Western history Western Travel

Remember the Ludlow Massacre

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Cattle graze at the site of Ludlow's tent city

My spring calendar has two dates related to Mrs. J.J. “Margaret” Brown, the inspiration of this Unsinkable blog site. One event will be a Women’s History gathering at the Molly Brown House Museum 5:30-7:30 on Wednesday, March 23. The other will be my presentation, “Red Hot Activism: Molly Brown Style” at the Aurora History Museum, during their lunchtime gathering on Wednesday, February 16.  I’m looking forward to both, and am happy to revisit this interesting topic and fascinating biographical character.

Building remains at the former site of Ludlow

People often forget or overlook that there was more substance to Margaret Brown than her heroic actions during the sinking of the Titanic. She was an activist in the true sense of the word, helping struggling families in mining camps, lending First Aid assistance during World War I, and even ran briefly for the U.S. Senate. Mrs. Brown was also moved into action upon hearing about the uprising and ensuing disaster in the Ludlow Mining Camp, near Trinidad in Southern Colorado. Immigrant coal miners went on strike for passable wages and safer working conditions. On April 14, 1920, tempers flared and militia guards opened gunfire on the strikers, setting fire to the tent city in which their families were hiding. All possessions were gone, along with the lives of four men, two women, and eleven children.

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A moving memorial in Ludlow

If you are driving south on I-25 in Colorado toward New Mexico, take a moment to pull off the road at Ludlow and visit the memorial. If you dare, enter the bunker where women and children suffocated while hiding from fire and violence. When she heard of the uprising and disaster at Ludlow, Mrs. Brown cancelled travel plans in order to aid the victims. She gathered and delivered food, clothing, and first aid supplies to mining families left without possessions or shelter. In the newspaper, she stated, “I am here to relieve the suffering on both sides in this industrial war.” Working conditions and pay eventually improved, but at a terrible cost during the Ludlow Massacre.

Read more interesting facts about Margaret Brown in my book, Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story.

Joyce B. Lohse, 2/3/11