Last week’s column featured a snow covered entrance to the Bellingham Coal Mine’s Birchwood operation. This week’s photo appeared on the front page of the Bellingham Herald, December 8, 1947.
The Birchwood mine, shown here, opened in 1917 and produced over 5.3 million tons of coal during its 37 years of operation. In this image, students of Professor Joseph Daniels’ mineral engineering class from the University of Washington prepare to descend 1,125 feet underground.
The students are loading onto wooden coal cars for the “man trip” down the 18 degree main slope. Professor Daniels is to the far left. Daniels, who was born in 1884, wrote extensively about the Washington coal industry with several papers detailing the history of the Pierce County coal fields and its extensive coking industry.
Standing behind the cars below the smoke stacks is Superintendent James H. Pascoe, who was the students’ chief instructor that day.
The tour took place on a Saturday morning when the mine wasn’t operating. This photo was taken by Jack Carver, whose negatives were collected by Galen Biery, and donated to the Whatcom Museum under catalog number 1996.10.3323.
Research assistance for this column was provided by Jeff Jewell, of the museum, and George Mostoe of Western Washington University.