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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Improvement Co.’

Originally published in The Seattle Times, May 21, 1986

By Herb Belanger

Don Mason, left, Carl Steiert, Ted Barner, and Bob Eaton stroll through what was Franklin. (Richard S. Heyza/Seattle Times.)

Don Mason, left, Carl Steiert, Ted Barner, and Bob Eaton stroll through what was Franklin. (Richard S. Heyza/Seattle Times.)

Tough old coal-mining towns like Black Diamond always have had their share of characters, but the “Flying Frog” is one of Carl Steiert’s favorites.

The “Frog” actually was a Belgian named Emile Raisin who ran a taxi service between Black Diamond, a company town with one bar, and Ravensdale, which had 10 saloons where miners quenched the thirst they developed toiling underground. (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 Washington State Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Columbia, Spring 1994

By John Hanscom

Drawing of Franklin, circa 1887.

Bird’s-eye-view map of Franklin Mine and its environs, c. 1890. (Courtesy of Don Mason and the Black Diamond Historical Society.)

Henry Villard launched the Oregon Improvement Company in October 1880 as part of his grand scheme to dominate the development of the Pacific Northwest. By 1883 he had tied the area to the national economy with the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Expansive development of the Pacific Northwest seemed assured.

To fuel Villard’s steamships and locomotives, a dependable coal supply was a high priority. By February 1881 the Oregon Improvement Company had acquired the Seattle Coal and Transportation Company, including the Newcastle Mine east of Lake Washington, at a cost of one million dollars. The Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad (renamed the Columbia and Puget Sound) was also purchased for over half a million dollars to transport coal from mine to Seattle bunkers. Villard hired John L. Howard under a five-year contract at $10,000 per year as general manager of the coal business. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, February 19, 1913

William Barnum, president, Pacific Coast Co.

William Barnum
president, Pacific Coast Co.

William Barnum, newly-elected president of the Pacific Coast Company, arrived here yesterday afternoon from New York City on his first official visit to the vast properties owned by this corporation in the states of Washington, Oregon, and California.

Mr. Barnum, who is one of the most eminent lawyers of New York City, as well as long prominent in its highest financial circles, was in Seattle but once before yesterday—that was seventeen years ago when he acted as counsel for the reorganization committee of the Oregon Improvement Company, the predecessor of the Pacific Coast Company. (more…)

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Originally published in the BDHS newsletter, February 1980

C&PS Engine 18 photographed in Black Diamond before 1916. Type: 4-4-0; Builder, Alco-Brooks; Const. No. 48295; Date built, July 1910; Drivers 62; Cyls 18x24; Total Wt. 110,000.

C&PS Engine 18 photographed in Black Diamond before 1916. Type: 4-4-0; Builder, Alco-Brooks; Const. No. 48295; Date built, July 1910; Drivers 62; Cyls 18×24; Total Wt. 110,000.

The Black Diamond Company wanted a railroad completed as quickly as possible because the Mt. Diablo coal field was declining fast. Surveying began under the Oregon Improvement Company in April 1882 for a Columbia and Puget Sound Cedar River extension. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, December 12, 1895

Since the bodies of the four miners, who lost their lives in the mine fire at Franklin October 17 last, have been recovered, the strain on the nerves of the workmen of the mine has been relieved and the miners have now but one object in view—the reopening of the mine.

It is believed that coal will be coming up the main slope by January 10. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, December 11, 1895

Entombed three months: The four men who went down in the coal mine during a slope fire—work of rescue has been progressing for about a month

B.F. Bush, general superintendent of the Oregon Improvement Company, received word today from Franklin that the bodies of the four miners who lost their lives in the mine fire of October 17 last had been recovered. The bodies were almost incinerated, but were identified by articles and particles of clothing found on the bodies. (more…)

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