Horse nudges John Baima on his Newcastle farm
A horse nudges John Baima on his Newcastle farm in this June 1978 photo by Kathy Andrisevic. John was one of the last of the Newcastle coal miners.
Coal mining was in his family’s blood. His father Barney Baima, an Italian immigrant, died of a lung condition, exasperated by working underground.
Barney’s son, Joe began working at Pacific Coast’s Coal Creek mine in 1907, at age 13. In 1932, Joe Baima teamed up with Mike Rubatino, a fellow Italian, to form the B & R Coal Company.
They mined coal in the Grand Ridge, Issaquah, and Newcastle areas until their last mine closed in 1962. Following his father’s death, John’s mother remarried and they moved to a farm near Chelan where he graduated from high school. But at age 23, the siren call of coal mining beckoned so he moved back to Newcastle to work in his brother’s mine.
When the final Baima & Rubatino mine closed, John continued his career by commuting to Ravensdale to work at Palmer Coking Coal’s Ravensdale mine. He left the coal industry for good in February 1967. John died November 30, 1996 at the age of 87.
This photo comes courtesy of JoAnne Matsumura, an Issaquah-based historical researcher.
Next week, more about the Baima family and their coal mining legacy.