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Posts Tagged ‘Mining history’

On February 7, 1894, a miners’ strike led by the Western Federation of Miners began in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Elkton Mine, 1894. Image courtesy of the Cripple Creek District Museum, made available via Heritage West.

The strike occurred on the heels of the Panic of 1893 which caused the price of silver to crash but left the price of gold relatively high.  Gold had been discovered near Cripple Creek three years earlier, and in the wake of the Panic, miners began flooding the area.  By the time of the strike there were more than 150 active mines.

C.O.D. Mine, 1894. Image courtesy of the Cripple Creek District Museum, made available via Heritage West.

The conflict began when mine owners lengthened the miners’ work day without increasing wages.  Miners complained, and the owners retaliated by offering to retain the eight-hour work day but decrease compensation from $3.00 a day to $2.50.

Union men on parade before the strike in Victor, Colorado, 1894. Image courtesy of the Cripple Creek District Museum, made available via Heritage West.

The strike escalated through February, March, and April.  In May, the mine owners raised a private army, and in response, the miners armed and organized themselves under the direction of Junius J. Johnson.  They built a fort at Bull Hill, and further attacks were characterized by firefights and dynamite explosions.

The fort at the summit of Bull Hill built by striking miners in 1894. Image courtesy of Cripple Creek District Museum, made available via Heritage West.

In June, the state militia, who had previously assessed the situation in March, returned to Cripple Creek in support of the striking miners, which shortly brought the conflict to a close.  The Cripple Creek strike proved a major victory for the labor movement, and the Western Federation of Miners gained considerable power and influence in the following years.

View of Cripple Creek in 1894. Image courtesy of the Cripple Creek District Museum, made available via Heritage West.

Opening History is a rich resource for major events in the American labor movement, and the Heritage West collection provides an intimate portrait of the miners’ strike at Cripple Creek, Colorado.

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The Bisbee Deportation started on July 12, 1917 as vigilantes kidnapped and deported nearly 1,300 striking miners and others from Bisbee, Arizona.

The photograph of Sacramento Pit open copper mine at Bisbee, Arizona, below, courtesy of Indiana University, Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection.

Sacramento Pit - famous open copper mine at Bisbee, Ariz., 1952

Sacramento Pit - famous open copper mine at Bisbee, Ariz., 1952

Mining history is one of the subject strengths of the Opening History aggregation. More than thirty digital collections — including Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection, the source of the image featured in this post — contain materials on this topic, while five collections listed below specifically focus on mines, mining, and miners:
Coal Mining in Illinois, Machine vs. Man,
Doc Horrell Photo Collection,
Mining and Mother Jones in Mount Olive .
Mining in Idaho,
Thar’s gold in them thar hills: Gold and gold mining in Georgia, 1830s-1940s.

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