Non fiction: Coal People

Coal People:
Life in Southern Colorado’s Company Towns, 1890-1930.

by Rick Clyne

Winner of the Colorado Historical Society’s LeRoy R. Hafen Award (2001), which recognizes excellent contributions to scholarship in the Society’s historical monograph series.

Coal People takes a fresh look into the lives of families living in the coal camps of southern Colorado between 1890 and the Great Depression. Rick Clyne examines the experiences of the men, women, and children who lived and worked in these isolated, company-dominated towns. With the dangerous nature of mining coal a daily reality, the fear of death and injury was pervasive—not only for the miners venturing into the earth day after day, but for their dependents as well.

Rick reveals that a strong sense of community and tolerance existed in the camps, into which families journeyed from such far-flung locales as eastern and southern Europe to carve out a living. The shared immigrant experience—and the shared risks of mining—more often than not strengthened the bonds between both miners and families.

Coal People, derived from Rick’s masters thesis (University of Colorado), contains historic images of coal-town life culled from the collections of the Colorado Historical Society, as well as the author's own photographs of how several of these camps appear today.

How to buy:

Coal People is currently available in print only:

  • Coal People — Go »

  • Coal People — Barnes & Noble Go »

  • Coal People — University of Colorado Press Go »

Or order copies at or by visiting the History Colorado Center Gift Shop at 1200 Broadway in Denver, (303) 866-4241.

Praise for Coal People:

Rick Clyne has offered a very good, succinct summary of coal history in southern Colorado...he has condensed a voluminous amount historical research into a brief (136 page) guide. The photographs piled between chapters two and three are a mix of old and new images and fit well into the tenor of the book.  (He) succeeds in the internal structure of the book, the writing, and the dismissal of the coal town stereotypes...
Patrick Morgan, Anthropology Review Database, 2012

Scholarly research conducted in the Trinidad Coal Field has been dominated by the works of labor historians who deal almost exclusively with labor conditions in the camps...One notable exception is historian Rick J. Clyne’s Coal People: Life in Southern Colorado’s Company Towns, which Clyne considers community life in the company towns. Coal People is a valuable addition to the literature...
David Robertson, author of Hard As the Rock Itself, 2010

Coal People...has been called an “easy to read synthesis of coal mining history in Colorado” and is its second printing.
The Trinidad Chronicle-News, 2000

I encourage you to call up The Ludlow Massacre on your computer or read the book titled "Coal People" by Rick J. Clyne to learn about these important historical events happening close to home and which eventually changed American history.
Delbert Trew, Amarillo Globe News, 2007