Before You Go: Ludlow Coal Massacre Site

Monument to the Victims of the Ludlow Coal Massacre
Monument to the Victims of the Ludlow Coal Massacre. Beverly & Pack

In the decades before World War I, industrialists such as John D. Rockefeller had become millionaires; by the early years of the 20th century labor unrest blossomed in the United States, particularly in the coal mine industry. Strikes grew into riots occurring throughout the US, and then into full scale battles, the most famous of which was in 1914, the Ludlow Coal Massacre, when Colorado National Guard opened fire on a tent city of striking miners and their families in Ludlow Colorado.

Basic Facts

On April 20, 1914, Colorado National Guardsmen attacked a tent colony of 1,200 striking miners at Ludlow, Colorado, looting and burning the colony. Twenty-five people were killed. This was the worst of many such skirmishes between the government and the miners in Coal Field War of 1914, which lasted for seven months.


    Battle Statistics

    The battle lasted 14 hours and included a machine gun and 200 armed militia; the tent city was destroyed. Of the 25 people killed, three were militia men, twelve were children, and one was an uninvolved passerby. The strikers were mostly Greek, Italian, Slav, and Mexican workers; the militia were sent by the Governor of Colorado and ultimately by John D. Rockefeller, owner of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company.


      Recent Research and Findings

      Dean Saitta and Randall MacGuire have been conducting archaeological investigations at Ludlow for the past several years, using innovative techniques combining remote sensing and historic photographs.

      Several professional articles have been published, and are listed on the Colorado Coal Field War Project Site.


      Site Photographs

      The Santa Fe Trails site has a collection of photographs, including some historic shots, of the site monument and ruins. The Colorado Coal Field War Project has several historic photographs of the miners' strike and the events that led up to the massacre as well as the ruins of the tent city immediately after the massacre.

      Archaeologist Mark Walker has a Flickr page with several photographs of the archaeological site and artifacts.


      Learning More on the Internet

      The best source of information is the Colorado Coal Field War Project from Binghmamton University, Fort Lewis, and the University of Denver. The Public Broadcasting Service has included information on Ludlow in its American Experience series.


      Sources for More Information on the Ludlow Archaeology Project

      McGuire, Randall H. and Paul E. Reckner. 2003. Building a working-class archaeology: The Colorado coal field war project. Industrial Archaeology Review 25(2):83-95.

      Walker, Mark 2003 The Ludlow Massacre: Class, Warfare, and Historical Memory in Southern Colorado. Historical Archaeology 37(3):