In 1886, Northern Pacific Railroad mining engineers located large seams of coal and the town of Roslyn was founded.
Coal mining, though dirty and dangerous work, attracted large numbers of immigrants to Roslyn - Serbians, Croatians, Poles, Italians, Lithuanians, and others. During an 1888 strike, the Northern Pacific Coal Company brought in hundreds of African Americans as strikebreakers. Despite the rough reception, many made Roslyn their home.
In the first decades of the twentieth century, competition from other mining regions and sources of energy, such as oil, led to a slow decline in coal mining in Roslyn. In 1963, economics forced the closure of the last large commercial mine in the area. Today, four-fifths of the coal deposits remain unmined.