by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — Progress has been made in putting together the Miner’s Museum, but there’s still a long way to go.
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was the first to become involved with the project. The Southern Colorado Coal Miners Memorial branched off from the chamber and formed a nonprofit so they could continue work on the memorial and museum exclusively. Yolanda and Mike have, over the past 20 years, helped to raise and spend around $150,000 for the project.
Support for the museum is also coming in from the United Mine Workers Association. The UMWA relocated to Trinidad from Denver several years ago and, according to the Region Four Organizing Director Bob Butero, is very supportive of the Coal Miners Museum.
“There is a rich and long history of coal mining here. And the incident at Ludlow was one of the events that led to workers gaining the right to organize. The museum will show and teach about how coal mining was done in the past and how it’s done today,” Butero said.
The name of the memorial has been changed from the Downtown Mini Park to the Coal Miners Memorial Park. It is on land originally donated by the City of Trinidad.
The memorial is on the northwest corner of Convent and Main streets in downtown Trinidad. The statue is of three miners loading coal into a coal car, which sits atop a dias that has the names of the 90 miners who lost their lives in the mines etched in granite on the four cardinal sides. These are the names of those who’ve lost their lives to cave-ins and gas build-ups in the mines.
The miners in Las Animas County and the Raton Basin came from over 100 countries, spoke about 400 different languages, and worked in the late 1800s through the mid-1900s.
Next to the memorial dias is a canary in a bird cage with a fountain. The building adjacent is the proposed location of the museum.
The exterior wall of the museum that faces out toward the memorial will have a mural painted on it by artist Lindsey Hand for a cost of $15,000 to $20,000.
About $100,000 more is needed to complete the museum phase of the project. $50,000 alone is needed to repair the building. When finished, it will contain artifacts from local area miners and their families.
The center of the exhibit will be nine portraits of Ludlow by artist Ben Johnson along with work by Linsey Hand and numerous other local artists.
Hand painted her impression of photos from Ludlow, adding color to the black and white of the monochrome prints. She also wants to establish a permanent display of nine photographs at the museum for a cost of around $40,000.
On Sept 1, in a statement to the Trinidad City Council, Cy Michaels of the Trinidad Tourism board asked the council to consider entering a negotiation with Hand for a city funded down payment so the mural part of the project might get started.
The memorial site is one of the most visited sites in the city. People from all over the country as well as many from other parts of the world have visited Trinidad and photographed the monument. “It’s a major plus here for the county. We need to celebrate that heritage. There is a lot of tradition and history here,” Butero said.
Dream of a Miner’s Museum a long time coming
by Bill Knowles