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Posts Tagged ‘Cougar Mountain’

Originally published in the Issaquah Press, April 4, 1990

Taken in the 1890s, these photos depict a family separated by tragedy. Theodore Fournier, right, had been married only five months when he was killed in a mine disaster at Newcastle. His wife, Frances Craig Fournier, center, was pregnant at the time. Fournier never saw his only child, Esilda, left. Despite the loss, the family remained united, and all Esilda’s children still live in the Newcastle and Issaquah areas. Photos courtesy of John Swanson.

Perhaps no local family sums up the hardships, the ethnic heritage, and the joys of living in Newcastle the way the Fourniers do. Although not many still carry the family name, the spirit of the Fourniers lives on in many local residents. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, March 20, 2007

By Barbara Nilson

Pacific Coast Coal Co. morning shift poses sitting on electric engines and empty coal cars outside the boarding house in Rainbow Town. The coal bunkers are in the background with the small hose-coal bunker to the right of the rear of the line of coal cars. A track straightener is in the foreground. — 1909 Asahel Curtis photo, courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, and Bill Kombol, Palmer Coking Coal Co.

Milt Swanson is a historical treasure. He is a walking, talking encyclopedia with fascinating tales of his home town Newcastle/Coal Creek. He’s lived on the same piece of property for 84 years in a company house, on top of a mine shaft and next to the former company hotel and saloon. Across the street was Finn Town and the up the hill was Red Town.

He said when he was a kid, his pals and him named the various areas of the mining camp. The houses on the hill were red, so that was “Red Town”; closer to him the houses were white so naturally that was “White Town” and the area with all different colors was “Rainbow Village.” (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, March 7, 1984

Coal mining plan faces opposition

By Louis T. Corsaletti
Times suburban reporter

Bill Kombol, manager of Palmer Coking Coal Co. in Black Diamond, stands amid a stand of Douglas fir trees on reclaimed land that was part of the McKay Surface Mine in 1974-1976. The pit mine was dug as deep as 40 feet in some places to reach coal. Richard S. Hevza/Seattle Times

Douglas firs ranging from a foot to 10 feet high grow branchtip to branchtip along two narrow strips of generally clear land near Black Diamond.

A few short years ago these same corridors, hewn out of second- and third-growth forest, were sliced open to extract black diamonds—coal. The open ugly sores were the Palmer Coking Coal Company’s McKay and Gem Surface Mines. (more…)

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Originally published in the King County Journal Reporter, February 1, 2006

Official says toxic gases and high temperatures are dangerous to recreationists

By Morris Malakoff
Journal Reporter

The main opening of one of the coal mines on Cougar Mountain is fenced off. Some of the abandoned mines are burning and collapsing, creating potential dangers for park visitors who hike off of the main trails.

The main opening of one of the coal mines on Cougar Mountain is fenced off. Some of the abandoned mines are burning and collapsing, creating potential dangers for park visitors who hike off of the main trails.

The Industrial Revolution is colliding with the Information Age in the forests south of Bellevue.

Underground coal mines that operated for a century, from the 1860s through the 1950s, are now abandoned—burning and collapsing—and creating potential hazards for park patrons who venture off the established trails in the four-square-mile Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.

“It’s more than just taking a bad fall,” said Ginger Kaldenbach, senior project manager for U.S. Office of Surface Mining, the agency is responsible for monitoring and sealing abandoned mines. “Many of these mines emit toxic gases and if someone fell into one that is burning, the temperatures are hot and they would be severely burned.”

Of particular concern to Kaldenbach are outdoor recreationists engaged in geocaching—a high-tech treasure hunt using a handheld GPS monitor that tracks a location using a satellite network.

“They are looking at their GPS devices and may not see a collapsed mine and fall into it,” Kaldenbach said. (more…)

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Originally published in the MVHS Bugle, December 2006

By Wayne D. Greenleaf

My parents, Glen and Vera Greenleaf, moved to Maple Valley in August of 1937. I was 9 years old, my brother Kenneth was 11½. We were born in Centralia during the Great Depression. My Dad was a plasterer and bricklayer—no jobs in Centralia. My grandfather on my mother’s side and three of his children had bought land east of Fiddler’s Comer. He talked my folks into coming up and looking.

We bought 40 acres from Weyerhaeuser, northeast of Fiddler’s Corner, 1½ miles back in the woods. $600 total, no interest and $15 a month; if you couldn’t make the $15 month, they let it go. I think at one time we were over two years behind. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, December 13, 1988

By Louis T. Corsaletti
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

One of the Newcastle coal-mine rescue teams in 1924 included, from left, B.F. Snook (the captain), George Hasku, Walter Clark, Joe Ansberger and George Munson.

One of the Newcastle coal-mine rescue teams in 1924 included, from left, B.F. Snook (the captain), George Hasku, Walter Clark, Joe Ansberger and George Munson.

It was an economic boom that lasted for more than 50 years—one that helped put Seattle and the Eastside on the map.

And it was a force that almost overnight turned this part of the Pacific Northwest into an ethnic melting pot.

Described in newspapers of the day, it was called “coal rush” and “coal fever.”

Coal. Black diamonds. Black gold. (more…)

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Originally published in the Issaquah Press, October 18, 1962

high-trestle-near-issaquahIt is often surprising to stand in a familiar spot, looking around as you have many times before, and see things you never knew were there.

This happened to me one evening recently outside the east door of the high school, a place where I’ve stood many times before. There was still some daylight, everyone else was still inside the building, and I had a good chance to observe the whole southeast part of town from the top of “school house hill.” Many interesting things appear from up there which are typically part of Issaquah, and make up its character.

There is the yellow, wooden spire of St. Joseph’s Church, for instance, just visible above the trees. It was built there in 1896 on land donated by Peter McCloskey, and has been in constant use by the town’s Catholic congregation ever since. There were no trees around it then, because all the big timber had been cut off to make room for the vigorous new town and there hadn’t been time to grow new ones.

However, the forest was still thick a few blocks to the east and around the railroad trestle on the N.P. branch line to Snoqualmie. There wasn’t even a road out there in 1900, for the route to the easterly neighbor towns of Fall City and Snoqualmie was by way of Vaughn’s Hill. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, May 26, 1957

By Lucile McDonald

Washington has plenty of the black mineral but its production has fallen tremendously

A truck loaded coal at the tipple of the Cougar Mountain mine for hauling to the Newcastle storage bunkers. – Photos by Parker McAllister.

Washington’s coal industry is in a state of suspended animation. Once a heavy contributor to the prosperity of the region, it is represented now by only a few scattered operations. Diesel oil, electricity and, lately, natural gas have cut off the markets.

Coal production in the state declined from a peak in 1918 of 4,128,424 tons to an average of 600,000 tons annually.

In King County, which owes its early economic development largely to its bituminous-coal beds, only five mines are active.

Refuse dumps and sealed tunnels south and east of Lake Washington, south of Lake Sammamish and in the Cedar and upper Green River Valleys attest the once-wide extent of mining within a few miles of Seattle. (more…)

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Originally published in the Eastside Journal, January 27, 2000

By Tim Larson

After visiting a massive sinkhole in Cougar Mountain Park, a federal expert will recommend the use of giant boulders to plug the dangerous chasm.

Ginger Kaldenbach, a scientist with the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining in Denver, says the hole isn’t solid enough to pour concrete.

Roughly 60 feet long, 35 feet wide and about 40 feet deep, the kidney-shaped opening leads down to an angled mine shaft that may descend another 300 feet.

“We got close enough to see there is an opening into the mine workings,” Kaldenbach said. “We could see there was an old wooden bulkhead … that’s just rotted away and collapsed in.” (more…)

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Originally published in the Bellevue Journal American, June 23, 1988

An early look at miners at the entrance to the Ford Slope at Coal Creek. Coal Creek was a town largely made up of miners and their families. (Photo courtesy of Renton Historical Society)

An early look at miners at the entrance to the Ford Slope at Coal Creek. Coal Creek was a town largely made up of miners and their families. (Photo courtesy of Renton Historical Society)

Cougar Mountain is a relatively new name for the small mountain (or large hill, depending on your perspective) just to the east of Somerset. Its original name was Newcastle Hill and it was the center of coal mining operations that extended from South Bellevue down to the Green River coal fields in Franklin, Black Diamond, Lawson and Ravensdale.

Two towns were located on Newcastle Hill—Coal Creek and Newcastle—but today all that remains of them are “concrete foundations, railroad grades, holes in the ground and mine waste heaps.” (more…)

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