Contributed by D. Jeffrey Bennight
Since we live in Lewis County I have had an opportunity to try and find where Bennight Washington was located. I have always been under the impression that this Mine was near Morton, Wa but the people at the Lewis County Historical Museum have found that it was actually a few miles due east of Centralia. They sent me a letter regarding their research and the following paragraph is an excerpt from their letter:
“ The Empress Mine is located on the north half of the southwest corner of Section 8, T 14 N, R 1 W., on a spur of the Eastern Railway and Lumber Company’s line, which runs east from Centralia up the South Fork of Hannaford Creek. This mine, formerly called Bennight’s mine, was opened in 1913 by the Washington Coal and Mining Company. After two years the Empress Coal Company was formed and since 1916 the Centralia Coal mining company has operated the Property.” Taken from the Washington Geological Survey, Henry Landes, State Geologist, Bulletin #19, The Coal Fields of Southwestern Washington , by Harold E Culver, Frank M Lamborn Public Printer 1919.
In the letter I received from The History Museum of Lewis County they also wrote that they looked at some maps and found what could be the site of Bennight Washington. It seems that another railroad, the Centralia and Eastern Railroad Company (formed 1899) spurred off the Eastern Railway line. One map indicates that the C & E line went through section 8. It may have been this separate line that served the Bennight Area.
From this info it seems very likely that this coal mine is the same mine that is now owned by ‘Trans Alta" Canadian corporation. North east of Centralia is the coal fired power generation plant called the Centralia Steam Plant, which up until 3 months ago was getting all of its coal from the neighboring Trans Alta coal mine which is in the same area of Bennight’s mine or which use to be Washington Coal and Mining. The coal mine was closed and 500+ people were laid off about 3 months ago because the power plant can buy coal cheaper from Wyoming coal mines, and have it delivered by rail.
I need to go visit the museum again and see if I can get more info and then look into finding the actual spot of Bennight Washington .