Like Soloman before him, Ambaum tried to drain the Mayfair Depression. He met with some success, but the problem of flooding persisted. Ambaum's daughter, Mary Ambaum de Leuw, recalls rafting across the flooded pastureland which is now the Mayfair Shopping Center. Only in spring and summer did the lake ever fully recede.
As soon as he could gather equipment and a couple of teams of horses, Ambaum began building roads. He worked on the McKinnon Road (Delridge Way) from Youngstown to White Center. The only road to town (South Park) was a branch road from the old wagon trail up Myers Way to Hicks Lake, and west to SW 112th and on to Seola Beach. Ambaum also cleared the roadbed from White Center (Roxbury) to Sam Metzler’s place (SW 112th). A piece was later added as far as 116th SW and over to 12th SW.
Not being very accessible by steamship, however, the area was still difficult to reach, with many settlers forced to brave abandoned logging roads. In 1909, County commissioners proposed building a road from Riverside along the west bank of the Duwamish River, following the route of the Burien Railroad. Jacob Ambaum was commissioned to blaze a right of way for the new north-south road from White Center to Burien. Although Ambaum Blvd. would open up Burien to many - ushering in a new era of growth - the road was, in its early days, “an unending river of mud through a very solid corridor of fir trees.”
Originally, the new road was to end at the city limits at White Center, but Burien residents lobbied to have it extended. The petition for the remainder of the road - which went on to Burien and eventually to Des Moines Way South on 165th - was filed by Jacob Ambaum himself. The road opened from White Center to Burien about the time the streetcar line was finished in 1912. Ambaum Boulevard developed more or less along the trolley line. It was believed that Burien Way, when completed, would "open up a vast, practically undeveloped territory."
Continue on to learn about the rail system that was built