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Archive for March, 2010

Originally published in the BDHS newsletter, January 2010

By Keith Watson

Bode Locomotive

Black Diamond began as a coal town and needed a way to transport the coal to the market place. The best route was to use the Maple Valley grade with the installation of railroad tracks that would serve Black Diamond and other coal mining areas.

The Black Diamond Coal Company, owner of the town of Black Diamond, was not in the train business. The owner of town of Franklin, 3 miles east of Black Diamond was, and from 1884 to 1885 proceeded to extend the railroad from Seattle, through Renton, through the Maple Valley, into Black Diamond and Franklin. They had to cross the Cedar River four times along the route building bridges as they advanced. They used horse power, up to 300 horses at a time, and many workers.

The first railroad to arrive in Black Diamond was called the Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad; previously known as the Seattle & Walla Walla Railroad. The rails were narrow gauge, 36 inches apart, from rail to rail, so the locomotives were small and of course used steam engines.

In those days it was common to name the locomotives along with a number as identification. Some of the names were: No. 1 A.A. Denny; No. 2 AL-Ki; No. 3 Geo. C Bode; No. 4 Georgina; and the numbers 5 thru 10 with no names just numbers. See the narrow gauge locomotive pictures. (more…)

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