In Hidden Memory – Ravensdale’s Secret Graveyard

Explore Ravensdale history and the explosion that the city never recovered from.


Photo used with permission by photographer.

Eden Atwood, Staff

Ravensdale is infamous for its underground mines and rich history that intertwines with the legacy of the Maple Valley area. Hidden away from Ravensdale residents, thirty-one miners are laid to rest in a graveyard just off neighborhood property. Here, the memory of these men lives on inside a one-acre property where they are honored after their horrible demise in the 1915 Ravensdale mine explosion.

The mine explosion of November 1915 was a terrible accident that immediately claimed the lives of 31 men. The miners operated inside a dry mine, a mine in which the atmosphere has little or no moisture and is more susceptible to bursting into violent flames. Prospects of this event were a commonplace fear at the time and, unfortunately, fears became a reality when a muffled explosion shook the ground. The explosion instantly killed 31 men, leaving 25 widows, 60 orphans, and a devastated town.

In attempts to rescue any possible survivors within the mine, other mines traveled from locations across Washington State to help in the rescue effort. Hours of physical labor to help recover bodies, remains, and survivors were hindered by dangers inside the mine. Deaths varied from local councilmen to veterans of war. Not all of the miners were buried in the Ravensdale graveyard (for, no records exist that indicate any burials of the Ravensdale miners). A few of the remains were carried to miners’ hometowns, but it is significant to acknowledge that several of the miners’ final resting places can be found at Ravensdale graveyard. The graveyard has been frequently looted and plundered over the last century. Despite being a small graveyard, the shallow graves are spread out and hidden by nearby foliage and overlying plant life.

Nonetheless, continuing existence of the graveyard has stayed a persistent and permanent reminder of those thirty-one men who forever left a dent in the hearts of family, friends, and Ravensdale itself.