Although Carbonado itself is not a ghost town, many of the abondonded mine sites from Carbonado's past fit into the category for our exploration purposes.
Prospecting began in the Carbon River region in the 1870s by Frances Bisson, a fellow from Wales, followed by a mining expert, Robert Wingate, who immigrated to America from Scotland in 1864. In 1879 he prospected the Carbon River for the Carbon Hill Coal Company
The post office was established as Carbondale in May of 1880
In 1882, the Carbon Hill Coal Co. was sold to Charles Crocker and his associates and the mines across the river were called the Crocker Mines. Until 1901 the coal was shipped from Tacoma to California aboard steamers to be used by the Southern Pacific Railroad. Crocker became one of the most influential men in the US in 1880; he and his partners were known as the “Big Four Railroad Kings.” They owned 4,600 acres of Pierce County, with mineral rights, which had been originally part of the NPR’s land grant from the government. The town of Carbonado was built nearly in the center of this property.
A powerhouse built at the top of the canyon, burned coal from the mine to produce needed power. The burners and other necessary processing buildings were also constructed at the top of the canyon across the river near the Northern Pacific Railroad tracks.
On March 17, 1937, the pumps were turned off in the main mine and slowly the old workings, over 15 lineal miles of tunnels, were flooded with icy water. The mine had produced some 10 million tons of good-grade coal during the 57-years of productivity. The company pulled out, leaving Carbonado economically stranded. The buildings were sold to those who could afford them for as little as $240 to $350 for a house.
From By Barbara Nilson
Voice of the Valley
"Thursdays at Carbonado's 1889 Tavern"
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