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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, April 1, 2014

By Bill Kombol

This photo by Vic Condiotty shows the explosion seconds after the detonation which shuttered the mine and destroyed the bridge.

This photo by Vic Condiotty shows the explosion seconds after the detonation which shuttered the mine and destroyed the bridge.

On March 27, 1971, the last coal mine on the Green River Gorge was blasted shut with powerful explosives supplied by a division of Rocket Research based in Redmond.

Coal miners, company officials, explosive experts, and the press gathered on the banks of the Green River as 900 pounds of the experimental dynamite, called Astrolite K, was placed inside the mine portal and on the mine bridge across the river.

Coal was first extracted near the Green River in 1885 at the town of Franklin. Mining boomed until the early 1920s, and continued sporadically through the 1960s. The Franklin No. 10 mine was opened by Palmer Coking Coal Company in 1964 and produced over 66,000 tons of coal during its seven years of operation. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Maplevalley Messenger, March 23, 1922

Pacific Coast Co. is responsible for further delay in getting bridge built

Pacific Coast Co. logo, ca. 1950

Pacific Coast Co. logo, ca. 1950

A brand new reason for delaying the start of construction work on the proposed overhead bridge across the Milwaukee Railroad at Maplevalley has again held up the contract for the past four weeks.

It has been discovered now that the Pacific Coast Railroad owns a portion of the right-of-way and that the Milwaukee only has an easement through the property. A three-way contract is therefore necessary between the county, the Milwaukee, and the Pacific Coast Company, before work on the bridge can proceed.

This new contract is now in the hands of the Pacific Coast officials awaiting their signature. When signed by them it will be returned to the County Commissioners for their official approval.

It has been learned unofficially by the Messenger that the Milwaukee has issued its appropriation for the work and railroad men have been notified that the bridge is to be put in at once.

Originally published in the MVHS Bugle, June 2015

The mystery photo in the last Bugle was Belleman’s station.

The mystery photo in the last Bugle was Belleman’s station.

Gary Habenict nailed it and then added some info we didn’t know.

The picture in the last issue of the Bugle, Belleman’s gas station and café at Four Corners—or back then, Five Corners—1946-1948, maybe.

Mine office across the street. Looking north on Maple Valley Highway, the toll lead, with eight cross arms of copper wire, went from Seattle through Stampede Pass to Yakima. A red flashing stoplight for east-west traffic and a flashing yellow for the main highway, now SR-169.

Belleman sold to Ray Spurgeon who operated the station and café for several years. Now it’s a Shop Fast store with lights and turn lanes everywhere. In 1946 you could come to the corner, stop … maybe, and not encounter another car, depending what time it was.

The snow was very typical for winters back then.

Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, March 21, 1926

Leaders and guardians make addresses at meeting aboard Camaraderie and Prof. E.R. Guthrie delivers lecture

Already twice winners of the silver cup offered by the Pacific Coast Coal Company to the team of Camp Fire Girls doing the best first aid mine rescue work, the five Newcastle girls in the photograph are prepared to defend their honors this summer and incidentally clinch permanent possession of the cup by a third annual victory. They are (left to right): Thelma Kelly, Muriel Morgan, Mona Kelly (captain), Helen Richardson, and Louise Martin.

Already twice winners of the silver cup offered by the Pacific Coast Coal Company to the team of Camp Fire Girls doing the best first aid mine rescue work, the five Newcastle girls in the photograph are prepared to defend their honors this summer and incidentally clinch permanent possession of the cup by a third annual victory. They are (left to right): Thelma Kelly, Muriel Morgan, Mona Kelly (captain), Helen Richardson, and Louise Martin.

That a Camp Fire Girl’s duty to her community is to urge her parents and neighbors to register and vote at the regular municipal election, was one of the points brought out at the girls’ session of the Fourth Annual Northwest Conference of Camp Fire Girls held aboard Camaraderie, yesterday. Continue Reading »

Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, March 19, 1922

No action taken regarding manner of handling situation if strike comes

umaWith the adjournment taken late yesterday until tomorrow morning, the prospects are that the biennial state district convention of the United Mine Workers, the coal miners’ international union, meeting in Seattle, will remain in session a part, at least, of another week. The convention met last Monday and is holding its sessions at the Labor Temple.

No definite action has been taken so far, it was said, regarding the local handling of the situation that will arise should the threatened nation-wide strike of the coal mine workers come on April 1. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, January 26, 2016

By Bill Kombol

The administration building was considered for landmark status due to its historic significance, but the deterioration of the structure was too great for it to be saved.

The administration building was considered for landmark status due to its historic significance, but the deterioration of the structure was too great for it to be saved.

This administration building of Pacific Coast Coal Co. was constructed in 1927 to serve as a combination office and shop for New Black Diamond mine. A powerhouse was located in the east end of the building, which was located at 18825 State Route 169, about halfway between Maple Valley and Renton. Continue Reading »

Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, March 16 and 23, 1977

By Jalo Lahtinen

Self-styled stump jumper Jalo Lahtinen of Hobart, standing here along the modern version of the East Fork of Issaquah Creek, reminisces about Hobart 59 years ago in the following article and offers some reflections on the present as well as sage advice for the future. He calls his piece, “Musings of a not-to-smart stump rancher,” but we’ll leave it to the reader as to whether or not this should be taken literally. — Ed. (Photo by Bob Gerbing.)

Self-styled stump jumper Jalo Lahtinen of Hobart, standing here along the modern version of the east fork of Issaquah Creek, reminisces about Hobart 59 years ago in the following article and offers some reflections on the present as well as sage advice for the future. He calls his piece, “Musings of a not-to-smart stump rancher,” but we’ll leave it to the reader as to whether or not this should be taken literally. — Ed. (Photo by Bob Gerbing.)

When you tell someone you’re from Hobart, “Where is Hobart?” they ask.

It is at the headwaters of Issaquah Creek, the two forks known to us old stump jumpers by the following names—north fork as Holder’s Creek, east fork as Carry’s Creek.

It’s part of Cedar River Valley, nestled in the foothills of the Cascades with an eastern view of the Stampede Pass area and Mount Rainier to the south.

Once a sawmill town and farming area with self-sustaining farms and part-time stump farmers it was a paradise, a boy’s dream. Our mountains—Tiger, Taylor, and Sherwood were covered with the forest primeval, a cathedral of the Gods, an emerald jewel that God dropped in the right location, only a three-to-four mile area.

Near the summit of Sherwood is a beautiful spring two to three feet across, a trickle of the most beautiful blue water you could lay your eyes on running out of it—cold, refreshing, and thirst quenching.

Our streams were full of spawning salmon and land-locked sockeye in the fall, spawning by the hundreds. We called them red fish, cut-throat, and steelhead—no trick to catch a mess at any time. Continue Reading »