Bunker Hill Mining Company

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The Bunker Hill Mining Company was a mining company with facilities in Wardner, Idaho and surrounding areas.

History[edit]

When the mining boom began in the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho mining district, the area was lightly inhabited. The Bunker Hill and the Sullivan companies built a boarding house for miners in 1887.[1]

Cave-in[edit]

The office of the mining inspector during the period 1893 to 1909 was occupied by men who were closely identified with the industry. A cave-in at the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mine took the lives of three men, shortly after the first state mining inspector took office in 1893. A coroner's jury investigated the incident and issued a report which stated, in part,[2]

We earnestly and emphatically call upon Mine Inspector Haskins to visit these mines immediately and demonstrate that he is willing to enforce the law if there should be any infraction thereof, and that he wears not the collar of any individual or corporation...[3]

The Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mine manager commented upon annual inspections of the enormous mining complex, declaring that the visits were "rather a perfunctory affair" which accomplished little. He argued that an employer would never run an unsafe mine because economic considerations prevented it.[4]

A stronger inspection law was passed in 1909.[2]

1892 labor unrest[edit]

During a strike, a shooting war occurred at two nearby mines, the Gem mine and the Frisco mine in Burke-Canyon. After union miners captured those two mines, hundreds of union men also forced the closure of the Bunker Hill mine at Wardner. Union miners had closed down three major mining facilities that had been using replacement workers. Federal troops were ordered to the area.

1899 labor unrest[edit]

In 1899 the Bunker Hill Mining Company had paid more than $600,000 in dividends, and was considered profitable.[5] Miners working in the Bunker Hill and Sullivan mines were receiving fifty cents to a dollar less per day than other miners.[6] The Bunker Hill Mining Company operated the only mines in the district that were not unionized, and the only mines that paid less than union scale of $3.50 per day.[7] The Bunker Hill company employed Pinkerton labor spies to identify union members, who were immediately fired.[7]

The Western Federation of Miners launched an organizing drive at the Bunker Hill Mining Company.

After declaring that the company would rather "shut down and remain closed twenty years" than to recognize the union, Superintendent Albert Burch fired seventeen suspected union members. He demanded that all other union men collect their back pay and quit.[5]

On April 29, 1899, 250 union miners seized a train in Burke and drove it to Wardner, the site of a $250,000 mill of the Bunker Hill mine.

The miners set off three thousand pounds of dynamite, destroying the mill. Two men were killed,[8] one of them a non-union miner, the other a union man accidentally shot by other union miners.[9]

The eight hour day had been a major issue for the Western Federation of Miners throughout the West.[10] In 1900, after the Western Federation of Miners had been crushed in Coeur d'Alene, the Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mine operated with a ten hour shift, seven days a week.[11]

Years later Harry Orchard, who had assassinated former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg, claimed to have helped to light the dynamite charges at the Bunker Hill mill.[12] However, two Coeur d'Alene residents testified that Orchard was with them in Mullan, Idaho playing poker when the mill was dynamited in Wardner.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mark Wyman, Hard Rock Epic, Western Miners and the Industrial Revolution, 1860-1910, 1979, page 65.
  2. ^ a b Mark Wyman, Hard Rock Epic, Western Miners and the Industrial Revolution, 1860-1910, 1979, page 192.
  3. ^ Mark Wyman, Hard Rock Epic, Western Miners and the Industrial Revolution, 1860-1910, 1979, page 192, citing Coeur d'Alene Miner, Feb. 24, 1894, page 1.
  4. ^ Mark Wyman, Hard Rock Epic, Western Miners and the Industrial Revolution, 1860-1910, 1979, page 194.
  5. ^ a b J. Anthony Lukas, Big Trouble, 1997, page 111.
  6. ^ Labor's Greatest Conflicts, Emma F. Langdon, 1908, page 16.
  7. ^ a b Peter Carlson, Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, 1983, page 54.
  8. ^ Roughneck—The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, pages 53-54.
  9. ^ J. Anthony Lukas, Big Trouble, 1997, pages 113-114.
  10. ^ Peter Carlson, Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, 1983, pages 203-205.
  11. ^ Mark Wyman, Hard Rock Epic, Western Miners and the Industrial Revolution, 1860-1910, 1979, page 220.
  12. ^ Peter Carlson, Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, 1983, page 114.
  13. ^ Peter Carlson, Roughneck: The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, 1983, page 124.

Further reading[edit]

  • Aiken, Katherine G. (August 1993). "'It May Be Too Soon to Crow': Bunker Hill and Sullivan Company Efforts to Defeat the Miners' Union, 1890-1900". The Western Historical Quarterly 24 (3): 309–331. JSTOR 970753. 
  • Aiken, Katherine G. (Summer 2004). "'Not Long Ago a Smoking Chimney Was a Sign of Prosperity': Corporate and Community Response to Pollution at the Bunker Hill Smelter in Kellogg, Idaho". Environmental History Review 18 (2): 67–86. JSTOR 3984793. 
  • Aiken, Katherine G. (2005). Idaho's Bunker Hill: the rise and fall of a great mining company, 1885-1981. University of Oklahoma. ISBN 978-0-8061-3682-0. 

External links[edit]