Bill Lueders: Tragedy of 1913 still resonates

Dec 21, 2013 746

by Bill Lueders

On Dec. 24, 1913, striking mine workers gathered with their families for a Christmas party at Italian Hall in Calumet, Mich. A man wearing a pin for a citizens group aligned with the mining companies entered the crowded second-floor room and shouted "Fire!". Frightened partygoers rushed to the exit and tumbled down the stairs, on top of fallen others. Seventy-three people, including about 60 children, were killed. The community scrambled to find enough tiny caskets.

No one was ever charged for causing these deaths. A full century later, the event still haunts the Copper Country of the Upper Peninsula. "I've gotten death threats," relates Steve Lehto, a Michigan attorney who has written extensively on the tragedy. "I've been assaulted — literally — at book signings. I've had people come up to me and start screaming."

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