Friday, May 6, 2016

Road Trip - Ludlow Massacre Site

My Road Trip continues from Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site to the Ludlow Massacre Monument.
On April 20th, 1914, Ludlow, Colorado was the site of the Great Coalfield War. With the coal miners on strike for better conditions and the United Mine Workers not yet able to organize them, the coal companies had begun taking pot shots at the miners and families living in their tent cities in an attempt to get them back to work. No one knows who fired the first shots that led to the Ludlow Massacre, but machine gun and rifle fire forced women and children to take refuge below ground where they had dug a pit beneath their tents. Fires broke out in the tent city. By early the next morning, the colony that was once covered with hundreds of tents was now charred rubble. The bodies of two women and 11 children were found huddled beneath one of the burned tents, victims of asphyxiation. In addition, nine other men on both sides and two youngsters were found dead.  The death toll continued for days after in other camps, until Federal Troops moved in to restore order. The strike ended without resolution in December of the same year.
Being a coal miner was a hard, short life. Mostly they lived in squalor, the miners here were paid in company script, not cash. That made them spend the script in high-priced company stores, forced to pay the high rent for company housing.
In 1918, the stone monument was built on the site by the UMW, the town was deserted in the 1950's and the Ludlow site was added to the National Historic Register in 1986. Today, you can walk down a flight of steps into the pit below ground, where I assume, the 13 bodies were found. There is the nice UMW monument here and today, which happens to be the 102nd Anniversary of the Massacre, someone had left flowers on the monument in remembrance. Read the signage outside the fence for more facts about the area.
Otherwise the site is fenced with picnic tables under a roof, there is an old coal car, and a large, empty parking lot. The tent city once covered about 40 acres of the emptiness here. Most of the remains of the community of 1,000 people are now gone.
You can find the town of Ludlow along I-25, 15 miles north of Trinidad at exit 27.
My Road Trip had began today from Trinidad. After a quick visit to the Trinidad Visitor Center temporary office near the Bloom Mansion, it was just a 20 minute drive to Ludlow.  Then I was back on I-25 driving south to Trinidad to begin the Highway of Legends, a loop around the Spanish Peaks on highway 12 and US 160 to Walsenburg, and back north on I-25 to Castle Rock. You can read about the Highway of Legends HERE. I don't typically go visiting massacre sites, but this trip seemed to speak to me, especially in these modern times where life is mostly good. It is a good time to look back and be thankful for what we do have, and to remember those who were often violently taken from us for something we cannot even comprehend today.

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