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Archive for April 3rd, 2020

Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, April 3, 2007

By Barbara Nilson

Kummer coal/clay bunkers (November 13, 1951 #262106-9022) This coal/clay bunker or storage/ processing facility is believed to have been built in 1944 by the Kummer Coal Company and was later operated by the Johnson Coal Company and Palmer Coking Coal Co., Inc. Its capacity was listed as 150 tons. It was originally built as a coal bunker, but later used for clay. The Kummer mine was unique in that both coal and fire clay were mined. Following mining, slabs of mill end wood were laid on the ground and covered first with coal and then with freshly mined clay. The wood/coal base was set on fire and the clay was burned to rid it of carbon contaminants. The resulting clay was sold to Gladding McBean in Renton for the production of bricks. The Kummer clay beds were founded by Jacob Sants on August 15, 1888, and named for George Kummer, ceramist for the Denny Clay Company. This site is located south of the Green River and west of SR-169 on property now owned by Washington State Parks and Recreation in Section 26-21-6. (Note: King County Assessor photo.) From “When Coal Was King,” April 7, 2009, by Bill Kombol.

Though the clay and coal mining town of Kummer no longer exists, motorists traveling out of Black Diamond today may turn right on to S.E. 352th from the Maple Valley highway and cross the Green River on what the locals still refer to as the “Kummer bridge.”

William Kombol, Palmer Coking Coal Co. explains some of the history, “In addition to their appetite for coal, the growing cities of the Puget Sound also needed deposits of clay, one of the prime ingredients in paving and building bricks. Clay was first discovered in this area near Kummer (an area now occupied by Flaming Geyser State Park) by Jacob Sant in 1888.

The deposit and the town were named for George Kummer, a ceramist and engineer for the Denny Clay Company. In 1905, two local companies joined to form the Denny-Renton Clay & Coal Company which by 1917 was producing 58 million bricks per year. (more…)

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