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Posts Tagged ‘When Coal Was King’

Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, August 23, 2016

By Bill Kombol

Maple Valley’s third depot dates to 1953, shortly after it was built.

Maple Valley’s third depot dates to 1953, shortly after it was built.

Over the near century from 1885 to 1982, Maple Valley hosted three different railroad stations, all located in old Maple Valley just north of where Highway 18 overpasses SR-169. This photo of the third Maple Valley depot dates to 1953 shortly after it was built.

The Maple Valley station was an important cog for directing rail traffic as trains could be switched to Black Diamond, Taylor, or up the Cedar River through Landsburg into the watershed. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, July 26, 2016

By Bill Kombol

The old callboard of the C&PS can be seen slightly above the new board installed in the PCRR terminals at South Alaskan Way near Dearborn on the Seattle waterfront – just west of CenturyLink stadium.

The old callboard of the C&PS can be seen slightly above the new board installed in the PCRR terminals at South Alaskan Way near Dearborn on the Seattle waterfront – just west of CenturyLink stadium.

This is the second of a series, which details the workings of the Pacific Coast Railroad (PCRR) late in its corporate life. Founding as the Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad (C&PS), from the ashes of the Seattle & Walla Walla, PCRR was profiled in a 1948 Rotogravure magazine, which included this photo of the engine dispatcher’s board. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, July 19, 2016

By Bill Kombol

This January 20, 1948 photo shows a PCRR engine pulling loaded coal cars as they cross over the Cedar River near Maplewood Golf Course in Renton.

This January 20, 1948, photo shows a PCRR engine pulling loaded coal cars as they cross over the Cedar River near Maplewood Golf Course in Renton.

This column’s focus over the next several weeks will be the Pacific Coast Railroad (PCRR), previously known as the Columbia & Puget Sound (C&PS). Perhaps no other single venture was more important to the development of the Maple Valley–Black Diamond area than the railroad. (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 Voice of the Valley, January 26, 2016

By Bill Kombol

The administration building was considered for landmark status due to its historic significance, but the deterioration of the structure was too great for it to be saved.

The administration building was considered for landmark status due to its historic significance, but the deterioration of the structure was too great for it to be saved.

This administration building of Pacific Coast Coal Co. was constructed in 1927 to serve as a combination office and shop for New Black Diamond mine. A powerhouse was located in the east end of the building, which was located at 18825 State Route 169, about halfway between Maple Valley and Renton. (more…)

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Originally published in the Voice of the Valley, March 3, 2015

By Bill Kombol

pcc332greenrivergorgeThe Green River Gorge is a wonderful geological feature to behold. Through millennia, the river has cut a channel deep into the bedrock of the Puget formation. This mammoth incision into the bowels of the earth allowed early explorers to easily find the coal seams which occurred along the Green River Gorge shown here near the ghost town of Franklin. (more…)

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Originally published in Voice of the Valley, September 16, 2008

One of the most fascinating stories to come from the Franklin coal mines involved a mule named ‘Bess,’ who was employed at the Cannon mine on the banks of the Green River.

One of the most fascinating stories to come from the Franklin coal mines involved a mule named ‘Bess,’ who was employed at the Cannon mine on the banks of the Green River.

By Bill Kombol

Coal miners Andrew Chernick and Mike Babcanik reported for work in the pre-dawn hours of February 16, 1914. Around 9 a.m., the water-soaked earth gave way and tons of liquefied mud and rock enveloped the two miners. Three days later the body of the 50-year-old Chernick was found and the 47-year-old Babcanik was presumed dead.

On that same day a story appeared in the Seattle Star exposing how mules at the Cannon mine were required to work 24 hours a day and never allowed outside. A photo of the emaciated Bess the mule appeared on the front page. Subsequent stories followed and the Humane Society eventually “arrested” the mule, releasing Bess for needed rest and forage outside the mine. (more…)

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