Colorado Fuel and Iron: Culture and Industry in Southern Colorado

Ethnic Groups and Diversity

Men, women, and children from many different backgrounds and nationalities came to Southern Colorado around the turn of the twentieth century. Some were pulled here by the promise of a better life, while others were compelled to leave their homelands by forces outside of their control. Many of them gathered together in Pueblo because of the employment opportunities offered by CF&I at the mill, which allowed the city to develop the diverse culture that can still be seen there today.

While it is true that new arrivals to the region brought many of their old-world biases with them, working for CF&I in conditions that were often difficult and dangerous forced men of different backgrounds to depend on each other for their very lives. They also fought together against the company for higher pay and safer working conditions. Women of different nationalities who spoke different languages lived very close to each other in mining camps or near the steel mill, and often came to depend on each other for financial and emotional support. Children attended school together where they met, befriended, and eventually married people who's families were much different from theirs. The excerpt below states the difficulty that immigrants at CF&I faced coming to work in southern Colorado, but underestimates their ability to overcome it.

"The Language Difficulty"
Taken from CF&I's Camp and Plant, Volume 2, No. 8

"But the language difficulty does not apply merely in the relations of the social workers to the people. In far greater degree it affects the people's relations and intercourse with each other. Mexicans will associate with Mexicans, Italians with Italians, English-speaking with English-speaking, but usually any attempt at admixture of races comes to grief. This necessitates, instead of a concentration of effort upon all classes at once, a specialization of work among special classes, calling for not only a greater number of workers, but differently qualified in point of language and especially of adaptability to the tastes and customs and prejudices and racial characteristics represented by the various languages. These racial differences are even manifested at times by people of different dialects. Northern and Southern Italians and Sicilians are a good illustration of the feeling sometimes displayed. Not infrequently has it developed into a really warlike situation, shown on several occasions on the Hospital lawn by convalescent patients hurling at each other canes and crutches and other instruments of war. It manifests itself most frequently, however, in the less dangerous but not less earnest battles among the school children, who forget only occasionally the traditional existing state of war. In a nutshell, the lingual differences make an amalgamation of peoples well nigh impossible, certainly most difficult."


This page has paths:

Contents of this path: