Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, August 1975

By D’Ann Pedee

Labor Day schedule 1975This weekend marks the time of the year when the little town of Black Diamond swells from its normal population of 1,000 to many times that number.

The three-day Labor Day holiday in Black Diamond has been variously described as the weekend the suds flow to a bonanza time for children. Whether you are six or sixty, the Labor Day Committee has planned something for you.

Labor Day, which is a legal holiday set aside in honor of labor, will be celebrated by relaxing Black Diamond style with dances, a parade, athletic events, tongue-in cheek contests, and presentation of community awards. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Auburn Reporter, September 2, 1985

From left, Carl Steiert, Louis Zumek and Ted Barner recall the role organized labor played in Black Diamond’s early years. (Staff photo by Duane Hamamura.)

From left, Carl Steiert, Louis Zumek and Ted Barner recall the role organized labor played in Black Diamond’s early years. (Staff photo by Duane Hamamura.)

Small town unionists recall glory days

By Bruce Rommel, staff reporter

Workers honored

The residents of Black Diamond gather again today, as they have done each Labor Day for decades, to honor America’s working men and women.

Retired coal mines and their descendants will join others to carry on what has become one of the area’s few community observances of Labor Day.

And they’ll have a good time while they’re at it.

Black Diamond’s annual Labor Day parade begins at 10 a.m. on Third Avenue, ending at the Black Diamond Elementary School.

There will be brief ceremonies commemorating the American labor reform movement, followed by an afternoon of games and activities for children and adults.

On that morning in 1932 when Louis Zumek first went down into the coal mines near Black Diamond, he felt lucky to have a job. In those Depression days, he figured $4.71 a day was a fair wage for a kid like himself just out of high school.

Atop his head was one of those new fabricated metal safety devices that working men instantly dubbed the “hardhat.” Strapped to his belt was another recent safety innovation, a metal canister the miners called a “sardine can,” containing a 30-minute oxygen supply in the event of underground emergencies.

“The union always was pushing for safety for the miners,” said Zumek, a 71-year-old Black Diamond resident who once worked the Pacific Coast Coal Co. mines as a motorman and a rope rider, the man who uncoupled loaded mining cars and hooked up empty cars to go back underground.

It was hard work underground during the 1930s when Zumek worked the mines. If you put in extra hours you got extra pay, straight time.

Higher pay for overtime hours was another major goal toward which the United Mine Workers Union and its legendary president, John L. Lewis were relentlessly pushing. Continue Reading »

Originaly published in the Voice of the Valley, August 22, 1990

By Heather Larson

1990 - Miner - Pipe & Jug & Coal carSoap box rigs will be racing down Lawson Hill, bands will be marching up the Maple Valley Highway and softballs will be flying this weekend as Black Diamond residents take time out for their annual Labor Day Celebration.

Among the highlights scheduled is the Soap Box Derby which begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Anyone from age eight to 90 can race their rigs down Lawson Hill.

Everyone loves a parade and Black Diamond’s begins at 10 a.m. on Monday. The parade route begins at the senior housing development on SR 169 and runs northbound on the Maple Valley Highway to the ballfield. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Renton Chronicle, August 21, 1952

W.J. Evans

W.J. Evans

Funeral services were held Saturday for W.J. Evans, chief coal mine inspector for the state, and well known to all who have worked in the mines in this area.

He died suddenly a week ago Tuesday in Roslyn where he was inspecting a mine. He suffered a heart attack during the routine underground inspection.

Mr. Evans had been chief mine inspector since 1945. He made his home in Renton and was deeply interested in the future of coal mining in this area. He was the author of an article about the mines at Newcastle published in the recent “Pioneer” edition of the Renton Chronicle.

Mr. Evans was awarded the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association’s certificate of honor three years ago for working 53 years in his native Wales and in the United States, without being off the job because of an accident. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Renton Chronicle, August 21, 1952

Baima house in Newcastle

Baima house in Newcastle

The following letter has just been received from Val Baima, brother of Joe Baima of the B and R coal mine. We are sure all the old-timers will enjoy hearing from him, and that all the “new-timers” will feel something of the spirit which must have motivated the old mining days in this area. We found his letter intensely interesting, and are sure you will too. —The Editor. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Weekly Intelligencer, August 16, 1869

Sorting Coal. At the Newcastle mine, coal is sorted in the 1870s. Coal was first discovered in King County in 1853 on Black River, followed by discoveries on Coal Creek and at Newcastle and Black Diamond. The first find in Washington was in 1833 on the Cowlitz River. (U.W. Library Photo)

At the Newcastle mine, coal is sorted in the 1870s. Coal was first discovered in King County in 1853 on Black River, followed by discoveries on Coal Creek and at Newcastle and Black Diamond. The first find in Washington was in 1833 on the Cowlitz River.

For several weeks past our community has been considerably agitated about the coal discoveries in the eastern portion of this county.

The excitement at times has reached such a pitch as to recall to the minds of old Californians the “gold fevers” of that auriferous country, and the subject in the mouth of excited citizens and strangers is almost as prolific of gas as the coal itself is said to be.

We have refrained from much speaking on the subject until the facts were sufficiently developed to enable us to speak of the matter advisedly and with certainty.

Within a week or two past the coal region has been visited by numerous citizens and strangers, all of whom have returned with the most encouraging reports of the richness and extent of the mines.

Mr. H. Butler of this town last evening returned from the Squak country from a prospecting tour in company with Mr. Craig, Aiken
and Bigley—gentlemen from San Francisco who, we are informed, represent a large capital seeking investment.

These gentlemen fully confirm previous reports upon the subject.

Originally published in the Enumclaw Courier, August 14, 1930

Enumclaw districtAside from logging and farming, coal mining is undoubtedly one of the oldest of commercial industries in the state of Washington, millions of dollars worth of this fuel has been removed from the land in this section of the state during the past fifty years.

During the past few years the coal mining industry has been lagging, competition of other fuel from other parts of the nation has done much to bring on this condition. And lack of proper home support has been responsible in a certain degree for this depletion of mining activity.

As a result of a concerted campaign on the part of organized business of the state, the mining industry appears to be on the verge of an unusual advance. Enumclaw will benefit much because of that advance and to bring home a greater realization of what the coal industry means to us the following contributed article has ben prepared through the local business men. Continue Reading »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 122 other followers