Western Federation of Miners/Colorado Labor Wars History

Published works:

One of the most celebrated accounts of the Cripple Creek Strike comes from Emma Langdon, heroine of the Victor Daily Record and champion of the union miners. To our modern ears, much of what she records is shocking abuse by the very powers charged with protecting the citizenry. Her account is partisan, yet wealthy in detail, and therefore it should be of interest to all. Here is Emma Langdon's The Cripple Creek Strike.

Another significant account of the period: The Labor History of the Cripple Creek District by Benjamin Rastall. Rastall considered the Cripple Creek strike unjustified, and he therefore blamed union leadership for the resulting strife. But he also found fault with the mine owners, and his account of the strike is an important one.

In 1907, Morris Friedman wrote an exposé of the Pinkerton role in suppressing unions. We are pleased to offer: The Pinkerton Labor Spy.

Harry Orchard, convicted assassin, played a dark and mysterious role in the history of Cripple Creek. After his capture and imprisonment, he wrote a "confession" which pointed responsibility for his crimes directly at the leadership of the Western Federation of Miners. There were two problems with his confession. Whether it was true or not, it was coerced. And although its avowed purpose (according to Orchard, and according to Pinkerton Agent James McParland) was to bring down an alleged "inner circle" of wrong-doers in the leadership of the Western Federation of Miners, juries acquitted every other person that Orchard confessed to conspiring with. Nonetheless, Harry Orchard's Confession and Autobiography makes for some fascinating reading.

In 1921, Dr. Richard G. Cabot, Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University, commissioned an investigation of labor spying. A series of articles based upon that investigation was published in The New Republic. That article is quite difficult to acquire in any sort of readable format. But we have it for you. Presenting: The Labor Spy — A Survey of Industrial Espionage


Victor and Cripple Creek History

Photo of the Victor Union Hall

Photo of the Victor Union Hall after the shooting, from the Rastall book.

Here are more historic photos of the Victor union hall.

The New York Times wrote a newspaper account of events in 1904, when the union was driven out.

There is a comprehensive overview of the Colorado Labor Wars on Wikipedia:


Harry Orchard assassinated former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg. A Steunenberg descendant maintains a blog about the history, the impact on the family, and other relevant information:


image of picks and a lantern