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Posts Tagged ‘World War I’

Prepared for the membership of the PNR-NMRA, September 13, 1958

By H.A. Durfy

Coal—black diamonds—a source of heat, light, power, medicines, and many more products too numerous to mention here. This was the beginning of the Pacific Coast R.R. Co., upon which you are riding today. Of course, like other railroads, the Pacific Coast R.R. Co. was not always known by the present title, and we want to lead you through the background and the beginnings of the railroad. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Daily Times, May 14, 1918

Throughout the nation the call is resounding, “Lay in your next winter’s coal NOW.”

That is the urgent appeal of the United States Fuel Administration, and it applies with as much force in the State of Washington as in any other state in the Union, so officials of the administration point out it is a patriotic duty as well as a measure of preparedness to see that the fuel bin is filled up quickly, for the nation is facing such problems as never confronted her before in the mining and distribution of coal.

Industries, especially those engaged in war work, have first call on the coal production, and they are going at fever heat, with an acceleration that means a continual increase in coal consumption.

To move crops and war materials next fall and winter will require the entire car capacity of all the railroads. This means that the cars must get in their work now in hauling the coal you will need next winter. Nor does a car shortage condition impend only in the Eastern states. (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 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, February 15, 1978

Hellos and goodbyes were expressed last week at the Black Diamond Post Office; goodbyes to Betty Godfrey and hellos to our new postmaster, Gerald Mongrain.

Betty has served since last August in the interim position of Officer-in-Charge for the Postal Service. She has been on loan from Issaquah where she served as head window clerk and where she will now return. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, January 30, 1983

By Eric Pryne
Times staff reporter

Coal drew hundreds of immigrants to Black Diamond in the early 1900s—three young Italians, victims of a 1910 mine explosion, are buried in the town cemetery. The mining industry might make a comeback in the area after decades of dormancy. (Barry Wong/Seattle Times)

Coal drew hundreds of immigrants to Black Diamond in the early 1900s—three young Italians, victims of a 1910 mine explosion, are buried in the town cemetery. The mining industry might make a comeback in the area after decades of dormancy. (Barry Wong/Seattle Times)

BLACK DIAMOND — Their addresses may be the same, but they really are two communities—one old, one new—in and around this historic Southeast King County town.

The coal industry built Black Diamond a century ago. It was a bustling mining town with colonies of Welshmen, Italians, Slavs, and Finns—and a population three times larger than today.

But oil replaced coal in most of America’s furnaces, and Black Diamond already had begun fading by the 1930s. Today its best known export is bread from the bakery. The hills around town produce only a pittance of coal.

Even so, the mineral’s imprint on Black Diamond is everywhere. A mountain of slag and a coal car by the highway mark the entrance to town.

A stone in the cemetery tells, in Italian, of three men who died in a 1910 mine explosion. Many of Black Diamond’s homes are old coal-company houses, built before World War I.

And, among Black Diamond’s 1,200 residents, a good number of miners still fondly remember the old days. (more…)

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Originally published in The Seattle Times, January 14, 1968

So here’s to the gallant reporters,
The boys with the pencils and pads,
The calm, undisturbable, cool, imperturbable,
Nervy, inquisitive lads.

Chester (Chet) Gibbon

Chester (Chet) Gibbon

Chester (Chet) Gibbon never wanted to be anything but a newspaper reporter from the time a Maple Valley fourth-grade teacher assigned a class theme.

Young Chester, writing in longhand, lined out column rules, wrote vivid stories, and tacked on headlines. His first front page.

Gibbon now is 68, still slender and erect, and something of an oddity in our shirt-sleeves business because he always wears his suit coat. He pulled a yellowed piece of copy paper from his desk in The Seattle Times the other day. It contained the Franklin P. Adam poem (1920 vintage) from which the above lines were cribbed.

“That sort of says it,” Gibbon said. (more…)

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