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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coal Runs Deep Well Received

The first episode of "Coal" delivers a riveting  story line (the mine could go bankrupt if they don't get enough coal out) and illustrates the dangerous lives these guys lead.

"It took us four years to find a mine to get into," said executive producer Thom Beers, the grandfather of tough-guy TV who also makes the docu-reality cable series "Deadliest Catch," "Ice Road Truckers" and "Ax Men." "We got offered mines, but they were big mines and big corporations. As you know from our shows in the past, it's all about the personal stakes."

David Hinckley of the New York Daily News writes that “ the most engaging moments of ‘Coal’ are the ones it spends in the mine, where the working environment looks even harder, dirtier and more dangerous than most of us spoiled above-ground workers imagine. It's somber stuff and grownup stuff, which is worth noting because most Spike programming is aimed at younger dudes. Sure, almost everyone eventually has to get a job, but as a recruiting video, "Coal" plays more like "Scared Straight."

Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter (“Coal”) immediately stands on its own as a worthy subject, not just a way to capitalize on a trend. The men who go into the coal mines in West Virginia are originals with the kind of amazing stories and backgrounds, vocal patterns and lifestyles that conjure a documentarian’s dream. Of course, “Coal” is billed as a docu-reality series and will undoubtedly, in future episodes, fall into some familiar patterns (human behavior and editing being what they are).

New York Daily News gives Coal Runs Deep 3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How a Coal Mine Fire Earased a Town

Centralia Pennsylvania is a modern ghost town in the US.  An underground coal mine fire earased the town in a matter of five years.  From 1979 to 1984 nearly all the residents of Centralia vacated the town.    

It is not known for certain how the fire that made Centralia essentially uninhabitable was ignited. One theory asserts that in May 1962, the Centralia Borough Council hired five members of the volunteer fire company to clean up the town landfill, located in an abandoned strip-mine pit next to the Odd Fellows Cemetery. This had been done prior to Memorial Day in previous years, when the landfill was in a different location. The firefighters, as they had in the past, set the dump on fire and let it burn for a time. Unlike in previous years, however, the fire was not extinguished correctly.  This is one of several conflicting theories.

Attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, and it continued to burn throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Adverse health effects were reported by several people due to the byproducts of the fire, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and a lack of healthy oxygen levels.

In 1979, locals became aware of the scale of the problem when a gas-station owner and then mayor, John Coddington, inserted a stick into one of his underground tanks to check the fuel level. When he withdrew it, it seemed hot, so he lowered a thermometer down on a string and was shocked to discover that the temperature of the gasoline in the tank was 172 °F.

Very few homes remain standing in Centralia; most of the abandoned buildings have been demolished. At a glance, the area now appears to be a field with many paved streets running through it

Today a few residents remain in Centralia despite the eviction, and are fighting a 1992 eminent domain claim by the state.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Coal Runs Deep to Premiere on Wed March 30th

The creators of "Deadliest Catch" and "Ax Men" , and "Ice Road Truckers" bring a new series to Spike to air Wednesday.  A new show about the life and realities of coal mining.

"Coal" focuses on the operations of Cobalt, a small independent mining venture in West Virginia.  The series centers on co-owners Mike Crowder and Tom Roberts, who confide they have invested their life savings in the mine. Also featured are several miners, including the father and son duo of Christian and his protege son, Andrew Jr.

Spike TV spokeswoman Sharon Levy said this series is unique in that it reflects life and death drama unfolding underground. "Danger Runs Deep" is the subtitle for the series.
"Coal mining is an integral part of the American economy and the lifeblood of communities across the U.S. and the world," said Levy. "This series is going to shine a light on the brave men and women and their families who endure the rigors of this arduous profession."

A partial listing of some Ghost Towns in Washington State

Hot Springs
Monte Cristo
Old Torodah
Pinkney City
Ruby City
Skagit City

Newcastle - (Red Town - Coal Creek) Mining Towns

Newcastle was most likely named after Newcastle upon in England, as it was originally a coal mining town founded in the 1870s. Coal was discovered along Coal Creek in 1863. The surveyors Philip H. Lewis and Edwin Richardson made the discovery while surveying the area for the General Land Office.  By 1872 75-100 tons of coal per day were being produced at Newcastle. About 60 men worked at the mines.  By 1876, the Newcastle mines produced 400 tons a day and employed 250 men.

Clipper Mine - Pierce County Washington

Clipper Mine  - Pierce County
The first official report of the internal resources of the Carbon River mining district was made by VV. J. Wood, M. E., in January, 1898, for the Leola Mining Company, of Tacoma, whose prospects had been located by I. H. Wilkenson.

The Clipper Mine is located in the Carbon River Mining District.  Clipper was part of the Surprise group of mines. It was a "Hard Rock" or "Lode" mine.  The mine was developed around 1901.  Clipper mine sits at about 3800 feet.  The mine goes in about 1200 feet and has several  crosscuts or horizontal branches.  These crosscuts only go in about 10 to 30 feet.  This mine contains no vertical shafts.


The Last Coal Miner

Robert Peloli - Wilkeson, WA
by Tim Nyhus November 2010

The year was 1943 and Robert Peloli was 20 years old when a photo was taken of him riding on a coal cart outside the entrance to the Skookum Slope Mine in
Wilkeson, WA.  He recalls a man with camera being there on the day the photo was taken outside the mine.  In many ways this photo would come to symbolize the mining era of Wilkeson.  He is affectionately and factually known as the last living coal miner living in Wilkeson.


Welcome to Ghost Towns of Washington

Ghost Towns of Washington Photographing and documenting remnants of Washington States mining and lumber industies past.

Most outdoor enthusiasts go hiking, fishing, or mountain climbing, ghost towner's have an enthusiasm of their own.  Ghost Towner's  seek out towns that once existed or will  cease to exist in the future.  Photographing and documenting these remnants of the past.
It was not long ago we decided to embark on a series of fascinating self guided weekend expedition to ghost towns in the foot hills of  western and eastern Washington.  We set out seeking the thrill of adventure and undiscovered treasures. What we discovered was much more than we bargained for.

These ghost towns revealed their stories of disaster, sacrifice, and the rich history of the all but forgotten people who shaped many of our communities.

We decided to create this site as a tribute to Washington's early mining and lumber communities. Their history and the people who forged them.