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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Colorado History

- Colorado History -
Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes


The Early Days in Cripple Creek, Colorado
He who has the gold, makes the rules. This was most certainly the case during the early days in Cripple Creek, Colorado. The new comers on the scene, the union organizers, were determined to change the "accident" of prior ownership, as they saw fit. However, a number of subtle ironies would ultimately undercut union solidarity and force the Western Federation of Miners (W.F.M.) into self-destructive violence.

City of Cripple Creek in 1892
The City of Cripple Creek in 1892 when the town was just one year old.

Labor Strikes
There were two separate labor strikes in the Cripple Creek District; one during late 1893 thru early 1894 and the other during 1903-04. It would be difficult to be thorough without discussing them both. I will give a brief outline of the events during the 1893-94 strike; followed by a more in depth account of the 1903-04 strike, which has much further reaching implications.

Cripple Creek miners in 1892
Placer miners equipped with pans and sluices at gold-laced Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1892.


The Bull Hill Dynamiters
The Cripple Creek District's labor troubles began in Altman, a town totally filled with miners. Scottish-born John Calderwood, a former coal miner, established a W.F.M. local and organized two-thirds of the mine workers in the district (a total of around eight hundred men). His men were known as the "Bull Hill Dynamiters." Calderwood's demand was simple: three dollars pay for an eight-hour work day.

Altman, Colorado Cripple Creek District
Altman at about the time the town was it by Cripple Creek labor violence

The only mine owners to sign with the W.F.M. were Stratton and Burns. The mine owners believed that with the steady stream of near-destitute workers, the union would never be able to sustain a strike. Their counter offer: three dollars pay for a nine hour work day. In February, 1894, Calderwood called 500 of his men out of the nine-hour a day mines. Eight-hour-a-day mines continued working.

In a few weeks the owners of nine-hour mines announced plans to reopen using nonunion workers. Calderwood declared Bull Hill and its mines were under union control. He required "visas" signed by himself for any outsider wishing to enter. This de facto sovereign state would continue for four months.


Union Men
Union men shot up Cripple Creek's Myers Avenue saloons and parlor houses for no special reason. They also attacked the homes of non-union workers. When two alleged spies for the mines proprietors were caught at Altman, they were taken to a saloon and forced to drink deeply from cuspidors. Having survived that indignity, the spies were threatened with having useful parts of their anatomies cut off.

Cripple Creek bar
Patrons and bar girls drinking in a Cripple Creek bar.

Finally, some union men tossed them down an eighteen-foot-deep mine shaft. At one point, mine owners hired a Mrs. Harlie Miller to sleep with various strikers in order to worm information out of them. But she was frequently too intoxicated to realize whom she had screwed, so the idea was abandoned.


Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes:
| The Western Federation of Miners / State Militia |
| The 1893 - 1894 Strike | The Strike of 1903 - 1904 |
| The Mine Owners Association |
| Crimes and Military Rule in the Cripple Creek District |
| Marshall Law in Cripple Creek District / End of the Strike |

Early Cripple Creek District
| Photos, Fire, and Life in Cripple Creek |
| Other Colorful Towns in the Cripple Creek District:
Gillett - Colorado's Only Bullfight, Victor, Independence
|
| A Guide to the Miners' Gritty Lingo |

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- Colorado History In Depth -
Lecture Notes, Reading, and Information:

| The Cheyenne Migration to Colorado |
| The Gratlan Affair, Massacre, Fort Laramie Treaty |

The Cheyenne Social Club
| A Cheyenne War Story: Wolf Road, the Runner |
| Cheyenne Traditions and Beliefs, Sacred Stories |
| Horses, Warriors, War Pipe, Sweatlodge Ceremony |
| Cheyenne War Parties and Battle Tactics |
| The Scalp Dance and Other Cheyenne Dances |

Fort Union
| The Sante Fe Trail and Fort Union |
| Sumner - Ninth Military Department / The First Fort Union |
| Early Arrivals to Fort Union, Daily Life at Fort Union |
| Captain Grover - The New Fort Union, the Confederate Threat |
| Fort Union Arsenal, William Shoemaker, End of Fort Union |

Americans from the East
| Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase |
| The Expedition of Zebulon Pike |
| Pikes Peak or Bust / Colorado Gold Rush |

Colorado's Role in the US Civil War
| The Civil War, Fort Wise / Fort Lyon |
| Mace's Hole, Colonel Canby, F.C.V.R. | Fort Weld |
| The Pet Lambs, John Chivington |
| General Henry Sibly, Battle of Valverde, Fort Union |

More Colorado History Information
| Bent's Fort Photos, Personalities, Plans, and More |

| What Was Easter Like at Bent's Fort? |
| Colorado Trivia, Miscellaneous Old Photos,
Western Personalities, Forts, and More
|

| Lullabies for Jittery Cows - Cowboy Ballads |
| Heraldry of the Branding Iron |
| Project Aims to Clear Infamous Cannibal, Alferd Packer |
|
Lead Gives Alferd Packer's Story More Weight |
| Legendary Colorado Love Stories: Baby Doe Tabor & More |
| Colorado Pioneer Women: Elizabeth Byers |
| Early Denver Jokes / The History of April Fools' Day |

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Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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