Company Towns

Company camps or "coal" towns dotted the southern Colorado landscape in the late1800s and early 1900s. In so-called "closed towns," companies like the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) owned most of the property and businesses. The coal companies supplied miners and their families with needed goods and services, often at a profit to themselves.  Coal companies considered miners and their families who sought goods and services outside the isolated coal camps disloyal to the company. 

Coal company towns consisted of ethnically diverse populations.  By 1900, the CF&I payroll listed thirty-two nationalities, and twenty-seven different languages could be heard in Colorado coal company towns. Italians, the largest single ethnic group, worked alongside Poles, Croats, Greeks, Russians, Germans, Hispanic Americans, Mexican Nationals, and African Americans. 

Object Images

Archaeologists found a variety of coal mining tools in the excavations at the Ludlow Tent Colony and the coal company town Berwind. The objects on display here represent the main tools used by coal miners during this era.

Check Tag

Each coal miner had a number and a set of these metal tags. Miners used these tags to indicate who was below ground in the mine and to mark the coal cars they sent to the surface. The coal companies paid miners by the weight of coal they produced in a day. This kind of system was implemented in many mines.

Miner's Head Lamp

By 1913, safety lamps that did not require an open flame were available. However, this lamp worked with an open flame and would have been a significant safety hazard to the miner who used it. Look closely, the wick is still inside.

Pick Ax Head

The coal companies required miners to provide many of their own tools when working in the coal mines. The strikers brought tools, such as this pick ax, with them to the tent colony.



Company Town Images

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