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Originally published in the Valley Daily News, October 23, 1994

By Nathalie Overland

Voters in new city will pick name, with a look back at historic roots

Pam Lee, elected to the city council in the new city, has a number of historic buildings from historic Newcastle on her land. (Valley Daily News photo by Matt Hagen.)

Pam Lee, elected to the city council in the new city, has a number of historic buildings from historic Newcastle on her land. (Valley Daily News photo by Matt Hagen.)

A walk around Pam Lee’s historic “Newcastle” home is like treading on history.

A century-old house stands as silent testimony to a time when men were proud to burrow out coal—the black gold—from the bowels of the earth.

Across the street is the final resting place of a collapsed tipple, a monstrous wooden structure that once served as a terminal to unload and clean coal.

Down another path is the gaping mouth of a mine shaft. Rendered off limits by a massive grate, the shaft now serves as a backup water supply for neighbors.

“We’ve tried to keep this valley intact so that its integrity is protected,” said Pam Lee. Continue Reading »

Originally published in The Seattle Times, January 15, 1989

By Florence K. Lentz
Special to the Times

Pacific Coast Company House No. 75, now at 7210 138th Ave. S.E., is the last remaining example of Newcastle miners’ housing.

Pacific Coast Company House No. 75, now at 7210 138th Ave. S.E., is the last remaining example of Newcastle miners’ housing.

During the heyday of the old mining town of Newcastle, a reporter darkly described the village as “straggling in and out of great dumps of clay and waste that extend like black spurs from the foot of the mountain, the cottages being grouped upon the rocky, stump-infested, forest-bound hillside, without an attempt at order or comeliness.”

Not a very pretty sight, and yet, the export of hundreds of thousands of tons of coal from towns such as Newcastle formed the very backbone of King County’s developing economy in the first quarter-century of statehood.

Pacific Coast Company House No. 75, now at 7210 138th Ave. S.E., dates back to the 1870s and is the last remaining example of miners’ housing in Newcastle. Continue Reading »

Originally published in The Seattle Times, June 1, 1983

The King County Housing Authority tract in the center of this 1946 photo has disappeared and the configurations of many streets have since changed. But Black Diamond remains a rural town surrounded by wooded terrain which attracts many people as a place to live.

The King County Housing Authority tract in the center of this 1946 photo has disappeared and the configurations of many streets have since changed. But Black Diamond remains a rural town surrounded by wooded terrain which attracts many people as a place to live.

By Herb Belanger

“This city has to have businesses, industry or something,” says Black Diamond’s Vivian Bainton. “We can’t have just residences.”

That’s why she and members of the city’s small business community and owners of commercial property were scheduled to meet today on “what they have in mind and where they want to go,” she said. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Record Record-Chronicle, September 1, 1980

Gala celebration and dedication of the Union Stump, the site where years earlier, in May 1907, the Black Diamond miners organized and formed a new local of the United Mine Workers Union. (This photo is from the BDHS Calendar Series, 1978.)

The residents of Black Diamond will gather again today, as they have for decades, to watch a parade, eat hot dogs, enjoy soft drinks and beer, and visit with friends. It is a workingman’s celebration, a Labor Day tradition started when the city was a coal mining company town.

It is perhaps ironic that this Labor Day tradition continues in a community where a prolonged strike broke the miners union in the early 1920s and signaled the beginning of a decline in the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest. Continue Reading »

BDHS Member Brian Mead peeks through the fender well of the historical society’s Labor Day “float.” (Photo: Robert Dobson)

BDHS Member Brian Mead peeks through the fender well of the historical society’s Labor Day “float.” (Photo: Robert Dobson)

Originally published in the Black Diamond Bulletin, Fall 2012

By Ken Jensen

AS I WAS LEAVING THE BALL PARK for the last time on Labor Day, I had the chance to briefly chat with a neighbor. “Best turn out in years,” she said. It didn’t hurt that we had three days of near-perfect weather. Not a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the high 70s, low 80s.

The Eagles’ Car Show on Railroad Avenue is a popular draw and seems to be getting bigger with each passing year. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event. (Photo: Ken Jensen)

The Eagles’ Car Show on Railroad Avenue is a popular draw and seems to be getting bigger with each passing year. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event. (Photo: Ken Jensen)

Were there 2,000 people at the three-day event? Three thousand? Who knows. But 3,000 was the estimate of Jules Dal Santo 50 years ago—to the day—for the then two-day event in 1962. The Seattle P-I reported on September 3, 1962, that Black Diamond “was jumping with activity today—literally. A frog jumping contest, the crowning of a new queen, and a baseball game were all part of today’s events in the Black Diamond Labor Day Festival.”

History repeating itself … a recurring theme of Labor Days. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Black Diamond Bulletin, Fall 2012

By Ken Jensen

1964-65 Labor DayOk, I’ll admit it. I’m not really a Labor Days kinda guy. I’m more of a Labor Day—see, no “s”—person. One day. Finis.

My usual routine is to show up just before the parade, inviting myself to join Don Mason’s family who’ve no doubt staked out a section of sidewalk since “0-dark-30.” Following the parade it’s off to the ballpark to munch on a corn dog and curly fries before heading down to Railroad Avenue for the Eagles’ car show. A quick “hello” to the docents on duty at the museum and I’m done.

Then it’s time to make that long trek up Lawson Hill, wishing I’d brought a car or at least could bum a ride from someone who did.

I’ve never attended the CoalKart Derby; never witnessed the pie eating contest or the sack race or the straw scramble or the toilet paper unrolling event for the ladies. (Yes, it’s a real event). It’s just not my thing.

Until this year, that is. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Pacific Coast Bulletin, December 1, 1930

The Briquetting Plant of the Pacific Coast Coal Company, located near the south shore of Lake Washington. This plant has been in continuous operations for approximately seventeen years. The Diamond and Junior Briquet they are now manufacturing come near being a perfect fuel. “Quick firing, coking, and with real staying qualities.” That’s about all you can ask of any fuel.

The Briquetting Plant of the Pacific Coast Coal Company, located near the south shore of Lake Washington. This plant has been in continuous operations for approximately seventeen years. The Diamond and Junior Briquet they are now manufacturing come near being a perfect fuel. “Quick firing, coking, and with real staying qualities.” That’s about all you can ask of any fuel.

With these long winter nights coming on it might be timely to talk a little about briquets. There is nothing like a cheery grate fire to complete a Yuletide picture. And if there is a more appropriate fuel for the fireplace it has failed to cross our line of vision.

Possibly we should reminisce a little. Briquets, or bricked fuel, are less than one hundred years old. A Frenchman by the name of Marsais experimented with a binder along in the early part of the previous century and in 1832 applied for a patent.

The first briquets were not a commercial success, however, due to the fact that they failed to withstand the necessary handling and deteriorated rapidly when exposed to the elements. Naturally this was attributed to the binder. He felt reasonably sure that he had something and continued his experimenting for another ten years. Continue Reading »

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