in Covington” and was amazed how many there really are.
Now the new Mountain Vineyard Christian Fellowship will be added to the tally of churches in Covington. It’s amazing how many people have an interest in the Bible in our own backyard. If more people in the world read and applied what it said we’d have a much nicer world to live in. I wonder how many more religious structures will be erected in the next few years in Covington. With continued growth and more people, I’m sure we’ll see a few more buildings for worship popping up on the landscape. In fact, if more churches are built along Kent-Kangley, (also known as SR 516 and SE 272nd St.) maybe we should add a fourth name for this road, Worship Way!
The big change is happening at Four Corners. The new Fred Meyer shopping mall construction is under way. For decades those trees around TRM Lumber have grown and grown. But now the wooded areas in Maple Valley are once again slowly disappearing.
Although the shopping center will be wonderful for residents in the area, the loss of nature is always heartrending. It always saddens me to see nature disappear to make way for city growth. But what can you do?
For as long as I can remember, the forests at Four Corners have been there. Over the last few years with the increase in housing developments and businesses, these areas are slowly disappearing. Four Corners is still rural enough that elk and deer can be seen wandering across the fields at the Tahoma Junior High School as well as along the roads heading toward Ravensdale and Hobart. I’m sure it will be awhile before the forests that far out are gone, but given a couple of decades I’m sure huge changes will be clearly visible.