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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Improvement Co.’

Originally published in the Maple Valley Reporter, May 13, 2011

By Timothy Martinell

An old coal cart sits where the town of Franklin once stood by the Green River. The cart was donated by the Palmer Coking Coal Company. TJ Martinell, The Reporter

I have to admit, when I first went to Black Diamond, I didn’t think I’d be introduced to the mayor of a ghost town.

When I first spoke to Keith Watson, director of the Black Diamond Historical Society, I expressed my interest in Franklin, the nearby ghost town. After discussing how to get there, he looked at me with a subtle grin and asked, “Do you want to meet the mayor?”

At first, I wasn’t sure if he was being funny or not, but then he walked into another room. A few moments later, he reappeared with another man: Don Mason, the “mayor” of Franklin. (more…)

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Originally published in the Issaquah Press, April 4, 1990

Taken in the 1890s, these photos depict a family separated by tragedy. Theodore Fournier, right, had been married only five months when he was killed in a mine disaster at Newcastle. His wife, Frances Craig Fournier, center, was pregnant at the time. Fournier never saw his only child, Esilda, left. Despite the loss, the family remained united, and all Esilda’s children still live in the Newcastle and Issaquah areas. Photos courtesy of John Swanson.

Perhaps no local family sums up the hardships, the ethnic heritage, and the joys of living in Newcastle the way the Fourniers do. Although not many still carry the family name, the spirit of the Fourniers lives on in many local residents. (more…)

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Originally published in “Now & Then,” The Seattle Times, March 26, 2000

By Paul Dorpat

At the foot of Dearborn Street, the Pacific Coast Company coal wharf extended far into Elliott Bay. Here, freshly painted and nearly new, the wharf is a year or two old. The scene dates from about 1903. (Courtesy of Lawton Gowey)

For soaring grandeur, the two towers of Pacific Coast Company’s coal wharf at the foot of Dearborn Street may be compared to the contemporary gantry cranes of the Port of Seattle’s Pier 46 complex. The open skeleton of the old coal towers suggests the stone filigree of a medieval cathedral, and the sublime symmetry strengthens this allusion.

Both the Cottage City and S.S. Garonne, the steamers left and right of the coal towers, had busy careers in Alaska. (more…)

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5-year project to put life back into Franklin

Originally published in The Seattle Times, February 11, 1994

By Keith Ervin
Seattle Times South bureau

Lindsay Larson leads a group of students through the old cemetery they are cleaning up. Many of the deaths were caused by mining accidents. (Jimi Lott, Seattle Times)

HISTORIC FRANKLIN—Hidden beneath the maples and cottonwoods of the Green River Gorge are secrets unseen by the casual visitor.

Some of those secrets are a little more visible today than they were yesterday, thanks to eighth-graders from Cedar Heights Junior High School in Covington. (more…)

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Originally published in the Pacific Coast Bulletin, December 31, 1925

Every miner at Black Diamond probably knows the three men whose likenesses appear above. If there is one who doesn’t, he should. They represent the three phases of coal mining most vital to the industry; efficiency and economy in operation, safety inspection, and first aid and mine rescue training.

In Supt. Paul Gallagher largely rests the success or failure of the mine’s operation. Closely related is the safety inspection, directed by Deputy State Mine Inspector, Geo. T. Wake, under the able supervision of Wm. R. Reese, Chief Inspector. And last but not least is John G. Schoning, of the United States Bureau of Mines, who patiently drills the men in the principles of first aid and mine rescue work. All three indispensable. (more…)

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Originally published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 31, 1884

Editor, Post-Intelligencer:

Your correspondent was yesterday placed under great obligations to Mr. J.L. Howard, general superintendent of the Oregon Improvement Company, by reason of an invitation, obtained through the kindness of Mayor Leary, to accompany himself, Mr. Leary and Mr. A.A. Denny over the new line of railroad stretching from our city toward the Green River coal fields, and known in common parlance as the Cedar River Extension. Mr. Denny was, to the regret of all, unable to attend.

The party was under the thoughtful care of Mr. T.J. Milner, the genial assistant superintendent of the Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad. (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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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, October 2, 1897

Receiver C.J. Smith returned yesterday afternoon from an extended trip to the East in connection with the business of the Oregon Improvement Company.

The company’s property will be sold on November 5, and thereafter the purpose is to have extensive improvements made on the waterfront in Seattle, including the filling in of land south of King Street to Grant, and east of Third Avenue. But the most important is the erection of a brick warehouse on Ocean Hose, commensurate with the growing business that is sure to come to the company. (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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Prepared for the membership of the PNR-NMRA, September 13, 1958

By H.A. Durfy

Coal—black diamonds—a source of heat, light, power, medicines, and many more products too numerous to mention here. This was the beginning of the Pacific Coast R.R. Co., upon which you are riding today. Of course, like other railroads, the Pacific Coast R.R. Co. was not always known by the present title, and we want to lead you through the background and the beginnings of the railroad. (more…)

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