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Posts Tagged ‘When Coal Was King’

Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, March 18, 2014

By Bill Kombol

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) were first organized on January 25, 1890. At one time this union was the most powerful in America.

From 1920 through 1960 the UMWA coal miners were led by John L. Lewis, a persuasive labor leader who founded, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, better known as the second half of the acronym AFL-CIO. Coal mine union membership peaked in 1946 at 500,000 but has since dipped to under to under 75,000, only 20,000 of whom are active coal miners. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, September 29, 2015

By Bill Kombol

This photo of the 1926–27 Black Diamond soccer team comes courtesy of Jerry and Lynda English.

This photo of the 1926–27 Black Diamond soccer team comes courtesy of Jerry and Lynda English.

The Black Diamond Miners, as they were called, were in the first division of Northwest Soccer League playing teams such as Todd Shipbuilders and others sponsored by local companies and communities. (more…)

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Originally published in the Pacific Northwest Post Card Club newsletter, July, August, September 2018

By JoAnne Matsumura and Ed Weum

Located in the booming coal mining town of Black Diamond during the early 1900s was a candy store owned by John and Lizzie Davies.

It was the hangout for many of the town’s children and a source of great pleasure. Many a child could be seen staring in the window clutching a coin with great anticipation.

These were times when a penny actually bought something and the first individually wrapped penny candy, the Tootsie Roll was a top seller.

Also among the treats were Root Beer Barrel Rolls, Banana Chews, Black Sam-bos, Jaw Beakers and Licorice Whips. (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 Voice of the Valley, October 11, 2016

By Bill Kombol

With the Major League Baseball [season] ready to begin, it’s fun to look back over 100 years to a women’s baseball team which played for Ravensdale.

Though baseball and soccer were big sports for coal miners representing their respective mining towns, the ladies also took up bat and glove. According to Barbara Nilson’s Ravensdale Reflections, baseball games were played every Sunday at a rough field on the Landsburg Road just across from the Markus store, now known as the Ravensdale Market. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, February 23, 2010

By Bill Kombol

‘Welsh’ Bill Morris, Jackie Warren, and Jim Thomas (left to right) are shown here in Palmer, Washington, in the early 1940s. Both coal miners came to the U.S. from Wales in 1927-28 to work at the Durham mine of the Morris Brothers Coal Mining Company. Both were immigrants sponsored by their American relative, George Morris.

George was a Welsh immigrant who came to America in 1880, eventually establishing his family and children as successful coal miners and livery stable owners in the mining town of Wilkeson. George Morris was later part-owner of the Durham coal mine.

Welsh immigration to the U.S. began in earnest in 1850s, with a peak decade during the 1890 when over 100,000 arrived. The 1920s saw continued Welsh immigration as coal mining in Wales fell at the conclusion of World War I. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, December 23, 2014

By Bill Kombol

This May 1968 photo of the Morganville Tavern comes courtesy of the King County Assessor’s archived collection.

This May 1968 photo of the Morganville Tavern comes courtesy of the King County Assessor’s archived collection.

Morganville is a section of Black Diamond founded by striking coal miners in the early 1920s. The building shown here was operated for several decades as the Morganville Tavern with its famous silver dollar bar.

It became a raucous gathering place for bikers, farmers, and politicians after Rick King acquired it, added musical entertainment, and ramped up sales to over 350 kegs of beer per month. (more…)

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