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Posts Tagged ‘Finnish’

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 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 Seattle Times, May 7, 1961

By Lucile McDonald

Of all the “lost” towns of King County the mostly thoroughly obliterated probably is Taylor, seven miles east of Maple Valley.

Taylor, once with a population close to 700 persons, was swallowed by the Cedar River watershed. Today a young forest is springing from its streets and gardens, and the sites of the coal bunkers and kilns of its once-prosperous clay industry.

Taylor ceased to exist in 1947. Two years earlier, the Seattle Water Department had obtained a condemnation judgment permitting it to include the town in the watershed. (more…)

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Originally published in the MVHS Bugle, December 2005

By Barbara Nilson

Francis Niemela displays a sketch of the cabin his father Charles built of railroad ties on Lake Francis in 1915.

Francis Niemela displays a sketch of the cabin his father Charles built of railroad ties on Lake Francis in 1915.

Eighty-four years of memories will be on tap, Sunday, Feb. 12, [2006,] at the Grange Hall, when Francis Niemela recalls life with the Finnish community on Lake Francis. His parents, Charles and Katri Niemela, came to Maple Valley and purchased 20 acres at the lake in 1915.

During that time there was a railroad that came around the lake and his Dad picked up railroad ties and built his first house out of them. Later that building was converted to a sauna and also used for smoking salmon and bacon when they constructed a large loghouse in 1918. That home was later purchased by the Dufenhorst family.

The Finns at Lake Francis had little stump ranches and their saunas in place of indoor plumbing. Niemela said the greatest sauna was the Lahtinen’s. It was open house every Saturday night and Mrs. Lahtinen would serve coffee and goodies. “Some of the offspring of those Finns like Walt Sipila and Walt Miller are still here,” he said. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, January 30, 1983

By Eric Pryne
Times staff reporter

Coal drew hundreds of immigrants to Black Diamond in the early 1900s—three young Italians, victims of a 1910 mine explosion, are buried in the town cemetery. The mining industry might make a comeback in the area after decades of dormancy. (Barry Wong/Seattle Times)

Coal drew hundreds of immigrants to Black Diamond in the early 1900s—three young Italians, victims of a 1910 mine explosion, are buried in the town cemetery. The mining industry might make a comeback in the area after decades of dormancy. (Barry Wong/Seattle Times)

BLACK DIAMOND — Their addresses may be the same, but they really are two communities—one old, one new—in and around this historic Southeast King County town.

The coal industry built Black Diamond a century ago. It was a bustling mining town with colonies of Welshmen, Italians, Slavs, and Finns—and a population three times larger than today.

But oil replaced coal in most of America’s furnaces, and Black Diamond already had begun fading by the 1930s. Today its best known export is bread from the bakery. The hills around town produce only a pittance of coal.

Even so, the mineral’s imprint on Black Diamond is everywhere. A mountain of slag and a coal car by the highway mark the entrance to town.

A stone in the cemetery tells, in Italian, of three men who died in a 1910 mine explosion. Many of Black Diamond’s homes are old coal-company houses, built before World War I.

And, among Black Diamond’s 1,200 residents, a good number of miners still fondly remember the old days. (more…)

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Extracted from Carbonado: The History of a Coal Mining Town in the Foothills of Mount Rainier, 1880-1937, by John Hamilton Streepy, May 1999

Row of tombstones from the December 9, 1899 catastrophe at Carbonado.

Row of tombstones from the December 9, 1899 catastrophe at Carbonado.

Rees Jones, the fireboss, declared mine number seven clear of gas on 9 December 1899, and allowed the morning shift to enter the mine to begin their workday. With his pipe and tobacco firmly in his pocket, Ben Zedler and seventy-two others started their long march into the depths of the earth to mine coal on the shift from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.1 (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, November 10, 1910

One of the rescuers, Vitalis Marckx—fourth from the left—was supposed to work that fateful Sunday.

One of the rescuers at the Lawson Mine, Vitalis Marckx—fourth from the left—was supposed to work that fateful Sunday on November 6, 1910.

It usually requires a tragedy to bring the majority to a realization of the seriousness of any trivial affair—to a proper appreciation of the monotonous services which are daily rendered by brave and faithful servants of our everyday system of life.

Such a tragedy as that which occurred at Black Diamond on Sunday morning has, we trust, brought such a realization of the bravery and devotion of the men who go down into the earth day by day to mine the coal which warms our bodies, cooks our food, supplies our light, and speeds us on our way homeward.

In these days most of these men are foreigners—members of an alien race—but that does not diminish their due of praise or their credit in the way of our gratitude.

The open mouth of a coal mine has swallowed up many a young and promising life. Even if the youthful miner be spared a violent death in some such explosion as that which occurred in the Lawson mine on Sunday morning, the chances are that he will succumb in the end to “miners’ consumption,” pneumonia, or the terrors of the dark, underground chambers in which he works. (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 Valley Daily News, October 20, 1989

By Peggy Ziebarth
Valley Living Editor

Diane and Corey Olson, who edited the history, are shown near the Black Diamond Museum. (Staff photo by Duane Hamamura.)

Diane and Corey Olson, who edited the history, are shown near the Black Diamond Museum. (Staff photo by Duane Hamamura.)

Voices out of Black Diamond’s past tell the story of mine disasters, whispered scandals, sports shenanigans and colorful characters in Black Diamond: Mining the Memories.

Tales spun by the Welsh, Italian, Slavic and other settlers of the town—dependent on the mines for its lifeblood—weave a lively pattern of poignant portraits of hard life and high times in Black Diamond. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, July 21, 1974

By Patricia Latourette Lucas

Lizzie Polli, 91, turned the pages of a family Bible.

Lizzie Polli, 91, turned the pages of a family Bible.

“WHAT’S THE difference?” said Lizzie McDonald Shafer Maxwell Polli. “So much bull comes out of my mouth, you could use it to fertilize your garden. It’s all bull.”

And yet as the afternoon wore on and we sifted through her little stacks of papers and pictures, I began to believe what the little 91-year-old lady who lives in the last remaining homestead in Maple Valley was saying.

Lizzie Polli doesn’t mince words; she has worked in coal mines, a slaughter house and at race tracks. And still she has a certain dignity.

She served popcorn, candy bars and chocolate cake as she sat in a straight-back chair at a rickety old table, her blue eyes growing dim as she searched the past for memories. (more…)

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