Lake Boren — The old swimming hole

December 4, 2015

What do we do when the temperature is 90 degrees? Sit in an air-conditioned house, go to an air-conditioned movie theater, take a drive in an air-conditioned car, or maybe go to Renton’s Coulon Park and enjoy the water. In 1890, the kids of Newcastle went to Etta Cartney Lake while their parents went to work or did their chores under the hot sun. The swimming hole was along the northeast shore near a steep embankment. A large tree supported a rope swing that would drop the kids 20 feet. There was also a submerged tree out farther that the kids would swim to and stand on its end with their heads above water.

Cartney was a young woman living in the area, and for a reason unknown to this author, had the local coal range named after her along with what is now called Lake Boren (It had also been called Little Lake). The lake was the recreation center for the residents and, along with serving as the local swimming hole, it was a great spot to fish. In 1883, the lake was 90 feet deep. Today, the deepest part measures only 34 feet. Over the years, great amounts of run-off have come down China Creek and filled in the lake. Read more

Newcastle railroads — When rail was king

November 10, 2015

Narrow gauge rail service was completed between Renton and the Newcastle coal mines in 1878. This 6.5-mile extension allowed for much greater production and therefore growth of the company town. Regular passenger service began in November 1878, enabling Newcastle to become more than just a mining town. It was a destination for hunting and hiking and allowed for the visit of President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880.

Train service was not without its problems. In January 1880, 4.5-feet of snow fell in Seattle disrupting service, and in July of that year, the train was three hours late. It seems the train had run off the track because it hit a hog. The train did not suffer damage, but the hog was cut in two. In 1883, Renton had 300 residents while Newcastle had 750. Read more

Newcastle railroads — Here yesterday, gone today

September 30, 2015

NEW — 3:05 p.m. Sept. 30, 2015

There is not a single foot of railroad track in Newcastle today, but the railroads played a big part in the development of the coal fields and eventually the city.

Parts of Coal Creek Parkway, the May Creek Trail, Coal Creek Park, Southeast 60th Street and 112th Avenue Southeast are on top of original track beds.

BackTrackingTransporting the coal from the mines to the port in Seattle was a daunting task when production began in 1863. At first, the coal was moved via tramways, wagons, canoes and barges to docks at King and Pike streets, where it was loaded onto ships bound for San Francisco and, later, to Hawaii and Australia.

Read more

History feature — When strikes and Uniontown came to Newcastle

September 6, 2015

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 6, 2015

Early Newcastle was a coal town. That meant that everything — land and buildings — was owned by the coal company and the only jobs were associated with mining, separating, washing and delivering the black diamonds.

Conditions were hard and dangerous. As one account from that time noted, “There was a man killed in the mine last night. Mr. Oakley (a director) sent the coal car, with others in it, whizzing down into the mine. He fell out and it ran over him.”

As a result of these conditions, unions arrived and strikes became fairly frequent.

BackTrackingThe Knights of Labor representing 50 of the 250 workers was on the scene. It operated from 1881 until 1891 and was noted for being anti-black and anti-Chinese.  Read more

Coal Miners Cemetery — Part 3

August 12, 2015

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 12, 2015

This is the third history feature installment about the historic Coal Miner’s Cemetery, on 129th Avenue Southeast, south of the Newcastle Library.

Every cemetery has many stories to tell. Some are sad, some are heartwarming and some help us remember how we have grown as a people.

BackTrackingAt the time of the first burial in 1878, it was unheard of for whites and blacks to be buried in the same cemetery. Chinese would also be excluded. The Newcastle Miner’s Cemetery has both ethnic groups, though there is a distinction.

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Coal Miners Cemetery — Part 1

June 4, 2015

Did you know there is a cemetery in the city of Newcastle?

File Newcastle’s Historic Coal Miners Cemetery was established in 1878.

File
Newcastle’s Historic Coal Miners Cemetery was established in 1878.

Read more

Remembering historian Milt Swanson and his stories

March 5, 2015

Whether Newcastle residents know it or not, March 29 is a significant date in the city’s history. On that day, in 1918, Ernest Milton Swanson was born. Milt, as he was known, was born and raised in Newcastle, and is single-handedly responsible for protecting the city’s history.

A founder of the Newcastle Historical Society, Swanson knew more about Newcastle’s history than anyone, because he actually lived it. Swanson died at the age of 95 in January 2014. In this month’s history feature, Newcastle City Councilman, and history buff, Rich Crispo recalls his favorite Swanson stories. Read more

From coal mines to golf

February 6, 2015

File Scaffolding and landscaping equipment sit in front of the clubhouse March 1999 as opening day approaches for The Golf Club at Newcastle.

File
Scaffolding and landscaping equipment sit in front of the clubhouse March 1999 as opening day approaches for The Golf Club at Newcastle.

As you line up your approach shot to the par-3 fourth hole on Coal Creek, did you ever wonder how The Golf Club at Newcastle came into being? Read more

Baima House is important remnant of Newcastle’s past

October 4, 2013

By Bob Cerelli Newcastle's Baima House is one of the oldest buildings in King County. The property's owners, Pam and Gary Lee, have fixed it up as seen in this recent photo.

By Bob Cerelli
Newcastle’s Baima House is one of the oldest buildings in King County. The property’s owners, Pam and Gary Lee, have fixed it up as seen in this recent photo.

If walls could talk, the Baima House would tell quite a story, one that spans more than a century, and includes moments of revelry, sadness and even mischief. Read more

City secures grant for cemetery

July 5, 2013

One of Newcastle’s best kept secrets is hidden along 129th Avenue Southeast. Travel down the road nestled between the Newcastle Library and Valley Medical Center, and you will eventually come upon an important relic of the city’s past.

There is arguably no greater symbol of the city’s rich coal mining history than the Newcastle Historic Cemetery, which serves as the resting place for many of the miners.

The 2.2-acre cemetery was established in the late 1880s. King County designated it a historical landmark in 1982, and the city of Newcastle took ownership of the site in 2001.

Read more

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