Rocky Mountain Fuel Company

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The Rocky Mountain Fuel Company was a coal mining company located in Colorado, operating mines in Louisville, Lafayette, and other locations north and west of Denver.[1] The company was founded in 1890[2] by John J. Roche to supply coal to sugar beet factories.[3] During the 1930s, the company was the second-largest producer of coal by volume in the state of Colorado.[3] However, the company was severely impacted by the Great Depression, declining productivity of local coal deposits, and the increased popularity of natural gas, and went bankrupt in 1944.[1]

The mine is notable among the many coal mines operating in the same region at the time for its leadership by Josephine Roche. She inherited a minority stock ownership from her father upon his death in 1927, becoming vice president of the company in 1928 and president by 1929.[1] Roche was a dedicated believer in labor unions, and soon after becoming president she invited the United Mine Workers of America back to Rocky Mountain Fuel Company's mines, offering top pay and taking actions to repair labor-management relations.[3] This was to the great chagrin of fellow mine owners, who broke the unions in 1914 after years of intense and often violent disputes, culminating in events such as the Columbine Mine and Ludlow Massacres.[3] Roche's pro-labor policies, however, were effective - within a few years, the company's productivity per worker was the best in the state.[4] After leaving the company in 1934 to enter politics, Roche returned in 1937, but even with the active support of her workers she was unable to save the company, which folded in 1944.[1] The company was ordered by bankruptcy court to liquidate assets and all mines ceased operation but the liquidation was not completed. Roche continued in control of the defunct company and the remaining assets and moved to Washington, D.C. Roche became president of Rocky Mountain Fuel Company in 1950 and maintained control of the company's non-liquidated assets until her death in 1976.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Tillie Fong (July 13, 1999). "Capitalist and Humanitarian". Rocky Mountain News. 
  2. ^ a b Conarroe, Carolyn (2001). Coal Mining in Colorado's Northern Field. Louisville, Colo. pp. 51–52. ISBN 0-9711073-1-9. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Rocky Mountain Gesture". Time. September 7, 1931. 
  4. ^ Carl Ubbelohde; Duane A. Smith; Maxine Benson (2006). A Colorado History. Pruett Publishing. ISBN 9780871089427.