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Riots, Protests, and Other Civil Disturbances
Strike at McCloud, June 1909

Toward the end of May 1909, in the town of McCloud, Siskiyou County, a controversy between the McCloud River Lumber Company and about 700 of its employees, nearly all of
whom,were foreign born, developed into a strike which threatened to become serious.

On May 31st, the Sheriff of Siskiyou County, at the request of the lumber company, entered the company plant with six special deputies. They were immediately surrounded by strikers who ordered them to leave the plant. The strikers told the sheriff that any persons who attempted to work there would be killed. The sheriff, believing that if he resisted and attempted to arrest the strike leaders the plant would be destroyed and bloodshed would ensue, withdrew.

In response to the sheriff's request for assistance, Governor J. N. Gillett directed his Adjutant General, J. B. Lauck, to inquire into the matter and advise him. The Adjutant General
sent his assistant, Colonel A. W. Bradbury, to McCloud, where he arrived by train on June 1st.

As a result of information and recommendations provided by telegrams from Colonel Bradbury, three companies of the 2d Infantry Regiment and Troop B, Cavalry, National Guard of
California, under the command of General Lauck, arrived at McCloud on June 3rd.

Under protection of the soldiers, the sheriff arrested the three principal strike leaders on June 5th. Although there was no further resistance or threats of violence after the arrival of the
National Guard, the troops remained until June 10th, at which time the sheriff was satisfied that he could control the situation.

One of the telegrams sent by Colonel Bradbury to General Lauck, as quoted in The Adjutant Generals report to the Governor for 1910, and the title of the report on the McCloud
incident as it appears in the report, will be of particular interest to students of civil rights movements, race relations and attitudes between groups of different national origins:


McCloud, California
June 2, 1909, 4 PM

General J. B. Lauck
Sacramento, California

Strikers had meeting about three-o'clock. After considerable speaking went in body to machine shops, car shops and power plant and compelled all engineers and workmen to quit work. Broke in doors of power plant, ran wood cars out and stopped firing of furnace. McCloud now without fire protection and light. Two million dollars worth of property, white people, and their homes at mercy of strikers, who seem to be beyond control of former leaders.

Sheriff cannot or will not give proper protection. I believe four or five companies should be rushed here to protect property and whites. I personally witnessed all that took place. Please advise action.

Signed: Bradbury

Source: Report of Brig Gen J. B. Lauck, The Adjutant General of California, relative to the service performed by a part of the Notional Guard of California in connection with the strike of Italians at McCloud, Siskiyou County, June 1 to 10, 1909.


The McCloud Strike of 1909 as Photographed By Charles R. Miller
By N. James Pruitt and Kate Pruitt
Reprinted by permission of the Siskiyou County Historical Society.


In the early decades of the twentieth century the American labor movement experienced a significant growth spurt. In the twenty year period after 1898, membership in the American Federation of Labor grew from less than three hundred thousand to over two million. The AFL focused on the skilled or "the upper strata of semi-skilled" leaving unskilled, for the most part, in nonunion status. Unskilled workers, however, still brought collective action to bear to try to improve their lives. In many parts of the United States, these labor conflicts were violent. Often new arrivals to the United States were the primary actors in these industrial disputes. The Socialist movement grew apace of this more radical stream of the labor movement and Theodore Roosevelt came to regard the Socialism of that era with its growing ballot strength (it peaked before World War I) as "far more ominous than any Populist or similar movement in the past."

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the "Wobblies") which formed in 1905 stood for the workers in many of these disputes. The IWW gained converts, especially in the west and among immigrants. It took control of the town of Goldfield, Nevada through labor actions in 1906-07. In Spokane, the city council passed an ordinance against street speeches, a tactic of the IWW. The Wobblies responded in 1909 with an advertisement that read, "Wanted - Men to fill the Jails of Spokane." On a designated "Free Speech Day' thousands of Wobblies were in Spokane commencing five months of action. Hundreds were arrested. The IWW conducted about thirty free speech fights between 1907-16.

In 1909 a short strike occurred in a remote region of northern California in the town of McCloud. Although this strike had no IWW involvement, the IWW took notice and subsequently became involved with the work force. The strike was in the immediate context of other violent labor disputes across the US. Besides IWW action in Spokane, these included a violent strike of street car operators in Philadelphia, a strike of Japanese farm workers in Hawaii, a work stoppage in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad machine shops and a hate strike in Atlanta in which the white union protested black workers. The media covered the McCloud strike as part of a larger story that included these strikes.

The McCloud strike involved armed immigrant workers, seizure of the town's power supply, dynamite, the state militia led by a Civil War veteran, a hated detective agency, a forest fire and ultimately successful mediation by a diplomat from a foreign country. Much of it was captured by a photographer whose pictures of that era are now enjoying a regional boom. Here is the story.

McCloud History

The town of McCloud, California, in Siskiyou County sits near the slopes of Mt. Shasta about ten miles east of Interstate 5 and 250 miles northeast of San Francisco. Today it has a population of about 1400. It is an historic small town of the west.

The Wintu Indian tribe lived in the area of Mt. Shasta in the 1700's surviving by fishing and hunting. McCloud's name appears to derive from a fur trapper employed by the Hudson Bay Company who explored the area in the 1820's. The modern era began in the 1890's when a saw mill was constructed and later acquired by the McCloud River Lumber Company (MRLC.) The company ran railroad lines into the logging sites in the forests to move logs back to the saw mill.

In 1902 five families in Minneapolis bought MRLC. In 1905 the Board of Directors hired John Queal to make the plant more productive. Queal was born in 1851. His father died when he was a child, leaving the family in some economic distress. Queal attended Iowa State University and eventually became involved in the lumber business, owning and operating lumber yards throughout the Midwest. Later, he developed other business interests including banking and insurance. He built a mansion in McCloud in 1907. In 1908, at the age of 57 he married for the first time. His contract with MRLC guaranteed his position until retirement at a time of his choosing and he stayed until his death in 1921. Under Queal the town and the mill expanded. To recruit and retain workers, the company:

Queal built a planned community, a company town that was to last for decades in the pristine California outback. Company maintenance crews efficiently repaired plumbing and provided other services to generations in McCloud. Schools were funded and the town grew.

The Strike

But labor problems developed early in Queal's tenure. The work shifts were 10-12 hours. The workweek was 6 days. By 1905 the company employed 1000. The work force in McCloud in 1909 was mainly composed of Italian immigrants and most had negligible English skills. In this regard, MRLC's work force typified many industrial settings across the United States which by 1910 had a greater percentage of immigrants than any time before or since.

These Italians were part of a great Diaspora. In the forty year period ending in 1926 about nine million emigrated to the United States and several million more to other countries. Italy, though an ancient region, was a new country. It had been established as a kingdom through warfare and conquest by 1861 without possession of Rome which was acquired about ten years later from Napoleon III. Southern Italy was impoverished with few educational opportunities. Peasants worked the land or sulfur mines. Tuberculosis was common and whole areas had fallen to lawlessness. Life in the United States was difficult for Italians as it was for many immigrants. Uniquely in McCloud, they gained influential allies.

On May 27 1909 a strike broke out and lasted until June 8. The strike was indigenous. There was no contract and not even a union. The issues in the strike included wages, prices at the company store, alleged insulting treatment of Italian workers, and the selling price of cabins. This last complaint was key. The Italians alleged, in effect, that the only possible buyer of their homes in a company town was MRLC which would not give them a fair price, effectively trapping them in McCloud.

The Italians claimed discrimination at the company store. They claimed the company managers called them "Dagos" and "Wops." The company denied discriminatory pricing and racial taunts. The company was supported by an Italian store owner but he may have been compromised as he later sold his farm to the company at an inflated price.

As for wages, the workers said a wage increase had been promised upon the election of William Howard Taft who had, in fact, won the 1908 presidential election. Wages averaged $1.75 per day and the workers sought a $.25 per day increase. Queal responded at an open meeting that, "You send $50,000 a year back to Italy. Doesn't that show that you not only can live on your wages, but save money, as well?"

In McCloud at the time was a photographer named Charles R. Miller. Miller had come to northern California in about 1900. He settled in McCloud, first in a tent with his wife and children and later in a house off Main Street. Miller was born in Iowa in 1875 and grew up in Portland, Oregon. In McCloud he made his living photographing logging camps and natural scenes for post cards. Miller became one of the district's best known photographers, especially at logging camps. His pictures captured some of the key strike events.

Contemporary news accounts illustrate an event that moved from the realm of a traditional labor strike of the era to strange twists to a good conclusion due to the actions of leaders on all sides, very much including the military authorities.

When the strike began the San Francisco Chronicle reported that "there have need several strikes in recent years by Italians and they usually gained their point, because it is almost impossible to get Americans to do such work as they are employed on." The San Francisco Call hoped for an amicable settlement.

On May 29 about 700 men were on strike. A group of about two hundred attempted to commandeer a train going from McCloud to one of the logging sites in order to persuade loggers there to stop working. They were blocked by Sheriff Charles Howard of Siskiyou County and 26 armed deputies. The strikers then bought tickets to board the train. The news reports asserted that many loggers stopped work out of intimidation. These workers were largely Americans.

The strikers took to mass meetings in town and at company headquarters. (See Pictures #1 and #2.) On May 31, 1909 the workers occupied one company building. The Sheriff confronted them with six deputies. The strikers ordered them to leave the plant or the machinery would be destroyed. The strikers also said they would kill anyone who attempted to work. The Sheriff withdrew.

Howard then telegrammed California Governor James N. Gillett. Gillett (1860-1937) had been elected to office by defeating at the 1906 state nominating convention a progressive Republican incumbent who had angered the railroad interests. A photograph of Gillett with party bosses at the convention had appeared in the San Francisco Call with the caption, "The Shame of California." His selection at the convention lent force to the drive for popular primaries in California. He was known as a political ally of the Southern Pacific Railroad and was close to business interests throughout California. He was also an advocate of restricting Japanese immigration.

Gillett responded that he would not send troops but ordered Adjutant General, Joseph. B. Lauck to be ready to move militia to McCloud and to use his own judgment. Late that day, Howard telegrammed Lauck that strikers had seized a powder house gaining access to about a ton of dynamite owned by MRLC. This was widely reported in the San Francisco papers.

Despite the reports of the dynamite, despite the reporting of labor violence from around the country of which he must have been aware, Lauck proceeded judiciously. He sent Colonel A. W. Bradbury of the California National Guard to McCloud to investigate. The Portland Oregonian reported at this time that the strikers were armed with "knives and rifles." Bradbury arrived on June 1. He discovered that the powder plant had not been seized. Bradbury's statements that first day indicated a strong desire to refrain from calling troops.

The next day frustrated Bradbury's goal of a quick settlement. Bradbury first suggested a probe to MRLC, recommending an attempt to resume operations by loading and moving cars; MRLC refused. Bradbury then suggested a negotiations meeting which he would oversee. The strikers refused to even meet with him. Late that day, the strikers paraded through McCloud. Telegraph wires were cut. Queal in turn refused to meet with the strikers and in retaliation the strikers seized the lighting plant and plunged the town in darkness including the hospital.

Governor Gillett was critical of the local sheriff for losing the power plant. "Give me 60 or so men, as this sheriff has, and I'll clean them out. I'd like to see any set of strikers chase me out of a mill as they did up there with sticks while I was clothed with the authority of a sheriff…."

On June 2 Bradbury telegrammed this report:

"Strikers had meeting about three -o'clock. After considerable speaking went in body to machine shops, car shops and power plant and compelled all engineers and workmen to quit work. Broke in doors of power plant, ran wood cars out and stopped firing of furnace. McCloud now without fire protection and light. Two million dollars worth of property, white people, and their homes at mercy of strikers, who seem to be beyond control of former leaders. Sheriff cannot or will not give proper protection. I believe four or five companies should be rushed here to protect property and whites. I personally witnessed all that took place. Please advise action."

On the basis of the officer's report, the Governor sent the militia from Sacramento under the command of Lauck.

Gillett announced, "The soldiers have been held under arms in the armories... because it was not believed that they were needed..." Armories had been constructed in major cities in the United States in the previous generation exactly for the purpose of providing a reliable basis of operations for troops in the event of labor troubles.

At 5:00 AM on June 3 about 700 Italian strikers appeared in front of the MRLC headquarters. Their spokesperson announced that they would stay in McCloud for six months if necessary. "We have money enough, and if we haven't enough, we have friends that will give us enough. If the militia arrests our ringleaders, there will be trouble."

At about noon, the troops of the state militia approached McCloud by train. According to an account published in the California Historical Society Quarterly in 1956, which relied heavily on National Guard archives, the militia was battle-ready:

"Precautions were taken to guard the train from possible violence. A few miles from McCloud, three flat cars were placed in front of the locomotive and ten national guard sharpshooters …were posted 'thereon for the purpose of protecting the train.' A fully armed soldier was placed at each window and on the platforms of several coaches. Both these and the sharpshooter detachment were ordered to fire upon anyone seen tampering with the track or the train during the remainder of the journey. Thus armed and protected, the train bearing the state troops arrived in McCloud at 12:15 p.m., June 3." (See Pictures #3 and #4.) The militia set up camp at the north end of town. (See Pictures #5 and #6.)

Lauck briefly imposed censorship on the press and he took up residence at the home of President Queal. He lifted the censorship within a few hours. (His explanation for imposing it in the first place was that he had not appreciated a new report that McCloud was under martial law.) The company, backed by the armed power of the state, bargained hard and the plant re-opened, absent the strikers. Queal said he would close the plant rather than agree to a $.25 per day increase. On June 4, Lauck set up a meeting between Queal and the strike leaders but it proved unsuccessful.

MRLC began to apply more pressure. As the San Francisco Call noted in the June 5 edition: "The labor situation here today was greatly complicated by the arrival of fifty-three men from the Thiel Detective Service Company of San Francisco. James F. Farley, former Chief of Police of Denver, was in command of the men..." Farley had an unsavory reputation with organized labor. He was known as "King of the Strikebreakers." (See Picture #7.) In response about 250 Teamsters previously unsympathetic to the strike walked off their jobs in the woods. On June 5 the strike leaders - Joseph Bianchi, Frank Levoti, Nicholas Fabiano were arrested. (See Picture #8,) Thus in a forty-eight hour period, MRLC opened the mill, brought in reinforcements beholden only to the company and effectively removed the workers' leadership. There is no contemporaneous evidence that the walk-out by the Teamsters materially affected MLRC's position.

The next day, however, the circumstances changed dramatically with the arrival of a foreign visitor. Spurred by the Italian American community in San Francisco, Italian Consul Salvatore Rocca and his attorney Ambrose Gherini arrived in McCloud. They were greeted by about 500 strikers at the train station crying "Vive Italia." Rocca and Gherini were clearly the equal of the situation and the equals of both Queal and Lauck. Rocca was an urbane Italian whose name appears later in Supreme Court records defending the interest of his county in the US. He was described in these court documents as the consul general of "the Kingdom of Italy for California, Nevada, Washington, and Alaska territory." He had been sent by Gillett with vague instructions to arbitrate the dispute in McCloud.

Gherini had graduated from Yale Law School in 1902. The newspapers noted that Gherini was "the well-known expert on international law." To the peasants of southern Italy, Rocca and Gherini were heaven-sent. Rocca refused an offer to stay at one of the manager's homes. Rocca also refused to discuss the strike with the company until he saw the jailed strike leaders. Fabiano, Lavotti and Bianchi were brought from jail. After meeting with them, Rocca issued a statement against the plant manager, Fred F. Spencer, but refrained from criticizing Queal whom he clearly perceived as his negotiating partner. Rocca brought $250,000 credit from the Italian-American Bank of San Francisco. Gherini took over representation of the jailed strike leaders. Cooling tensions, Rocca exonerated a militia member who bayoneted a striker saying it was a misunderstanding based on language He then weighed in on behalf of his countrymen: "I have made a thorough investigation of the reasons which caused the men to break with the company and the whole trouble seems to have been caused by the management." He noted the irony of people complaining that Italians underbid native workers.

Rocca worked out the settlement with Queal. The strikers would leave McCloud. Their cabins, which had been built on company-owned land, would be bought by the company. The value of these cabins was decided by arbitration on an individual basis. In the end, about two hundred cabins were purchased by MRLC at an average value was $35. (These cabins can be seen Picture #9.) According to Rocca, the workers' attitude toward their jailed leaders was that it was a matter of minor importance and in any event beyond the control of the company. The prisoners were eventually charged with a misdemeanor and fined $150-250. They paid and were released.

On June 8 the San Francisco Call reported that the governor was calling on Lauck to explain why he was staying at Queal's house. The paper also said that a forest fire was coming toward McCloud. A headline: "Town in Danger From Encroaching Flames, Started, Says Company by Strikers." Also, on June 8, the strike ended. On June 10 the troops withdrew. After the strikers left, Queal said that he would hire only Americans. However, facing a labor shortage, he began to recruit Italians again.


What happened in McCloud? The Strike of 1909 offers certain lessons one hundred years later. This paper focuses on three: the media, the diversity issues that arose and the political leadership.

First, the media - the large newspapers, the labor press and Charles Miller's photographs - played a role in the strike. it is of interest that one hundred years ago and under conditions of military occupation, the mostly foreign-born strikers received some balanced press. Although the media tended to support MRLC's position, the coverage was not monolithic. The Portland Oregonian, for example, asserted that the workers had not engaged in sabotage.

The Portland Labor Press issued pro-striker accounts and this is not insignificant given the racist attitudes of unions in other parts of the country as evidenced by the contemporaneous reports of the railway strike in Georgia. It charged that MRLC combined with other companies to hold down wages and keep up hours, took advantage of foreign labor while claiming tax benefits, and forced employees to shop at company stores. The Labor Press used extreme language: headlines like "Militia defends 'Property Rights'" and "National Guard Aids the Bosses." The paper also quoted President Queal about the press censorship, in a story it picked up from the Sacramento Bee: "I asked General Lauck to do so. He established the censorship at my request."

The major newspapers relied heavily on Charles Miller's pictures. He portrayed disciplined troops and also large groups of well-dressed strikers. The arrest of Nicholas Fabiano, Joseph Bianchi and Frank Levoti was obviously posed. Since it is clear that these workers were employed in difficult, manual work and had limited resources, it is incongruous that they were well-dressed for their arrest. They showed what is now called media-savvy when cameras were present.

Second, an issue of diversity in the United States also emerged in the McCloud strike that has very modern overtones. All the people in all of Miller's photographs appear to be white. Yet, Colonel Bradbury contrasted the Italian strikers with the white people of the town and his report was unchallenged. His report and its reception are, of course, of that era and not our own. Why were the Italians not considered white? The historian David R. Roediger has written that many different groups in the United States now considered white were not always seen as such. He has argued that whiteness is a social construct, that certain European immigrant groups "became white" after a period of "inbetweenness" in the course of establishing their role in the United States. Colonel Bradbury's report lends credence to Roediger's thesis.

The press accounts, Miller's photographs, and the non-white status of the Italians all pose interesting historical issues. An additional interesting development was the involvement of Rocca. What exactly was Salvatore Rocca doing in McCloud?

He was there at the behest of Governor Gillett. Gillett talked tough and sent the troops. But he promoted a unique process that achieved labor peace. This should be looked at in some detail and it should be placed in its historical context. On June 4, with the militia patrolling the streets of McCloud and the strike leaders in hiding, Rocca, then in San Francisco, telegrammed the Governor in Sacramento: "Noting that you have ordered several troops of the state militia to McCloud, I avail myself of, this opportunity to request that the said militia be cautioned to afford most constant protection and security to the persons of my people."

This was an unexceptional telegram and the Governor's reply was pro forma for a member of the establishment: "Any subjects of Italy who are not violating the laws of this state and need protection from violence of others will be afforded protection; will so advise Adjutant General Lauck."

But then Gillett continued:

"If you have any influence with subjects of your country who are engaged in rioting and disturbing the peace in McCloud, I wish you would exercise it and request them to desist. By doing so all trouble will be averted. From information received by me I do not apprehend that the persons of your Subjects are in danger. The only trouble existing comes from Italians who are threatening to do personal violence to others and to destroy property."

This clearly left the door open and later that night at a banquet at the Fairmont Hotel, the Governor made the following remarkable statement:

"The situation is not as serious as has been imagined and we hope to see things settled satisfactorily in a few days. I have received telegrams in Sacramento asking my concurrence in the appointment of an Italian delegate, to act as peace maker with the Italian laborers and their employers. I have given permission to the representative of the Italian consul to visit the strikers on this errand of peace. I understand that there are only four or five Italians who are leading the strike. It is because I believe that the countrymen of the strikers may deal with them in the most effective manner that I have granted them permission to arbitrate the present crisis."

In American labor history, it is difficult to find a similar example of creative public leadership. A few years before, Theodore Roosevelt had personally intervened in a coal strike but that did not involve a foreign power. In some instances in the 1920s and 1930s diplomats from Mexico got involved on behalf of farm workers unions -but the result was either ineffective or tragic. In 1933 a diplomat was murdered during a labor action by vigilantes in Central California. In McCloud, a conservative governor brought in an agent of a foreign government to take the side of immigrant strikers against one of his state's most wealthy industrialists. He did this while reading headlines in his hometown paper like "Strikers Block Georgia Mail Trains" and "Car Strike in Philadelphia"

Indeed, in other states the public authorities were hapless as reported in contemporaneous new stories. In Georgia, the primary issue in the strike was the employer's decision to hire blacks as firemen aboard the trains. Georgia Railroad strikers attacked blacks. The San Francisco Chronicle noted on May 29 that:

"...if the railroad insists on its right to hire negro firemen, it is feared that racial enmity and reprisals on negroes will be stirred up. ...There was no mistaking the depth and scope of the ill feeling against the negro (sic) firemen from one end the other of the Georgia railroad today. ...The remark of one man today may be taken as indicative of the feeling existing in the strike district: 'This is a white man's country, and we propose to keep it a white man's country if we have to do without any trains.""

This was considered "the first acute situation since the inauguration of President Taft." If so, he and the authorities failed to support the employers or the blacks and the strike was settled quickly on terms favorable to the whites. In Philadelphia the strike of street car conductors turned violent. In Hawaii, Japanese workers were indicted. Only in McCloud did enlightened leadership occur.

Further, in the homeland of the strikers and their government representative, it is inconceivable that such an approach would have been used. On the time line of history, in 1909, Italy was gearing up for a war against the Austro-Hungarian Empire and heading toward the Fascist era (In 1909 Benito Mussolini was a 26 year-old office worker with a record that included expulsion from his local church for throwing stones at congregants after Mass, expulsion from boarding school for stabbing a fellow student and vagrancy.) The US, meanwhile was gearing up for the Progressive era for which Gillett would have to be considered a precursor.

The behavior of Lauck of course, also fits the American pattern. Lauck was 62 years old at the time of the McCloud strike. He was a Civil War veteran who had enlisted at age 15. He had come west working for the Union Pacific Railroad and risen in the California National Guard to the position of Adjutant General. Lauck was well-known in California and had served in patrolling San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake where he had disciplined soldiers involved in looting. He was clearly a no-nonsense type of officer. But he showed some balance and respect for what would today be called the rights of workers. The evidence:

Finally, it is noteworthy that a settlement was reached. The McCloud strike of 1909 was a microcosm of the labor wars which threatened to cripple critical industries and redefine the United States as a class society. This strike was on the edge of violence with strikers occupying company property, attempting to take possession of dynamite and veering toward a confrontation with private police and state militia. In other communities - Spokane, Goldfield Nevada, Philadelphia, Honolulu, Atlanta - labor troubles turned violent. In McCloud, peace broke out.

The French traveler Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 1830s a major dynamic of American society. Tocqueville felt that history had fated a general equality of condition for the world. He saw participatory democracy as a social contract: everyone got a voice in the deliberations provided that each individual accepted the outcome democratically arrived at. "This popular origin, though often damaging to the wisdom of the legislation, gives it peculiar strength." Tocqueville worried that the industrial economy with its division of labor would lead to the degrading of the citizen and an aristocracy.

In the 1909 McCloud strike this tension was played out with Italian workers challenging the American order. The Italian workers - anonymous to history, bold enough to leave their homeland and come to the United States - prepared the way for others by standing up to the California power structure and reaching a dignified settlement. The workers did not make an economic breakthrough in this settlement but they did demand and receive fair prices for their houses and most left McCloud. One perceives that what they gained in the strike was intangible. They were heard. Their leader from the old country confronted management and was treated as an equal. Their grievances were noticed. The militia withdrew. The strike and its settlement were on their path to citizenship.

In the decades ahead, MRLC recovered from the strike and the town prospered. Labor troubles did not return although some eight years later, Queal reported to a major stockholder that "…we are making a great effort to keep the IWWs out of McCloud. We had four here yesterday from Portland but sent them out this morning. While we may have some IWWs in the woods do not think we have very many, and are watching the situation very closely to void trouble." The phrase "sent them out" evokes the industrial relations system of the time when not modified by public leaders like Adjutant General, Joseph. B. Lauck, veteran of Vicksburg (1862-63), the San Francisco earthquake (1906) and McCloud (1909.)

The American labor movement at this time was moving toward its great accomplishment - the written labor agreement. Written agreements "led the way from an industrial system which alternately was either despotism or anarchy to a constitutional form of government in industry." Although written labor agreements did not reach McCloud for a few decades, they eventually did through the International Woodworkers of America.

In the 1940s McCloud and the rest of Siskiyou County joined with surrounding counties and some in Oregon to petition for separate statehood. The movement for the "State of Jefferson" continued until the outbreak of World War II when its leaders voluntarily ceased all activities to put their efforts behind the war effort. In 1963 U.S. Plywood Company purchased the mill, the railroad and the town. In the next decades the economy of McCloud declined in tandem with the decimation of the timber industry in the western United States. U.S. Plywood eventually merged with Champion International Corporation and in 1979, Champion International closed the mill. In 1980, P&M Cedar Products, Inc. of Stockton, California bought the McCloud mill. In 2000 P&M was taken over by the California Cedar Products Company, makers of fire logs and pencil stock and the McCloud mill was closed again. Eventually, the railroad became the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train. John Queal's mansion became a country inn and is now the McCloud Guest House with several rooms and a restaurant.

Charles Miller left McCloud in 1909 for Klamath Falls, Oregon. The federal government awarded him an exclusive contract to photograph Crater Lake in Oregon and his pictures are displayed today in the Crater Lake Lodge. Until the early 1930s he was in Klamath Falls, first as the owner of Miller Photography and then as a plant manager. He later lived on the Oregon coast and eventually in Ashland. He died in 1958. His pictures enjoy a brisk trade on E-Bay. In 2005 a book of his photographs, many from McCloud, was published. In McCloud the general store of 1909 still is a store, in the very same building. It is also restaurant and a hotel. One of the rooms, with a view of downtown, is the Charles R. Miller Room.

About the Authors

N. James Pruitt is the Director of Labor Relations, National Functions, for Kaiser Permanente and has degrees from University of California at Berkeley and Michigan State University. Kate Pruitt is a teacher in the Lake Washington School District in Sammamish Washington with degrees from the University of Oregon.

The Images

On May 30, 1909 the workers in McCloud surrounded it MRLC headquarters to voice their demands. Charles R. Miller's handwritten note reads, "Italian Strikers Making Known Their Demands At Office Of The McCloud River Lumber Co. May 30, 1909" (Printed with the permission of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, California.) Note: this picture also appeared in the San Francisco Call on June 5, 1909.
This is the scene in McCloud some days after the beginning of the strike. Charles R. Miller's handwritten note reads, "During Italian Strike At McCloud Calif. June '09" (Printed with the permission of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, California.)
On June 3, 1909, the state militia arrived in McCloud. Charles R. Miller's handwritten note reads, "Company A Cal Nat'l Guard At McCloud During Italian Strike June 1909" (Printed with the permission of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, California.)
Here is another scene that same day. Charles R. Miller's handwritten note reads, "Cal Nat'l Guard Arriving At McCloud June '09" (Printed with the permission of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, California.)
This photograph shows the militia camp in McCloud. Charles R. Miller's handwritten note reads, "Calif Nat'l Guard Making Camp At McCloud" (Printed with the permission of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, California.)
This is another photograph of the militia camp in McCloud. Charles R. Miller's handwritten note reads, "Company A Guard Detail During Italian Strike McCloud, Cal June '09" (Printed with the permission of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, California.)
MRLC hired the Thiel detective agency of James F. Farley. Here the detectives who worked as both security guards and strikebreakers assembled before MRLC headquarters. Charles R. Miller's handwritten note reads, "Guards From S.F. At McCloud." (Printed with the permission of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, California.)
This shows the arrest of the strike leaders in McCloud on June 5, 1909. Charles R. Miller's handwritten note reads, "Arresting McCloud Strike Leaders 1909" (Printed with the permission of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, California.)
This shows the strikers congregating near their cabins in McCloud. Charles R. Miller's handwritten note reads, "During Italian Strike At McCloud Cal June '09" (Printed with the permission of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, California.)


Updated 3 February 2010

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