Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Barbara J. Nilson – AKCHO Legacy Award
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Barbara J. Nilson accepts her Legacy Award – photo credit Tyler Ray

Barbara Nilson is celebrating her 90th birthday in August.  Last year she completed her 4th local history book – one exploring the history of Allied Arts of Renton. Two of her earlier books have received the AKCHO Virginia Marie Folkins Award in past years. “Uncle Sam Wants You” featured stories about veterans from Maple Valley and Renton who served during World War II and “Ravensdale Reflections” explores the history of a small Washington state mining town. Other books include “Renton High School Centennial” and one celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Maple Valley Rotary.

While raising 4 children as a single mother in the 1950s, Nilson went back to college and received her teaching certificate. She was hired as the advisor for Seattle’s Franklin High School yearbook and highly regarded school newspaper. During this time, she became the Youth Director for NFPW (National Federation of Press Women) and expanded their annual writing contest to include high school students. She has been an active member of that organization for over 60 years. 

Nilson has been a member of and worked with many south King County Historical Societies over the past 40 years and she has served on the AKCHO Awards Committee for 17 years. 


Discovery Modelers Education Center – Long Term Project Award
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Clayton Naset and Colleen Wagner (center) of Discovery Modelers accept congratulations from King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles and AKCHO President Alice Stenstrom – photo credit Tyler Ray

by Pat Filer, AKCHO Awards Selection Committee Chair

On July 4, 1917, the SS Roosevelt, Admiral Peary’s flagship on his historic 1909 trip to the Arctic, passed through the Locks and led a marine parade of some 200 commercial and pleasure craft through the Ship Canal to Lake Union and Lake Washington. A carnival and fireworks attracted an estimated 50,000 celebrants out to celebrate the opening of the new waterway.

One hundred years later Discovery Modelers committed to creating a scale model of the two-masted steamship for display during the Ship Canal centennial celebrations. Model maker Clayton Naset was recruited to carry out the work with his funding coming from King County 4Culture and others.

A reception was held May 7, 2017 at the Locks to honor Naset. Interpretive signage and brochures, funded by King County 4Culture, tell the tale of this storied vessel. The six-foot model is on long-term loan to the Corps of Engineers and on display in the Locks Administration Building. 


Long Term Project Award goes to three historical organizations that conduct mine hikes
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Keith Watson of Black Diamond Historical Society, Doug Bristol with Issaquah History Museums, and Russ Senger of Newcastle Historical Society show off their Long Term Project Awards – photo credit Tyler Ray

by Pat Filer, AKCHO Awards Selection Committee Chair

For those who appreciate communing with the Great Outdoors – as well as history — historic mine tours provide a personal view of the halcyon days of the King County Coal Belt.   Presented by the Black Diamond, Newcastle and Issaquah Historical Societies, residents of all ages from throughout King County and beyond participate in these enlightening and picturesque journeys into a noteworthy aspect of King County’s past.  

Although the lumber industry receives the lion’s share of attention, coal was once King County’s largest industry, supplying local markets as well as the rapidly growing town of San Francisco.   These areas are a vast source of labor and ethnic history, where many of the miners were recruited from Southern Europe.

The Issaquah Historical Society presents annual Historic Mine Hikes covering mining districts throughout the area.   These include Tiger Mountain as well as the Olde Towne neighborhood, Mine Hill and areas near the Issaquah Creek Dam.

Annual tours of the town of Franklin, located above the beautiful Green River Gorge, are presented by the Black Diamond Historical Society.   The town thrived for many years, reaching its peak coal production period between 1897 and 1908.   Many mining structure foundations remain, as well as the cemetery and other traces of the town’s past. The Society is 42 years old now and board member Don Mason (Also known as The Mayor of Franklin) has been the manager of the Franklin tours for almost that amount of time. The coal mining town of Franklin has been the object of archaeological studies and digs by the Green River Community College starting in 1985 and they produced an extensive, over 300 pages, report on this little ghost town.  Don Mason conducts tours with the help of volunteers from the Society and the last tour in March had an attendance of 250 people plus pets. 

The Newcastle Historical Society and the Eastside Heritage Center frequently lead tours of Cougar Mountain, Coal Creek, May Creek and other local mining districts. The Issaquah Alps Trails Club and the Newcastle Historical Society began sponsoring a “Return to Newcastle” event in the 1980’s. A “Return” or “Coal Mining History Hike” has been offered on the first Sunday in June ever since – 35+ years now! Those events generated public support for the creation of Coal Creek and Cougar Mountain Parks. Both are now large ‘wildland’ parks with many interpretive trails and signs featuring local coal mining history. King County was the major partner in acquiring land, providing park staff, and developing the trail systems. This also resulted in the “100 Years of Hidden History” book by Richard and Lucille McDonald. In recent years Bellevue Parks and the Eastside Heritage Center and the City of Newcastle have installed signs and provided school tours and indoor power-point programs as well. All of these efforts – a long history of dedicated work – are deserving of recognition.

The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who have researched their respective locales with the assistance and support of the three heritage organizations, who often share inquiries and research.

These long-term efforts of the Issaquah, Newcastle and Black Diamond Historical Societies have created awareness and presented people from all walks of life with a unique and engaging perspective on the era “when Coal was King.”


Patricia Cosgrove – Willard Jue Memorial Award for Staff
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Taking advantage of a captive audience, Willard Jue Staff Award honoree Patricia Cosgrove invited everyone to come view the White River Valley Museum’s current exhibit, “Suffer for Beauty” – photo credit Tyler Ray

by Pat Filer, AKCHO Awards Selection Committee Chair

Willard Jue Memorial Award recipients are individuals who, like the award’s namesake, have made outstanding contributions, provided exceptional leadership, and demonstrated excellence in duration, quality, and spirit of service.

Patricia Cosgrove has been the Director of the White River Valley Museum since 1990. Cosgrove received her BA in Tribal Art History and her Masters in Museum Studies – both from University of Washington. For six years, she served as Exhibit Manager for the State Centennial Project and coordinated Burke Museum staff and representatives from 35 tribes to honor the native cultures of Washington state. 

As Director of the White River Valley Museum, Cosgrove manages a professional staff of five and a large volunteer group. She writes and manages all grants, designs and mounts exhibits, and teaches development classes. The restoration and management of the Mary Olson Farm was one of her most rewarding projects. It received AKCHO’s Long Term Project Award in 2012.

In her own words, “It has always been my goal to work in museums using the exhibit as a way to further cross-cultural understanding. I believe museums have a potentially powerful voice that can help shape the world for the better. Meanwhile, I hope to engage the eye with beautiful things and meet some interesting characters.”

In her tenure at White River Valley Museum, Cosgrove has designed and curated nearly 75 exhibits. That’s a lot of unusual and beautiful things – and interesting characters. 


Renton History Museum and UW Museology Program – Youth Award
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There was scarcely enough room in the frame for the Renton History Museum and UW Museology Program students to pose with their Award! – photo credit Tyler Ray

by Pat Filer, AKCHO Awards Selection Committee Chair

It may sound strange to present the Youth Award to UW students – but let’s face it, they are the youth of our heritage community. It is this group of young people who will soon be our heritage leaders. So please join me in welcoming Renton History Museum’s Sarah Samson and UW Museology students, Blair Martin, Marina Mayne, Molly Winslow, Kim Owens, and Steffi Terasaki to the stage.

If you had to sum up the rich variety of Renton’s history in 75 objects, what would you choose? A group of University of Washington Museology students tackled that challenge at the Renton History Museum, and the result was A History of Renton in 75 Objects. This exhibit, curated and installed by the UW Museology students, used unique artifacts and photos from the Museum’s collection to help the visitor visualize Renton’s history.  The artifacts were varied – they ranged in size from a tiny wedding ring to a one-ton coal car – and came together to illustrate some of Renton’s most memorable points in history.

The themes of the exhibit – the Duwamish, Making a Living, In the Home, Entertainment, and Transforming a Town – guided visitors through 150-plus years of Renton history. UW Museology students Blair Walsh, Marina Mayne, Molly Winslow, and Steffi Terasaki had the heady task of selecting only 75 objects from a collection of over 400,000 artifacts, photographs, and archives. Their creativity combined nostalgic favorites with more hidden histories to create a comprehensive exhibit that let visitors learn and reminisce at the same time.

Over 1,860 visitors viewed A History of Renton in 75 Objects while it was on display. A highlight of the exhibit was the Oral History Station. This unique audio-visual presentation featured audio from four oral histories enhanced with historic photographs and film footage.

The Renton History Museum strives to work with students each and every year, giving them the opportunity to showcase their skills while gaining real-world job experience. By all metrics, A History of Renton in 75 Objects was a successful partnership, project, and exhibit.



Heritage Advisor is published by the Association of King County Historical Organizations as a service to members and those who support its mission. We update our website continually throughout the month, and on the first of every month we e-mail a condensed version of Heritage Advisor to our mailing list – you can subscribe to this service by filling out the requested information in the right sidebar on this page.

AKCHO was established in 1977 to encourage cooperation among historical organizations; promote and encourage the study and preservation of the history and heritage of King County through member organizations, individual members, and the community they serve; and support such preservation efforts through public awareness and understanding of legislative issues.

The Heritage Advisor welcomes submissions of news items, calendar items, and opinion columns from AKCHO members, HA subscribers, and readers. Articles are limited to 300 words and they should have a strong relevance to historic preservation and heritage issues in King County, Washington. Submission of an article does not guarantee publication. AKCHO does not pay for published submissions. All articles are subject to review by AKCHO staff. Please send your article within the body of an email (no attachments, please) to

AKCHO welcomes new members year round. Individual memberships are $25, and we have a three-tiered system for organizational memberships, with dues dependent on budget size. For more information and an application form, visit

More than 150 individuals and organizations support heritage work and historic preservation in King County, thanks to their membership in AKCHO. Please join us!




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AKCHO was established to encourage cooperation among historical organizations and to promote and encourage the study and preservation of the history and heritage of King County through member organizations, individual members, and the community they serve, and to support such preservation efforts through public awareness and understanding of legislative issues.

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