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Coeur d'Alene Mining Insurrection: Topics in Chronicling America

In 1892, Idaho miners strike over wages. Mine owners respond by hiring non-union workers. This guide provides access to material related to the "Coeur d'Alene Mining Insurrection" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

Illustration of the town of Wardner where "the Bunker Hill mill was blown up, is the one from which smoke is rising." May 3, 1899. The Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, UT), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Violence erupts between union workers, protesting wage reductions and increased hours, and company guards at a mine in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on July 11, 1892. These riots resulted in several deaths and the declaration of martial law by the Governor of Idaho. In 1899, escalating violence at a Coeur d'Alene area mine again required military intervention after workers destroyed a valuable piece of machinery. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

April 1892 Union workers in the Coeur d'Alene mining region of northern Idaho go on strike over reduced wages. Mine owners respond by hiring nonunion workers and armed guards.
July 11, 1892 Riots break out between union workers and company guards. Several men are killed, and the nonunion workers surrender. The governor of Idaho institutes martial law, and the National Guard is sent to restore order.
July 15, 1893 Union officers, members and sympathizers are arrested. Nonunion workers return to the mines and are provided with military protection.
1893 The Western Federation of Miners is formed.
July 3, 1894 John Kneebone, a nonunion miner who had testified against the union miners in a trial following the uprising, is murdered.
April 29, 1899 Union workers seize a railroad train and take it to Wardner, Idaho. At the Wardner mine, the workers detonate over 50 boxes of dynamite under one of the world’s largest mining concentrators, destroying the device.
May 4, 1899 Federal troops are sent to the Coeur d’Alene region. Several union members are arrested.
November 1899 10 union workers are convicted and three are acquitted on charges of conspiracy and of stopping a U.S. mail train.