1927 photo of the New Black Diamond mine coal bunkers
This 1927 photo of the New Black Diamond mine coal bunkers was taken shortly after construction and the mine’s opening. All the buildings have now been torn down, the latest being the old King County shops which were originally mine repair shops located behind these processing facilities. Railroad tracks ran under the front of these bunkers, which allowed easy loading of coal into gondola or open-topped rail cars used for hauling bulk commodities. State Route 169 (the Maple Valley Highway) is in the foreground. The Indian mine, as it was also known, operated from 1926-1941, produced over 2.4 million tons of coal, and at the height of mining employed nearly 300 men. Regular train service allowed coal miners living in Black Diamond to commute to and from work. Coal was discovered in this area between Renton and Maple around 1883 when the Columbia & Puget Sound railroad was being constructed to Black Diamond and Franklin. The area was called Cedar Mountain and the first mine was opened by James Murray Colman, a prominent Seattle businessman of railroad fame. For those interested in geology, an exposed coal seam can be clearly seen on the west side of SR 169 at mile post 19 near the old Cedar Mountain mine. Next to the uncovered coal are red cinders, which resulted from a portion of that coal seam catching fire and burning in situ. The approximate location of the mining operations, shown in this photo, is mile post 20, about 1 mile further north towards Renton. This March 1, 1927 image number 1983.10.647.2 by Webster & Stevens comes courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). Next week a photo of this same building being torn down 14 years later.