Monday, June 29, 2009

Ludlow becomes a National Historic Landmark

Mining Strike Site In Ludlow Gets Feds' Nod

Gov. Bill Ritter will be on hand as Ludlow becomes a

National Historic Landmark.

By Mike McPhee

The Denver Post



It took an act of vandalism, followed by a six-year

crusade, to have the Ludlow Massacre site designated a

National Historic Landmark.


Gov. Bill Ritter, local dignitaries, miners, union

representatives and others will gather today at Ludlow

to dedicate the site.


Now a ghost town 13 miles north of Trinidad, Ludlow was

the site of 14 months of strikes in 1913-14 by some

1,200 coal miners who were fed up with low wages, unsafe

conditions and company towns that kept the miners deeply

in debt. More than 100 people died in the strikes.


One particularly tragic confrontation occurred on April

20, 1914, when 20 people, including 11 children and two

mothers, died when the Colorado National Guard stormed a

tent encampment.


The United Mine Workers Association bought that site in

1917, then installed a granite monument to the strikers

and the massacre victims.


The site remained contentious between unionists and

others, some of whom either doubted the stories of the

massacre or believed the miners got what they deserved.


On May 7, 2003, vandals broke off and stole the heads of

the male and female statues, as well as the female's

left arm. The mine workers' association was incensed, as

were other national labor organizations. An intensive

investigation by Las Animas County Sheriff James Casias,

as well as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, led nowhere.


The broken statues were removed from the monument and

shipped to California. There, a specialist used similar

granite from Vermont to repair the statues.


On May 5, 2005, they were replaced at a cost of more

than $80,000. The money came mostly in small donations

from individuals and union locals. Black Hawk, which has

a strong mining tradition, donated $10,000, said the

association's Region 4 director, Bob Butero.


As word of the vandalism spread nationally, a group of

labor historians - including James Green of Yale

University; Julie Greene, formerly of CU-Boulder and now

at the University of Maryland; and Betsy Jameson of the

University of Calgary - took up the cause of honoring

labor strife as part of our national heritage.


Greene wrote in The Denver Post that Ludlow was an

important site because it represents "a crusade that

cost many workers their lives, and reminds us of the

central role immigrants played in building industrial

America and of the shocking violence that accompanied that process."


On Jan. 16, just before President George W. Bush left

office, the Department of the Interior rushed through

the designation of Ludlow as a National Historic Landmark.


The dedication


The formal dedication of the Ludlow Massacre site as a

National Historic Landmark is at 10 this morning in

Ludlow, 180 miles south of Denver and 1 mile west of

I-25, Exit 27. Various mining and union officials will

be present, as will Gov. Bill Ritter and a

representative of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.



Howard Zinn on the Ludlow Massacre

Excerpt from the DVD "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train"


The Ludlow Massacre


This was prepared by the Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Program as

part of their 2003 High School Mock Trial Program.  The website includes many historic photographs.


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