The Pacific Coast Company rail, shipping and coal operations served the West coast from the mid 19th century until its last railways were abandoned or sold in the mid 20th century. Though the company was organized under the “Pacific Coast Company” name in late 1897, it comprised several existing organizations, most notably the Pacific Coast Steamship Co., Pacific Coast Coal Co. and the Pacific Coast Railway. In Seattle, the Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad, originally the Seattle & Walla Walla, became part of the Pacific Coast Railway in 1916. The several operations of Pacific Coast Co., which also included a cement company and engineering company, played an important role in the development of King County resources and the development of Seattle and outlying communities.
The company’s rail system, which began as a horse-drawn rail line near San Luis Obispo, developed into full-fledged narrow gauge and later, standard gauge railroads. A fleet of steamships, including the Umatilla and the Walla Walla, complemented the rail service, serving as coal carriers for the company’s mining operations, such as those at Newcastle, Franklin, Maple Valley and the Black Diamond mine. By the 1930s, the Pacific Coast Coal Co. was the top coal producing facility in Washington State. As shipments of coal gradually decreased, the Pacific Coast steamships were converted to passenger ships.
The collection consists of one album containing 170 photographs on linen backing with typed captions on verso. The photographs depict the various properties and operations of the Pacific Coast Company and its various component companies, largely the Pacific Coast Coal Co., Pacific Coast Steamship Co. and Pacific Coast Railway. The bulk of the images depict facilities and operations in Washington and California, including a number of images of the Pacific Steamship Co. piers in Seattle photographed by Frank H. Nowell.
A few images from Oregon document the Pacific Coast Company coal bunker in Portland. Images from Alaska document the Pacific Coast Steamship Company wharves and coal bunker in Juneau and Pacific Coast Company properties under lease in Skagway and Nome.
Alternative Forms Available :
A selection of these photographs is available in digital format in the Museum of History & Industry online collections.Restrictions on Access :
The collection is open to the public by appointment.Restrictions on Use :
The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.Preferred Citation :
Pacific Coast Company Photograph Album, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle
The photographs in the album were stamped with numbers by the creator. In cases of multiple photographs with the same number, letters have been added to distinguish them, e.g. 3a, 3b,etc. Each linen-backed photograph constitutes one page of the album.
Geographic series and subseries reflect the organization of the index on the first pages of the album.
Acquisition Information :
Donated by Major Vernon Bunch from the Salvation Army in 1978.Related Materials :
Additional photographs of Pacific Coast Coal Co. operations are available in MOHAI's Webster & Stevens collection (1983.10).
Photographs of the Pacific Coast Railroad Company from the Maple Valley Historical Society are available online at King County Snapshots.Bibliography :
Best, Gerald M. Ships and narrow gauge rails: The story of the Pacific Coast Company. Berkeley: Howell-North, 1964.
Detailed Description of the Collection