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

Colorado History

- Colorado History -
Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes


The 1893 - 1894 Strike

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


Governor Davis H. Waite
The strikers' ace-in-the-hole was the strong sympathy of Davis H. Waite. Waite had a wild, flowing white mane and beard that made him look like an Old Testament prophet who had survived a strike by lightning. Waite favored an income tax, the eight-hour work day, the secret ballot and the direct popular election of U.S. Senators. In 1892 he became the only Populist in America to be elected governor.

During 1892 Waite achieved notoriety by stating in public,
"It is infinitely better that blood should flow to our horses' bridles than our national liberties should be destroyed."

City of Cripple Creek in 1893
Cripple Creek - January 5, 1893

After unleashing that gem, he was known across the state as "Old Bloody Bridles Waite." Following the Silver Crash of 1893, Waite proposed that Colorado should buy up the surplus silver at the old price to be sent to Mexico, where cheap labor would mint it into "Fandango Dollars." Then it could be circulated in the state. It is not hard to see why Waite was not re-elected to a second term as governor.

Colorado Militiaman in Leadville
Armed against saboteurs with bayonet and pistol, a Colorado miltiaman guards a
Leadville mine in an 1896 lockout of union miners.

Waite sent the State Militia to the district, in part, because of his friendship with Calderwood and also a request from El Paso County Sheriff Frank Bowers. The Militia was under the inept command of General Thomas Tarsney. Ex-policemen and firemen from Denver hated Waite for firing them during the City Hall War. One-hundred and twenty-five of them were hired and deputized to attack Bull Hill and embarrass Waite.


Battle of Bull Hill
The Militia was there to play the role of spoiler; keeping the sheriffs department raiding parties from tangling with the unionists who were entrenched in a jerry-riged fort upon Bull Cliff. The fort was equipped with fake log cannons which were pointed at the town of Victor below. A crude bow gun propelled beer bottles filled with dynamite down the hill toward the hired mercenaries.

Vicotr, Colorado fire of 1899
Victor never fully recovered from its disastrous fire of 1899.

Meanwhile, up at Altman, the miners loaded a flatcar with explosives and rolled it downhill toward the deputies from Denver. It jumped the track on a curve, exploded and killed two cows. Finally, the Denver deputies captured five strikers. The whole event, worthy of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, has been called the "Battle of Bull Hill."


The Agreement
Governor Waite arbitrated for the union and on June 10, 1894, an agreement was signed. The union had won the three dollars pay for an eight-hour work day.

Mining hoist operator - 1890s
An operator in a mining shaft house works the controls of the steam-driven hoist
that raises and lowers cages carrying men and ore. Hoistmen in the 1890s earned four dollars a day -
a dollar more than their colleagues down below.

General Tarsney
The unionists' hatred for General Tarsney was confirmed later that month. He was seized in Colorado Springs and taken out of town, where tar and feathers were applied all over his body. Tarsney was abandoned beside the northbound railroad tracks and told to walk.

Law Enforcement
After the strike, non-union miners were driven from town and the deputy sheriffs were arrested by the union. For self-protection, mining company officials brought in outsiders, financing much of the county's law enforcement activities themselves.

Mine owner Eben Smith later recalled in a note to another employer that,
"During the late war in Cripple Creek, you and I brought 100 rifles and ten thousand rounds of ammunition..."

Pinkerton detectives were also brought in by company men. Nursing his wounds at the end of the troubles, Smith confided to a friend,
"The only consolation we have is the hope to elect a decent man as our next governor..."

Pressured by Governor Waite to accept the unions demands, Cripple Creek mine owners began to prepare for the next conflict.


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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