A hiking area overlooking the Green River Gorge, Franklin is an abandoned coal mine town just on the outskirts of Black Diamond, approximately 40 miles southeast of Seattle. A serendipitous Google search led this curious writer to the site of the erstwhile mining locale one morning a couple weeks ago.
The super scenic trail is lovely in the spring, and clocks in at about two and a half miles long with minimal elevation gain. The path is chockfull of PNW relics and remnants from a time long gone with historic sights including an old coal cart, a sealed mineshaft that goes well beneath the surface at around 1,000 feet deep and headstones of the dearly departed. Look for the yellow gate as you enter the lot and proceed up the hill to the crossroad, which indicates the direction to the local cemetery.
According to the Washington Trails Association, Franklin came to be around the 1880s, during the early days of coal mining in the area. Rumor has it the town was the site of one of the worst mining accidents in Washington history. In the summer of 1894, 37 workers died in a mine fire that may have been started intentionally, though it appeared to the jury at the time that whoever started the fire ultimately perished in it too.
Despite the tragedy, mining continued until around 1919 at which point it had "all but ceased". As a result, locals abandoned the town, leaving behind a once prosperous site.
One can't help but feel a little eerie walking through the lush scenery. The good news is that dogs are welcome as long as they're leashed, so explore away with your four legged reinforcement. Click on for photos.