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Archive for May, 2014

Originally published in the King County Journal, June 8, 2003

By Mike Archbold, King County Journal reporter

A sign posted on a cliff wall at the entrance to the gorge warns boaters of dangerous rapids ahead.

A sign posted on a cliff wall at the entrance to the gorge warns boaters of dangerous rapids ahead.

The 12-mile-long Green River Gorge is the last river-cut rock canyon in Western Washington, slashing down 300 feet into the Puget Sound’s 50-million-year-old sub-tropical past.

A wild place of natural wonder just east of Black Diamond, the gorge remains isolated, allowing it to survive man’s intrusion.

Coal miners came and went, their passage marked now by a ghost town, pieces of cable, and rock-filled mine entrances. A coal seam, part of a mine abandoned decades ago, still burns today.

Fossils, petrified wood, even a petroglyph are found here by the rafters and kayakers, fishermen, hikers and berry pickers who know the gorge’s beauty.

BLACK DIAMOND—In the depths of the Green River Gorge, a giant black and brown sandstone rock rises at a steep angle like a whale breaching from a white-flecked green sea.

Debondt plays in her kayak, standing it on end in a mild current that wraps around a rock abutment and is out in a swirling calm spot on the river. Kayakers use the calm eddies as a place of rest between rapids. Spots like this, where the current is mild, provide a perfect place for kayakers to freestyle, because the consequences of mistakes are less serious. (Photo: Matt Brashears)

Debondt plays in her kayak, standing it on end in a mild current that wraps around a rock abutment and is out in a swirling calm spot on the river. Kayakers use the calm eddies as a place of rest between rapids. Spots like this, where the current is mild, provide a perfect place for kayakers to freestyle, because the consequences of mistakes are less serious. (Photo: Matt Brashears)

The sandstone glistens with the record of the 50 million-year-old subtropical climate that once covered this land. On its flank, a tiny dipper bird goes about its business, clinging to the vertical face.

Elsewhere in the gorge, rock cliffs give way and spruce and cedar trees mark the steep, forested sides, feathering the rim 150 to 300 feet above the twisting river.

Black bear, deer, elk, cougar and bobcat easily find seclusion here. Kingfishers, mergansers and even an eagle or two commonly ride the narrow airspace.

Always there is the moving water, sometimes roaring as it crashes over rocks, sometimes silently pooling in a rocky grotto or lapping at a small rocky beach.

From the deck of a rubber raft bouncing through the Green River Gorge on a winter day, there is no mistaking that this is a special place—a river-carved canyon wilderness unique in Western Washington. (more…)

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By Regina Marckx Whitehill, 1996

The Deep Lake property was kept in the Nolte family under the care of Minnie Nolte, Bill Nolte's older sister. When she passed away in 1972, it was willed to the State of Washington for a state park. She was always so proud of the beautiful large trees so it was understood that none would be cut. Her other stipulation was that it be named for her father, Nolte State Park.

The Deep Lake property was kept in the Nolte family under the care of Minnie Nolte. When she passed away in 1972, it was willed to the State of Washington for a state park.

Bill Nolte was born May 6, 1890, and passed away May 30, 1930. He is buried in the Nolte plot in Calvary Cemetery, Seattle, Washington.

Bill and Mary Nolte were married December 26, 1917. A priest, Father Mlinoir, who had previously been pastor in Black Diamond and had been transferred to Holy Cross (Rosary) Church in Tacoma, performed the ceremony. Minnie Nolte and Anne Hughes were their witnesses.

Mary was living at home then and teaching in Franklin. Because women could not teach if they were married, they had to keep this a secret and could not live together.

Bill had a dance hall extending over the lake and this was his livelihood. When school was out they rented a house about a mile from Deep Lake in Veazie. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, July 28, 2009

By Bill Kombol

Miners' picnic, 1933Each summer coal miners and their families would gather at a lake resort for what was affectionately known as the Miners’ Picnic. There would be foot races for kids, sack races, three-legged races, wheel-barrow races, relay races, horseshoe pitching, egg tossing, softball, a tug-of-war with two teams pulling on a rope, pie-eating contests, the Russian-horse, and even a greased pig-chasing contest with liberal prize money for all the winners.

The day would be interspersed with swimming, boating, picnic lunches, music, and dancing.

On Sunday, July 16, 1933, the Morris Bros. Coal Mining Company featuring four generations of the Morris family entertained hundreds of friends at an all day Miners’ Picnic held at Nolte’s Deep Lake Park resort near Cumberland. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, August 5, 2008

By Bill Kombol

This building was constructed around 1925 by John and Mary Rudge together with a nearby gas station called Jack's Place.

This building was constructed around 1925 by John and Mary Rudge together with a nearby gas station called Jack’s Place.

This 1940 photo shows a resort building located above the Green River Gorge on the east side of the historic, single-lane bridge that now connects the Green River Gorge Road to the Enumclaw-Franklin Road.

This building was constructed around 1925 by John and Mary Rudge together with a nearby gas station called Jack’s Place. In 1921-22, the Rudges had purchased two parcels totaling 13 acres for $1,860. John Rudge was a Welsh coal miner from nearby Cumberland. (more…)

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Originally published in the BDHS newsletter, April 2005

Green River Gorge PC 1936It was a warm summer day that August 31, 1936. She was standing on the observation’s narrow boardwalk over the falls at the Green River Gorge, and enjoying the spray to cool her off from the warm summer heat.

As she admired the beautiful scenery she decided to write that evening when she returned to Portland, Oregon, to Miss Margorie Redshaw in North Dakota about her visit to Black Diamond and the Green River Gorge.

Mrs. Ace took us to the Green River Gorge where it is awfully nice. The water was just roaring down. Would like to live here. Wish you were here with me.

All the places marked with an X [on a post card of the Green River Gorge Falls] I have been. I picked up a stone for you from these Cascade Mountains. I have pressed all kinds of fruit leaves and shook a plumptfull [sic] of a tree and ate 2.

Saw grapes on vines, apples, apricots, walnuts, peaches, pears, & every fruit. The people we are staying with are very nice. Saw some cowboys & they are homlier than a mud fence. Any book that says they’re handsome is goofy, Ha Ha.

Was lots of fun. Awfully pretty here. Lots of brooks & trees. Much Love, Sybil S.

Contributed by JoAnne Matsumura, private collection.

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A picnic

Originally published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 8, 1905

By Violet Maxwell, 15 years, Franklin, Washington

picnic-basket-ftrIt was near the close of school when our teacher said, “Children, which shall we have, an entertainment or a picnic?” We all wanted a picnic. So we decided to go to a lake three miles away.

It was on a May morning, when the sun was shining its brightest, that we started. There were three wagons to carry the little children and the visitors. I rode on my bicycle.

We had lunch, rowing and fishing. There was a large St. Bernard dog along who got hungry at lunch time and got up on the table to see what there was good to eat. We all laughed and thought it a joke on him.

We played games and romped all day, and shortly before going home the baker passed in his wagon. He stopped and shared his cakes with us, and, oh, such cakes.

We all started home, tired and happy, through the loveliest green woods, and crossed the most beautiful river in Washington. We were all ready for supper and bed when we got home, and so ends our happy school picnic.

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Originally published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 13, 1985

By Jean Godden

Left: Ed "Catfish" Banchero, age 10, working at The People's Meat Market in Black Diamond. Right: Pete Frederickson in his butcher shop.

Left: Ed “Catfish” Banchero, age 10, working at The People’s Meat Market in Black Diamond. Right: Pete Frederickson in his butcher shop.

Eddie Banchero’s childhood friends still call him “Catfish.” As Banchero tells the story, the nickname stems from a swimming accident in Black Diamond years ago.

“We’d gone for a dip in Jones Lake, wearing our natural bathing suits,” he says. “I didn’t know how to swim, and the next thing I knew I was in deep water. When they pulled me out, they said, ‘Look at the big catfish we caught.’ I’ve had the name ever since.”

Catfish Banchero rocks with laughter. (more…)

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