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The Great Railroad Strike of 1877: 140 Years Later

The Strike

The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 has direct ties to the B&O Railroad, when the company’s President John Work Garrett, cut wages for workers twice in eight months. B&O employees went on strike across the entire system, a strike that would turn violent with the intervention of the National Guard in both West Virginia and Maryland. The movement, which would start out small and regional, spread to more than a dozen states across many railroads and other occupations. Strike activity would spread as far as Texas, and even California, in a movement that lasted a month. The movement was halted, largely by the presence of Federal troops under orders from President Rutherford B. Hayes. The Strike led to millions of dollars in damages and more than 100 people were killed. The legacy of the strike includes the formation of labor unions, pension plans, and better conditions for workers. This little-known historical event remains one of the most important moments in American history.

The Event

This full-day public program will begin at the “Strike of 1877” historic marker in front of the Camden Warehouse. It will then move to the B&O Railroad Museum where participants will take part in the main portion of the program. After the lecture and lunch, participants will go across the street to the Irish Railroad Workers Museum, where they can tour the facility, and enjoy a few libations.

10:15-10:45

There will be a public memorial service at the “Strike of 1877” historical marker at Camden Yards. Program participants who wish to take part in this portion of the event are welcome to park in Lot “C” at no charge.

11:00-12:00

Participants are encouraged to arrive at the museum during this time to explore the newly opened exhibit on the Railroad Strike of 1877. This exhibit illustrates the role of the B&O during the strike through small objects, rare images, and more. Participants may also take this time to view other exhibits, locomotives, and rolling stock that the museum has to offer. Parking is free at the B&O Railroad Museum.

12:00-1:00       

Lunch will be served in the Harry C. Eck Education Station from 12:00-1:00pm. The meal will feature sandwiches, salads, soft drinks, and dessert. Lunch is included with the purchase of the event ticket. 

1:00-2:15

The history of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 will be interpreted through multiple presenters. Leading this portion is Bill Barry, Labor Historian and author of a book on the strike. Barry will be joined by Justin Rogers Cooper and Dennis Haplin in telling this story about the strike, its impact on the city of Baltimore, and the development on labor organizations in the United States.

2:30-3:45

A panel of speakers covering current issues for railroad workers today will take place. Guest speakers will include Lawrence Kasekamp, Director of the Transportation Division of SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation) Union, and others TBA.

3:45-4:00

Participants will walk one block north to the Irish Railroad Workers Museum.

4:00-5:30

From there, tours of the museum will be given and adult refreshments will be available.  This complimentary reception is courtesy of Bill Barry.

*The B&O Railroad Parking Lot will close promptly at 5:30

**The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 by Bill Barry will be available for purchase at the event. The proceeds of this book will benefit a local author and help fund future exhibits at the B&O Railroad Museum.

 

Join the B&O Railroad Museum and Irish Railroad Workers Museum as we commemorate the 140th Anniversary of this historic event. Spots in this program are limited.

TICKETS: Available for purchase through July 10

$23 B&O Members

$27 Non-B&O Members

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