“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Ludlow in Kenton County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)

The 1894 Strike

— Ludlow Station —

The 1894 Strike Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 22, 2021
1. The 1894 Strike Marker
Inscription.  (By Dave Schroeder.) Ludlow became a railroad town and grew prosperous. The economic depression of 1893, however, brought much if this prosperity to a halt. Two of Ludlow’s biggest employers were the Southern Railroad and the Pullman Car Repair Shops. Due to the Depression, the average Pullman employee had his wages reduced by 25%. Not able to meet the needs of their families or pay their mortgages, these employees went on strike on May 10, 1894 in Chicago. On the following day, George M. Pullman was forced to close his Chicago plant. At first, the Pullman employees n Ludlow continued to work. Pullman workers, however, were members of the American Railway Union (ARU), which represented over 150,000 railroad workers in the country.

In late June, ARU officials encouraged the 136 employees of the Ludlow Pullman shops to strike. Many employees of the Southern Railroad in Ludlow also walked off the job in sympathy. Eventually, the ARU declared a general strike. The strike crippled the national railroad system.

Hundreds of Ludlow families were without an income. Officials of the Southern Railroad hired replacement workers to keep the railroad in operation and also acquired a corps of federal marshals to patrol the Ludlow yards. The residents of Ludlow were not pleased with the presence of the marshals in town. “There is in Ludlow a strong feeling against permitting the deputies to patrol its streets with Winchester rifles conspicuously displayed.” As a result, Ludlow residents began wearing white ribbons on their clothing
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to declare their support for the strikers.

In July 1894, President Cleveland sent federal troops to stop the destruction of property and violence in Chicago. On July 7, the federal troops were attacked and responded with gunfire. At least 7 strikers were killed and more than twenty were injured. Violence in Chicago greatly concerned strikers in Ludlow. Enthusiasm for the strike began to decline in mid-July. A number of Ludlow workers began returning to their jobs.

By early August 1894, Ludlow Mayor R. H. Fleming began encouraging all the strikers to return to work. Many chose to do so. Returning to work, however, would not be an easy task. The Southern and most other railroad refused to hire back many of their former employees. The former strikers claimed that they had been blacklisted. Legal action proved unsuccessful and a number of the Ludlow strikers lost their homes. Many were forced to find work in other cities. Mayor Fleming stated, “over one hundred families, besides a number of unmarried men, who had derived a livelihood from the railroad company, but who were refused reinstatement in their former positions, have moved away from the city.” He continued, “during and following the strike, our building associations were drained by withdrawals, over $75,000 being thus paid out.”
Erected 2018. (Marker Number 3.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Labor UnionsRailroads & Streetcars. A significant historical date for this entry is May 10, 1894.
Location. 39° 5.667′ N, 84° 32.641′ W. Marker is in Ludlow, Kentucky, in Kenton County. Marker is on Elm Street (Kentucky Route 8) east of Locust Street when traveling west. Touch for map.
The 1894 Strike Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 22, 2021
2. The 1894 Strike Marker
Marker is at or near this postal address: 51 Elm St, Covington KY 41016, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Decline (here, next to this marker); The Development of the Railroad in Ludlow (a few steps from this marker); Ludlow Blooms (within shouting distance of this marker); Elmwood Hall (approx. ¼ mile away); Somerset Hall (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Price Hill Incline (approx. one mile away in Ohio); Cincinnati Union Terminal (approx. 1.1 miles away in Ohio); From the Farewell Address of George Washington (approx. 1.1 miles away in Ohio). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ludlow.
More about this marker. Four interpretive panels have been mounted on the railings of the Ludlow Viewing Platform for railroad fans, a covered elevated platform that includes an elevator from the parking area to the platform. The platform is at the level of the tracks just south of the Ohio River railroad bridge. The platform shares the parking lot with the Ludlow Police station and the Ludlow Historic Society Heritage Museum. Parking is free and it appears that the lighted platform is open 24 hours a day.
Also see . . .  Wikipedia Entry for the Pullman Strike.
The nationwide railroad boycott that lasted from May 11 to July 20, 1894, was a turning point for US labor law. It pitted the American Railway Union (ARU) against the Pullman Company, the main railroads, the main labor unions, and the federal government of the United States under President Grover Cleveland. The strike and boycott shut down much of the nation’s freight and passenger traffic west of Detroit, Michigan. ...

[Eugene V.] Debs and the ARU called a massive
Ludlow Kentucky Train Viewing Platform image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 22, 2021
3. Ludlow Kentucky Train Viewing Platform
This interpretive panel is to the right of the photographer on the far end of the platform.
boycott against all trains that carried a Pullman car. It affected most rail lines west of Detroit and at its peak involved some 250,000 workers in 27 states. ...

Thirty people were killed in riots in Chicago alone. Historian David Ray Papke, building on the work of Almont Lindsey published in 1942, estimated another 40 were killed in other states. Property damage exceeded $80 million. The federal government obtained an injunction against the union, Debs, and other boycott leaders, ordering them to stop interfering with trains that carried mail cars. ...

When the strike ended, the railroads fired and blacklisted all the employees who had supported it. ...

In 1894, in an effort to conciliate organized labor after the strike, President Grover Cleveland and Congress designated Labor Day as a federal holiday. Legislation for the holiday was pushed through Congress six days after the strike ended.
(Submitted on August 31, 2021.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 31, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 31, 2021, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 263 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 31, 2021, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.

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Mar. 3, 2024