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.

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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

2014 was a year of change for Newcastle

January 2, 2015

In 2014, the city of Newcastle celebrated a birthday, lost an icon and set the stage for the future. Here are some of the top stories of the year, in no particular order:

Newcastle pioneer Milt Swanson passes away

Family, neighbors and community leaders gathered Jan. 25 to honor the life of Milt Swanson, a titan of Newcastle history and a man with an unceasing, warming smile.

The Newcastle pioneer, born and raised in this community, spent all of his 95 years in the same area, 90 of which were in the same company house that still stands at the edge of town near the Cougar Mountain trailhead. 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

‘Little giant’ makes history come to life

October 3, 2014

By Greg Farrar Rich Crispo, Newcastle councilman, stands next to a display case with Milt Swanson's coal miner helmet and an information poster honoring the late 95-year-old Newcastle native's contributions to preserving the city's history. The Renton History Museum's Newcastle retrospective exhibit is on display until Feb. 7.

By Greg Farrar
Rich Crispo, Newcastle councilman, stands next to a display case with Milt Swanson’s coal miner helmet and an information poster honoring the late 95-year-old Newcastle native’s contributions to preserving the city’s history. The Renton History Museum’s Newcastle retrospective exhibit is on display until Feb. 7.

The first thing visitors see upon walking into the Renton History Museum’s Newcastle exhibit is, appropriately, a tribute to a man that means so much to the city’s history. Read more

Get to know your city

October 3, 2014

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. Read more

Newcastle Days celebrates 20 years

August 29, 2014

The city of Newcastle officially turned 20 this year.

While the area is home to a century’s worth of coal-mining history, it was only in 1994 that the city became the Newcastle it is today. There were 7,000 residents in the city at the time of incorporation, a number that has grown to more than 10,400.

And as with any birthday milestone, it’s time for a celebration, and it comes in the form of the city’s annual Newcastle Days festival Sept. 6.

“Really, when you think about it, 20 years isn’t old for even a tree, but there’s been a huge amount of change here in Newcastle in the last 20 years,” said Community Activities Commission Chairwoman Diane Lewis, one of the festival’s organizers. Read more

Historical Society preps for busy September

August 29, 2014

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. Read more

Watching the world change

July 1, 2011

Centenarian Harriet Clark reminisces as her 100th birthday approaches

Harriet Clark will celebrate her 100th birthday Aug. 9.

Newcastle resident Harriet Clark, who turns 100 on Aug. 9, shares memories from her long life.

Newcastle resident Harriet Clark, who turns 100 on Aug. 9, shares memories from her long life. Contributed

The Newcastle resident, who lives with her daughter Eileen Clark and grandchildren Alexis and Max Clark, can still see, hear and walk. She has feathery white hair, an aura of warmth and kindness, and a sharp memory, despite what she says.

“My memory is bad,” she said, after taking a moment to remember the number of years she worked as a secretary. Minutes later, she recalled the story of her brother’s birth. That was 94 years ago.

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Newcastle Historic Cemetery / March 2011

April 5, 2011

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