Buena Vista - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

May 11, 2014

Buena Vista

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YOU REMEMBER I told you of the violence that ran through the mine industry here? Well, I looked as I rode for Buena Vista. If it still exists, it must be on the other side of the water because I saw no trace

It was here that a gun battle between miners and strikebreakers on 29 Nov 1874 killed 10 people when miners stopped work at the Armstrong Coal Works. They'd been asking, for three months, for another four cents an hour. Armstrong not only refused to negotiate but locked the miners out and brought in 200 scabs from New York. Most barely spoke English.

Local people sided with the miners and ostracised the “temporary employees”, as they were euphemistically called, and shops refused to serve them. The hostility led to violence.

Industrial art beside the Allegheny Passage
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Several scabs were one night thrown out of a tavern and things boiled over. Snipers on both sides of the river traded gunfire. More shoot-outs followed but there were few casualties. Then five strikebreakers came into town looking for a fight. The strikers stabbed one and badly injured another. Next morning the injured came back, to find a doctor. The strikers were waiting. They ambushed them, opened fire and forced the strikebreakers to retreat. Rumours began that the scabs planned to burn down Buena Vista.

The villagers chased the strikebreakers and caught them as they waded across the water to safety. Nearly 60 guns opened fire. Three strikebreakers died. Both sides took up siege positions on opposite banks. Then the villagers charged on horses. The strikebreakers took the first train next day. Seven men were dead, 30 wounded. More died from wounds. No one was prosecuted. An arbitrator gave the strikers a two-cent an hour increase and the miners returned to work.

The Armstrong Works continued until a fire wrecked it in 1902.

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