Italian Hall Tragedy
By the end of December, the miner's strike had been waged for 5 long months, with no end in sight. The mining companies and their supporters were holding firm in their resistance to the WFM, while the union was still somewhat solid in its position.
To temporarily set aside their cares, a group of union members planned a Christmas eve celebration for their children at the Italian Hall on Seventh Street in Calumet. I can only assume that the activities that evening must have been the most fun these children had since the start of the strike. Unfortunately, the excitement turned to tragedy as someone, his identity never learned, cried FIRE. As the children and adults panicked, many worked their way towards the stairwell. The first unlucky souls quickly realized the doors at the bottom would not open. Were they locked? Was somebody holding them closed?
It is hard to comprehend, but 73 men, women and children died in that staircase. Some were crushed, others died from suffocation. Can you imagine the shock of the rescuers when they finally pried open the doors? As they pulled bodies up and out of the staircase?
The photos here can only hint at the anguish that existed throughout the Copper Country on Christmas Day, 1913...