Test your Newcastle history knowledge (Part 2)

February 28, 2013

By Staff

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At the 2012 Newcastle Days celebration, the city’s rich history was celebrated with the festival’s theme, Return to Newcastle. One of the components of the celebration was a trivia activity put together by Mayor Rich Crispo.

Crispo compiled a list of 120 questions that highlighted the history of Newcastle. Each vendor booth had a question, and prizes were awarded for correct answers at the end of the day.

Rich Crispo

Rich Crispo

In our October issue, we printed 16 of those questions. Below we’ve printed 10 more of the questions, which bring forth interesting facts about the history of the Newcastle community.

Crispo compiled the list of questions through information taken from “The Coals of Newcastle — A Hundred Years of Hidden History,” by Richard and Lucile McDonald.

Think you know your city’s history? Test yourself.


Q: What is the name of the last remaining miner’s house in near original condition?

A: The Baima house, which was built in the 1870s


Q: The original mining site was named Coal Creek. A second site was opened about a mile east in 1869. What did they call the new site?

A: It was called Newcastle and was named after the English city that is synonymous with coal production.


Q: What profits were generated from the mining of coal in Newcastle in 1879?

A: The mine pulled in $63,493 from the sale of 136,000 tons of coal.


Q: What were the nationalities of the miners in 1884?

A: According to Harper’s Magazine, the 250 to 300 miners in Newcastle were primarily Welsh, Scottish, English and Irish.


Q: How long did it take to go from Seattle to Newcastle by coal train in 1890?

A: Three hours


Q: In 1914, the Newcastle School at Coal Creek was built. How big was it?

A: The school had four classrooms with two grades per room, a manual training room and a home economics room.


Q: Where was the high school for Newcastle students?

A: It was in either Renton or Seattle, so transportation was difficult. To get to Franklin High School in 1915 required a 3-mile walk to the Hazelwood dock on Lake Washington, a ferry ride across the lake and a streetcar to the school. Most students just went to work.


Q: Why did the Pacific Coast Coal Co. begin liquidating its Newcastle operations in 1929?

A: Coal was in little demand due to the availability of oil, Montana coal was cheaper and the nation had entered the Great Depression. Cumulative production between 1876 and 1929 had been 8,840,000 tons.


Q: What was the B & R Mining Co.?

A: The company, started by Joe Baima and Mike Rubittino, continued digging coal in Newcastle after the Pacific Coast Coal Co. left. They worked many of the old mines leased from Pacific. They mined 536,149 tons of coal between 1932 and 1962, with a peak year of 31,835 in 1945.


Q: Who is Milt Swanson and what is his role in the history of Newcastle?

A: Milt Swanson was born in Old Newcastle in 1918. He lives in Company House No. 180 (his parents bought it in 1930) that faces Lakemont Boulevard and has a coal car in the front yard. He was employed as a mechanic by the B & R Mining Co. He is a historian for the area.

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