Bachelor’s cabin in the town of Newcastle possibly in the early 1900s
This undated photo shows the bachelor’s cabin in the town of Newcastle possibly in the early 1900s. Coal mining towns of the era were filled with single men whose housing was provided by hotels and boarding houses. This cabin was built in the late 1880s specifically for bachelors. The cabin was located in the Red Town section of town, so named because every building was owned by the coal company and painted red. Red pigment from iron oxide was very cheap and is why farmers often painted their barns red. In this photo a small band is situated below the balcony while two women stand to the far left on the deck. Boarding houses were organized for single men with shared rooms, with several women preparing communal meals and doing laundry and house work for the miners who typically worked 10 hours a day. The May 1884 issue of Harper’s Magazine contains a rather unattractive portrayal of the town. “The great body of men employed at the Newcastle mines – 250 to 300 in numbers, is made up of Welsh, Scotch, English and Irish – just the same crowd of heedless colliers, physically and morally, that you will see everywhere else under similar circumstances . . . only a small number have laid any money by, and all ceaselessly complain of their poverty. The town itself straggles in and out of the great dumps of clay and waste that extend like black spurs from the foot of the mountain, the cottages being grouped upon the rocky, stump-infested, forest-bound hillside, without an attempt at order or comeliness.” This photo by Eggan & Ericson comes courtesy of JoAnne Matsumura, an Issaquah research specialist. It also appears in the Richard and Lucille McDonald’s history, “Coals of Newcastle” and is therein credited to the Renton Historical Museum #1266.