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Our secret history

Long Story Short



Weeks ago, knowing that the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre was approaching and with an eye toward our coverage of it (which starts here), I took a drive one sunny morning down the highway to Ludlow. I thought I would get inspired by the place, even just by one stray detail, but that didn't happen. Somehow there just wasn't enough there that met my eye.

I think it's because, as I discovered, the Ludlow Massacre is just one incident in the broader and even less understood Colorado Coalfield War. Today, knowledge of that is only really found in archives, letters and books.

One theme that came through in my cursory look at some of those materials is the irony of everyone back then calling everyone else an outsider in southern Colorado — the labor firebrand Mother Jones is an outside agitator, the coal-mine-owning Rockefellers are East Coast capitalists, and many of the miners are recent arrivals from Italy, Greece and Japan.

It reminded me of Matt Bors' one-panel cartoon that shows two Native Americans on a reservation listening to an announcer on the radio saying non-white babies now outnumber white babies in the U.S. for the first time — to which one of the men says, "Second."

This land has been made and remade in a violent quest for authenticity and profit. The hills and plains only look docile or empty. History completes them.

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