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Posts Tagged ‘Palmer Coking Coal Co.’

Originally published in the Pacific Northwest Post Card Club newsletter; July, August, September 2017

By Ken Jensen

Black Diamond depot, circa 1910. The train was pulled by engine No. 18 of the Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad, which served several mining towns in King County.

Black Diamond depot, circa 1910. The train was pulled by engine No. 18 of the Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad, which served several mining towns in King County.

For the miners and their families in turn-of-the-century Black Diamond—an isolated company town near the Cascade foothills of South King County, Washington—the 33-mile trip to Seattle was an all-day journey. The company’s railroad and circa 1885 depot, along with its general store, were the townspeople’s only real connection to the outside world.

In 1904 the Pacific Coast Co. owned all of Black Diamond—its mines, its land, its stores, pretty much everything—as well as neighboring Franklin and a handful of other King and Pierce county towns. (more…)

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Originally published in a Palmer Coking Coal Co. memorandum, 1964

palmer-coking-coal-coFor the last thirty-odd years, Palmer Coking Coal Co., Inc. has been in continuous operation as a vital part of the economy of the area in and around Black Diamond. Its people have had steady and secure employment at good wages these many years.

In a basic industry, such as mining, the direct benefits to the economy of an area are greatly reinforced by indirect and related jobs that are necessary to support a mining operation. (more…)

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Originally published in the Enumclaw Eagle, August 31, 1988

Annual picnic source of stories of coal, men

By Gordon Koestler

Retired miners John Streepy (left) and George Savicke shared a tale or two. (Eagle photo by Gordon Koestler.)

Retired miners John Streepy (left) and George Savicke shared a tale or two. (Eagle photo by Gordon Koestler.)

Deep within the spine of the Cascade Mountains, on either side of the summit, lie still-large coal reserves. Over the past 100 or so years, men like John Costanich, John Streepy, and George Savicke, supported by women like Mary Mihelich, have pulled the black diamonds out of mines near places like Wilkeson, Palmer, Roslyn, Carbonado, Cle Elum and, yes, Black Diamond.

Saturday, such men and women met to celebrate and remember that lifestyle at the annual Miners’ Picnic, conducted at a private park at the base of the Green River Gorge. Such luminaries as former U.S. Sen. Slade Gordon, now campaigning to return to the Senate, and Renton area state Rep. Mike Patrick thought enough of the Miners’ Picnic to attend the afternoon gathering, and King County Executive Tim Hill, 8th District Congressman Rod Chandler, and 31st District Rep. Ernie Crane were scheduled to put in appearances as well. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Sunday Times, August 27, 1961

By Lucile McDonald

Coal industry surges are an old thing to the town of Ravensdale. One such surge, in the late 1920s, brought reconstruction and modernization of the town, as shown above in a photo taken by Asahel Curtis.

Coal industry surges are an old thing to the town of Ravensdale. One such surge, in the late 1920s, brought reconstruction and modernization of the town, as shown above in a photo taken by Asahel Curtis.

“We’ve lived in coal revivals since 1915. We have spurts and then, they fall off,” observed John Markus, Sr., proprietor of Ravensdale’s principal place of business, a grocery on the Kent-Kangley Road.

The little community with the euphonious name in South King County’s coal belt is about to have another “spurt,” however. (more…)

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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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