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Posts Tagged ‘Lawson Store’

Originally published in the MVHS Bugle, March 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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Originally published in the Black Diamond Bulletin, Winter 2010/2011

The Black Diamond General Store, circa 1915, shortly after its move from Lawson Hill.

The Black Diamond General Store, circa 1915, shortly after its move from Lawson Hill.

By Ken Jensen

GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE. Sounds like a fairly simple task, unless of course you live in Black Diamond—in which case you have to trek to Maple Valley, Covington, or Enumclaw for the nearest Safeway or QFC.

This isn’t a clean-up-on-aisle-three calamity, though—the Four Corners Safeway is only a few miles down the Maple Valley-Black Diamond Road—but we take our modern conveniences seriously these days, don’t we? (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, May 5, 1982

The first company store stood where the Black Diamond Bakery is now located. After the store burned in 1907, an existing three-story building was moved down from Lawson Hill to replace it. It was placed about a block away just south of King’s Tavern, now called the 180 building. “Dago Town” is shown in the background.

The first company store stood where the Black Diamond Bakery is now located. After the store burned in 1907, an existing three-story building was moved down from Lawson Hill to replace it. It was placed about a block away just south of King’s Tavern, now called the 180 building. “Dago Town” is shown in the background.

In honor of Black Diamond’s coming centennial celebration, the Voice is featuring a series of weekly historical articles about the community. This is the third installment. (See the first and second installments.)

By Diane Olson

In 1907, Duda Vernarelli got himself a pair of treasured boots. He wore them with pride until, as rumor has it, they fell off his feet.

He had searched every coal miner’s “back yard fire pile” to find one left and one right boot, but to no avail. He finally had to settle for two left boots. He wore them anyway.

What was a “back yard fire pile?”

The Pacific Coast Company store had burned to the ground. When the damaged merchandise was tossed outside, residents of the town could sort through it and take what they wanted, which they did. Each family had their own pile of “bounty” in their yard. Then they went from house to house—pile to pile—matching the trading items.

The free loot was a far cry from the regular company policy, for more than one miner “owed his soul to the company store.” (more…)

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Originally published in an unknown newspaper, June 30, 1953

The building was originally located on Lawson Hill and was moved to Black Diamond about 40 years ago by the Pacific Coast Coal Co. Harry McDowell later bought it from the coal company and operated a general store. After his death, Mrs. McDowell sold it in 1947 to the Zumek brothers.

The building was originally located on Lawson Hill and was moved to Black Diamond about 40 years ago by the Pacific Coast Coal Co. Harry McDowell later bought it from the coal company and operated a general store. After his death, Mrs. McDowell sold it in 1947 to the Zumek brothers.

The Zumek brothers, of Black Diamond, to many people in the community need no introduction. These boys not only operate Black Diamond’s Modern Grocery and Meat Market, but they are all very civic-minded, and are a real asset to the community. (more…)

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The Lawson Mine after the November 6, 1910 explosion, which claimed the lives of 16 miners—5 of which were never recovered.

The Lawson Mine after the November 6, 1910 explosion, which claimed the lives of 16 miners—5 of which were never recovered.

Originally published in the BDHS newsletter, October 2010

By Ken Jensen

In the history of the Green River coal fields, there were three major mining disasters: Franklin, on August 24, 1894, where 37 miners were suffocated in a coal mine fire—the worst coal-mining disaster in King County; Ravensdale, on November 16, 1915, where 31 men perished in a coal mine explosion; and 100 years ago this November 6, the Lawson Mine explosion that took the lives of 16 men.

“It happened on Sunday,” remembered BDHS co-founder Carl Steiert in Black Diamond: Mining the Memories. “It was maintenance men that got it. Had it been at full capacity, the miners would have been in there, too.” Regina Marckx Whitehill, another Black Diamond pioneer, remembered the big explosion, too. “Dad had worked every Sunday for weeks and weeks, but that particular Sunday, he said, ‘I’m just not going to work today. I’m going to rest for a day.’” The man who took her Dad’s place was never found.

The cause of the explosion was never determined, the damage to the mine being so severe that rescuers were unable to make their way to the lowest levels. Five men are still there—entombed at the bottom of the mine under tons of coal and debris.

Newspapers accounts of the day best described the destruction with one word: “Volcanic….(more…)

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