This coming Saturday, April 7 the Black Diamond Historical Society will conduct their second and final 2018 walking tour of the historic coal mining town of Franklin. One of the stops on the 1.8 mile round-trip hike will be this coal car.
Its’ placement was envisioned by students from Cedar Heights Junior High, led their teacher, Mike Papritz. Beginning in the 1993-94 school year, Papritz and 29 eighth-graders began their 5-year Franklin Project, which eventually included studies of the town and erecting signs near key features.
Aaron Collier, now of Lake Tapps, was one of the students who participated in the project. He told how one of his classmates named Bobby had a request – a 5-ton mine cart, some railroad ties and track to set it on, plus transportation for the whole lot to a remote location near the Green River Gorge.
Through a donation by Palmer Coking Coal Company this historic car found a new home at the central intersection in the ghost town of Franklin. A decade earlier, several Green River Community College archeology classes under the direction of Gerald Hedlund and assisted by Mark Vernon performed a series of excavations discovering artifacts and uncovering long-lost structures.
That project was approved by Washington State Parks and resulted in a historical account by GRCC instructor, John Hanscom and a 360-page archeological study entitled, “From Smoke to Mist” by Hedlund and Vernon.
If you’re interested in joining Saturday’s tour, meet at the Black Diamond Museum, 32627 Railroad Avenue at 10 a.m. to sign up and hear an orientation. Participants should wear sturdy shoes and dress for the weather as the tour goes on rain or shine.
This February 4, 2017 photo comes courtesy of Robert Dobson, an amateur photographer and one of the many volunteers who take pride in their community and help promote local history.