How Much Do You Know About Wyoming’s Early Socialist Movement?
Rock Springs Wyoming, 1894.
The local coal mines, owned by the Union Pacific, were already having problems due to a violent attack on Chinese workers.
Union Pacific needed to find labor.
These new arrivals were primarily Socialist, in their political standing.
Those Slovenians arriving in Wyoming were in the state for work. They believed that they would be able to make enough money to take back home and help their families.
These people had arrived because the Union Pacific was advertising, in Europe, for new workers, after having mascaraed and driven off the Chinese workers.
The old Wyoming China town had been burnt down and a new shanty town was built on top of it for the incoming Slovenian and Croatian workers.
The photo below is of the old Union Pacific Headquarters, Rock Springs Wyoming.
At that time in Rock Springs the Union Pacific owned the entire town, including all of the property, all of the stores, and even the police.
There was no chance to make money, as was promised.
The Union Pacific made sure that every worker was in debt by their first paycheck.
Rent, food, everything was so highly-priced that a worker would end up owing the company money, just to survive, rather than making money.
The Slovenians began the Slavic Socialist Organization.
They worked to bring together all people working in the area, no matter what country they came from, Irish to Croatian, Slavic, and more.
People needed to organize, and this system seemed to make sense to them, at the time.
At that time Socialists in Wyoming might get 7% of the vote in a state-wide election.
That was a big number at the time.
You can learn more about this early Wyoming Socialist movement in the video below.