SE Colorado, Part 5 - The Ludlow Massacre

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Real Estate Agent with Real Estate Showcase Photography

 

 

SE Colorado, Part 5  - The Ludlow Massacre

Official call to go on strike, September 17, 1913 -
"All mine workers are hereby notified that a strike of all the coal mine and coke oven workers in Colorado will begin on Tuesday, September 23, 1913.  We are striking for better wages, improved conditions, and union recognition. We are sure to win."



When unrest over dangerous and unfair working and living conditions finally came to a head in the Berwind Coal Camp in SE Colorado, the miners decided to strike. The strike was organized by the United Mine Workers, and began in September, 1913. Of course, the miners were immediatley evicted from their Company homes, and they headed in procession 8 miles to the nearby town of Ludlow, outside of which the United Mine Workers Union had set up a tent colony that housed about 1200 miners and their families from the Berwind and Del Agua mines.

The tent colony of Ludlow, 1913
Tent Colony at Ludlow, Colorado 1913



For seven months, the miners were victimized by the coal bosses, often brutally. The miners had dug pits under their tents to protect themselves, and their wives and children, from sporadic machine gun fire from the strike breakers, and the militia that the miners were told had come to help them. The militia was called in by the Governor at the request of the mine owners.

At 55 cents a ton, the miners earned 1.68 per day, paid in scrip, redeemable only at the Company Store, and worked under the harshest and most dangerous conditions. See The Ghost Town Coal Camp of Berwind for more information on the miner's working conditions. They lived in, and paid rent for, Company owned homes, had to purchase their supplies at the Company owned store at inflated prices, and their children went to Company owned schools.

April 19, 1914 was the Greek Orthodox Easter celebration in the tent camp. The next morning, April 20th, around 9 AM, the camp was rocked by an explosion, and machine gun fire errupted all around them. The miners fought back, and the battle lasted the entire day, while the women and children hid in the tents.

In the afternoon, a train stopped on the tracks between the miners and the militia, interrupting the gunfire, and the engineer purposely sat there long enough for many of the women and children to escape into the hills.

At dusk, the militia entered the camp, and set fire to the tents.

A pit had been dug where two women and eleven children were hiding - they suffocated inside from the smoke of the fire. Eighteen people were killed that day, and the Ludlow Massacre is remembered as one of the most brutal attacks on labor in the history of North America.

Sealed pit where the women and children died.

Sealed pit where 2 women & 11 children died

This memorial was dedicated to the miners in 1918 by the United Mine Workers of America, and still sits at the site today, next to the pit where the women and children died. A plaque with their names reminds us who they were - the youngest, a little girl, was only 3 months old.

UMW memorialUMW memorial

While the events of the massacre shocked the nation, it was sometime before reforms that really made a difference in the lives of the miners and their families were actually initiated. Although the miners expected to win the strike, they did not, and went back to the mines to await reforms that were slow in coming.

 

The two photos below were taken of metal plaques at the memorial, and I apologise for the reflections.

UMW memorial

 

Below is the Ludlow tent colony before the fire. Note the wash hanging on lines in the foreground.

UMW memorial

 

 

 

SE Colorado - Part 1 Trinidad

SE Colorado - Part 2 Cokedale

SE Colorado - Part 3 Ghost Town of Berwind Coal Camp

SE Colorado - Part 4 Berwind Coal Camp Jail

 

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Rainmaker
250,197
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Thyank you all for reading and commenting - It's good that we remember - that the stories be told and retold.

 

Todd - Sadly, adding insult to injury, (from wikipedia):

In the end, the strikers failed to obtain their demands, the union did not obtain recognition, and many striking workers were replaced by new workers. Over 400 strikers were arrested, 332 of whom were indicted for murder. Only one man, John Lawson, leader of the strike, was convicted of murder, and that verdict was eventually overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court. (These miners were fighting back - trying to protect themselves and their families DB) Twenty-two National Guardsmen, including 10 officers, were court-martialed. All were acquitted, except Lt. Linderfelt, who was found guilty of assault for his attack on Louis Tikas, (one of the miners' leaders  DB). However, he was given only a light reprimand.

Rev. Cook pastored the local church in Trinidad, Colorado. He was one of the few Pastors in Trinidad who tried to provide Christian burials to the deceased victims of the Ludlow Massacre.

Apr 16, 2010 10:19 AM #17
Rainmaker
514,667
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

I don't know how I got behind on this series but will go back to read the previous posts. I almost always enjoy a look at local history and this is very interesting. Sadly some of this post is very timely regarding miners and the companies who employ/exploit them. It is still the most dangerous profession in our country.

Apr 16, 2010 04:36 PM #18
Rainmaker
1,399,861
Rebecca Gaujot, RealtorĀ®
Coldwell Banker Stuart & Watts Real Estate - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV Real Estate, Greenbrier County

Debi, truly a sad story. My dad was in a mine strike a few times during his 50 years of working in the coal mines....but the strikes were nothing like this sad story.

Apr 16, 2010 04:41 PM #19
Rainmaker
693,237
Steve and Jan Bachman
RE/MAX Gateway, Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, Sterling, Fairfax - Herndon, VA
Realtors - Northern Virginia

Debi,

Young folks do not often understand why unions arose. There would have been no need if management had historically been concerned about the welfare of the workers and viewed them as partners in an ongoing enterprise that benefits all....hopefully this kind of thing is not only behind US, but the rest of the world as well. Painful to read. Big glass of merlot now.

Apr 16, 2010 06:17 PM #20
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

Did you feel the sense of sadness, and dread there?  When we visited the Ludlow site, so removed, and unassuming, it felt all but forgotten. We were there on a cool and dreary day, maybe that played into the mood.    The people of Trinidad remember, but few others...Mr. John D. Rockefeller, owner of CF&I, at the time, is remembered there as well...

Apr 16, 2010 10:38 PM #21
Rainmaker
250,197
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Russell - yes, one of top ten most dangerous in the world.

Rebecca - Thank goodness it is not so violent to oppose, at least not in this country.

Steve - I agree, there was a need for unionization - and it served a good and important purpose.

Cheryl - Yes, the feeling permeates the site - even now...

Debi

Apr 17, 2010 10:59 AM #22
Rainmaker
1,005,921
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, Huntsville AL - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

Debi-I think most of us know that times were tough for miners and workers in general during those years. Reading your post makes it so much more real.  This post actually made a connection with me because I am Greek and had no idea about the Greek Orthodox presence in the tent camps.

Kudos to you for an outstanding series.

Apr 17, 2010 11:37 AM #23
Rainmaker
845,102
Fred Carver-Top Realtor Victoria, BC
Re/Max Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate - Victoria, BC
Accredited Victoria BC Real Estate Consultant

Hi Debi...well don't talk to me then..mmm.

Cheers, have fun today!

Apr 17, 2010 02:11 PM #24
Rainmaker
250,197
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Nick - There were many Greeks in the coal camps.

"When the main industry of Greece, the currant crop, failed in 1907, families mortgaged their land at usurious rates to send sons to America. It was their only hope to survive penury and to provide daughters with necessary dowries. The few yearly emigrants standing on wharves with their scant belongings multiplied into thousands..."

Small bird, there where you fly to Ameriki, Tell me, where does my son sleep? When he is sick, who tends him?
                    ...Folk song of immigration

Fred - Huh? I think I must have missed something!!! LOL

 

Apr 17, 2010 02:32 PM #25
Rainmaker
727,044
Debbie Walsh
Keller Williams Realty - Middletown, NY
Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.928.8000

Such a sad sad story.  Such history I learn from you Deb!

Apr 17, 2010 02:38 PM #26
Rainmaker
250,197
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Hi Deb - yes, very sad. I really enjoy researching the things I photograph. It adds so much once the history is understood.

Debi

Apr 17, 2010 05:06 PM #27
Rainmaker
45,214
Peter and Dawn Smith
Circle Shot Media - Vancouver, WA

Hi Debi,

Wow, what an amazing story.  It sure makes you appreciate the life we have today, even with the economy in the "crapper". 

Apr 19, 2010 03:15 PM #28
Rainmaker
45,214
Peter and Dawn Smith
Circle Shot Media - Vancouver, WA

Hi Debi,

Wow, what an amazing story.  It sure makes you appreciate the life we have today, even with the economy in the "crapper". 

Apr 19, 2010 03:16 PM #29
Rainmaker
250,197
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Dawn - yes, it certainly does....

Apr 19, 2010 07:26 PM #30
Ambassador
405,110
Jo-Anne Smith, Sales Representative
Oakville, ON
Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Region Real E

Debi,

This is a very sad story...I have heard of the Ludlow Massacre in passing,however never knew the full story. Such a tragedy.

I'd like to post this at the Heritage Properties, Historical Sites and Antiques group, if you'd like to repost it there.....and I'd love to see all of your other  history posts at this group too!

Jo

Apr 21, 2010 10:04 AM #31
Rainmaker
250,429
Michael and Cheron Lange
Solutions Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Associate Broker, GRI

What an interesting part of history...

Cheron

Apr 21, 2010 03:27 PM #32
Rainmaker
250,197
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Hi Jo - I'll check it out! I think you can only post to 5 groups - but I'll join and post new ones there!

Cheron - Thanks so much for visiting all my history posts!

Apr 21, 2010 06:37 PM #33
Rainmaker
1,108,239
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

Very interesting. Big business won then, and it seems that big business is still winning in today's world.

Apr 21, 2010 10:39 PM #34
Rainmaker
511,360
Mary Douglas
United Country Ponderosa Realty - Red Feather Lakes, CO
REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Hi Debi, Oh this is sad.  Life was really hard in those days, we have no idea what that would be like.  I can imagine it was very somber reading the plaques and walking around Ludlow.

Apr 22, 2010 01:14 AM #35
Rainmaker
250,197
Debi Boucher
Real Estate Showcase Photography - Woodland Park, CO
"Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours

Jim - yes, that appears to be the case...

Mary - It really was. Very quiet - we were the only ones there - not hard to imagine the sounds of the battle....

Apr 22, 2010 10:09 AM #36
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Rainmaker
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Debi Boucher

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