Coal Miner’s Cemetery — Part 2

July 2, 2015

Last month, I introduced the miner’s cemetery on 129th Avenue Southeast with a promise to remember some of those interred there.

John McKnight is a well-known name in the area, and the Renton School District even named a middle school after him. His father, also John McKnight, was an important man in the Newcastle coal mining era and is buried in our cemetery.

BackTrackingJohn McKnight, the father, had served in the Civil War and came west after the conflict looking for opportunity. He was very interested in the birth of our nation and wrote and delivered a speech commemorating Independence Day in 1875.

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The origins of the China Creek name

April 2, 2015

Within Newcastle we have the China Creek and China Falls neighborhoods, China Creek Golf Course, and of course, China Creek itself. Did you ever wonder how those names came to be?

When the original mining town of Old Newcastle was established in 1863, the primary source of drinking water was a little creek to the south that began up on Cougar Mountain and emptied into what is now Lake Boren.

It was normally a gentle flow of water, but during heavy rains the creek would overflow and created a large flood plain to the north of the current lake. The lake was bigger and deeper than it is today, and also was swampy on the Eastside.

Chinese workers came into the area in the early 1870s, primarily to work on the railroads, but some came to Newcastle and worked for the mining company. 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

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

‘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

Art installation recalls Cougar Mountain’s coal mining past

April 3, 2014

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park is now home to a unique land-art installation that pays tribute to the area’s coal mining past.

The project, entitled “Black Forest (29,930,000 tons),” is spread across the forest floor in the form of nearly 50,000 pounds of biochar, environmentally friendly charcoal that appears similar to the coal that was once mined from the mountain.

“It was kind of the launching point,” artist Hans Baumann said, “this idea about rethinking what the park was, and trying to reinterpret its history in a way that might be visually compelling.”

By Kate Smigiel Artist Hans Baumann spreads bio-carbon, a black charcoal often used as a fertilizer for agricultural crops and ornamental plants such as orchids, as part of a large-scale art installation on Cougar Mountain.

By Kate Smigiel
Artist Hans Baumann spreads bio-carbon, a black charcoal often used as a fertilizer for agricultural crops and ornamental plants such as orchids, as part of a large-scale art installation on Cougar Mountain.

The Cougar Mountain trails hold the stories of the region’s past, which included about a century of mining. Park visitors literally stand in the midst of history as they pass abandoned mine shafts, find remnants of carts and railroads, and discover stray pieces of coal.

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New art installation recalls Cougar Mountain’s coal mining past

March 14, 2014

NEW — 6 a.m. March 14, 2014

By Kate Smigiel  Artist Hans Baumann spreads bio-carbon, a black charcoal often used as a fertilizer for agricultural crops and ornamental plants such as orchids, as part of a large-scale art installation on Cougar Mountain.

By Kate Smigiel
Artist Hans Baumann spreads bio-carbon, a black charcoal often used as a fertilizer for agricultural crops and ornamental plants such as orchids, as part of a large-scale art installation on Cougar Mountain.

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park is now home to a unique land-art installation that pays tribute to the area’s coal mining past. Read more

Community mourns historian Milt Swanson

February 6, 2014

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

The Newcastle pioneer, born and raised in this community, spent all of his 95 years living 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.

Milt Swanson

Milt Swanson

Swanson died Jan. 20 after a Jan. 14 fall sent him to the hospital, where he lapsed into a coma.

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