The law comes to Newcastle

April 30, 2015

After watching western movies and TV shows, one might believe that justice in the “Old West” (Tombstone or Dodge City) of the 1880s was meted out by stints in territorial prison, hangings, or gunfights with marshals Wyatt Earp or Matt Dillon.

The process of law was very different in Newcastle, however.

BackTracking

The mining community of the early 1880s had a well-established legal process of constables, courts and justices of the peace, as well as a practical system of crime and punishment based on fines rather than imprisonment. A coal miner in that period might make only $2 or $3 a day and the loss of those earnings was a big motivator to follow the law. 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

Newcastle’s history shaped King County as we know it

January 2, 2015

In 1853, the area around current-day Newcastle was heavily forested with 10-foot diameter trees, a multitude of streams, and many gorges and valleys. It was also home to wildlife including cougars, bears, raccoons, bobcats and deer.

In that year, a couple of explorers found something that would change that landscape forever — chunks of coal along a creek (later to be named Coal Creek).

The first coal wasn’t mined until 10 years later, but when it began, it was in earnest. In the 100 years between 1863 and 1963, the Newcastle coal mines produced 10.5 million tons of coal.

The coal was of good quality, and the proximity to Seattle made it an important commodity. In 1870, Seattle had only 1,107 residents, but because coal was being shipped to San Francisco and the growth of the port, that number grew to 42,837 by 1890, only 20 years later. Read more