Much of the research into our community’s history is thanks to Linda Jean Shepherd’s extensive work interviewing Rod Loveless, Tom Cole, and others who have been part of the community for many years.
How Mirrormont Got Its Name
The name “Mirrormont” was inspired by the name of a villa in Casablanca, Morocco in North Africa: “I was stationed in Casablanca at the end of World War II and dating a French girl whose parents had owned a wonderful villa in Casablanca. Their villa had been taken over by the American Army for use as a residence for high-ranking officers stationed in Casablanca. The name was Villa Miramar, which means ‘view of the sea,’ and I had gone there for several parties and receptions. When we were deciding on a name for Mirrormont, I came up with Miramonte, ‘view of the mountain,’ as I had fond memories of my time in Casablanca. But that name had been used a lot before. So we changed it to be like ‘mirror of the mountain’ and dropped the E on monte and that was how it happened.”
Rod Loveless, developer of Mirrormont
Developers of Mirrormont
Rod Loveless devoted ten years of his life to Mirrormont, and later developed Country Village in Bothell, home of the 15-ft chicken. After being in the Army during WWII, he got into building and developing property. He partnered with a high school buddy, Glenn Nordlie, to form Woodland Properties. He also formed other businesses connected to Mirrormont: Mirrormont Services, Inc. built and maintained our water system; Loveless Construction Company and Loveless & Dillon, Corp. built homes here, Pipeline Systems ran our underground heating oil system. Now age 87, he is still actively developing, dealing in real estate, and running a bulldozer and backhoe building a golf course on Decateur Island.
Glenn Nordlie partnered with Loveless after his accordion school by Woodland Park dwindled. Woodland Properties specialized in buying and selling real estate. Business prospered and they kept buying larger tracts of land. They gambled on a large tract on the Hobart Highway and platted Mirrormont. Together, they dug ditches and put in culverts. He died in 2006, at age 80.
John Temcov came from Bulgaria and was very European. At times, he sported a chest-length beard. Originally a resident and realtor in West Seattle, he opened a Seaboard Realty office at 26900 Sunset Highway (US Highway 10, today’s Gilman Blvd, before I-90 was built in the late 1960s). Loveless and Nordlie dealt with Seaboard Realty on several parcels of land, and Temcov showed them a 600-acre tract south of Issaquah on the Hobart Highway owned by Gunder Birkland. He became exclusive representative for Mirrormont lots, with a sales office on 154th Ave SE east of the tennis courts. Shortly before he died at age 83 in 1995, he revised his will to create Temcov Foundation to fund local environmentalists. John was very flowery with his descriptions and came up with the tag-lines used in promotional brochures and advertising, “Elegance in Country Living” and “Above the fog, beyond the smog.” He also had more poetic names for Mirrormont streets. Early maps show Squire Lane, Forest Drive, and Hillside Drive. But King County changed the names to numbers.
Mirrormont's 50th Anniversary
While Seattle celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Seattle World’s Fair, Mirrormont had our own 50th Anniversary. In 1962, the first three homes were built here. On September 22, 2012 — 50 years to the day from the Grand Opening — the Mirrormont Community Association sponsored its biggest party ever with live music, food trucks, games, a wine & beer garden, commemorative tee-shirts & ball caps, historical displays, and a speakers’ panel. I became our resident historian after I was given a box of old documents about our community from Tom Cole, who moved into a Mirrormont A-frame chalet in 1965, when he joined about twenty other residents who wanted to “get away from it all.” Tom said, “Everybody knew everybody, and there were a lot of parties!” He thinks he may now be the second longest resident. Over the years, he helped form Mirrormont Country Club, managed the pool, edited the newsletter, built the original bus shelters, served as Treasurer… and organized parties. Tom alluded to Mirrormont stories about murders, race cars, gambling parties, an African lion, plans for a gravel quarry, and reports of a flying saucer… To me, the most captivating documents in the box were the original sales brochures from the Mirrormont Branch of Seaboard Realty, the exclusive sales agent and broker John Temcov, who has since passed away. Their office was on the corner of Cedar Grove Road and Issaquah-Hobart Road. A full-page ad in a 1970 issue of the Issaquah Press proclaimed:
Above the Fog, Beyond the Smog in the beautiful Tiger Mountain Highlands
A Residential Park Acre, lots priced from $6,000
Mirrormont was a development of Woodland Properties, Inc., under the direction of Rodney L. Loveless. We owe the vision and creation of Mirrormont to Glenn Nordlie, who died in 2006 at age 80, and Rod Loveless, who currently lives in Bothell with his wife Barbara. I had the pleasure of interviewing Rod and Glenn Nordlie’s son Mark, who grew up helping his dad on projects in Mirrormont.
Another key player was Jim Elder, Sr, who bought 100 to 120 lots selling for $3250 to $7950 each, which sustained the initial financing of Mirrormont. He built the first building on the corner of Hobart Road and Cedar Grove Road, which was a real estate office. In 1971, his Elder Corporation, Realty Division had plans to develop Mirrormont Village, an 8.6-acre business center that never materialized. Jim’s son, Jim Carey Elder, still lives in Mirrormont with his wife, Sharon. The sales brochures had sketches of A-frame chalets, deer, Mt Rainier, dogwood flowers, and tall evergreens. Much of the original vision has materialized, while the 25-minute “swift-moving scenic drive” has become…a bit longer and slower. As in 2012, sales were slow.
Here are a few enticements from the brochures:
Elegance in country living
680 acres of unspoiled beauty…
Mirrormont is located a 25 minutes drive from Downtown Seattle, 20 minutes from Renton or 35 minutes drive to Tacoma on the new Auburn Freeway. Mirrormont is truly centrally located to the Seattle-Tacoma complex and is connected by swift new highways to the growing population centers east and south of Lake Washington. You will find this lofty plateau 5 miles south of Issaquah on the Hobart Highway near its intersection with the Auburn Freeway. You may drive to it from Rainier Avenue in Seattle without being impeded by one stoplight. Just put yourself on the Sunset Highway, Route 10 and head for the hills. Turn south at the first Issaquah turnoff and drive the remaining 5 miles on the Hobart Highway to the entrance portals of Mirrormont. What is best, is that you will enjoy every minute of the swift-moving scenic drive.
What is Mirrormont?
Mirrormont is a rising new suburban district situated on a spectacular 800 ft. plateau southwest of Tiger Mountain. It overlooks the beautiful Issaquah Valley and stretches of land to the south, West and East. This community and its planned additions presently encompass nearly 700 acres. The objective of this huge development is to provide the Seattle-Tacoma complex with a combination of suburban-residential community which truly provides the much desired aspects of country beauty and spaciousness with the convenience and sophistication of the better residential districts. This objective is the corner stone of the Mirrormont development. We are sure that, with conscientious efforts on our part to nurture this concept and to incorporate it in the development of the beautiful land chosen for this purpose, we can provide our families with a truly wonderful setting for living. What is Mirrormont? In essence it is a big step towards a better way of life.
The Mirrormont Story
Millions of years ago nature decreed that the beautiful two-mile long Mirrormont plateau must always remain peaceful and secluded. This bequest of nature explains why Mirrormont today is a most wanted place to live in, or to own an acre tract for your dream home of tomorrow. Imagine your family living in a wooded park, minutes from office, schools and industry, yet safely and securely outside the roaring city and grinding suburbs. Inside Mirrormont’s forested entrance, waiting for you, is the calming welcome of quiet, winding streets, graceful evergreens, vine maples and dogwood blossoms, elderberry and wild cherry trees, soft ferns, salal, and stately bouquets of wild huckleberries. On the plateau, sunny skies and gentle breezes are yours to enjoy. Here you suddenly become aware of the irreplaceable grandeur and friendship of nature… of Mirrormont. … this is YOUR home.
Points to remember
- Large, acre-sized tracts
- Towering evergreens, lush undergrowth
- Protective covenants
- Bridle Trails, modern stables, boarding and training facilities
- Close to skiing, hiking, fishing, and mountain recreation areas; unlimited adventure
- Wide county roads and excellent school district
- Underground oil system and underground utilities
- Minutes from Bellevue, Seattle, Kent, Auburn, Renton and Tacoma
- Areas set aside for shopping village and community center
- Permanent privacy
- Restful seclusion
- Protection from repetition of homes
Five builders featured in the brochures offered “6 outstanding homes reflecting the ‘Spirit of the 70’s’ from $42,500 to $55,000.”
Fifty years later, lots are assessed here in the order of $140,000 — up a bit from the original average selling price of $6000. We still have deer and forested lots. I don’t know about “elegance”, But Mirrormont remains a unique place to live. Personally, I love it here.
Thanks go to Tom Cole and Jim Elder for sharing their memories.
The First House in Mirrormont
26004 SE 158th St
The Mirrormont property was a wild and wooly area, no roads, just logging trails. J.J. Welcome Co of Redmond brought in bulldozers and roughed out a road to the first house, which we sold in 1962 to a Washington State Patrolman, Joe Sackman. His was the first house and the first sale. That was the beginning of everything. He lived in Mirrormont for a long time. [Sackman had moved to Wenatchee by 1984 and retired from the State Patrol after 32 years in 2006.]
One day I was driving through Issaquah where the State Patrol had set up a speed trap. I got stopped for speeding – and it was Joe Sackman. He said, “You’re not supposed to be going that fast.” I told him my mind was on other things and I didn’t realize I was speeding. He didn’t give me a ticket.
Rod Loveless, developer of Mirrormont
It seems like it’s been a transient house, with new owners every couple of years. It wasn’t really loved. But we liked the privacy of the lot. We’ve been remodeling for the past seven years — a real labor of love.
Sharon Farrar, current owner as of 2012
Chalet Style A-frame Homes
I designed all the chalets, built them as spec houses, then sold them after they were completed. Mountain chalet-houses were a whole new concept at the time we started Mirrormont. I got the idea after considering developing a ski resort at the base of Steven’s Pass in Scenic, and had these chalets designed by some architect friends. I built one in the Kirkland area; it sold right away and there was so much interest in it that I went ahead and designed some more chalets that were 1200 sq. ft. or larger. The first chalet that I built in Mirrormont was the House That Channel 7 Built.
The main disadvantage of that style was the expense of the roof, as it was very steep and difficult to shake. Roofers charged quite a bit extra for that type of roof. I devised a method of building the first half of the roof of the A-frame on the ground and then tilting it up and building the second half on the ground underneath it. When both halves were completed, they were raised up with a crane and then lowered back together and joined at the peak. This went very rapidly and saved a lot of money. This worked well with the smaller houses and we built quite a few in Mirrormont. The Channel 7 house was a chalet style, but wasn’t one we tilted up.
Rod Loveless, developer of Mirrormont
The House That TV Built
We did a deal to build up interest in Mirrormont. In cooperation with Channel 7, we built a house. We had big advertisements on J.P. Patches’ show, “The House That TV 7 Built.” Huge crowds came out, 3000 people with their kids per weekend. It was auctioned off to the highest bidder as a way to pay for ads and the house. It gave us 6 months of advertising and put Mirrormont on the map.
The Channel 7 House was the first chalet I built in Mirrormont. Channel 7 wanted a spectacular house for people to see, so it was big and had a huge fireplace. At that time, not many chalets had been built. People were really interested in that idea, so it went over well.
We contacted our suppliers and the builders that were building in Mirrormont and got their promises to cooperate. The builders agreed to contribute carpenter help, and many of the suppliers donated materials in exchange for TV advertising. We even got the house completely furnished in exchange for TV advertising. I designed a large chalet-style house and we began construction. It took about three months to build the home and then the TV promotion began. The station used almost all of their unsold advertising spots to advertise Mirrormont, our suppliers, and the House That TV 7 Built. You could hardly turn on the TV without seeing the ads. They also put us on some of the talk shows to be interviewed and explain the details.
Rod Loveless, developer of Mirrormont
The station auctioned off the Channel 7 house in 1964. The big ‘triple A-frame’ at 26065 SE 159th Place was purchased by the Russell family. In February, 1965, they vacated their first chalet in Mirrormont on 263rd, which has been my home ever since since. After that, the Channel 7 house has changed hands several times. The current owner, Daryl Hawkins, purchased it two years ago from the Buddhist folks. In late February, Daryl was repairing the foundation of his house that he belatedly learned had been damaged in the 2001 earthquake.
Tom Cole, Mirrormont News, Spring 2002
Before the current owner, a Buddhist nun, Sunim, lived there. She had a service every Saturday upstairs. You could hear them bonging. I’d go over to visit her once in a while and she’d open the door and it’d smell like garlic.
Cindy Ebersole, 40 years in Mirrormont
from “The History of Mirrormont, Chapter Two” by Thomas R. Cole in Mirrormont News, Winter 2001
As more families moved in, they realized the need for recreational facilities closer to home. Part of the Mirrormont lure then was the promise by Woodland Properties (WP) of a clubhouse — but there wasn’t one and it didn’t look like it was going to happen. So, in 1967, a small group decided to push it, and by cajoling, coercion and donated labor, convinced WP to provide the material and construction crews to get it built. The club opened in 1969 to a round of parties, swim meets, sing-a-longs and the like. Then, and for a number of years, club and pool maintenance was all volunteer. The first fence around the pool was made of grapestakes, cut from cedar logs by members down the hill south from the club where many houses now stand. The pool for many years had a nice children’s slide and diving board, both mandated out of existence by county regulations, The club, which started out with 20 members, now  has 80 with a waiting list.
But to some, moving “out in the country” to Mirrormont was their way to get away from it all. These iconoclasts didn’t like the idea of a social organization in their proximity and they tried to stop it. When fliers promoting the club and asking everyone to join were distributed, some went around to pick up and destroy as many as they could. Fortunately, their “bah humbug” attitude was overcome.
Alongside the clubhouse, where the tennis courts are now, the early “settlers” built a baseball diamond with a very nice backstop and level playing fields. Some large trees had to be removed and, of course, these logs became the bleachers. Mirrormont had its own Little League team then, coached by Nick Johnson, father of the only black family in Mirrormont. A tall, imposing man (Boeing employee, of course) he was well-liked by not only the team and parents, but by the other coaches for his leadership in the league.
The ball field was also used for ad hoc fireworks displays every year as most everybody in the community gathered to light up the sky. Finally, the tennis courts were built about 1976.
Written by: Janine Smith, Mirrormont Newsletter, Winter 2008
A Little Piece of History
I was cruising the web, trying to remember my old Mirrormont Estates address when I happened upon an old Spring 2006 edition of your newsletter. I found it because I’d put “Mirrormont Stables” in as a search. I was born in Seattle wayyy back in 1961, and lived in Mirrormont Estates. We moved to Texas in 1968. I remember the street we lived on, 158th St., but I can’t remember the actual address. My family owned the stables; in fact, my mom and dad built it. (I remember that address because I still have one of the business cards!). I have pictures of the house and the stables, along with my little-kid-riding-her-horse-playing-Lone-Ranger-with-her-brother memories (I was Tonto, btw). In the newsletter there was a piece about the bridle paths: “The general belief is that these bridle paths were originally meant for the use of the neighbors who kept horses in the nearby Mirrormont Stables…”. My dad cut every one of those paths. He cut them with ax, machete and whatever else was handy, in other words, by hand! The trails were meant for everyone and anyone, neighbor, patron, or hiker.
I remember my childhood, full of cowboys, Indians and herds of wild horses. Of course, the memories of childhood are never exactly as we remember them. Luckily, I still have people around who still remember things a little clearer than I, who was all of three years old when we first moved to Mirrormont. My parents, Glen and Caroline Smith, along with my sister, Kathy, my brother, Mark, and myself, moved to Issaquah from Seattle in 1964. The house we were to live in, at 26328 SE 158th Street in the new Mirrormont Estates, was not even quite finished when they bought it. We moved in on the Saturday before Thanksgiving of that year. My mother, Caroline, remembers there only being about 20 occupied homes at the time. My father was one of those people who never met a stranger and every person he met was an instant best friend, and so it was with Mirrormont Estates sales agent John Temcov. The two discussed the need for the planned riding stables to be built as soon as possible and the next thing my mother remembers, “we were in the process of drawing plans for the barn and the whole project mushroomed from there.” The stable, located directly across from the entrance to Mirrormont Estates, at 15401 Hobart Road, was to sit on a little over twelve acres of land owned by the developers of the estates. My mother and father cleared the brush and cut the trails themselves. Since there were so few houses, the trails wound up, through and around the estates. They also built the barn themselves, with occasional weekend help from a couple of friends from Seattle who had decided to invest a little time and money to help complete the project. Mom vividly remembers being up on the roof of the towering two-story structure, helping to hammer shingles into place. “When the barn was completed,” she recalls, “it had a huge hayloft upstairs and eight stalls and a tack room on the main floor.”
After approximately eight months of backbreaking work, the stables were ready to open. Ten horses were purchased, along with the appropriate tack. More stock were added during the next few months, including a baby donkey named Eeyore, a Shetland Pony named Copper King, and Tawney, a gorgeous golden buckskin Hackney Pony. I always thought of Tawney as my mother’s horse. My father’s horse was a huge Strawberry Roan named Brandy, and my brother’s a Tennessee Walking Horse named Whiskey. I think those last two may have been the only horses named for alcohol, though I won’t swear to it. My sister started out with a cute Welsh Pony named Smokey who loved to open gates. Smokey was the first of our beloved horses to die at the stables, from a twisted bowel. Kathy’s second horse was a black Appaloosa named Maverick. My horse, naturally, was the best of all the horses in the land. No little pony for me, I fell in love with, and claimed, a very old black and white paint mare named Comanche. Comanche was special, you see. She was that rare, wonderful horse that has a truly loving, gentle spirit. Just one example of this, and there were many, is the time when I, all of about four years old, decided to ride my lovely, faithful Indian Pony (I was always Tonto, to my brother’s Lone Ranger). In my zeal, I never stopped to think that Comanche was standing, unencumbered by tack, in the middle of a large corral teaming with a substantial herd of perhaps not so gentle horses. I made my way through them without a thought except riding Comanche, and after reaching her I did what any other stalwart Indian brave would do; I proceeded to try to climb up her leg. Truthfully, I have absolutely no memory of this, only the stories I’ve heard over the years, but my mother remembers it well. She tells me that Wes, an old cowboy who worked at the stale who, she says, was “the original horse whisperer,” saw me out there among the milling horses clinging to Comanche’s leg and came to get me. Comanche never moved the whole time. She was, I think, a bit like the equine version of Nana in Peter Pan. She died at the stables, of old age a couple of years later. She collapsed in the corral and all the horses gathered round her, paying homage to the grand old lady of Mirrormont Stables.
Alas, all good things come to an end, and, sadly, so did our time in Mirrormont. Although now it seems like I spent most of my childhood there, the reality is that we left in 1968 after a mere four years. With no warning, my father decided to pack up and move to Texas leaving my mom to sell the house and deal with the stable. She had to approach the investors and ask them to help, having no choice but to leave the animals in their hands. They promised that all would be taken care of and they would find good homes for our beloved horses, but to this day we have no idea what really became of them. This was an incredibly hard time for us all, losing our home, our friends (which included the horses) and our husband / father. All of us look back fondly on our time in Issaquah, the fun we used to have and the beauty of the place. Perhaps my childhood wasn’t exactly the way I remember it, but I do know it was pretty darn good!
Heidi Kayler (right) grew up here, and took lessons at Mirrormont Stables. In the background is the only existing picture of the sales hut at the entrance of Mirrormont.
Mirrormont Bridle Trails
Research and interviews by Linda Jean Shepherd
“In 1967, the summer after graduating from college, I went horseback riding on a guided tour offered by Mirrormont Stables. We went across the road and up the hill on bridle trails into Mirrormont, and the guide pointed out remnants of coal mining – old cables and a coal cart. By the time we moved here in 1973, Mirrormont Stables no longer gave guided tours. But I exercised a horse being boarded there, for a woman who didn’t have the time. I love riding my horses around Mirrormont because I meet a lot of neighbors out working in their yards.”
Melinda Codling, moved to Mirrormont in 1973
“Years ago, the trails were probably used more than Mirrormont Place: some of the kids in the area had horses and the Mirrormont Stables were very active. There were only a couple of houses up here and the road was gravel. The trails were marked on the promotional literature and are on the plats as “equestrian trails.” As some of your know, back thirty years ago there was no requirement to draw in the exact location of a public right-of-way if it was clearly visible. It is referenced in the deeds and on the plat (there is a dotted line down the property divide). Of course the trail preceded the Mirrormont plat and was in use well before Mirrormont was surveyed for Woodland Properties. The trails generally followed the contours of the land. The trails were an asset and were used almost daily for over 30 years as a right of way.”
Mirrormont News, Summer 2004
The MCA sponsored a special meeting in February 2006 to discuss issues surrounding Mirrormont Bridle Trails. Many residents were hopeful that opening the existing easements would provide a community-wide trail system to provide safe, natural settings to walk. Other residents raised concerns about possible vandalism, lack of privacy, loose dogs, and trail maintenance. Questions were also raised concerning monies needed for surveys, trail construction, impact on property values, and insurance issues. At the time, the MCA was already busy with the development and construction of Mirrormont Park, and questioned whether they could handle an additional project of this scope. Of those who voted, 11 voted were in favor of developing the trail system, 5 were uncertain, and 23 voted against. The MCA Board decided not to pursue development of the trail system at that time.
Mirrormont News, Spring 2006
Bus Stop No. 1
From “The History of Mirrormont, Chapter Two” by Thomas R. Cole in Mirrormont News, Winter 2001
It stands on the corner of 266th Ave. SE and SE 162nd Pl., down in the back southeast corner of Mirrormont, a lonely shack-like structure, built more than 35 years ago [about 1966], the last of its kind. But far from being forlorn, this school bus shelter is in remarkable shape for its age, obviously cared for by neighborly parents — sturdy, covered with roofing, and sporting a proud sign, “Bus Stop No. 1.”
Neighbors, far between but sociable in 1965 (it rained more then, I swear), decided to shelter their sprouts from the “wilderness.” A group of the fathers gathered to build 10 of the shelters in the Cole’s side driveway using wood donated by Woodland Properties, the originators of Mirrormont. After consulting with the school administration, the shelters were carted all over the area on the back of pickup trucks. They remained in service for years, but time and vandalism took its toll and so now the “sprouts” once again wait for the buses out in the open – except for the corner of 266th Ave. SE and SE 162nd Pl.
An African Lion in Mirrormont?
It was a calm, quiet summer night before there were many houses in Mirrormont. All of the windows were open, and I was in the bathroom when I heard this terrible roar, like a lion in a TV nature show. It turned out that someone living on 152nd Street near the fire station had a caged African lion there for about a week.
James Carey Elder II, parents moved to Mirrormont in 1966
Where 263rd dead-ends into 152nd, there’s a house and roof are all metal. Before that, it was one of the original A-frames. The second family in there built a big, high fence to house a kennel because they raised German Shepherds. The third family who moved in there had a full-grown male lion. In the summer, when that lion would roar, you could hear it all over Mirrormont. Some neighbors finally made him get rid of it. This was somewhere around 1970-1975.
Tom Cole, moved to Mirrormont in 1965
It was difficult to get water out here. Everybody had wells. So we started Mirrormont Services and developed a water system, then expanded into other areas. At one time we were the 10th largest privately owned water district in WA.
When we first started this, I had been very active in putting in water mains in developments when I platted lots, and I’d do the utilities myself. I’d put in the water mains and dig the ditches for the electrical company. I operated bulldozers and backhoes and road graders. I actually did quite a bit of the work myself out here in the development of Mirrormont.
When we drilled the first well up here for the water system — we got the water before we did the plat, which was a condition, since you had to have a water source when you were platting. So they capped the well until we were ready to start the water system. When we went back to start the water system, somebody had knocked the cap off and dumped a bunch of drill rods down inside the well, which screws you all up because you can’t put a pump in when you’ve got drill rods down inside. We don’t know which one of the neighbors did that, but somebody didn’t want the development to happen. Before the well-digger could put the pumps in, they had to drill out that stuff down there. I ended up with boxes of fragments of steel because they had to slowly hammer that stuff apart to get it out. That was kind of a shock.
As we sold more and more lots, we expanded the water system and it became necessary to build water storage tanks. Our surveyor, Phil Botch, was also the district engineer for the South Seattle Water System. They had a surplus wooden water tank that they were going to get rid of in favor of a large concrete reservoir. We paid them a nominal sum, disassembled it, and hauled it to Mirrormont. I poured a concrete slab and we assembled the tank. It was quite large, about 20 feet tall, made of wooden 2×6 staves, and banded with steel rods on about three foot centers. When it was done, we filled it with water. Since it was a hot day, I let the whole crew go skinny-dipping. Only the younger ones did. We added a little chlorine afterwards. Somehow word got out and I was in trouble with the water customers. We added more chlorine, and marked down another lesson learned.
We kept taking in more and more water customers from surrounding areas as well as the Mirrormont lots. We added more wells and more tanks. We found a tract with a great spring on it, and had the water rights recorded, reserving a small amount for several old time residents of the area. Their names were John C, a retired logger, his son a heavy equipment operator, and his sister Violet. Our engineer Phil Botch gave his approval and a design, and we began to construct a water collection system and water line mains to connect up with the existing water system in Mirrormont. He hadn’t mentioned that the neighbors were a little paranoid about their spring rights. Nor did he mention that John C had served a prison sentence for shooting another logger in the stomach and had a fierce temper. His sister Violet was no shrinking violet either. We no sooner got started working than John threatened to blow the S.O.B. spring to kingdom come if we messed with it. We assured them that what we were doing was for the better and that we would give them free water from then on. Eventually we hired John to do some small jobs in the area and we became friends. Later, when we had completed our work, there was some minor problem and Violet was out of water for a day or so. My wife Barbara got a phone call from Violet, and she told Barbara, “ I could hang that S.O.B. husband of yours.” And she proceeded to vent her feelings.
Things settled down eventually and the new system functioned quite well. It did seem, however, that major water main breaks always occurred on holidays or weekends. Several times on Thanksgiving or Christmas the phone would ring and somebody was out of water. The people that lived at the higher elevations were always the ones that were first to know.
Quite often the breaks were caused by excessive rainfall. One year, the storm drains were overflowing in Mirrormont and the water all ended up going down through an area where we had just finished installing water lines. The whole hillside washed out, taking a water main with it, and spilled down and across the Hobart Highway. The State Patrol was on it immediately, the highway was closed and we worked like beavers until order was restored.
Rod Loveless, developer of Mirrormont
The second winter (1974), the water went out on Christmas day. All of Mirrormont had no water. The guy who ran the water system said, “It’s Christmas, I’m not working on Christmas!” It was a hassle cooking. We collected buckets of water off the roof since the rain gutters were filled. He got it running the next day. After that, we started storing water in garbage cans to use to flush toilets. Once we were without water for three days.
Melinda Codling, moved here in 1973
Underground Heating Oil System
The oil system was unique at that time. A lot of developments had gas underground, and electricity for furnaces, but most places used oil tanks for diesel oil and at that time diesel oil was about 10 cents/gallon. Incredible, when now it’s over $4/gallon. It was quite reasonably priced to heat houses with. I met these people who had a big oil company downtown, one of the biggest in Seattle. They were telling me about this idea they had. It’d been done back east several places where they piped oil underground, just like they pipe in gas. It sounded like a pretty good idea, so we went ahead and contracted with Safe Heat Oil Co., a distributor of oil with offices by the Space Needle. Bud Vaughn was the owner’s name. They took over the oil system idea, installed the pipes and a 10,000-gallon tank on the hill by the water tank in Division I as you come off Tiger Mtn Rd.
The oil system functioned very well throughout Divisions I, II, III & IV. Each house had a meter. Black iron pipes held the oil, and the oil kept them from rusting, but the people who installed them didn’t take into account problems they might have with electrolysis. The gas company has learned that to their dismay too… After a few years, we began losing oil. The first indication was that someone with a well below Mirrormont detected an odor. Obviously, some kind of oil was getting into their water system. Right away we closed off that oil main, and dug down and discovered the pipe had corroded. Electrolysis had made several tiny pinholes, and this was where the oil was leaking out. Well, at 10 cents/gallon it wasn’t too big of a deal. But as the oil price kept going up, the leaks became more of a problem. It eventually got to the point where we had several other areas where there was oil leaking.
The Department of Ecology got involved and called us because of several complaints about the odor of oil, or they could actually see a sheen of oil on water. So they came out and we’d repaired all the problems we had, so we were okay, but we could see this was going to get worse and worse as time went on, and it did. Eventually DOE decided we should take out the oil system. Oil was going up rapidly in price and it wasn’t as attractive as it had been. We worked it out deals with the gas company and several furnace companies and electrical company to get a real inexpensive installation price for converting their furnaces from oil to electricity. Some of them converted to gas, which was the easiest thing to do and some converted to electricity. So we were able to close the oil system down. In the early days, Bud Vaughn became disenchanted with operating the oil system, and we bought it from him, and we called it Pipeline Systems. I think he had realized that this electrolysis was going to be a continuing problem and that was one of the reasons I think he sold it to us. But we operated it for quite a few years and then we shut it down and arranged for other types of heat for the houses we built.
Rod Loveless, developer of Mirrormont
Gravel Roads and Relaxed Standards
Plats 35,000 sq. ft. or larger were the type of plats you could do as “relaxed standards” plats because you didn’t have to build roads to the county’s specifications. You could do it whatever way you wanted. We started out with that kind of plat, so all the Mirrormont lots are 35,000 sq. ft. or larger.
I operated bulldozers and backhoes and road graders. I actually did quite a bit of the work myself out here in the development of Mirrormont. I had some interesting experiences. One that people get a kick out of is:
We were switching the roads that had all been graveled and gradually converted them to a bituminous surface, which was like asphalt. Some of the roads we asphalted and in Division V there was a steep road going down that was difficult to surface [SE 155th Pl]. So we decided we’d blacktop that one ourselves with a road grader. We could get the blacktop in trucks from Washington Asphalt. The trucks would come out and spread the blacktop as well as they could, and then we could take the grader and grade it out so that it was proper for the road.
Well, the hill was really steep, and we’d rented a roller to roll the asphalt while it was still hot. When you first spread it out it has to be rolled and compacted. I was running the roller and the man who had worked for me for many years as a bulldozer/road grader operator, John Pearson. He was running the road grader, and I was coming down the hill with the roller, rolling the asphalt. And the hill was really steep for this roller and as I was rolling down the hill I could feel it slip a little. About 2-3 minutes later, coming down the steep part of the hill, I could no longer still steer the roller and it started to slide of its own accord. It was going around in 360-degree circles. So I jumped off of the roller, but my foot caught in the floorboards and the roller was small enough that with one foot in the floorboards I could just touch the road on the other side of the machine. So I was hopping on one foot with the other foot in the roller and hanging on for dear life as we were revolving around in 360-degree turns coming down the hill. John Pearson on the road grader was coming up at the same time. I looked at him and his eyes were as big as saucers. He thought I was going to be run over by the roller and killed. I finally got to the bottom of the steepest part and all of a sudden it was steerable again and stopped going around in circles. So I jumped back on, pulled myself back on the roller, and was able to straighten it out, get it off to the side of the road, and get off. I was okay, but my leg was very sore after that.
There were problems with people speeding around and learning to drive. My kids learned to drive out here too when they were 12-13 years old. I’d send them on errands—there was nobody around, and they were private roads at that time.
Rod Loveless, developer of Mirrormont
Flying Saucers?! Real, Or Just a False Show?
More and more people are beginning to believe in “Flying Saucers,” or U.F.O. as they are officially called. The last two months has brought many reports of sightings of these objects near Issaquah. Last month, Mr. and Mrs. H.C. Brady were watching television about 8:30 in the evening with the draperies still open Suddenly, a bright red flash went by their window about the size of a tether ball. At first Mrs. Brady thought their roof must be on fire because of the brightness of the light, and such a vivid red. Bu the time the couple could get to the window, it was gone. The object seemed, to them, to be far away. The same evening the Oscar Andersons were home and a bright red light settled in their yard. Mr. Anderson spotted it first and called to his wife. To them, it was about three or four feet wide and just “sat there” and glowed the brilliant red color, like a fire. Then, as quick as it had come, it was gone. Mrs. Anderson said it was hard to describe; it was “the funniest thing ever seen.”
In last week’s Seattle Times, Mrs. Burton Ross of Tiger Mountain described her experience with “flying saucers” with the same red glow. Five other witnesses, with Mrs. Ross also saw the mysterious objects. Last Sunday evening, Bruce Tolley saw an odd white light over the Tiger Mountain area that streaked North and had a “tail” with a red glow. The same night, Mrs. Mahlon Set— walked through her darkened house and… toward Tiger Mountain. She saw an odd brilliant light that disappeared suddenly.
There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for these sightings, and they all seem to be described in the same way. If any of you readers have seen one of thee “flying saucers,” please let me know so others may share your experience.
The Seattle Times
People who lived up in Division 2 in a house with a view over the valley looking west. saw this UFO over by a county garbage dump off Issaquah-Hobart Hwy heading west. There was an electrical transmission line that went across. They’d seen this flying saucer on this one evening and it was reported in the paper. We were so interested we brought our kids and sat on Tiger Mountain Road high on the hill where we got a good view looking out in the same direction. We’d been sitting in the car for a while, when my son Bryan says, “Will the real UFO please stand up!” Then they discovered it was some kind of reflection off power lines. So it wasn’t a UFO. There was a reason, something with the transmission lines that went across.
Rod Loveless, developer of Mirrormont
Logging and Rail History
Have you ever wondered about those huge stumps in your yard? Have you ever hiked or biked one of the many trails on Tiger Mountain that have been re-purposed from railroad right-of-ways (e.g. Caroline Mine, Iverson, or NW Timber)?
In the 1920s, Mirrormont was logged, and rail was the mode of transport to move logs to Wood and Iverson’s saw mill, which was located southwest of the current SR18/Hobart Road interchange.
The history of Mirrormont and its logging past starts much earlier though, in 1864 when the U.S. Congress approved the Northern Pacific railroad land grant. The current oddly shaped rectilinear boundaries of the Mirrormont subdivision can be traced directly back to the NPRR land grant. Through a series of transactions, Frederick Weyerhaeuser of St. Paul, MN, gained control of much of the land granted in the foothills of Western Washington. In 1920, Weyerhaeuser sold the property that would become Mirrormont to Wood and Iverson, a timber company that had been operating out of Hobart, WA since 1912.
Wood and Iverson soon after began construction of railroad right-of-way (ROW) from the mill northward into the Mirrormont area. Their rail line entered our subdivision near the southeast corner at 266th Ave SE. The line contoured along the steep hillside next to SE 159th Place and 162nd Place. Remnants of the graded ROW can still be seen along SE 159th Place. The main line then traversed northward to the vicinity of the tennis courts, crossed what is now the park and continued north. Much of 255th Ave SE occupies the original railroad ROW. From there the line continued northeast, crossing Tiger Mountain Road and extending past what today is the 15-Mile Creek Trailhead. The trail follows the ROW northeast toward the Grand Canyon of Tiger Mountain.
Additional rail lines branched out from the main line to access log loading areas both east and west of the main line that ran through Mirrormont. The exact locations of those ROW have not been found, but artifacts from the logging era can still be seen. For example, a piece of light-duty rail lies along the north side of SE Mirrormont Place just a few houses east of where that road turns into 247th Place SE. The timber cut from the Mirrormont plateau helped build Seattle and quite likely helped build the two large wood-stave water lines that provide Seattle’s water from the Cedar River watershed. The water lines are made of wood with steel banding, run from the Landsburg intake to Lake Youngs, and are still in use today.
You might wonder how the logging railroad ROW was built and what it might look like today. In the 1920s steam-powered shovels were used to build rail ROW in rugged areas such as Tiger Mountain. These machines were very similar to the hydraulic excavators that are common today, except that wire rope was used to actuate or move the dipper/shovel. Today the grades are still visible as benches or cuts that have been grown over with time. However, if you look closely you can see the regular and smooth alignment of the grading. The grading does not look natural, because the grades are quite smooth. Additionally, where a modern road occupies the ROW, the curves and grade changes are much less abrupt than the purpose-built light-duty roads of our subdivision, which came later. Trains could not travel over sharp vertical or horizontal changes in the railroad alignment. A great example of such alignment and ROW is the trail in Issaquah that goes behind the high school and occupies the former Northern Pacific Railway line. The rail logging era in Mirrormont extended from about 1920 to the early 1930s.
For more information on the rail and logging history of Mirrormont, including maps of the railroad grades, and photos of what the 1920s-era railroads in Mirrormont looked like, see Ken Schmelzer’s 2001 book, Wood & Iverson, Loggers of Tiger Mountain.