The late Milt Swanson (pictured here) was a longtime Newcastle resident
and a key figure in helping to preserve the city's history.

Newcastle's Place in History 

It's hard to imagine now what Newcastle looked like back in 1869 when the small agricultural village became a bustling coal mining town. Today's wooded hillsides were once dotted with tall smokestacks and lines of mine cars. During the height of its mining activity, Newcastle had a larger population than Seattle. A railroad from Seattle ended at a station just below where Coal Creek Parkway intersects with Coal Creek, and near this point were extensive bunkers and a coal washing plant. To the east was a town center with a hotel, stores, community halls, a post office and hospital. As many as 400 homes were scattered over the surrounding slopes.

Newcastle became one of the most successful coal mining towns in northwestern Washington, due in large part to its proximity to transportation routes. Newcastle's coal fueled the economic growth of Seattle and the region. In 1872, between 75-100 tons of coal were produced each day in Newcastle. Since the city's economy was tied to coal mining, when the industry declined so did the city's population and vitality. When the Pacific Coast Coal Company left in 1929, many coal dependent towns throughout the area disappeared. However, mining activity continued in Newcastle all the way up until the early 1960s. By the time the last mine closed for the last time in 1963, a total of more than 11 million tons had been extracted from the Newcastle area.

Remnants of the past can still be discovered in Newcastle. Early miners are buried in the city's historic cemetery, which was in use starting in 1879. One miner's residence in nearly original condition still exists. Mining shaft entrances and other reminders of the past can be seen hiking on one of Newcastle's numerous wooded trails. Local place names such as Coal Creek Parkway and China Creek Golf Course remind us of the city's past.

An active, well-informed, and passionate group of citizens called the Newcastle Historical Society remain committed to sharing Newcastle's history with visitors and residents. View the Newcastle Historical Society's website for more information about the city's history.

Learn more about Newcastle's history by reading these interesting questions and answers.

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