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Posts Tagged ‘miner’

Originally published in Voice of the Valley, September 16, 2008

One of the most fascinating stories to come from the Franklin coal mines involved a mule named ‘Bess,’ who was employed at the Cannon mine on the banks of the Green River.

One of the most fascinating stories to come from the Franklin coal mines involved a mule named ‘Bess,’ who was employed at the Cannon mine on the banks of the Green River.

By Bill Kombol

Coal miners Andrew Chernick and Mike Babcanik reported for work in the pre-dawn hours of February 16, 1914. Around 9 a.m., the water-soaked earth gave way and tons of liquefied mud and rock enveloped the two miners. Three days later the body of the 50-year-old Chernick was found and the 47-year-old Babcanik was presumed dead.

On that same day a story appeared in the Seattle Star exposing how mules at the Cannon mine were required to work 24 hours a day and never allowed outside. A photo of the emaciated Bess the mule appeared on the front page. Subsequent stories followed and the Humane Society eventually “arrested” the mule, releasing Bess for needed rest and forage outside the mine. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, November 18, 2008

Franklin 1902

By Bill Kombol

This photo was taken at the entrance to the Franklin No. 1 coal mine at the town of Franklin on February 19, 1902.

The coal miner who is shown was called a “rope rider” as he would ride the coal cars pulled by a steel cable (the “rope”) into and out of the mine.

At the bottom of the mine the rope rider would couple the cable to the coal car and then ride the car to the outside portal (i.e. entrance) to the mine. There he would uncouple the loaded coal car so that it could be dumped into the surface preparation plant (the tipple) where the coal would be sorted to different sizes and processed. (more…)

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Originally published in the Pacific Coast Bulletin, October 1, 1929

Sam Boxill and his blue ribbon sweet peas. Ten feet tall and still growing. Flowers act that way for Sam.

Sam Boxill and his blue ribbon sweet peas. Ten feet tall and still growing. Flowers act that way for Sam.

Every night is Saturday night in a mining camp.

If you don’t believe this just listen to the yells and splashes echoing from the washhouse when the men come off shift. And he who passes up the Dry two or three nights hand running becomes a “social outcast” as far as the rest of the bunch are concerned.

For instance, several years ago one of our men developed a boyish aversion for the bath. The balance of the crew made a council case out of it. They threatened to collectively administer the much-needed “shower” if the council didn’t act.

It acted and he took his shower regularly from then on.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Pier Morgan says we’re short on the unwashed but a trifle long on the ungodly. You can take the first part of his remarks literally. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, November 4, 2008

By Bill Kombol

John L. Lewis was often referred to as “the second most powerful man In America.”

John L. Lewis was often referred to as “the second most powerful man In America.”

As Americans take to the polls today to vote, they will elect a new president, the most powerful man in the country. During his day as leader of the United Mine Workers, John L. Lewis was often referred to as “the second most powerful man In America.”

During the 1920s through the 1950s, coal was the fuel that powered America. And with control of over 400,000 miners, Lewis often led his union to strike at opportune times when the country was most dependent upon coal.

Lewis was the driving force behind the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the second half of the acronym AFL-CIO. He worked tirelessly on behalf of his miners for better wages and safer working conditions. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, August 19, 2008

By Bill Kombol

Coal miner Ted Rouse stands outside the New Black Diamond (aka Indian) mine in the 1920s.

Coal miner Ted Rouse stands outside the New Black Diamond (aka Indian) mine in the 1920s.

In this photo, taken in the late 1920s, coal miner Ted Rouse stands outside the New Black Diamond (aka Indian) mine, which was located between Renton and Maple Valley on State Route 169. He wears a head lamp to light his work in the darkness of the mine.

Theodore Elmon Rouse was born December 23, 1893, in Newcastle, Washington, and died on May 29, 1959, at Renton, Washington.

Mr. Rouse worked in the coal mines in the state of Washington for over fifty years beginning his career in Newcastle. He also worked in the Black Diamond mines for Pacific Coast Coal Company and Strain Coal Company. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, July 28, 2009

By Bill Kombol

Miners' picnic, 1933Each summer coal miners and their families would gather at a lake resort for what was affectionately known as the Miners’ Picnic. There would be foot races for kids, sack races, three-legged races, wheel-barrow races, relay races, horseshoe pitching, egg tossing, softball, a tug-of-war with two teams pulling on a rope, pie-eating contests, the Russian-horse, and even a greased pig-chasing contest with liberal prize money for all the winners.

The day would be interspersed with swimming, boating, picnic lunches, music, and dancing.

On Sunday, July 16, 1933, the Morris Bros. Coal Mining Company featuring four generations of the Morris family entertained hundreds of friends at an all day Miners’ Picnic held at Nolte’s Deep Lake Park resort near Cumberland. (more…)

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Originally published in the Pacific Coast Bulletin, February 1914

[Editor’s note: To read the first message to employees from Pacific Coast Coal Co. President J.C. Ford, go here.]

Pacific Coast Coal Co. Logo 1922Prior to May 1907, there was no union at any of the mines of the Pacific Coast Coal Company. There had been no strikes or labor trouble of any kind at any of the company’s mines for over fifteen years. The company was paying the highest wages going, and its employees were prosperous and contented.

In May 1907, a union was organized at Black Diamond, and the organization soon spread to all the other mines.

Since that time all of the company’s mines have been organized, but at none of them has there been any trouble or serious friction, other than at Black Diamond. (more…)

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