Skookum Mine mystery

The other day I showed an old newspaper headline about a disaster at the Skookum Mine.


Was this the Skookum Slope Coal Mine in the Cascade Mountains near Wilkeson, WA (in eastern Pierce County–not far from Enumclaw)?  The town of Wilkeson was started up in 1877; the mine was already closed, for the first time, by 1883.

Here is a snapshot of that mine entrance upon its reopening in the early 1940s, and the different kind of colorful impression that it made in 2010:

Skookum Slope Mine reopened

Or was this the Skookum Mine said to have been located in Kittitas County near Koppen Mountain?  –Which would make a lot of sense as local news for Roslyn, WA.

It’s not the Skookum Chuck Coal Fields, I think, which might have been closer to Olympia, WA.

It’s not the Skookum Mine in the Yukon Territory.  That’s a whole nother story.

Either way, the name “Skookum Mine” is an example of boosterism in Northwest English, not of Chinook Jargon.  According to various sources including this online biography of Frank Wilkeson, that gentleman was quite the go-getter.  He vigorously promoted the area as being the best in the world for timber resources, etc., and eagerly profited from the influx of gold prospectors on both sides of the Cascades following the Ruby Creek gold find.  Clearly his mining company carried on this civic (?) enthusiasm in declaring itself skookum.

It’s said too that the mine near Wilkeson was named for local Jack Horner of business, Edward S. “Skookum” Smith.

As the Scotsman declared when asked to arbitrate the dispute between the Englishman and the American over whether one should pronounce either as “ee-ther” or “eye-ther”: “AYTHER WORKS FOR ME!”