The state's first coal mine opened in 1853, near Bellingham, after the coal deposits were discovered in 1852. By 1880, all of the state's limited number of economically feasible coal deposits were being mined. Coal production reached 2 million tons per year by 1900, and 4 million tons by 1918. Washington's coal industry suffered dramatically as a result of the rise of hydroelectricity: production dropped below 2 million tons by the early 30's, dropped further to 1 million tons in the late 40's, and reached a lowpoint of 37,000 tons in 1970.
After the first mine opened in 1853, coal was discovovered the same year and a mine was opened in 1854 on the Black River, near Renton. This was followed by the discovery of the Issaquah and Newcastle coal fields in King County. The coking coal fields of the Carbon River and Wilkeson areas of Pierce County were discovered a few years later. Coal was discovered in the Roslyn area of Kittitas County in 1871 and mining began in 1886.By 1890, coal ranked as the second most important export product of Washington.