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Posts Tagged ‘Henry's Switch’

By Bill Kombol

King County Assessor tax parcel No. 112106-9035

The location of the Black Diamond branch of Mount Rainier Bank [Columbia Bank, 2019] has a short, but interesting history.

The property is located in the south half of Section 11, Township 21 North, Range 6 East, W.M. Like all odd-numbered sections in this area, the property in Section 11 was originally part of a land grant by the United States to the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1873 for construction of a transcontinental railroad. In adjacent even-numbered sections, the Black Diamond Coal Mining Company had begun mining coal after moving their operations north from the Mount Diablo coal fields near Nortonville, California, east of San Francisco. (more…)

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Originally published in the BDHS newsletter, Summer 2018

By William Kombol

“Rusty Rails” photo by Robert Dobson, April 2018

“Rusty Rails” photo by Robert Dobson, April 2018

This spring photographer Bob Dobson stumbled upon a short section of railroad hidden amongst a dense forest near Lake Sawyer. He took a photo that inspired a question: “Who laid these rusty rails?”

Little did he know the answer is the story behind the men who founded Black Diamond. (more…)

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Maple Valley Historical Society, March 1987

Here’s where me and the railroad got together.

My brother went up to Maple Valley for some reason or other and saw this gang of railroad men working to save the track that was being washed out. Being nosy, he went up to the foreman and asked if they were hiring anybody and he said yes, and get anyone else you can.

He came home and got me and we started work filling gunny sacks with sand at 4:00 p.m. and didn’t stop til 4:00 p.m. the next day. The rain never let up and gunny sacks got hard to get because everyone else needed them too for the same reason we did. We wound up using sacks that had been filled with rock salt and the salt cut our hands making them very sore. We didn’t have the little bags they use nowadays but the 100-pound size which we about two-thirds filled. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, April 7, 2015

By Bill Kombol

Railroads played a key role in the development of most King County towns, including Ravensdale. The arrival of the nation’s second transcontinental railway, the Northern Pacific (NP) in 1883 dramatically accelerated growth throughout the Washington Territory.

The development of a production-scale coal mine required a rail link to deliver the massive equipment needed to operate the mine and to transport the coal to market.

The extension of the Columbia and Puget Sound (C&PS) railway in 1884 from Renton by Henry Villard’s Oregon Improvement Company enabled the coal mines at Cedar Mountain (1884), Black Diamond (late 1884), Franklin (1885), and Danville (1896) to begin production. (more…)

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Originally published in the MVHS’s The Bugle, November 1997

By Eva Litras

Dale Coal Company in Ravensdale, a typical small mine of this area early in the century. Photo supplied by Maple Valley Historical Society Museum.

Dale Coal Company in Ravensdale, a typical small mine of this area early in the century. Photo supplied by Maple Valley Historical Society Museum.

This is a story about the Elkcoal Mine—located off the Kangley-Kanasket Road. We moved there in 1929 and lived in a small house on Sugarloaf Mountain. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Sunday Times, July 20, 1902

He may be in the woods near Sawyer Lake or he may be miles away—No one knows

Harry Tracy mugshot

Harry Tracy mugshot

Tracy has apparently dropped as completely out of sight as though the earth had opened and swallowed him. Since his disappearance from the cabin on the shores of Lake Sawyer last Wednesday afternoon, or night, no trace of him has been had.

His long silence and failure to appear at some house for food and clothing lends weight to the opinion of Sheriff Cudihee that Tracy is still in hiding in the vicinity of the lake. (more…)

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Originally published in the Seattle Times, April 2, 1961

(This is the first in a series of articles which will appear from time to time about lost towns of King County.)

By Lucile McDonald

Overlooking the site of the mining community of Cedar Mountain is a window on the south side of the home of Mrs. Edith Cavanaugh. On the table were deeds to the Cavanaugh land, signed by Presidents Grant and Arthur. —Times photo by Roy Scully.

Overlooking the site of the mining community of Cedar Mountain is a window on the south side of the home of Mrs. Edith Cavanaugh. On the table were deeds to the Cavanaugh land, signed by Presidents Grant and Arthur. —Times photo by Roy Scully.

Lost towns of King County rival in mystery the ghost towns of gold-mine country. The thing about them is that most have vanished without a trace—not so much as a weathered heap of timber or a false-front abandoned store to indicate that at this or that road junction stood a community of several hundred persons.

Any map of 50 years ago or more is sprinkled with place names where nothing to indicate a community exists today. Some of them were swallowed by the Cedar River watershed. Others died from natural causes.

Who could find Taylor, Kerriston, Cedar Mountain, Sherwood, Eddyville, and Barneston today? Who would know about Henry’s Switch, Atkinson, Trude, Holmar, Herrick, Danville, and Durham?

Yet, these names remain on the map, monuments to another time, when coal mines and sawmills attracted population to the foothills of the Cascades. (more…)

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