Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Coal trains from Snoqualmie?

There is coal in the Snoqualmie Valley! 

"Soon there will be scores of rail cars full of sequestered carbon headed from Snoqualmie to power Seattle, and dozens of new local jobs mining the ore, too." 

Well, not quite, but almost a century ago an enthusiastic Mr. R.T. Warwick, Agent of the Northern Pacific Railway in Snoqualmie could easily have said such a thing. 

In 1925 the California Alaska Corporation was operating the Niblock Mine, which was extracting coal from two seams located near today's I-90 exit 27, just outside Snoqualmie city limits.  In a common move both then and now, Mr. Newenham of that venture had offered a glowing report light on evidence and advised that, 

"they have opened up number three vein and found it (to be) twelve feet thick, and a very high grade of coal."  

Agent Warwick dutifully reported this information to the railway company's traffic manager.  Statements like this were difficult to verify over distance, so these glowing reports usually went unverified, causing the value of mining company stock to rise, and sometimes even tricked railway companies into building rail lines that would never see enough traffic to recover the cost of construction, let alone operation.  The promise of coal and iron mines in the Snoqualmie Valley was part of what led to the construction of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway into the area.  Yet when the valley was connected by rail, it was its vast timber resources that dominated the local economy.

So a colliery was operated on and off by a series of three successive operators over a period of almost 40 years, but it never achieved any of the success found to the west in the mines of Issaquah, Newcastle, and Renton.  So there will not be any coal trains in Snoqualmie at any time in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Station Name Sign Snoqualmie

The iconic Station Name Sign on the Snoqualmie Depot has been rehabilitated!  The sign was a project managed by T. Little more than 35 years ago to complete the restoration of the depot to its appearance in 1900.  Over the ensuing time, rain, sun, heat and cold had conspired to fade the paint.  Thanks to local artists Laura and Bob Antone, the sign is again resplendent with fresh paint!

Laura and Bob began back in January by removing the sign and storing it in the depot's freight room to give it time to dry out.  Then they carefully traced the original lettering on tracing paper.  This gave them a reference so they could repaint the white background.

The next step was to apply fresh black paint to the letter bodies.  "One Shot Lettering Enamel" was the paint selected for the project, and a grant from the City of Snoqualmie Lodging Tax Fund allowed the purchase of these supplies and materials.

After allowing the paint to dry for about a week, the sign was rehung on the front of the depot.  Thank you to Laura and Bob for their generous contribution of time, and to the City of Snoqualmie for the grant to pay for materials.  This effort is helping ensure this 1890-built City of Snoqualmie Landmark remains as the centerpiece for the downtown historic district.