The thing I loved most about this hike is that it has a so many different branches and off shoots. There is so much to see here. Franklin was a sprawling mining town with a population that fluctuated greatly. The community began in the 1890s when the railroad arrived and several coal mines were established. At its peak Franklin had a population of around 1,000 people.
Parking cost $5, so don’t forget to bring some cash with you. The parking lot can get pretty muddy in the winter months. From the parking lot you can follow the main grade up the coal car. From there you can go right towards the site of the old hotel, school, and some of the mines or go left and visit the 1,000+ foot capped mine shaft and further on to the cemetery.
The cemetery was a very interesting place to visit. It was severely overgrown, but you could tell that it had once been a beautiful well kept place. As you wander down the various winding trails keep watch for headstones and ornate iron fencing. This is all that is left and the ivy works hard to conceal these artifacts from view.
In 1891 the miners in the company town went on strike. When this happened the company hired 300 African Americans from the Southeast and brought them and their families to Franklin to work the mines, but neglected to mention to them that they would be strike breakers. The company issued each of the 300 men a rifle upon arrival. There was quite a bit of tension during those years.
In 1894 the town suffered a terrible tragedy. A fire in one of the mines caused the death of 37 miners. This stands as one of the most deadly mining accident in Washington State history. It was believed to have been arson. To learn more about the history of Franklin visit Black Diamond History or pay a visit tot the Black Diamond Museum.
Olson, D. a. (1988). Black Diamond: Mining the Memories. Seattle: Frontier.