Sunday, July 25, 2010


Back in 1913-14, Ludlow, in Southern Colorado, was the site not just of a major miners' strike The strikes throughout Southern Colorado centered on unionising efforts, which in their turn had to do with the way in which the coal companies were handling the influx of miners from Europe and Asia. The companies refused to recognize the United Mine Workers' union as a negotiating body; the miners went on strike, leaving the mining camps, and living in tent cities - the largest of which was very near Ludlow. Militia units were set up, watching over the striking miners (far from peaceably, on both sides). On April 20th, 1914, colonists and militiamen started to fire at each other; women and children colonists took shelter in the cellars below the tents; a deserted tent caught fire - or was set on fire; the tent city caught alight - and two women and eleven children suffocated to death in a cellar. Five strikers, two other young people, and at least four militia men were also killed that day.

That, at least, is the brief version. A monument was erected in their memory in 1918, designed by Hugh Sullivan (about whom I know nothing, but the style is very reminiscent to me of designs commemorating labor disasters - like the people who were killed making the St Gothard tunnel - in Europe: a style of heroic worker (there is a standing miner to the left of the woman on the monument), plus, here, suffering woman. The figures were (inexplicably) decapitated and de-handed in 2005, so these heads and hands are in fact substitutes, but they are nonetheless very powerful, standing on the edge of bleak mining country (looking much like South Wales), with dark storm clouds overhead.

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