The centennial of the Copper Miners’ Strike of 1913 has been observed this past year in the Keweenaw Peninsula. This labor strike lasted from July 1913 to April 1914, and to a large extent shut down or drastically curtailed copper mining in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. One of the most notable events of the strike was the Italian Hall Tragedy where 73 people, the majority of them children, lost their lives on Christmas Eve.
The events of that fateful day are chronicled in an expanded edition of
Death’s Door by Steve Lehto. No stranger to Copper Country, Lehto first
explored this disaster in the original version of the book which was
named a Michigan Notable Book in 2006. Since that time, he has collected
new material and photos and doubled the size of the book. He has also
served as an expert for two film documentaries about the strike and
Italian Hall Tragedy.
Lehto has also written Shortcut-the Seeberville Murders and the Dark Side
of the American Dream. This book details the tragic events surrounding
mine security harassment of immigrant miners near Seeberville. When the
harassment escalates, two innocent people are left dead.
Film makers Louis Galdieri and Ken Ross were introduced to the Copper
Miners’ Strike by the Woody Guthrie ballad "1913 Massacre." The two spent
almost ten years filming and researching background for the film by the
same name. What was created is a film that looks at the impact of the
Italian Hall tragedy on Calumet and the Keweenaw Peninsula using personal
interviews of several of the event’s survivors and local residents. The
song, sung by Arlo Guthrie, provides a haunting backdrop to the film.