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The History of Shadow Lake Bog

There was once a glacier covering the Puget Sound region. When this glacier receded, several heavy pieces of ice remained, compressing the ground beneath. Shadow Lake formed in one of these glacial depressions.           

All water flowing to the lake comes from springs, rainfall, and runoff from surrounding uplands. With no outlet, the water seeped into the surrounding land, creating an ideal environment for sphagnum moss. As centuries passed, moss and fallen wood and leaf material conspired to form the rare and beautiful bog landscape.

Duwamish Indians came to harvest wild cranberries in Shadow Lake Bog. They removed Labrador Tea and Bog Laurel from the bog in order to cultivate a cranberry crop. Although poisonous if brewed too strong, Bog Laurel and Labrador Tea were used as medicinal teas and infusions for skin ailments and wound healing.

In the late 19th century, settlers moved into the Cedar River Valley. To reach Cedar Mountain, early travelers made a day’s journey by foot through the dense forest up the valley from Renton. The going was rough, and the narrow trail was surrounded by brush and ferns much taller than most men.

Loggers focused on clearing areas closest to the Cedar River and the rail line. As they cleared the dense forest, large tracts of solid, fertile land became available to farmers. The bog lake, then known as Spoon Lake, was considered worthless; the waters could not be plowed and the unstable ground was dangerous and unreliable. Consequently, the woods around Spoon Lake remained untouched until after 1910.

After 1910, logging found its way to the upland forests. Large stumps scattered throughout the preserve today show evidence of springboard notches, a logging practice that persisted into the late 1940’s.

In 1995, with ever-encroaching land development threatening the bog, Max and Erin Prinsen purchased an 18-acre parcel surrounding Shadow Lake to preserve this unique environment. The Prinsens also recognized the opportunity for this property to provide a rare educational experience and to serve as an example to other landowners as to how to protect the environment and open spaces.

SHADOW was born from this vision. As of 2007, the organization has protected 92 acres of critical habitat and wetlands around Shadow Lake.