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People & Life Ways
Riches, Ranching & Railroads

Italians Come to Eureka (Italian)

Click the phonograph to hear the passage in Italian.

Charcoal was used as fuel in the smelting furnace.   Charcoal burners had become an important occupation in Europe as nations industrialized.  People who had been charcoal burners in Italy emigrated to the Eureka Mining District to do the same job in Nevada.  By 1880, people who had been born in Italy were the largest ethnic group living in the Eureka area.

Charcoal burning was hard work.  The workers lived in dugouts or poor shacks.  They made less than half the wages paid to a mine laborer, and found it difficult to receive fair treatment from merchants, smelter owners, and the teamsters who hauled the charcoal.  They formed the Charcoal Burners' Protective Association (CBPA).  In 1879, when they demanded a higher price for their charcoal, there was conflict between the charcoal burners and teamsters who were hauling the charcoal.  A deputy sheriff and a group of men from Eureka rode out to a camp at Fish Creek, and shooting broke out.  Five Italians were killed, and the conflict has come to be known as "The Italian Charcoal Burners' War".

Reader: Paolo Ramela

Photo Credits:
1: Nevada State Museum
2: Nevada Commission on Tourism