Reprinted From Friends of the Carbon Canyon.

Fairfax once thrived as a lumber mill and coal mining town on the last leg of the Northern Pacific Railroad system up the Carbon River Canyon. The town was located in 1892 by W.E. Williams and his father. Williams later became a Pierce County Commissioner. Fairfax was named after Fairfax County Virginia for its well-known coal producing area.

The only transportation in and out of town was the railroad until 1921 when the Burnett to Fairfax highway was put in. Previously, residents who owned a car had to park in Carbonado and catch a train the rest of the way home. The new county road opened on December 17, 1921 and citizens no longer relied on the railroad for transportation in and out of town. The beautiful and historic O'Farrell Bridge was completed at the cost to the county $250,000. The price included paving to the town.

Fairfax was the home of the ManIey-Moore Lumber Company, one of the largest and most modern inland sawmills in the state. When the sawmill was running at full capacity it employed over 200 men at the mill and logging camps.

The Fairfax Mine also owned and operated the Fairfax Hotel, supplying it with electricity and water.

The population for the years 1915-1916 was about 500 residents. Fairfax was a melting pot of southern and eastern Europeans. Poles, Bulgarians, Czechs, Serbs, and Italians mixed with a few Finish and Japanese immigrants all lived in this beautiful mountain glen beneath the shadow of gigantic, snow-crowned, picturesque Mount Rainier.

Baseball was a big sport then and if the ball was hit into the river it was considered a home run. Horse races were held down the main street every 4th of July. The biggest celebration was at Christmas time, when miners took up collections weeks in advance. The money was used to purchase presents for every child in town. No child went without a present for Christmas. The Schoolhouse tree was decorated and Santa handed out the presents to the children, purchased of course at the company store.

The buildings are all but gone now. Pillars for the mine buildings remain as well as the school swimming pool, a few coke ovens and the centerpiece for the railroad, the turntable. Streets can still be seen, but by 1941 Fairfax was all but a ghost town when the company pulled out and left. The post office closed in 1943. The mines had shut down and the buildings were either abandoned or torn down and used for salvage.

Friends of the Carbon Canyon

GTW: Note
To fully appreciate this site you need to have a map of the original townsite or visit with someone who has knowledge of where things were located.

Fairfax Store - Courtesty of Robert and Laurine Peloli    

The Fairfax Bridge (formerly known as the O'Farrell Bridge) is a steel-lattice three - hinged arch bridge spanning the Carbon River on State Route 165 in Pierce County Wa. Previous to the construction of the bridge in 1921, the only route south to the area around Fairfax was by train. At a total cost of $80,000, the bridge's deck sits 250 feet (76 m) above the river, which made it the tallest structure in Washington at the time it was built. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Stairs descending into Fairfax School Swimming Pool  

Foundation Ruins surround the area      

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Fairfax Hotel - Photo Courtesy of Robert and Laurine Peloli  

Fairfax Mine workings and townsite.  Photo Courtesy of Robert and Laurine Peloli  
Fairfax, WA 1892-1941    

Site visit 2010/2011

Ceramic Piping.

Fairfax School Swimming Pool     

Fairfax School 


Corridor adjacent to Fairfax School Pool      

Ruins of Fairfax beehive coke oven battery consisting of 116 ovens. coke oven is a device used to produce coke, which is derived from coal. The mixing and heating of bituminous coal at temperatures ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 degrees Celsius within the airless coke oven yields the coke byproduct. The coke oven is a crucial part of the coke-making process.

Coke is a solid remainder of combusted carbonaceous material. It also contains a minor quantity of ash and sulfur. Coke can be used as a fuel or as a reducing agent in blast furnaces used for the smelting of iron ore.

Chimney Remains. 

Coke Ovens at Fairfax. 

Vicinity of the Power House 

Coke Oven 
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Pierce County Mining Towns


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