Louisville, Colorado

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Louisville (pronounced /ˈluːɪsvɪl/) is a Home Rule Municipality in Boulder County, Colorado, United States. The population was 18,937 at the 2000 census. Louisville began as a rough mining community in 1877, suffered through a period of extraordinary labor violence early in the 20th century, and then, when the mines closed in the 1950s, made a transition to suburban residential community.


Early history

The town of Louisville dates back to the start of the Welch Mine in 1877, the first coal mine in an area of Boulder and Weld counties known as the Northern Coalfield. The town was named for Louis Nawatny, a local landowner who platted his land and named it for himself. Incorporation came several years later, in 1882.[5]

The Northern Coalfield proved to be highly productive, and eventually some 30 different mines operated within the current boundaries of Louisville, though not all at the same time. During the years of peak production (1907–09) twelve mines were in operation in Louisville, including the Acme Mine whose two million tons of coal came from directly beneath the center of town. The presence of many independent mining companies in Louisville saved the town from becoming a "company town", wholly owned and dominated by a single mining company.[5]

Coal from the Northern Coalfield was sub-bituminous (low grade) and could not be transported long distances because of problems with self-combustion. Mining generally took place in winter months since that was the period that demanded fuel for heating. During the summers the miners played in local baseball leagues, with the home field named "Miners Field."

A great deal of mythology has arisen around the stories of tunnels that connected saloons throughout the city, but these have proven to be unfounded and undocumented. Instead, during labor conflicts many citizens found refuge in dirt basements to avoid errant bullets being fired from mine compounds into the city. From 1910–14 the Northern Colorado Coalfields were in the midst of a strike by the United Mine Workers of America and the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company based on working conditions, pay, and working hours. When miners walked out on the Hecla Mine (northeast) of Louisville the company hired the Baldwin Felts Detective Agency to guard the mine compound. A machine gun and spotlight were placed in a tower on the Hecla property and, when miners took out their frustration by shooting their guns at the compound, the detectives responded by returning their fire by randomly firing at the town.[5]

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