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Posts Tagged ‘fires’

Originally published in the Washington State Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Columbia, Spring 1994

By John Hanscom

Drawing of Franklin, circa 1887.

Bird’s-eye-view map of Franklin Mine and its environs, c. 1890. (Courtesy of Don Mason and the Black Diamond Historical Society.)

Henry Villard launched the Oregon Improvement Company in October 1880 as part of his grand scheme to dominate the development of the Pacific Northwest. By 1883 he had tied the area to the national economy with the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Expansive development of the Pacific Northwest seemed assured.

To fuel Villard’s steamships and locomotives, a dependable coal supply was a high priority. By February 1881 the Oregon Improvement Company had acquired the Seattle Coal and Transportation Company, including the Newcastle Mine east of Lake Washington, at a cost of one million dollars. The Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad (renamed the Columbia and Puget Sound) was also purchased for over half a million dollars to transport coal from mine to Seattle bunkers. Villard hired John L. Howard under a five-year contract at $10,000 per year as general manager of the coal business. (more…)

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Originally published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 14, 1888

No change for better or worse reported—the miners working upon brattice work

No change for better or worse was reported from the Franklin coal mine fire yesterday. Mr. Milner went out there again, going through the mine with Superintendent Watkins. He authorizes the denial of the rumor of Mr. Watkins’ resignation.

The fire is in the lower McKay tunnel, and has been located in a worked out “breast.” Mr. Milner said they were attempting to smother it out, with every prospect of success. The air is to be shut out by brattice work, which the miners began to put up Wednesday night, and which it was expected to be completed by this morning.

The effort to extinguish the fire by flooding the mine has been abandoned. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, December 13, 1910

Explosion of fire damp results when fire eats through from old workings in N.W. Imp. Co.’s property

Five men injured and two entombed

An explosion in the Northwestern Improvement Company’s mine at Ravensdale at 11 o’clock this morning fatally injured three miners, seriously injured two others, and imprisoned two more.

A 2 o’clock this afternoon the mine was on fire and the fate of the two imprisoned men is in doubt. Rescuers are at work, but unless the prisoners are liberated within the next two hours they will be consumed by the flames. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, December 12, 1895

Since the bodies of the four miners, who lost their lives in the mine fire at Franklin October 17 last, have been recovered, the strain on the nerves of the workmen of the mine has been relieved and the miners have now but one object in view—the reopening of the mine.

It is believed that coal will be coming up the main slope by January 10. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, December 11, 1895

Entombed three months: The four men who went down in the coal mine during a slope fire—work of rescue has been progressing for about a month

B.F. Bush, general superintendent of the Oregon Improvement Company, received word today from Franklin that the bodies of the four miners who lost their lives in the mine fire of October 17 last had been recovered. The bodies were almost incinerated, but were identified by articles and particles of clothing found on the bodies. (more…)

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Originally published in the MVHS newsletter, The Bugle, October 1991

(Some of the old-timers of Maple Valley have been asked to write down recollections of earlier days. Most of what I recall is family history and there are times I cannot trust my memory. Also, much of it reflects a child’s point of view. Even my sister Ruth and I have entirely different recollections.)Inez (Williams) Merritt

1927 Tahoma High School. Inez Williams is in the second row, fourteenth from the left. (Courtesy Maple Valley Historical Society.)

1927 Tahoma High School. Inez Williams is in the second row, fourteenth from the left. (Courtesy Maple Valley Historical Society.)

My father, Roger Williams, became disabled in the summer of 1925 with what was diagnosed as inflammatory rheumatism. He was staying with relatives in Renton and mother had to cope with running the farm and an infant daughter born April 8th (Ruth).

Jean was 15 years old and I was 10 years old. We were able to do the everyday chores but the haying was beyond our capabilities.

One warm day in July, a parade of teams (horses) and wagons of all sizes and description came through the front gate and up to the barn.

These were neighbors who cheerfully gave up a day’s work on their own farms to give us a hand. There was even a team of mules among the others. It is the hardest job anyone would want to do and the hot, dry days of summer make it even worse. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, October 23, 1895

The Oregon Improvement Company’s coal mine at Franklin has been closed down and sealed in order to smother the fire which occurred in the main slope last week and in which four men lost their lives. (more…)

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