In 1881 Charles Hiram Burnett was prospecting along South Prairie Creek with his mules, “Hiram” and “Nellie” when he discovered a seam of coal.
He opened a mine that year and operated it as the South Prairie Coal Company.
Burnett ran both the mine and company town, known as Burnett, which typically supported a population of 300 to 500 residents. Mine employment ranged from 100 to 300. Between 1885 and 1905 the South Prairie mine averaged 55,000 tons per year.
In 1906, Burnett sold the town to Pacific Coast Coal Company, which also operated in coal mines in Newcastle, Black Diamond, and Franklin. PCCC ramped up production, averaging 112,000 tons per year between 1906 and 1927, when the mine finally closed.
During 47 years of operation, Burnett produced 3.6 million tons of coal. This image shows 18 coal miners and one horse at the entrance to the Burnett mine, circa 1890-95.
Among the miners are: Dave Watkins, Tom Bell, August Swanson, Mr. Granstad, Sandrys Skym, Art Jones, Charlie Swanson, Mr. Jones and Mr. Miller.
The heads of others are partially visible behind. The miners are wearing hats with open-flame lamps, while some carry lunch pails.
his photo #2015.72.3 comes courtesy of the Strom-Larson-Honsowetz family collection at the Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma.