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Archive for November, 2014

Originally published in the Valley Daily News, November __, 1983

By Nathalie Overland

Frank Grens

‘Miner Frank’ Grens

A bit of Black Diamond history died Thanksgiving Day.

Frank Grens, known as “Miner Frank” to his neighbors around the Green River Gorge, died Thursday of a heart attack.

At 72, Grens was one of the few surviving men who shoveled coal during Black Diamond’s mining boom. But it was the unique lifestyle he adopted in his later years that distinguished Grens as one of Black Diamond’s more unconventional residents.

The white-haired miner actually lived outside of the town Black Diamond, on a tree-lined hillside that slopes down to the Green River Gorge. For a dozen years Grens called this abandoned Franklin mine site home, making his bed in the windowless shack that once served as a miners’ wash house. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, November 29, 1959

Remains of the Lester emergency airport after the flood in 1959. (Ed Eckes photo)

Remains of the Lester emergency airport after the flood in 1959. (Ed Eckes photo)

Lester folk hear they are marooned and calmly “dig in” after one of the worst floods in history: More than 1,000 feet of Northern Pacific Railway main line were washed away by floodwaters of the Green River, about two miles west of Lester.

A 6.07 inch rainfall struck in 24 hours and high temperatures melted snow in the surrounding hills—muddy water, silt and logs poured down from the many creeks and streams that form the headworks of the Green River.

Homer Parks spread flood warning and led rescue teams. Phones were out for days.

Water purification tablets were sent because the community depended on the river for its drinking water. Railroad employees used their two-way radios to relay emergency messages. Mail came in by helicopter and also delivered fresh bread and milk.

In spite of everything, Lester enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner. The turkeys arrived by train the night before the flood.

For more on the 1959 flood, go to “Green River flood devastates valley around Kent beginning on November 24, 1959” on HistoryLink.org.

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Originally published in the Pacific Coast Bulletin, November 30, 1922

thanksgiving miners 1922ALL READY FOR TURKEY DAY AT BLACK DIAMOND.—During the late unpleasantness in Europe, oft-times referred to as the “World Ruckus,” some of the men above pictured, were “Over There” throwing the fear into Kaiser “Bill” and his war lords; the remainder were in the United States, keeping the home fires burning, digging coal, building ships, and doing other things which hastened the end of the deplorable affair.

At the present time, with the war almost forgotten, these men are employed at Black Diamond as firebosses, haulage men, cagers, and the like, and from indications, they appear to like their jobs real well. What’s more, they’re thankful for good appetites and turkey this Thanksgiving Day. (more…)

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Originally published in Eastsideweek, November 24, 1993

By David B. Buerge

Black lung, long hours, and stinking low pay: While the coal-mining business boomed on the Eastside, the underground life was a bust

Coal Creek Mine

On a mid-August night in 1929, residents of Coal Creek, west of Issaquah, watched a red glow fill the northern sky. As the ruddy light shifted and flared, miners about to go down for the graveyard shift deep in the Primrose Mine wondered aloud if Kirkland might be on fire.

But the lift bringing them back out of the mine at 7:30 that morning was more than a mile away from the entrance they’d used the night before. It was then they realized that the fire was much closer than Kirkland. They had their first look at the smoking timbers of the Pacific Coast Coal Co.’s coal bunkers and washery, which had tumbled in a charred ruin on the railroad tracks to Seattle.

Their hearts sank. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, September 2, 1992

By Barbara Nilson

MARY SANDHEI, who celebrated her 85th birthday, August 13, with a trip into her former homesite at Taylor, recalls those early days looking at her photo albums. (Photo by Barbara Nilson)

MARY SANDHEI, who celebrated her 85th birthday, August 13, with a trip into her former homesite at Taylor, recalls those early days looking at her photo albums. (Photo by Barbara Nilson)

Mary Sandhei, former owner of Sandhei’s Cafe in Maple Valley in the ‘50s, celebrated her 85th birthday, Aug. 13, with a family reunion and a nostalgic trip to Taylor, her former home.

Her oldest daughter, Alene O’Brien, hosted the reunion of 70 family members at her home on Mercer Island.

“If everyone could have come there would have been 100 relatives,” Sandhei reported. Besides Alene, she has a daughter, Mary Anne, in Napa, Calif.; and son, Dale, who lives in the home they moved from Taylor to Maple Valley; 13 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren and two more on the way.

Mary married Albert Sandhei in June 1928, and moved to Kerriston a year later to live in a tent in the woods on the Raging River while her husband and brother, Jack, trapped for furs in the winter and worked in the shingle mill. (Albert’s trapping knapsack and photos are on display at the Maple Valley Historical Society.) (more…)

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Originally published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 22, 1944

FACING DOOM—The town of Taylor, nestling in the foothills of the Cascades and facing doom because the Seattle water department wants to include the townsite in the Cedar River watershed. Once a prosperous coal mining town with railroad freight and passenger service, Taylor has dwindled to a settlement of 50 or 60 people living around tile plant shown here.

FACING DOOM—The town of Taylor, nestling in the foothills of the Cascades and facing doom because the Seattle water department wants to include the townsite in the Cedar River watershed. Once a prosperous coal mining town with railroad freight and passenger service, Taylor has dwindled to a settlement of 50 or 60 people living around tile plant shown here.

By Douglass Welch

The townspeople of Taylor, if you can call Taylor a town, feel they are being shoved about somewhat by the people of Seattle, but it’s an unequal contest and they are sadly resigned to an ultimate loss of their homes, their jobs, and the vista of distant mountain peaks which many of them have admired since their childhood. (more…)

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Originally published in the Seattle Daily Times, November 22, 1915

“The Ant,” the first locomotive built on the Pacific Coast, was one of the first engines operated by what is now the Pacific Coast Railroad.

“The Ant,” the first locomotive built on the Pacific Coast, was one of the first engines operated by what is now the Pacific Coast Railroad.

The fiftieth anniversary of successful operation of the Pacific Coast Coal Company’s mines at Newcastle is being celebrated this week. With seven mines in operation in Western Washington, this company is said to be the largest coal producer on the west coast.

The first mine was operated by one of the early pioneers, Rev. Daniel Bagley, half a century ago, and was operated at first by the Seattle Coal Company. The coal was brought down from Newcastle over a tramway to Lake Washington, ferried across and conveyed to a transfer point on Lake Union where the Brace & Hergert mill now stands. (more…)

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