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August 2013 Press Release


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Palmer Coking Coal Company, Inc. (Palmer) was incorporated on August 14, 1933 by John H. Morris, Jonas Morris, William Morris, Edward G. Morris, Joe Kieulak, and J.G. Raley.  However, Palmer’s roots in the coal mining industry date back to the Welsh immigrants who came west to work in and eventually operate mines in communities like Wilkeson, Franklin and Black Diamond.  In 1880, Joshua Morris (1856-1929), a Renton miner and future father-in-law to John H. Morris (1894-1973) was a member of the prospecting party to first discover the famous McKay coal seam in the Green River mining district.  In the early 1890’s, George and Mary Ann (Williams) Morris, parents to four of Palmer’s founders, moved their growing family across the country to settle in the east Pierce County coal mining town of Wilkeson.  George and Mary Ann’s sons, daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren would play a pivotal role in the evolution of Washington’s coal mining industry.

 In 1912, brothers Abe and Jonas Morris, and their brother-in-law Frank Merritt, participated in the start-up of the South Willis Coal Company, which operated mines in the Spiketon and Wilkeson coal fields.  A few years later Abe Morris was twice elected by the voters of east Pierce County to serve in the State Legislature where he authored legislation to make coal mines safer.  The Legislature in turn honored their colleague when the town name of Spiketon was changed to Morristown.  In 1921, the Morris Brothers Coal Mining Company, Inc. was formed to acquire the Durham mine and later operated mines in Occidental and Bayne near the present day community of Cumberland.  In 1937, Palmer acquired all of the assets of Morris Brothers Coal Mining Company, Inc., which was owned by same family of Morris brothers who founded Palmer.  In the 1930’s and through the 1940’s Palmer owned and operated underground coal mines in the Durham, Occidental, Bayne, Danville and Landsburg areas of southeast King County.  In the early 1950’s Palmer was presented with the opportunity to purchase most of the land and mineral assets of the Pacific Coast Coal Company, a subsidiary of the New Jersey based Pacific Coast Company.  In 1953, Palmer acquired over 8,000 acres of property and mineral rights in King County, including substantial holdings in Newcastle, Franklin, Kummer and Black Diamond.

 Throughout the 1950’s Palmer continued to operate underground and surface coal mines in the Black Diamond, Ravensdale and Franklin coal fields.  With its newly acquired land base, Palmer expanded into timber sales and other extractive uses such as red cinders, clay, silica sand, and gravel.  In 1958 several land sales and trades were undertaken to consolidate Palmer’s land and mineral resource base.  Palmer’s business evolved from exclusively underground coal mining to include surface coal mining.  However, with the increasing availability of cheap oil, inexpensive electricity, and abundant natural gas, coal mining in Washington diminished in importance. 

 In the early 1960’s, the second generation of Palmer owners assumed management of the company.  They consisted of John H. Morris’ four children: Jack A. Morris, Evan D. Morris Sr., Betty (Morris) Falk, Pauline (Morris) Kombol, and Jonas Morris’ son, George E. Morris.  

 In 1975, Palmer Coking Coal Company closed the last underground coal mine in the state of Washington, the Rogers No. 3 mine near Ravensdale, though Palmer continued surface coal mining and reclamation work at several nearby sites until 1986. Over a fifty-three year period (1933-1986), Palmer mined and sold nearly 2.4 million tons of clean coal.  In 1997, Palmer was honored by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources with the first ever “Special Recognition Award” for reclamation work done at our last coal mine, the McKay – Section 12 Surface Mine in Black Diamond.

 During the early 1970’s a number of Palmer properties in the Green River Gorge were sold to Washington State Parks and became the centerpiece of the Green River Gorge Conservation Area.  In the mid 1980’s Palmer sold most of its 1,800 acres of land in the Newcastle area, and this property became the focal point of the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park.  Palmer’s tradition of working closely with park and open space agencies has continued to the present with the recent preservation of the Lake Sawyer Regional Park.  Other completed and proposed park and open space from Palmer’s land legacy include 1,400 lineal feet of Cedar River waterfront near Landsburg, 2,800 lineal feet of Lake Twelve waterfront, the Hyde Lake to Deep Lake Greenway, and important resource lands in and around Icy Creek.

 Over the past three decades Palmer Coking Coal Company has expanded into new business opportunities in sand, gravel, topsoil, landscape products, and land development.  Today, Palmer’s retail and wholesale product line includes over thirty sand, gravel and rock products; over twenty landscape products; six different topsoil mixes; firewood; and stream restoration materials. 

Post Script:  Many have asked about the origin of the name Palmer Coking Coal Company.  The name was coined by company founder, John Henry Morris.  “Palmer” (also known as Kanaskat) was a well-known junction on Northern Pacific’s important east-west railway line.  A “coking coal” was typically a superior burning, low ash coal which was favored by home heating customers.  With thirty or more companies competing for a share of a declining coal business, coking coal shipped from Palmer, but mined in nearby Durham, Bayne and Occidental, provided the company with the marketing edge it needed to survive the 1930’s and the Great Depression.  Some people phonetically pronounce our name as Palmer Coke & Coal Company, but that is incorrect.  Our true name is Palmer Coking Coal Company, LLP.  To learn more about our company and the heritage of coal mining go to and type "Palmer Coking" in the search box.

For more information and recent news stories about Palmer Coking Coal Company, please click on one or more of the links below:

Palmer Coking Coal 75 Years

Generations of Tradition: Voice of The Valley, Maple Valley, WA March 12, 2003

Life after Coal: King County Journal, August 9, 2003

Mining family history for coal: Puget Sound Journal, June 23, 2005

PCCC supplies Safeco field cinders: Eumclaw Courier Herald, August 27, 2003

Mining Reclamation Success - Palmer McKay Section 12 Surface Mine

State honors coal mine reclamation: Puget Sound Business Journal Sept 19, 1997

Rogers No. 3 Last Underground Mine

Morris Brothers Coal Mining Company

Abe Morris

Durham, Washington: Coal Mining Town

Coal Mining in an East Pierce County Area known as Pittsburg (1889-1909), Spiketon (1910-1916)

Historylink.Org -  Coal in the Puget Sound Region

History of Coal in King County

Green River Gorge: Journal, June 8, 2003



Copyright © 1999 Palmer Coking Coal Co LLP., Redesigned by J. Ross