117 years ago, Franklin was a bustling company town

On this day 117 years ago, Franklin was a bustling company town perched above the Green River Gorge with all the spectacular beauty that wonder of nature had to offer. Coal was the town’s purpose but the miners and their families who extracted those black diamonds had to be housed. Coal extraction in Franklin had grown steadily from the late 1800s. The town’s peak production of over 338,000 tons was achieved in 1903 when about 350 were employed.  When a photographer came to town on Feb. 19, 1902, he snapped this photo of seven homes numbered 93-99.  They were brand new and recently occupied. Located near the school house, these larger homes were probably reserved for families with children. The district employed two school teachers that year: Mrs. Annie C. Jones and Mr. W.F. McCormick, plus James Scott as school director. The school census counted 143 children (from 55 different family surnames) between the ages of 5 and 21 showing 105 listed as students. This photo number 1054 by Curtis & Romans comes courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma, with research assistance provided by JoAnne Matsumura, an Issaquah historian.

On Saturday, March 2ndthe Black Diamond Historical Society will conduct the first of two walking tours of the historic coal mining town of Franklin. If interested, 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.  A second tour will be held Saturday April 6th.