King castle

WHEN COAL WAS KING: Dump truck operated by Economy Fuels delivers coal : VOICE of the Valley

These days, it’s hard to imagine a world where homes and businesses were heated with coal, but that’s exactly what’s happening in this August 22, 1921, photo. A dump truck operated by Economy Fuels delivers coal through a trapdoor or a hole in the sidewalk to get to the basement of a building at 901 Tacoma Ave. South in Tacoma.

From there, charcoal, about the size of marbles, was shoveled out of the bunker into an augur-powered furnace that heated the building. During the day, heat was usually provided by hot water supplied by radiators. Ash and bottom ash, by-products of burning coal, were removed from the furnace daily and then transported to street level for weekly pick-up by garbage trucks.

According to the Assessor’s records, this building dates from 1900 and is now occupied by the District Court’s probation offices. It is located across from the Pierce County Jail. The castle-like building in the distance was Tacoma Central School and now houses the administrative offices of the Tacoma School District. This photo #B4503 from the Marvin D. Boland Collection is courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library.

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