Historical Society preps for busy September

August 29, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Historical Society 2014

The Newcastle Historical Society is in for a busy September with programming at Newcastle Days, the Newcastle Library and the Renton History Museum.

The local organization that works to preserve Newcastle’s vast coal-mining history will kick it off with a large presence at Newcastle Days on Sept. 6.

The organization’s booth will feature a display of informational materials and artifacts related to Newcastle’s early history, including tools and machinery from the past.

Vickie Baima Olson will lead two tours of the historic Newcastle Cemetery that day. Baima Olson is an active member of the Newcastle Historical Society, with significant familial roots in the city’s history.

“The cemetery is significant as the only tangible reminder of the nationalities engaged in early coal mining in Newcastle,” she said.

Vandalism has forced the cemetery’s closure for much of the year, though those with family buried there, like Baima Olson, have access to it year round. It’s open to the public on Memorial Day and during the Newcastle Days festival.

Visitors interested in learning about the Newcastle pioneers’ final resting place should meet at the cemetery entrance, 7810 129th Ave S.E., at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. Sept. 6.

The society’s busy month continues Sept. 9, when the group unveils an exhibit at the Renton History Museum.

If you go

‘Newcastle, Little Giant of the Eastside’

“Newcastle, Little Giant of the Eastside,” will feature pictures, maps and objects from Newcastle’s coal-mining past. The exhibit will have information about the cemetery, as well as the Baima House, a still-standing Pacific Coast Coal Co. house, considered among the oldest buildings in King County.

The partnership represents the first time the Renton History Museum has collaborated with a group from Newcastle, according to museum Director Elizabeth Stewart.

“It makes sense to do this exhibit to sort of remind people in Renton of the shared coal-mining past of a lot of the towns and cities in this area,” she said. “This was an opportunity to work with the Newcastle Historical Society, to bring their history to the people of Renton and give them a place to tell their story.”

The exhibit will be on display at the Renton History Museum through February.

Finally, the society will host two September presentations at the Newcastle Library, 12901 Newcastle Way.

Society President Russ Segner will share his knowledge of West Coast railroad history and show a video at 7 p.m. Sept. 10.

The society will then host guest speaker Marilyn Tharp Clise at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at the library.

Clise’s bloodlines are steeped with Newcastle history. Her great-grandfather came to Newcastle in 1870 and went on to serve in the second Legislature of the state of Washington.

His son, and Clise’s grandfather, John Henry McKnight, was born in Newcastle and went on to become the Renton pioneer that inspired McKnight Middle School’s name.

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