Test your Newcastle history knowledge — Part 3

June 6, 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.

In the October issue Of Newcastle News, we printed 16 of those questions, and in March we printed 10 more. We’ve selected a few additional 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: How did the normal work day for the miner in Newcastle end?

A: In 1925, the workday was from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The miners would be black and covered with coal, and they went to the company wash house where they could shower before going home. Women could use the facilities on Tuesday and Friday nights. That was a great privilege since most homes did not have bathtubs.


Q: How did China Creek get its name?

A: In the 1880s, Chinese workers were brought in to separate good coal from waste in the bunkers. They were forced out of town due to prejudice and set up their own camp along a small creek that flowed west into Lake Boren.


Q: What signaled the end of big mining at Newcastle?

A: A fire in 1929 destroyed the Coal Creek bunkers.


Q: What happened after the Pacific Coast Coal Co. moved out of the Newcastle mines?

A: Between 1930 and 1963, independents came in to work what was left behind. There was less attention to safety, supporting coal pillars were harvested, causing underground roofs to collapse, and strip mining was introduced.


Q: Where did the independents dump most of their coal mine waste?

A: They dumped the waste along Newcastle Golf Club Road in piles 30 feet to 50 feet high.


Q: When did King County purchase the property for Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park?

A: The county purchased 1,000 acres of the original Pacific Coast Coal Co. holdings for $6 million in 1984 and 1985.


Q: Is there a danger of mine holes opening today?

A: Yes. There is still a lot of empty space beneath the surface. In 1950, a cave hole appeared under the current Newcastle Golf Club Road near Lakemont that was big enough for a car to disappear inside. The hole was covered with logs, five feet of dirt and blacktop.


Q: What was Newcastle like in 1921?

A: About 1,000 people lived there at the time. The business center consisted of a dance hall, drink parlor, garage, meat market, general store, theater, hotel and barber shop.


Q: Newcastle and Coal Creek saw its peak population in 1901. What was it?

A: Between 2,500 and 3,000 people lived in more than 400 homes.


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