Get to know your city

October 3, 2014

By Staff

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The city celebrated its 20th year of incorporation in September, but locals know, at least they should, that Newcastle’s story goes back much farther than that.

Newcastle’s coal-mining history dates back to the mid 1800s, when the city was second only to Seattle in population.

The Newcastle mining site operated for about 100 years, until the mid-1900s. Workers extracted nearly 11 million tons of coal during that period.

Vestiges of that history remain scattered across the city in the form of landmarks such as the Baima House, a century-old company house that used to house miners and their families, and the Newcastle Cemetery, the final resting place for a number of Newcastle pioneers.

The stories and the history of the people that set the foundation to make Newcastle what it is today are now on display in a special Renton History Museum exhibit, “Newcastle: Little Giant of the Eastside.”

In it you will see the faces of the men, women and children who called Newcastle home during its coal-mining heyday; the tools that workers used to extract the coal; and a special tribute to the late Milt Swanson, the Newcastle pioneer who deservedly gets much of the credit for championing the preservation of the city’s history.

Every resident that calls Newcastle home should make an effort to see this exhibit. It should be mandatory viewing for every single person working at City Hall. Anyone that has a stake in Newcastle’s future needs to make it down to the Renton History Museum.

As the saying goes, “You have to know where you’ve been, to know where you’re going.”

We once used this space to decry the lack of attention paid to preservation of the city’s history. It is now so thrilling to see Newcastle’s story not only being shared, but also celebrated in both this exhibit and display cases of artifacts at City Hall.

The Renton History Museum spared no detail in bringing Newcastle’s history to life, but the exhibit is only temporary. At some point, the artifacts Swanson so graciously donated to the Newcastle Historical Society will need to find a permanent home.

Our hope is that one day, the city can fund its own museum to house the treasures of its past.

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