Originally published in the BDHS newsletter, February 1995
By Chuck Holtz
We will cover a section on the mines in this area as taken from some previous articles which have appeared in the newsletter. While this may be repetious, it will also be new to some.
The Coal Mines
#14 Mine: This was the first mine in the Green River coal fields. It was developed between 1882 and 1884 by the Black Diamond Coal Co.—the first coal having to wait for the completion of the railroad before it could be hauled to market. The first train load was hauled to Seattle from this mine in March 1885. #14, on the McKay bed, reached ten levels and was mined under the able direction of Morgan Morgans for well over 30 years. The concrete hoist foundation can still be seen just east of SR 169 across from the senior housing.
#2 Mine: This slope was sunk down to the fifth level, a total distance of 1,750 feet. The mine, located near where the Presbyterian Church [Ed.: Today’s High Road Community Church] now stands, was never a great producer. As the various levels were developed eastward, the coal became poorer in quality. Westward development ran into rock faulting. A rock tunnel, as connected on the 4th level to the 3rd level on #14, served as an airway and escape tunnel. Slag was later hauled from #14 through this tunnel, raised to the surface on the #2 slope and deposited on the #2 slag pile, This mine was also developed by the Black Diamond Coal Co., and was closed by the Pacific Coast Co. in 1904.
Lawson Mine: Was opened by Lawson & Co. and sold to the Pacific Coast Co. in May 1899. The Lawson mine was located at the end of Botts Dr. below our water resevoir. The slope was sunk to six levels, and a considerable amount of rock faulting was encountered. On November 9, 1910, an explosion occured in which 16 men were killed and the mine was completely wrecked. The men were left in the mine and it was closed.
Law prohibited working a section of a mine which men had been killed and left in; some say the abandonment period was 20 years. Although the coal was of excellant quality, it was expensive to mine. The mine reached 800 feet below sea level. The sixth level was under about 2,000 feet of cover, the thickest cover of any mine in the state at that time. The upper levels of the mine were worked for a short time after the perscribed period of abandonment, but the lower levels, which were nearly worked out, were never reopened.
#12 Mine: Called Cornwall’s Mine, was sunk on the McKay bed prior to 1889 by the Black Diamond Coal Co. and eventually reached the 5th level. The Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad was extended from the #2 mine up 5th Ave. to Mud Lake and around the south side of the lake, then east to a point near the east limit of section #12, across the Green River Gorge Road from a point which lies about the middle of Lake 12. (Mud Lake no longer exists). The cost of the railroad extension to this mine was estimated at $20,000. The bunkers were located on the rail line and the coal was hauled down the side of the hill on coal cars to be dumped into the bunker for loading on the rail cars. The coal bed was very distrubed in this area and was difficult to mine. In April 1894 a fire broke out in the pump room in the mine and soon spread throughout the entire mine. The mine was flooded with water and was never entirely reopened.
A new mine #12 was later developed by the Pacific Coast Co. in 1910 and 1911. It was located on the Green River Gorge Road about halfway to Lake 12 from Black Diamond. A small slag pile can be seen north of and just below the level of the road. The mine ran into a great deal of faulting and due to the poor coal market and economic conditions at that time, the mine never really amounted to much.
#7 Mine: The Pacific Coast Coal Company opened this mine on the McKay bed in 1893. It produced coal continously until it was worked out and closed in 1907. The mine was located on the south side of the Green River Gorge Road just past the east end of Lake 12. Some of the slag piles can be seen near the entrance to the road which leads up to the Franklin strip pit. #7 was mined to eight levels before the slope struck a fault. The #12 spur of the C&PS RR had been extended to this point and was taken up when the mine was abandoned.
#11 Mine or Morgan Slope: Was opened by the Black Diamond Coal Co. in 1904 and was located just behind what is now the Black Diamond Red Apple Store. [Ed.: Today’s 76 station and mini-mart.] The red cinder workings behind the area are from the #11 slag pile. The mine was on the McKay bed and was of excellent quality. The mine was worked to 12 levels and at one time was the deepest coal mine in the world; almost a mile deep. More coal was extracted from this mine than any other on the McKay bed. In the peak years of its 23-year production it produced almost 1,000 tons of coal per day. #11 connected to #14 on the fifth level for air and escape. The mine closed in January 1927 because of excessive bumping (mine shifting-type earthquakes), labor problems, and a declining market.
“B” Mine or Skunk Cabbage Mine: Was located about a quarter mile northeast of the #11 mine and was used to mine the upper branch of the McKay seam in the area. The mine was opened in 1910 and was mined for six to seven years. Peak production was about 150 to 200 tons per day.
Kummer Mine: This mine was opened by the Denny Clay Company in 1889. Three beds were opened at that time, but only enough coal was mined to operate the company’s clay plant at VanAsselt. Labor problems in 1891 forced the closing of the mine. The clay company and mine changed hands and was renamed the Denny-Renton Clay and Coal Company. The mine was again operated on a limited basis, most of the coal being supplied to the clay plants from the Taylor mines. Mostly fire clay, sewer pipe clay, and shale were mined from the Kummer mine. When coal was mined, it was hauled out of the gangways to the foot of the incline by the river then hoisted to the top of the bluff and dumped into the bunkers, which were located on the spur of the of the C&PS RR. The spur left the main line behind what is now the Black Diamond Gun Club, crossing the highway near the Boondocks Tavern [Ed.: The building is empty] and on to the bunkers, which were located near what is now the gravel pit of Flintstone Sand & Gravel Co. [Ed.: now Cadman Black Diamond]
This coal mine series will be continued in the next issue.