The Teapot Dome Scandal

The Teapot Dome Scandal was perhaps the greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics. That 1920s scandal involved the administration of Warren Harding, and is the title photographer J.W. Sandison wrote on this photo taken August 6, 1925. On that day chefs prepared an underground meal for local Kiwanis club members who descended 700 feet underground to the 5thlevel of the Bellingham coal mine.

Entertainment was provided by musicians, playing banjo, violin and saxophone, seen to the left. In the photo center, just above the teapot, a coal miner in full garb is seen serving tea to a guest. The guests, including wives and children, are seated on benches in “the doghouse,” a space where miners waited for the man-trip ride to the surface at the end of each work day.

The main tunnel was 20 feet wide, with double-rail tracks so coal cars could simultaneously be hoisted to the surface while empty cars descended on the second set of tracks.The Bellingham Coal Mine Company was famous for its outreach to the local community and one of their best ambassadors was mine foreman, Jim Pascoe whose grandson, Roy Asbahr and great-grandson, Nathan Asbahr provided this photo.

Research assistance was provided by George Mustoe, of Western Washington University.

Photo enhancement was undertaken by Doug “Boomer” Burnham, a Vice Principal, and professional photographer at Tahoma High School.