Photo Galleries


Life in Ludlow:

Prelude to the Massacre:

After the Massacre:

The Colorado Coal Strike was one of the most violent strikes in United States History. Although they were ultimately defeated, the coal miners in this strike held out for 14 months in makeshift tent colonies on the Colorado prairie. The strike resulted in an estimated 66 deaths and an unknown number of wounded. Although the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) lost the Colorado Strike, it was, and still is, seen as a victory in a broad sense for the union. The Coal War was a shocking event, one that galvanized public opinion and eventually came to symbolize the wave of industrial violence that lead to the "progressive" era reforms in labor relations.

These photo galleries address the Ludlow Massacre in particular, which occurred on April 20, 1914. A brief background of the events at Ludlow follows: The UMWA made its first appearance in the Western States in 1900 with a strike in Gallup, New Mexico. In 1903, the UMWA led a strike in the Colorado coalfields. This strike was successful in the Northern Field, around Louisville and Boulder, but failed in the South. In 1910, the Northern operators refused to renew the contract and the miners struck for the next 3 years. In September 1913 the UMWA, which had secretly been organizing the Southern Field, announced a strike there when the operators would not meet a list of seven demands, such as: recognition of the union; an 8-hour work day; the right to elect their own check-weighmen; payment for "dead work;" a 10 percent increase in wages on the tonnage rates; the right to trade in any store, choose their own doctors, and choose their own boarding places; and enforcement of Colorado mining laws and abolition of the company guard system.

Approximately 90 percent of the workforce struck, about 10-12,000 miners and their families. Those who lived in the camps were evicted, and on September 23rd the striker families hauled their possessions through rain and snow out of the canyons to about a dozen sites rented in advance by the UMWA to house them. The UMWA organized the strikers into tent colonies, which were located at strategic spots covering the entrances to the canyons, in order to intercept strikebreakers. The galleries listed above document the Ludlow tent colony, one of the largest tent colonies that was established during the strike.


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