Commercial coal production begins at Black Diamond in March 1885.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/21/2001
  • Essay 3389
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In March 1885, commercial coal production begins at Mine No. 14 of the Black Diamond Coal Mining Co. in the Green River Coal Field in King County. The completion of rail service on December 12, 1884, allows the transportation of heavy equipment to the site and movement of coal to the King Street Coal Wharf in Seattle.

After good-quality coal was discovered on the Green River in July 1880, the Black Diamond Coal Mining Co. of California began discretely buying up land. Henry Villard's Northern Pacific Railroad and its subsidiary the Oregon Improvement Co. also wanted the coal in this area. Villard planned to extend the Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad from Renton up the Cedar River. The Northern Pacific aggressively pursued financing for the extension, but the economic downturn after 1883 forced the railroad to solicit $150,000 in subsidies from Seattle businessmen. The Columbia and Puget Sound line was extended up the Cedar River to Black Diamond and from there to Franklin.

The railroad allowed the construction of coal mines at Cedar Mountain (1884), Franklin (1885), Lawson, and Ravensdale (1900). The Green River field added to production from Renton and Newcastle. Most of the coal was shipped to San Francisco.


C. William Thorndale, "Washington's Green River Coal Co., 1880-1970," (Master's Thesis, University of Washington, 1965); Daniel Bagley, History of King County, Washington, (Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1929), 288-292.

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