Oral History Interview with Will McShane, 1968 January 5 - A, Side B.
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Will McShane was a coal miner for the CF&I Steel Corporation. Born Dec. 18, 1888. Father came from Ireland to Pennsylvania. At 11, he was working in mines in Kansas digging coal at $2.25 a day, .65 cents per ton. Went back to Williamsburg, Colorado. Father, brother and Will took over Emerald Mine. Operated it alone, shoveled coal into wagon pulled by team of horses. At 14, began driving 4 horse team hauling slag from Williamsburg to Florence. Worked for Richards and Smith, who sold their mine to Osgood. At that time, they shot (dynamite?) anytime they wanted. rooms were full of smoke. Mines were gaseous. Worked during the 1903 strike. After the strike , went to work at Rockvale. The 1913 strike at Florence was a war. Went to work at Empire Zinc mine. Rock Mountain Company offered a job at a monthly wage and stayed there until WWI started. Went to Floresta in June 1916 and stayed for 18 months. Worked at Crested Butte for 8 years as foreman. Anthracite Coal Co. wanted superintendent (Smith Hill?). Worked in Florence for 17 years until 1931. At one time he learned Italian from neighborhood boys. As foreman he had 36 Italians and 3 Welshmen and spoke in Italian. There was prejudice against the Italians at Florence. McShane took the ICS (correspondence) to become fire boss, assistant mine foreman, and mine examiner. In 1913 he was the night boss at Fremont Mine. Describes mine fire. Two men who had been asking for a job for 3 months began work the day the fire started. fire was burning timbers and mine started caving-in on McShane and partner-they were trapped.