The Ludow, Colorado Union Massacre of 1914 is not widely discussed in the modern day, but the site of the tragic event is still largely intact allowing any visitors to the site to revisit one of the darkest days in the history of American labor.
In the summer of 1913, some 8,000 Colorado mineworkers under the employ of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, which was mainly owned and controlled by the Rockefeller family of Standard Oil fame, banded together to form a union and went on strike to protest unfit living and working conditions. In response to the union action, the company drove the miners from their company town, but they pushed back by setting up in a ramshackle tent city right near the mines themselves, refusing to stand down. Private agency thugs and company-sponsored National Guardsmen ran regular raids on the camps, generally terrorizing the miners, but it was not until April of 1914 that things came to a bloody head.
On April 20th, with tensions as high as ever, some of the militia members began firing into the camp, and the miners returned fire. The fighting lasted all day, and once the sun went down, a group of National Guardsmen put the camp to the torch, burning it to the ground.
In the end somewhere in the region of 25 people were killed in the fighting and ensuing firestorm. Most horribly, a group of 11 children and 2 women who were hiding in an underground cellar were asphyxiated. The tragic events would signal a violent turning point in US labor relations, at the cost of many lives.
Today, the old company town of Ludlow still stands as a ghost town, and the site of the tent city is also kept reserved, now under the care of the United Mine Workers of America. A monument to the deceased was also built by the union at the site. In addition, the cellar where so many innocents perished is still in place. The doorway can still be seen and the dark depths of the pit can still be viewed.
Know Before You Go
Take I-25 south to exit 27, about 125 miles from Colorado Springs. Follow 44.0 Road west about a half mile to the Ludlow Monument.