Washburn Times, October 7, 1920
The Coal Situation
The end of navigation is but two months away and up to the present time there is not a pound of anthracite coal on the docks of the Northwestern Fuel Company in this city, although promises have been made from the local office of the company that there will be a cargo on hand before the close of navigation.
Ummmm… let me get this straight. Winter is sneaking up on northern Wisconsin and there is no coal available for the people in Washburn who rely on it to heat their homes?
Yes, that seems to be the case. But have no fear– you can trust the company’s assurances. The editor of the paper says so:
In former years the hard coal supply for the city has always been late in arriving on the Washburn docks, and there is no need for the people of this city becoming alarmed as yet for there is plenty of time yet to receive the cargo of coal.
Oh- Just one thing:
Prices will be somewhat higher than they were a year ago, said to be somewhere around $15 per ton.
Thanks for the heads-up.
Actually, what did happen? Let’s jump up a few weeks:
Washburn Times, October 28, 1920
Hard Coal To Arrive Soon
Superintendent John Gibson asks patrons to be patient for coal will be here before cold weather sets in for good.
Superintendent Gibson of the Northwestern Fuel Company advised the Times this morning to the effect that just as soon as a boat could be secured at the lower lake ports a cargo of hard coal would be shipped to Washburn. Mr. Gibson received his assurance of an immediate shipment of coal from the St. Paul office of the Northwestern Fuel Company this morning.
The cargo will contain from 6000 to 7000 tons of hard coal, which is more than enough to supply the wants of the people of this district usually supplied by the local fuel company.
With the advent of cold weather the past few days the office of the fuel company in this city has been deluged with inquiries as to when the hard coal was to arrive. Mr. Gibson advises the people to be patient.
Still waiting, in other words. But really – the check is in the mail and the boat’s about to sail. Honest!
Another week goes by:
Washburn Times November 4, 1920
Cargo of Coal Is On The Way
The steamer Lupus with a cargo of between 6000 and 7000 tons of hard coal for the Northwestern Fuel Company in this city is on the way up the lakes and according to schedule to reach this city sometime during Saturday of this week. The boat left the lower lake port on Tuesday this week.
Superintendent John Gibson says this is more than enough coal to supply the trade usually supplied by the local dock and it will be more than plenty of the coal for the Washburn trade.
There are no further articles about the suspenseful coal watch, so I guess we can assume that the Lupus did show up as promised. But there was one other followup, midway through the winter:
Washburn Times, January 6, 1921
People of Washburn feel that they’re being gouged on the price of hard coal as a result of the action of the local company, without any previous announcement. Washburn is entirely dependent on the local company for their supply for this winter at least.
Not a lot of details in the article, so we don’t know whether the price increase exceeded the previously announced $15/ton hike or not.