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Surveyors Discover Coal at Newcastle

In October of 1863, surveyors discover coal on the north bank of Coal Creek in the Newcastle area of east King County. The surveyors are Philip H. Lewis and Edwin Richardson. Richardson found the coal in the course of surveying the land for the General Land Office. Thomas Prosch, who compiled a chronology of the history of the region in the early years of the twentieth century, writes: "This coal ... was much more accessible either by land or water [than previous coal discoveries]. Its discovery caused considerable excitement. Claims were taken by Philip H. Lewis, Edwin Richardson, Josiah Settle, and Wm. Perkins; C. B. Bagley and John Ross subsequently taking claims. ... The first road was for wagons only, from the lake shore to Newcastle, and was opened in 1866 by George F. Whitworth, Daniel Bagley, John Ross, Josiah Settle, Edwin Richardson, and P. H. Lewis. They brought coal across the lake to a landing near the east end of Yesler Way, using wagons at both ends of the route in getting it to market. Under such circumstances, of course, the output of coal was very small, averaging, perhaps, three tons a day."



Newcastle and Renton coal fields, 1880
Courtesy UW Special Collections

Sources: Thomas Prosch, "A Chronological History of Seattle from 1850 to 1897"
(Typescript, dated 1900-1901, Northwest Collection, University of Washington Library, Seattle), pp. 148-149. By Greg Lange, November 03, 1998

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