Seattle’s First Railroad

Building on two amazing c.1874-photos of an incline on the shores of Lake Washington the Siepmann Family donated to the Marymoor Museum in 1990 (now part of the Eastside Heritage Center), this presentation dives into the early history Seattle-area coal mining. Coal was the most significant source of prosperity for Seattle and the surrounding region during the nineteenth century. Carrying that coal from the mines at Newcastle to the harbor at Seattle was the Seattle Coal & Transportation Company, Puget Sound’s first railroad. Members of the Newcastle Historical Society present new discoveries and rare images of this obscure piece of Northwest history and its operations at Seattle, Newcastle, and in between.

The research and images for this presentation were obtained with the assistance and support of staff at the California Historical Society, California State Archives, Cowlitz County Museum, Eastside Heritage Center, King County Archives, King County Road Services (Map Vault), Museum of History and Industry, Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Renton Historical Museum, San Francisco Public Library, Seattle City Archives, University of California, Riverside (California Digital Newspaper Collection), University of Washington University (Microforms and Newspapers & Special Collections) Washington State Archives (Puget Sound Regional Branch and State Government Archive), and the Washington State Library. Historians Kurt Armbruster, Ron Edge, John Taubeneck, and Steve Williams also generously provided access to their personal collections. Special thanks to underwater photographer Scott Boyd for risking life and limb to descend 200-feet to the bottom of Lake Washington to give us the incredible images of the 18 coal cars lost in 1875.

Seattle’s First Railroad presented by the Newcastle Historical Society and the Newcastle Library via a Zoom meeting on Thursday, June 25, 2020.