The second to last is an HDR shot, though I tried to keep it subtle...I tried bracketing+blending, and then tried the blending options Photomatix offers and just couldn't get it to turn out. HDR looked the best to keep the windows from getting blown all to hell.
AFAIK the baskets were used in the interest of space conservation - workers would throw their crap in the baskets after changing, and raise it to the ceiling using the pulleys mounted to the ceiling, tying off the rope on the eyehooks on the rails you see below. This is all conjecture, of course.
I'm going to assume the demise of the mine (Sometime around 1994 - those were the last calendars I saw lying around) came when the nearby Sunnyside coal-fired power plant started buying their coal from somewhere else, or the vein they were mining ran out. I need to do some googling and see where the mine entrance was. We drove up the canyon the buildings reside in apiece to see if there was an entrance farther up the road, but it soon turned to dirt (mud) in about a half mile, and I didn't feel like calling a tow truck into the middle of nowhere when I got stuck.
Deeply rural America is a different place, at least for a suburban white kid like myself. One of the few places a non-descript white VW hatchback will stick out like a sore thumb. We got pulled over for no apparent reason in one podunk town...