|Western Federation of Miners hall, Victor,1903.|
In my young newspaper reporter days, I did my part for Cripple Creek and Victor.
At the time, I was covering both the gold-mining boomlet of the early 1980s and also some Colorado labor history, such as the activities of the Western Federation of Miners in the early 1900s.
They did not make it into the book, but I had a couple of woo-woo experiences in Cripple Creek and in the nearby ghost town of Goldfield of my own.
In one of them, I was walking into faded glory of the 1904 Teller County Courthouse to cover a hearing about leakage from a cyanide heap-leaching operation killing some horses. Just ordinary reportorial stuff.
I had never entered that building before. At the foot of the staircase leading up to the courtrooms, I almost had a panic attack. I was sure that I was walking up to my doom — but I wasn't "me."
In the second, I was leaving Victor and decided to drive through the site of the mining town of Goldfield, "a strong union town," instead of back via Cripple Creek on the way to Colorado Springs and the newspaper office.
The scene out the windshield was 1980 or 1981 Goldfield, which is to say, not much. But to my ears and inner senses, it was all shouting and turbulence and emotion of the 1894 miners' strike, when the Cripple Creek police shot down the Goldfield constables, mines were dynamited, the militia was called out, and gunfights flared between miners and sheriff's deputies back by the mine owners.
It was like being in two places at once, one foot in the past and one foot in the now. The experience lasted less than minute but left me feeling emotionally exhausted.
That strike was just the beginning of the Colorado Labor Wars, when things got even worse.
Bad times—more or less swept under the rug of history now. Now we hear only of a street vendor selling "hot waffles to miners, railroad passengers and barflies."