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Posts Tagged ‘Palmer Coking Coal Co.’

Originally published in the Valley Daily News, September 4, 1987

By Debra Nelson

Les Van Hoof is one of the new breed of coal miners who operate the levers of heavy equipment rather than picks and shovels. (Staff photo by Gary Kissel.)

Les Van Hoof is one of the new breed of coal miners who operate the levers of heavy equipment rather than picks and shovels. (Staff photo by Gary Kissel.)

Coal mining… the words evoke images of dark mine shafts, dynamite, and hardy men, exhausted from the hazards of blasting the mineral from deep within the earth, ravaged by black lung disease.

The old folk song “Sixteen Tons” tells that story—of men who rarely saw the sun and whose blood and sweat made coal the major industry in the Black Diamond region until the 1920s.

But those were the “good old days” of coal mining and, fortunately, the industry has undergone radical changes. For one thing, today’s miners work above ground, in the hot summer sun and the cold winter rain.

This Labor Day weekend, Black Diamond looks back at the old days, remembering those pioneers and miners who settled the town. The festivities include the kind of fun and games many pioneer kids enjoyed. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, April 30, 1975

By Laura Lorenz

Dynamiting shut the portal of Rogers No. 3 coal mine, closing last underground mine in Washington, Ravensdale, 2:30 p.m., December 17, 1975 Photo by Carl G. Falk, Courtesy Palmer Coking Coal Company

Dynamiting shut the portal of Rogers No. 3 coal mine, closing last underground mine in Washington, Ravensdale, 2:30 p.m., December 17, 1975 Photo by Carl G. Falk, Courtesy Palmer Coking Coal Company

Rogers Number 3, the last of the state’s underground coal mines, will stop mining within the next few weeks. A retirement party of eats and dancing last Saturday marked a reduction of almost half of the twenty-man crew.

Carl Falk, office manager for Palmer Coking Coal Company Inc., claims the Ravensdale mine closure is due to economics. Too few contracts and the expense of complying with present day health and safety regulations for such a small operation tipped the scales. The mine puts out only about 20,000 tons of coal annually.

Falk said the retirement of mining operations was determined some years ago as contracts to state institutions declined. One after another have converted to natural gas, using oil as a standby fuel instead of coal. Only three state institutions contract for coal: Monroe State Reformatory, Shelton Correction Center, and the Orting Old Soldiers Home.

“There will be enough coal mined,” said Falk, “to complete contract commitments. The company will continue to market coal for another heating year.” Coal retails at $30.00 a ton on a U-haul basis. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, April 1, 2014

By Bill Kombol

This photo by Vic Condiotty shows the explosion seconds after the detonation which shuttered the mine and destroyed the bridge.

This photo by Vic Condiotty shows the explosion seconds after the detonation which shuttered the mine and destroyed the bridge.

On March 27, 1971, the last coal mine on the Green River Gorge was blasted shut with powerful explosives supplied by a division of Rocket Research based in Redmond.

Coal miners, company officials, explosive experts, and the press gathered on the banks of the Green River as 900 pounds of the experimental dynamite, called Astrolite K, was placed inside the mine portal and on the mine bridge across the river.

Coal was first extracted near the Green River in 1885 at the town of Franklin. Mining boomed until the early 1920s, and continued sporadically through the 1960s. The Franklin No. 10 mine was opened by Palmer Coking Coal Company in 1964 and produced over 66,000 tons of coal during its seven years of operation. (more…)

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Originally published in the MVHS Bugle, June 2015

The mystery photo in the last Bugle was Belleman’s station.

The mystery photo in the last Bugle was Belleman’s station.

Gary Habenict nailed it and then added some info we didn’t know.

The picture in the last issue of the Bugle, Belleman’s gas station and café at Four Corners—or back then, Five Corners—1946-1948, maybe.

Mine office across the street. Looking north on Maple Valley Highway, the toll lead, with eight cross arms of copper wire, went from Seattle through Stampede Pass to Yakima. A red flashing stoplight for east-west traffic and a flashing yellow for the main highway, now SR-169.

Belleman sold to Ray Spurgeon who operated the station and café for several years. Now it’s a Shop Fast store with lights and turn lanes everywhere. In 1946 you could come to the corner, stop … maybe, and not encounter another car, depending what time it was.

The snow was very typical for winters back then.

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, March 10, 1978

By Eric Pyrne
South Times bureau

Joe Bertelli” ‘I fought all my life…’

Joe Bertelli” ‘I fought all my life…’

BLACK DIAMOND — The continuing drama of the nation-wide coal miners’ strike is being played out a little differently in this sleepy old town.

Black Diamond is the home of the only coal mine in the state whose workers still are represented by the United Mine Workers of America. The local miners joined their union brothers in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states in walking off their jobs when the strike was called three months ago.

They’re still out. But the situation in Black Diamond today doesn’t have much in common with the headline-grabbing developments back East.

There is no picketing, no violence and little rhetoric here. Labor and management have nothing but kind words for one another. And, since Washington, unlike the East, doesn’t rely extensively on union coal for energy, what happens in Black Diamond probably won’t matter much to most people. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, July 5, 2016

By Bill Kombol

The photographer’s artistry captures light as it reflects off steel rails used to move the coal cars in this otherwise dark mine tunnel 800 feet below the earth’s surface.

The Rogers No. 3 mine in Ravensdale closed December 17, 1975.

You’ve heard the phrase, “the light at the end of the tunnel.” This photo of the gangway level of the Rogers No. 3 underground mine was taken for use in the Sunday magazine Now in a feature story about coal mining.

The photographer was Larry Abele, but this particular photo was not used in that January 14, 1973 story by Mary Lehto which appeared in the Renton Record-Chronicle, Kent News-Journal, and Auburn Globe News newspapers.

The photographer’s artistry captures light as it reflects off steel rails used to move the coal cars in this otherwise dark mine tunnel 800 feet below the earth’s surface. The mine was located just north of the Kent-Kangley Road in Ravensdale. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, December 22, 2015

By Bill Kombol

The double-drum hoist, as used in area mines, provided welcome relief from the back-breaking work of hand moving coal by shovel.

The double-drum hoist, as used in area mines, provided welcome relief from the back-breaking work of hand moving coal by shovel.

This 1974 photo taken at the Rogers No. 3 underground coal mine features Bill McLoughry operating a double-drum hoist while a relieved John Streepy is shown in the background.

The Rogers No. 3 was the last underground coal mine in Washington, closing in 1975. The photo by Barry Kombol was taken in the crosscut of the mine, a tunnel parallel to and above the main gangway where coal was loaded into cars and hauled out of the mine on steel rails. (more…)

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