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Posts Tagged ‘John Henry Mine’

Originally published in the Valley Daily News, April 21, 1995

By George Erb
Valley Daily News

Front-end loader, above, shovels dirt and rock into a truck to expose coal. (Valley Daily News photo by Marcus R. Donner.)

BLACK DIAMOND — In the earliest days, miners would tromp out of the tent city that was Black Diamond and go underground to pry coal from the earth with hand tools and explosives.

More than a century later, most work takes place in broad daylight at the John Henry Mine on the outskirts of town. The John Henry is an open pit, and even when the sun sets behind the debris piles, the work goes on under the glare of floodlights mounted on diesel generators.

Today’s miners are more likely to wrestle a steering wheel than swing a pick. For the most part, they are heavy equipment operators who drive oversized bulldozers, trucks, and front-end loaders. (more…)

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Originally published in the Enumclaw Courier-Herald, March 26, 1987

A marshy area adjacent to a small lake that lies southwest of Black Diamond may be one of the keys to the city’s future, if land developer Steve Graddon’s dream comes true.

Graddon presented his ambitious plan that involves a low-impact housing development and a nature preserve that would be the focus of “scientists from around the world,” to the Black Diamond city council Thursday, March 19.

At the center or the plan is Black Diamond Lake, or Chubb Lake as the old-timers call it. About 35 acres of the lake’s shore is made up of a forested sphagnum moss bog, one of only five known in the state. The bog is considered to be in pristine condition, thus making it more valuable to researchers. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, March 14, 1984

By Eulalia Tollefson

Hundreds of area citizens, in an eleventh hour move, rallied around Pacific Coast Coal Company last week in support of the proposed John Henry No. 1 mine.

The John Henry is a surface mining proposal that would allow for removal of about 1,100 tons of coal from the earth daily on 516 acres of Pacific Coast owned land in south King County.

It is bounded on the southeast by the Green River Gorge Road and by 270th Ave. S.E. on the east side. About 100 acres lie within incorporated Black Diamond city limits. The remainder is in adjacent King County. (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 Seattle Times, March 1, 1991

Rural stronghold faces onslaught of new building

By John H. Stevens
Times South bureau

Some Black Diamond residents wonder if development is compatible with the area’s coal mining operations. Chien-Chi Chang/Seattle Times

BLACK DIAMOND—This sleepy little town in the Cascade foothills is about to have a population explosion, and Robert Murphy knows why.

Murphy, a Seattle homebuilder, has come all the way out here to put up six houses in the middle of town because the lots are cheap, and the Black Diamond government receptive.

“It doesn’t take any time at all to get a permit here,” Murphy says. “It’s one of the last receptive areas to growth in King County—a little oasis.” (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, February 27, 1991

Open-pit excavations may take county refuse

By Charles Aweeka
Times South bureau

Trucks at the Pacific Coast Coal Co. wait to haul fine coal to Ravensdale where it will be loaded onto railroad cars and shipped to various locations locally and abroad. (Chien-Chi Chang/Seattle Times)

BLACK DIAMOND — One hundred and fifty feet below the earth’s surface, the coal in John Henry No. 1 Mine crunched beneath our mud-caked boots and shimmered in the sunshine.

“The blacker and shinier it is, the better it is,” said Mark Abernathy, business manager for the Pacific Coast Coal Co., which started the open-pit coal mine in 1986.

We were standing on what Abernathy calls a humpback because it resembles the back of a whale but what actually was the base of a 50-foot-wide seam of coal.

The mine may take on a new purpose soon.

Once the excavation reaches a depth of 250 feet, the Pacific Coast Coal Co. and John Henry Reclamation Inc. have proposed to use the pit as a landfill for King County construction, demolition and land-clearing debris.

The mining will go on simultaneously in another area of the pit, say the owners. (more…)

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Originally published in the Enumclaw Courier-Herald, February 12, 1997

By Paul Schmidt
The Courier-Herald

Although coal production is down 50 percent at Black Diamond’s John Henry Mine following a rain-induced slide Jan. 30, all 45 employees are working, a mine official said Monday.

Crews won’t be able to clear away mud in the slide area until water is pumped away, said Bruno Ridolfi, manager of operations for the Pacific Coast Coal mine. Removing the mud will be a “fairly slow” process, he said. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, December 19, 1982

Comments will be taken until December 24 on the draft environmental-impact statement on rezoning 402 acres in and next to the town of Black Diamond, proposed for a surface coal mine.

The John Henry No.1 Mine would be developed on a 500-acre site over a period of at least 17 years, with the two pits reaching depths of 265 feet. Waste would be stockpiled and returned to the pits, and there are plans for surface reclamation.

The mine is the project of Pacific Coast Coal Co. The site is northeast of the city, between the city’s northwest corner and Lake 12. It includes Mud Lake, the site of one pit, and Ginder Lake, which would not be involved. Plans also call for construction of processing and other facilities at the mine.

Copies of the statement are in Seattle, Black Diamond, Kent, Maple Valley, Muckleshoot and other libraries. Comments should be made to the King County Building and Land Development Division.

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, September 1994

By Heather Larson

Left to right: Jennifer Simmons, Danny Simmons, and Ashley Petersen prepare to enter the parade route in their horse-drawn wagon representing Four Corners Safeway.

Black Diamond celebrated Labor Day weekend with a fever this year. After having last year’s event cancelled for lack of volunteers, no holds were barred. Something for everyone was offered during the 4 days from a fish dinner on Friday night to a bed race on Sunday and a parade down the Maple Valley Highway on Monday.

On Saturday amid torrential downpours the Black Diamond Police challenged the Black Diamond Fire Department to a softball game. Since the police, who chose to be called the DARE Devils, didn’t have the manpower to field a team, other police officers who live in Black Diamond were asked to help out. So King County, Bellevue, and Seattle Police Departments were also represented on the team.

According to Black Diamond officer Glenn Dickson, the highlight of the game was the 8-foot mud pit behind first base.

It was really wet and muddy, but a good time was had by all, said Dickson.

The DARE Devils beat the Hosers 13 to 9 at the first annual baseball game. (more…)

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Originally published in the MVHS Bugle, March/June 2007

Howard Botts

Howard Botts

Black Diamond is my favorite subject since I’ve lived there all my life. I think these two towns, Maple Valley and Black Diamond, have some things in common; a couple of them are Highway 169 and railroads.

People in Seattle heard that the Northern Pacific was coming to this area and going to Tacoma.

They felt if they couldn’t have that they were going to build their own railroad from Seattle to Walla Walla over the pass. So they started in 1873, got as far as Renton in 1876; then extended it to Newcastle. In 1880 Henry Villard, of the Northern Pacific, bought it from the Black Diamond Coal Company and renamed it the Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad. (more…)

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