Colorado Fuel and Iron: Culture and Industry in Southern Colorado

Inhuman Abuse of Livestock, or Negligence Resulting in its Death

“Inhuman abuse of livestock, or negligence resulting in its death.”

This is a prominent line in the list of offences posted at the mines and coke ovens of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, for which a workman was “liable to discharge without notice” in accordance with the terms of the Industrial Representation Plan of 1915. CF&I’s Industrial Bulletin from August 12, 1916 is dedicated to “the wretched mule” and its noble service to the company. CF&I owned about a thousand mules at that time, valued at $157 each, which were used in the coal mines, iron mines, lime quarries, and even at the Minnequa Steel Works in Pueblo, Colorado. The regulation that provides discharge for the abuse of a mule is only one of the steps taken to secure the company’s investment in these animals. All of CF&I’s mule stables were located above ground (except for a few, which were “kept in just as sanitary and comfortable condition as those on the surface”), and animals working underground were only permitted to do so for a maximum of eight hours per day (a luxury that even some human workers did not have). These stables were cleaned daily, and “no mule ever lacks for a drink of water in the stable or at work.” The company also maintained a mule hospital in Las Animas County, where injured or seriously sick animals were taken for medical or surgical treatment. 

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