BD Band – Pacific Coast Coal Co. 1925

“Every town had a band.”  So claimed Carl Steiert, co-founder of the Black Diamond Historical Society. And his hometown was no different as shown in this 1925 photo. Under the baton of Bandmaster Henry Carroll, the Black Diamond and Newcastle bands of the Pacific Coast Coal Company journeyed to Bellingham to participate in the Sixth Annual Tulip Festival when this shot was taken. The Bellingham Tulip Festival was formed in 1920 to showcase the bulb industry, but dissolved in 1930 due to bulb freezes that brought heavy losses to growers coupled with the onset of the Great Depression. Subsequently, bulb growers moved south into Skagit Countywhere their festival is still held each April.

Attired in miner’s caps, the combined bands marched in that year’s parade, then participated in competition where Black Diamond captured top prize. Later that year the Black Diamond Band performed a unique concert on December 5, 1925, which was played over Seattle radio station KFOA. It was an early demonstration of the increasing popularity of radio in the 1920s. The band had formed in 1922 by Carroll, with only three miners who were musicians. They played so poorly in their first public appearance that townsfolk gave them the ‘razzberry.’ To improve, they worked hard by day in coal mines and harder by night under Carroll, who provided inspiration from the Horatio Alger stories he’d read as a boy. The band uniforms were supplied by H. M. McDowell, manager of the company store in Black Diamond. This photo and caption information comes courtesy of JoAnne Matsumura, an Issaquah historian.