Thursday, March 21, 2013

Franklin Ghost Town

Our hike to Franklin Ghost Town, November 24, 2012. Franklin was a thriving mining community in the late 1800's. The area is rich in history, racial tensions and the second worst mining accident in Washington (the worst ever in King County history). Thirty-seven miners suffocated when a coal fire broke in the mine. Miscommunication and poor management led first to the shutdown of the fan that supplied air to the miners, then to opening doors that changed the airflow in the mineshaft. This trapped the coal smoke 1000ft below the surface and killed the miners. Later, evidence surfaced that the fire was intentionally set, though the arsonist was among those that perished.

There were only 4 of us this week, probably due to it being a holiday week and many of our regulars were out of town. We didn't let that stop us though, we went on anyway. Can you say diehards? I knew that you could! The weather was great for a hike today! There is no Trail Head to Franklin. We parked at a cemetery, close to the road and less than a mile from the gate that would lead us to Franklin. We decided to explore this old cemetery, before we started the actual hike.

The last known picture of Jay...with his umbrella! within about 15 minutes, it plummeted to it's demise in the Green River Gorge! hahaha

Vivian, among the grave stones.

We left the cemetery and traveled down the highway for about a half mile, to a one lane bridge that we all wanted to look off. The bridge was so long, that there are stop lights on each end, to control the traffic that goes over it.

The bridge spans the beautiful Green River Gorge, (Yes, I was singing CCR as I looked at it) 200-300 feet down. It was magnificent! Jay's Ikea umbrella is somewhere down there!

The view from the other side of the bridge.

Looking closer, I noticed a fence and a boardwalk. This must have been a hiking trail, in years past. It is closed off at the highway level now and they do not allow anyone to climb down.

The bridge was very long.

We walked back about half way and went through a gate, leading to the path to Franklin.

Not far down the path, I noticed a bench, out in the middle of nowhere.

On closer inspection, I smiled when I saw a pumpkin on the lonely bench. =D

Starting up the path.

What remains of the Power plant foundation at Franklin used to operate the hoist for the #2 shaft.

Vivian, standing in the remnants of the power plant.

An old coal cart that marks the trail up to the mine.

The other side.

Vivian, Jay and Chris, standing. Stef kneeling.

Old steel cables, buried in the ground.

We are headed up to the cemetery.

Stef, Vivian, Chris and Jay. I love my tripod and self timer. I'd miss group shots, without them!

Jay, approaching the mine.

An Explosion Occurred and Thirty-seven Miners Were Killed -- Many of Them Were Married, and Their Weeping Wives and Children Hung About the Shaft Until Their Blackened and Charred Bodies Were Brought to the Surface.

TACOMA, Washington, Aug. 25. -- Thirty seven miners of various nationalities were killed yesterday afternoon i
n the Oregon Improvement Company's coal mine, at Franklin, King County, thirty-four miles southeast of Seattle. The miners were trying to save the mines from destruction by fire, and were suffocated by smoke

Franklin, Aug. 24 - [Special] - After being in session the whole afternoon, the coroner's jury empaneled to investigate yesterday's disaster this evening rendered a verdict which, though it may startle the outside country, caused no surprise here. The jury found that the fire in breast sixty-two of the north level was started by parties unknown who willfully, knowingly and maliciously desired to do great injury and damage to the lives of the employee's and the property of the Oregon Improvement Company. The verdict in full is as follows:

"We, the undersigned jurors, do agree that on August 24, 1894, on the sixth level of the Franklin mine, King county, Wash., the following parties, namely: [here follows a list of the thirty-seven dead miners] did come to their deaths by suffocation caused by smoke emanating from a fire in breast sixty-two, on the north side of the sixth level, said fire having been caused by a party or parties unknown to us, and that said party or parties did willfully, knowingly and maliciously cause said fire with intent and purpose to do great injury and damage to the lives of the miners and property of the Oregon Improvement Company.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 25, 1894

The mine shaft, straight down 1300 feet. This is how it was before it was covered with an iron grate, in 1984. There were several accidents, by people repelling down it. It was covered to prevent more.

The plaque at the mine.

A close up of the grate over the mine shaft.

It was very interesting to walk around here, feeling the history and paying our respects for those who lost their lives, so long ago.

Farther up the path, overgrown with blackberries (And the stickers that come with them), to the cemetery. The grave stones were scattered here and there. Some were directly in the path and you would almost trip on them before you saw them.

A sign in a fenced off area of the cemetery. Alice Gertrude Johnson, mentioned on the sign, died at age 6 months.

Alice Gertrude Johnson
Born...Jan 1, 1902
Died...June 7, 1902

Rocco Tetti died Aug 24, 1894, an Italian miner killed in the Franklin mine fire.

The top of Rocco Tetti's grave stone.

An old flag that has weathered many storms.

The Standridge "Family" area, enclosed with an iron fence.

This member of the Standridge family was a child, just 13 months old. We saw several that were young children. None were really old. The ages ranged from 6 months to 37 years.

James Gibson, passed away on 8/24/1894 at age 27 - Victim of the Mine Fire.

The sky above us as we walked through the cemetery. It seemed almost fitting. The weather was good, mild(around 50) temperatures and partly cloudy. By the time we were back to the highway, it was full sunshine!

There were several spots on the path that we had to climb over large downed stumps.

Another log to climb over.

Along the trail, we noticed a section of rusting trestle that once supported the eight-inch wooden pipe that supplied water to the town. There was still quite a bit of it overhead.

Men at picking table in the Franklin mine, 1915.

Franklin was a thriving town in 1915. It is since gone. All that remains are the graves, the mine shaft and a few foundations.

It was a good day, spent with good people. We had nice conversations and spent time talking about how it must have been when there was a real town here. It was a bit sad to think how it just disappeared. There was a lot of tragedy where we stood. It was an odd feeling.

We hiked back down and to the car. It was bright sun by the time we reached the car. We drove to Enumclaw and had dinner at the Cafe' Europa. They specialize in German-Eastern European favorites. The owner/chef is a German man with a long pony tail, named Greg. He came and sat with us before we ordered. He recommended the Royal Pork Chop for me. So, I trusted him and ordered it. It was HUGE, covered in grilled onions and an apple slice. It was served with potato dumplings and sauerkraut. The sauerkraut was freshly made and quite tasty, not like you'd get from a jar. I could hardly eat half, so I took the rest home. Rick had to work, so he was not able to join us on this hike and meal. I ordered him their famous "Polish Platter" which consisted of a cabbage roll, a polish sausage, mashed potatoes and 4 pierogi. He was happy I brought him some food. He finished what was left of my meal and we shared his. It was a good day.

Our next "hike" isn't actually a hike. We are going to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens on December 5, at night for their annual Garden D'Lights. They transform the gardens into a lighted Christmas wonderland. That should be fun. We will be snow shoeing on the 29th and whatever else comes up. Happy Hiking!

-November 24, 2012

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