Documentary Traces the History of Pueblo’s Colorado Fuel & Iron Company

· Nov. 11, 2016, 11:13 am
Steel MillSteel Mill courtesy Steelworks Center of the West's Steelworks Archives
General view of the CF&I blast furnace row and rail yard before the steel mill was fenced. Denver and Rio Grande rail cars are in the foreground. Date is unknown but most likely in the 1910-1920s.

A new documentary, Forging the West, looks at the 144-year story of Pueblo’s Colorado Fuel and Iron Company and its pivotal role in the development of the west.

CF&I was once the state’s largest employer, with some 12 thousand workers.  It was also the largest private landowner and ran the largest steel mill west of the Mississippi.

Filmmaker Jim Havey says in 1880, General William Jackson Palmer needed to make rails for his railroad.

"Palmer started to get the idea of this vertically integrated business where they could find everything they needed to make steel not too far from Pueblo," says Havey.

The violent Ludlow Massacre of 1914 is also part of the CF&I story, and a turning point in labor history. After decades of boom and bust, the Pueblo mill now employs about 850 people, uses recycled steel and is owned by Evraz, a Russian company.

It still makes rails.

Forging The West premieres in Pueblo at Memorial Hall at 6:30 on Friday evening, November 11 and in Denver on November 15.

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