Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
- 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
The City of Cripple Creek in 1892 when the town was
just one year old.
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.
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
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 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.
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
| 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
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
The Cheyenne Social Club
| A Cheyenne War Story: Wolf Road, the Runner
| Cheyenne Traditions and Beliefs, Sacred
| Horses, Warriors, War Pipe, Sweatlodge
| Cheyenne War Parties and Battle Tactics
| The Scalp Dance and Other Cheyenne Dances
| 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
| 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
| 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 |
Aims to Clear Infamous Cannibal, Alferd Packer |
| Lead Gives Alferd
Packer's Story More Weight |
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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