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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, January 23, 2007

By Barbara Nilson

The town of Fairfax, declared the “prettiest mining town around,” showing the turn-table at the extreme right above center. Mine buildings are in front and the school is on the left. Carbon River runs through the trees at the top or the photo. (Original copy from Mr. and Mrs. Tony Basselli.) Photo courtesy of Steve Meitzler, Heritage Quest Press, Orting, WA., publisher of the book, Carbon River Coal Country.

Riding the Northern Pacific Railroad to the upper end of the Carbon River Canyon or tooling along to Mount Rainier in a Model T, tourists would pass close to three mining towns: Melmont, Fairfax, and Montezuma.

First, beyond Carbonado, was Melmont, situated between the Carbon River and the NPR line. A bridge spanning the Carbon River ran between the company hotel and the saloon with the depot and school on the hillside above. On the left end of the bridge was the road connecting to Fairfax. This bridge was nearly a little beyond the high bridge which spans the canyon today. (more…)

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Originally published in the News Journal, January 23, 1980

Story and photos by Bruce Rommel

Black Diamond sits nestled in the western foothills of the Cascades.

Once hundreds of men worked the strip mines, producing coal, the “black diamond” which powered the railroads, fueled industry, and heated our homes.

Walking the quiet streets of Black Diamond today, one finds only the reminders of those days when this community was a booming company town.

Nestled in the western foothills of the Cascades, Black Diamond and nearby Franklin once boasted a population of more than 5,000. All that remains of Franklin today are a few house foundations scattered along hillsides. And in 1979 Black Diamond is a town with about 1,100 residents, about 50 less citizens than a decade ago. (more…)

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Originally published in the Pacific Coast Bulletin, January 14, 1926

This Link-Belt moveable crane is used at the Briquet Plant not only to load Diamond Briquets from the storage platform into the cars, but also to load coal from the storage piles into cars preparatory to sending it through the plant. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, January 10, 1906

Information secured by Milwaukee railroad from engineering crews now indicates that route is best

Surveyors kept in the mountains and are continuing investigations of all possible means of reaching coast

Heavy snows retarding final examination and definite announcement cannot be made until all reports are in

The Milwaukee railroad will use, according to indications, Snoqualmie Pass in crossing the Cascade Mountains, entering Seattle by way of the Cedar River Valley. If this route is finally accepted by the Milwaukee the new transcontinental line will parallel the Columbia & Puget Sound from Maple Valley into Seattle. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, January 9, 2007

By Barbara Nilson

The remodeled company store for the Pacific Coast Coal Co. built around 1890 in Burnett now houses the "Pinch Plum" gift shop.

The remodeled company store for the Pacific Coast Coal Co. built around 1890 in Burnett now houses the “Pinch Plum” gift shop. — Photo by Barbara Nilson.

In 1891 the former mining town of Burnett, located about two and a half miles from Wilkeson and 6 miles from Enumclaw, estimated its population at 400 people. Today possibly less than 100 people live in the 32 homes with water hookups. Some of the homes are still the miner’s cottages from the turn of the century when it was an important coal-mining center.

It was situated on the Burnett branch of the Northern Pacific railroad and was sustained by the mines of Pacific Coast Coal Co. that employed around 300 men. There were several business places in upper Burnett, including the company store, which has been remodeled into The Pinch Plum gift shop by Jay and Dailene Argo. Argo, who bought the building in 1977, said he tried to keep the building as authentic as possible. (more…)

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Originally published in the Pacific Coast Bulletin, December 31, 1925

Every miner at Black Diamond probably knows the three men whose likenesses appear above. If there is one who doesn’t, he should. They represent the three phases of coal mining most vital to the industry; efficiency and economy in operation, safety inspection, and first aid and mine rescue training.

In Supt. Paul Gallagher largely rests the success or failure of the mine’s operation. Closely related is the safety inspection, directed by Deputy State Mine Inspector, Geo. T. Wake, under the able supervision of Wm. R. Reese, Chief Inspector. And last but not least is John G. Schoning, of the United States Bureau of Mines, who patiently drills the men in the principles of first aid and mine rescue work. All three indispensable. (more…)

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Originally published in the Renton Historical Society & Museum Quarterly, December 2012

By Kent Sullivan

Northern Pacific depot in Renton, circa 1912. (RHM# 41.0568)

I live in Kirkland, am a member of the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association (NPRHA), and am an avid researcher of the Northern Pacific’s (NP) line along the east side of Lake Washington, known as the Lake Washington Belt Line and, for much of its history, the 11th Subdivision of the Tacoma Division.

I became especially interested in the Renton area after I became the latest custodian of the train order signal that hung on the Renton depot for almost 70 years at the corner of 5th Street and Burnett Avenue. I assumed the story of the Renton depot would be very simple and was surprised to find it was a bit complicated, and thought that readers of this newsletter might enjoy hearing what I learned. (more…)

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