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Archive for May, 2010

The following text appears on the historical sign next to the Union Stump.

Sometime in the 1950s, the old stump was encased in concrete to commemorate the historic labor organizing event of 1907.

This monument is situated in Morganville and is directly associated with the Pacific Coast Coal Company Era (1904-1939), the creation of the local miners union, the 1921 UMW strike and creation of new community in Morganville. In 1904, PCCC had acquired the entire Black Diamond Mining operation and townsite. The Pacific Coast Coal Company (PCCC) was a subsidiary of the Pacific Coast Company, which controlled large land holdings and a variety of coal dependent railroad and shipping lines and industrial plants through the American West. PCCC had several coal mines and company towns within the Green River Coal District and initiated much more rigid control over the Black Diamond mining operations and the town.

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.)

Thus, on May 1, 1907, after Black Diamond miners were not allowed to meet on PCCC property so 200-300 miners met at this site (owned by Timothy Morgan) and organized United Mine Workers (UMW, Local 2257). A large fir stump on the site served as a speakers platform. The Union then, without a strike, was able to obtain concessions from PCCC including an eight-hour work day and wage increase. One of the greatest physical changes within the townsite involved the closure of the original No. 14 Mine and the abandonment of the looped spur line that had served it and other abandoned mines in 1917. During 1921-1922, a major labor dispute causing striking miners to be forced to sell their homes to PCCC. The UMW helped striking miners construct 200 temporary houses outside the townsite in nearby Morganville. The labor dispute was never resolved and in conjunction with the national downturn in the coal market and related safety issues lead to the closure of the only remaining and largest Black Diamond mine (No. 11) in 1927. During the mid-1920s, PCCC began to sell off land parcels within the townsite. After 1927, company employees continued to reside in Black Diamond and commuted to other PCCC mines in the district. Sometime in the 1950s, the old stump was encased in concrete to commemorate the historic labor organizing event of 1907.

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This 1908 photo is from Central Washington University’s Brooks Library Digital Collection, http://digital.lib.cwu.edu/.

Green River Hot Springs

Originally published in the BDHS newsletter, January 2010

By Ken Jensen

Being a relative newcomer to Black Diamond and a self-proclaimed history buff, I’m constantly peppering Archivist JoAnne Matsumura, President Keith Watson, and others with questions about the area’s history: Where was Mine No. 7? How did trains turn around in Franklin? Where was the town of McKay? Some of my queries can be resolved simply by checking out an old publication; others by checking in with an old-timer. Some take a little more digging.

Matsumura suggested such a challenge. A little-known town—a town a bit outside the usual Black Diamond Historical Society purview—but one of great interest to Matsumura (she collects postcards from the once remarkable hotel) and Vice President Don Malgarini (he spent summers there whiling away his childhood): Green River Hot Springs.

(more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, June 26, 2007

By Bill Kombol

On May 13, 1940, methane gas in the mine was ignited by a safety lamp, causing a mine explosion. Courtesy of Palmer Coking Coal Company

The Occidental underground coal mine was located between Palmer/Kanaskat and Cumberland, across the road from another small coal mining community called Bayne.

The mine operated from 1928 to 1945 and produced over 384,000 tons of coal.

On May 13, 1940, methane gas in the mine was ignited by a safety lamp, causing a mine explosion that claimed the life of Pete Bago, an Austrian miner, age 54 with a wife and four children. There were eleven miners working in the mine at the time of the explosion.The same accident badly burned Pete Stefanovich and John Mihelich.

Pictured from left to right: Bob Costanich, unknown miner, unknown miner, Bill Merritt, Bern Hale, Tom Marsden, Joe Bertelli, unknown. Pete Stefanovich is shown covered with coats and blankets on a stretcher, after being brought out of the mine by the rescue crew.

This photo was likely taken by the Enumclaw Courier-Herald.

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