Bunker Hill Mine - Wardner, Idaho - 1900
Bryan, Robert Perry and Junietta Jennie Harper. A remarkable photo album documenting the career of a young electrical engineer and his wife in Wardner, Idaho at the Bunker Hill Mine as he worked to rebuild the mine in 1900 after the dynamite blast, labor strike, and riot of April, 1899. There are over 50 original photographs showing the destroyed mine buildings, the National Guard encampment, the tramway to Kellogg, the mine, as well as their home, the Georgie Oaks Steamboat, Spokane, friends homes, and scenery. Wardner, ID: June & Perry Bryan, 1899-1902. 56 original photos inserted into the thick cardstock leaves, each framed in gray paper, with most sized 4 x 5 in., but 6 odd sized photos inserted along with the rest ranging from 1.25 x 1.5 in. up to 2.5 x 2.5 in. (some photos over and under-exposed, weak contrast in a few), annotated throughout in pen & pencil in cribbed cursive, with some of the notes quite faint. Original simulated pebbled red calf binding, rounded corners, silver lettering on front cover, small tear at gutter margin on paste down, overall in VG cond.
This exceptional photo album strikes an almost bucolic air of a young married couple and their adventures in the mining region of Wardner and Kellogg, Idaho at the end of the 19th-century, against the backdrop of the tremendous labor unrest, and bitter Western Federation of Miners Strike in the Coeur d’Alene District in 1899. In April, 1899, after the Bunker Hill Mine refused to recognize the WFM Union, fired their miners who were members, and shut down the mine -- Union members seized a train, loaded it with 3000 pounds of dynamite rode it to the site, and exploded the train destroying the Bunker Hill Mine. In the aftermath, President McKinley ordered African-American troops from Brownsville, TX, and other Spanish-American War veterans to restore order in the valley where they indiscriminately rounded up over 1000 men and put them into bullpens. The prisoners received cursory trials, many were imprisoned in Federal Prison in Leavenworth, KS, and there is significant evidence to show that the mine owners had bribed Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg to call for the troops. Included in this album are photographs of the destroyed mine, miners underground, the tramway between Wardner & Kellogg which transported the ore before the Kellogg tunnel was completed in 1902, some of the rebuilt Bunker Hill buildings, views of the pick mucking operation, and the mine buildings against the backdrop of the mountains, and even the National Guard encampment. Bryan (1874-1962) was an electrical engineer brought in to help rebuild the mine after the explosion, and he and June (1875-1966) lived in Wardner until 1902, when he took a job with the Washington Water Power Company in Spokane, WA where he would work until the Great Depression struck. Also included are photographs of the young couple with their young children, playing music with her brother, hiking in the mountains around Wardner, traveling to Spokane on the famed Georgie Oaks steamboat down the Coeur d’Alene River and across the Lake, on which her brother, Tom Harper worked (including a photo), scenes in and around Spokane, horse racing at the County Fair, and more. See: Holbrook, The Rocky Mountain Revolution (1956); Smith, The Coeur d’Alene mining war of 1892. A case study of an industrial dispute (1961); Lukas, Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America; Thompson & Murfin, The IWW: Its First Seventy Years; Langdon, Labor’s Greatest Conflicts (1908), p. 16; Arthur Miller, The Legacy of the Bunker Hill Mine, Industrial Workers of the World, Documents Library.