italian hall disaster

from woody guthrie, famous strikes posted in music


italian hall disaster
7th street and elm street
calumet township, michigan 49913

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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.

photo: Chris857