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OUR COMPANY’S HISTORY

August 2013 Press Release

 

click to enlarge  

                OUR COMPANY’S HISTOR Y

 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 which discovered the famous McKay coal seam in the Green River mining district.  In the early 1890s, George and Mary Ann (Williams) Morris, parents to four of Palmer’s founders, moved their growing family across the country settling 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’s name, 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 the assets of Morris Brothers Coal Mining Company, Inc., which was owned by same family of Morris brothers who founded Palmer.  Through the 1930s and 1940s Palmer owned and operated underground coal mines in the Durham , Occidental, Bayne, Danville , and Landsburg areas of southeast King County .  In the early 1950s Palmer pursued an 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 1950s 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 operations such as red cinders, clay, silica sand, and gravel.  Palmer’s business evolved from exclusively underground coal mining to include surface coal mining.  In 1958 several land sales and trades were undertaken to consolidate Palmer’s land and mineral resource base.  However, with the increasing availability of cheap oil, inexpensive electricity, and abundant natural gas, coal mining in Washington diminished in importance. 

 

In the early 1960s, the second generation of Palmer owners assumed management of the company, as the first generation retired.  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 mining and reclamation work at several nearby sites until 1986. Over the fifty-three year period (1933-1986), Palmer mined and sold nearly 2.4 million tons of clean coal fueling thousands of homes, businesses and institutions.  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 1970s 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 1980s Palmer sold most of its 1,800 acres of land in the Newcastle area, as 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 through the preservation of important local resources including: the Lake Sawyer Regional Park, Cedar River waterfront near Landsburg, the east end of Lake Twelve, Jones Lake in Black Diamond, the Hyde Lake to Deep Lake Greenway near Cumberland, Icy Creek above the fish hatchery, and additional components of the Green River Gorge / Franklin heritage site.

 

Over the past four decades Palmer Coking Coal Company has expanded into new business opportunities in sand, gravel, topsoil, landscape products, rental real estate, and land development.  Today, Palmer’s retail and wholesale product line includes over thirty sand, gravel and rock products; dozens of landscape products; different mixes of topsoil and compost; firewood; and stream restoration materials.  To learn more about our company and products, please visit our website at www.palmercc.com or check us out on Facebook.

 

 

Post Script:  Many have asked about the origin of our name Palmer Coking Coal Company.  It was coined by company founder, John Henry Morris.  “Palmer” (also known as Kanaskat) was a well-known junction on the Northern Pacific’s important east-west railway line.  A “coking coal” was a superior burning, low-ash coal favored by home heating and commercial customers alike.  With thirty or more companies competing for a share of the 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 1930s and the Great Depression.  To learn more about our company’s roots and the heritage of coal mining go to historylink.org.

 

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

 

 

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