Kapowsin Quarry has an incredible view of Lake Kapowsin just above the northeastern end of the lake.
Driving east on Kapowsin Highway, the road curves around the northeastern shoreline. As the highway slopes downward and the lake tapers, there’s a clearing where passersby can make out the quarry on the hill.
Recently, the Aquatic Reserves division of the Department of Natural Resources hosted a community meeting about the future of Lake Kapowsin at Graham Fire Station 94. A similar meeting will be held at the same location on June 29, 2016. The state plans to designate Lake Kapowsin an aquatic reserve, which would preserve its use as a unique spot for hunting and fishing. There would also be more organized efforts to keep the lake and the state-owned shoreline pristine.
After a brief presentation, community members were invited to rove around the room and visit various stations. Each station had a topic and a display. There were stations about the history of Lake Kapowsin, the draft plan the state has put together, the ecology of the lake, and the meaning of the term “aquatic reserve.”
Learning about Lake Kapowsin’s History
I knew a little bit about Lake Kapowsin’s history from what my dad told me. He said that at one time, 100 years ago, it had been a booming logging town. The lake now is so quiet and peaceful that it’s hard to imagine how raucous the town must have been with lumber mills and around 900 residents. There are still shanties from the era around Lake Kapowsin, and rumor has it that a train sits at the bottom of the lake, an eerie reminder of the past.
What I didn’t know about Lake Kapowsin I learned at the meeting through the history station. Lake Kapowsin actually came into being about 500 years ago when a mudflow rushed down the slopes of Mt. Rainier. The mudflow dammed a creek, flooded the valley, and drowned the forest in the rising water, creating Lake Kapowsin. When the first settlers arrived, they leveled the trees poking out of the lake and used the lake to float logs. Fires destroyed half the town years later, and eventually local businesses were moved or destroyed. Less than 400 people live in the city of Kapowsin now.
I love animals, so of course I was excited to learn about the incredible variety of species living in and around the lake. There are several varieties of fish, and the state stocks the lake with rainbow trout every year. Fish have even laid eggs on top of the tree tops that stud the bottom of the lake. A fishing prospects calendar can be found here.
In the quarry, we’ve come across deer and bears, and we’ve heard reports of cougars. But other creatures I wasn’t aware of also live nearby: beavers have built dams; river otter tracks have been spotted; and creatures such as porcupines and bobcats are predicted to inhabit the area.
What Can We Do?
I came away from the meeting excited about preserving the history and ecology of Lake Kapowsin. The Aquatic Reserves division hosts cleanups at other aquatic reserves each year, and that’s something Lake Kapowsin enthusiasts can look forward to. Community members can sign up for volunteer opportunities by submitting their contact information here.
Read more about Washington Rock Quarries on our homepage.