The Wilkeson Products Company coal mine commenced operations in 1943, heavily capitalized with government funding to support the coal industry during those uncertain times.
Much of American industrial expansion during World War II was financed through the Defense Plant Corporation. Plants were then leased to private companies. Pictured here is the working face of the Wilkeson Products Mine with large sawn timbers holding up the roof. Most mines used round timber, not milled lumber, due to cost considerations.
Because this mine was built with government dollars,
frugality in construction costs was not a concern. Despite the best construction and equipment that money could buy, the mine closed in less than two years producing a paltry 54,000 tons of coal, yet claiming the lives of two coal miners, Jack Cloves Smith and Harold E. Barber. This photo of the interior of the mine shows miner Jim “Corkie” Kelly. To the right is a ladder accessing a chute which is being driven up the coal seam. This March 18, 1944, photo comes from the Richard Studios Collection, courtesy of Tacoma Public Library, image number D17170-19.