Photo courtesy of Maple Valley Historical Society, circa 1911
Last week I posted some history of the Barneston sawmill which was a very significant enterprise in the early 1900's. Located in the Cedar River watershed, this mill took advantage of the railroad extension provided to the coal and clay mining/processing center established during this period at Taylor. By 1910, the population of Barneston was 156 and the site took up a total of 80 acres of land. Although Barneston was a typical mill town with immigrants providing the workforce, one of the things that makes Barneston unique is that Japanese labor accounted for around 35% of the total. In the northwest at the time, Japanese labor more typically accounted for just 5 to 10% of the logging and milling workforce - still significant, but not like Barneston. Notice how neat and tidy these homes were with unique landscaping maintained around them.
Apparently, Japanese workers and their family's were housed separately from white workers - leading to the designation of these areas in many camps as "Jap-town". For reference, see an earlier post regarding the logging and sawmill community at Selleck where a Jap-town community also existed. Operating machinery appears to have been reserved for whites, while Japanese workers often were employed to do the backbreaking and more strenuous labor required in the mills and in logging operations. Very dangerous jobs.
Because the general store at Barneston carried few, if any, traditional Japanese foods or ingredients, some Japanese workers would take the train to Seattle during the weekend to stock up. Once a month companies like the Fudiya Comapny and Asia Company would also deliver food and supplies to Barneston. A laborer in the lumbermill operated a bath house at Barneston - providing a place for Japanese men returning home after a hard day's work to bath communally. In keeping with tradition, women and children could bath only after the men.
Following is a picture of the bath house owned by Kazuko Ikata that operated in Barneston during this period. Obviously, there was no indoor plumbing.