Name: Ronald (Kittitas County)
GPS:Latitude: 47.2332107, Longitude: -121.03169
Take Highway 90 East from Seattle. Take the Cle Elum Exit. Turn left at Stafford Street, then an immediate left on W 2nd, Street. At the turn-about, take the first right. Pass through Roslyn, and then you will come to Ronald, Washington.
In the race between Roslyn and Ronald to become a “major” city, Ronald definitely lost the game. While Roslyn is a busy historic town, Ronald has under 300 citizens and only a few historic buildings.
But the two towns essentially share history.
Ronald was built in 1888 two miles west of Roslyn by the Northern Pacific Coal Company, a subsidiary company of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Workers from Northern’s Coal Mine No. 3 lived in the town which was named after the superintendent of mining, Alexandr Ronald. Like Roslyn, Jonesville and Cle Elum, the town supplied coal for the Northern Pacific Railroad’s steam locomotives.
Ronald’s biggest event by far was the fire of April 18, 1928 that destroyed much of the town, lit nearby dry brush and came perilously close to destroying Roslyn. The cause was an explosion of a 250 gallon vat of alcohol in a hidden chamber beneath the Falcon Pool and Dance hall. The owner, “Bert” Pelligrini, was running an illegal still during Prohibition. He was able to escape the fire, but later died of his wounds at the hospital.
Conditions were so bad that the local mines closed down and the miners sent to help battle the fire. They, along with citizens of all the nearby communities, railroad workers, and the Cle Elum Fire Department battled the flames. 2000 people worked until the wind died down in the late evening when they were able to contain the fire. It was stopped short of a stone building 1/2 mile Northwest of Roslyn, full of explosives that likely would have destroyed the town if it caught on fire. The fire still managed to destroy the entire business district of Ronald and 32 homes.
The Northern Pacific Coal Company (by now renamed to the Northwestern Improvement Company,) rebuilt the town and kept it in operation until the 1960’s. Diesel powered locomotives made the coal fired steam locomotives obsolete, and in turn, Ronald died.
The town still has a couple of interesting old buildings, including the school house that has two covered stair cases leading to the main entrance.
Ghost Towns of the Pacific Northwest: Your Guide to the Hidden History of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia by Phillip Varney