These oral histories were collected by local social studies teacher Frederick Krueger, his students and colleagues between the 1970s and 2000s. In each interview, a resident of upper Kittitas County speaks about the ethnic, racial, cultural, and industrial history of Kittitas County and in particular the history of coal mining at Roslyn, Cle Elum, and Ronald, Washington.
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Edward (Ed) Wakkuri
Edward (Ed) Wakkuri discusses his early life as a member of a Finnish-American family, touching on holidays, food, recipes, sauna culture, clothing, songs, language, schooling, and lodges. Wakkuri worked as a coal miner, primarily in the Northwestern Improvement Company (NWI) No. 9 Mine, and he offers extensive discussion on mining methods and terms. He describes the use of equipment such as the Joy Coal Excavating Machine, as well as personnel roles and procedures in the mines. Wakkuri also speaks about early settlement at Peoh Point and provides a history of the locale.
The cover image shows the Joy Continuous Miner machine. Cotton Pasquan appears on the left and Albin Kosmatin on the right.
Julia Wallgren describes her early life in an immigrant family residing in Ronald, Washington, and issues confronting immigrant families such as poverty and illness. Her father, Joe Koselisky, was originally from Yugoslavia and worked in the local coal mines. Wallgren describes life in a mining family, including recreational activities like dancing, music, holidays, and lodge membership (specifically, Benevolent Lodges, Falcon and Finn Halls). Julia Wallgren married John (Bill) Wallgren, who worked in the Northwestern Improvement Company (NWI) Nos. 3 and 9 Mines as well as the Patrick Mine.
The cover image shows a group of coal miners standing at the entrance of Patrick Mine (Mine No. 2) near Ronald, Washington, circa 1900.
Stella Walsh discusses her family’s background in homesteading and running the Walsh sawmill in the Teanaway River Valley, Washington, until 1908, when they moved the mill to Lake Cle Elum. Walsh details her family history both at Lake Cle Elum and in the Teanaway. She talks about the nationalities of settlers in Roslyn, Washington, and about local coal mining. She describes the effects of Prohibition, the Great Depression, and mining strikes on the area.
The cover image shows Joe Walsh (most likely Stella's spouse) of Joe Walsh Logging Company in Cle Elum, Washington, standing on the running board of his logging truck, 1964.
Valery (Val) Zrebeic
Valery (Val) Zrebiec (b. December 25, 1913) describes his schooling and life in the Nelson Siding and Cle Elum areas of Washington state. He talks about his Polish heritage, including Polish language and Polish lodges (PNA). He also talks about local sports, including track and football. He explains how his father worked in coal mining until 1918, when he turned to farming. Zrebiec describes farm work, including meat curing, food storage, and canning.
The cover image shows a group of women from Cle Elum, Washington, dressed in Polish traditional costumes, circa 1935.