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italian hall disaster

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The Italian Hall Disaster (also known as the 1913 Massacre) is a tragedy that occurred on December 24, 1913 in Calumet, MI.

On that Christmas Eve, the striking miners of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) had gathered with their families with the coordination of the Ladies Auxiliary of the WFM. At that time, the miners were five months into a strike with the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company (C&H).

When someone falsely yelled "fire" at the crowded gathering, there was a stampede for the exit. Seventy-three men, women, and children (mostly striking mine workers and their families) were crushed to death.

There were accusations that union-busters were there and yelled "fire" to disrupt the gathering. Another accusation is that the door to the exterior was forced shut by company workers. There was never any evidence of a fire found.

The incident is recalled in the Woody Guthrie song "1913 Massacre", and the front arch from the Italian Hall still stands in this memorial park: Keweenaw National Historical Park.

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ludlow memorial

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Woody Guthrie wrote a song called "Ludlow Massacre" about this event.

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ludlow memorial

from woody guthrie, famous strikes posted in music by crabapple

At this location, striking miners set up a tent colony in September of 1913. Tensions built in the ensuing months between the miners and their union (the United Mine Workers of America- UMWA) and the mine owners- the Rockefeller family-owned Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I), the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company (RMF), and the Victor-American Fuel Company (VAF).

On April 20, 1913, the 1,200 striking miners and their families were attacked by the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards. In the ensuing battle, between 19 and 25 people were killed. The sources vary on the exact number, but all sources include two women and eleven children, asphyxiated and burned to death under a single tent.

The "Ludlow Massacre" became a rallying cry and 700 to 1,000 striking miners "attacked mine after mine, driving off or killing the guards and setting fire to the buildings."

By the time the federal troops stopped fighting, the death toll was between 69-199 people.

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