By the time famed photographer, Asahel Curtis came to Black Diamond on June 22, 1925 to take this photo, Mine #11 was almost ready to close permanently. Originally opened in 1895 as Morgan Slope, this underground coal mine became the most successful of all the company’s operations. The name was chosen to honor Morgan Morgans, Superintendent and longtime leader of the Black Diamond Coal Mining Company, which founded the town in 1882. In 1904, its mines and surrounding properties were sold to Pacific Coast Coal Co. Over time the name changed to Mine #11 for the section of land in which it was located. Around 1913-14, Mine #11 was the deepest underground coal mine in the United States. It reached depths of nearly 2,000 feet below the land’s surface or 1,400 feet below sea level.
Near the center of the photo are sloping tracks where miner descended on rail cars specially configured to carry men underground. Wooden bunkers behind the tracks contained facilities for processing and storing coal before it was shipped to market by rail. The smoke stack was part of a coal-fired power plant supplying electricity for both underground and surface operations. In earlier days additional stacks and generators provided electricity for both the mine and the company town where miners lived. During its 31 years of operation, Morgan Slope / Mine #11 produced nearly 7 million tons of clean coal. Yet, mining was a dangerous occupation and this mine alone recorded 68 fatalities. The operation typically employed between 400 and 500 employees who worked both inside and outside the mine. This photo #48372 looking east comes courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma.