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Wheels West Day in Susanville History – July 12th, 1938

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Picket line at Westwood, 1938. ~ From the Eastman Collection at UC Davis

Picket line at Westwood, 1938. ~ From the Eastman Collection at UC Davis

Shots Fired Over Labor Dispute in Lumber Town
July 12th, 1938

Striking members of the Committee for Industrial Organization’s Sawmill and Timber Workers’ Union were driven from this northern California lumber town Wednesday after a fierce fight in which one man was shot and 30 others injured less seriously.

Sheriff Olin Johnson of Lassen county and a force of 800 deputized men took over the town as the C. I. O. workers fled to Red Bluff, 35 miles away, to reorganize their forces.

A platoon of 30 National Guardsmen, rushed from Lodi on orders of Governor Frank F. Merriam, was intercepted at Sacramento when Johnson reported the situation was under control.

Two thousand men were involved in the fighting that began shortly after midnight and reached its climax when a signal from the town fire whistle brought a general rush on the C. I. O. picket line and a strikers’ soup kitchen in the town, which houses the mill of the Red River Lumber Company, one of the largest in the state.

“The town seemed to have gone mad,” an eye witness said. “Men on the streets were carrying guns, clubs, blackjacks and almost every weapon of war. At 6 a.m. the general fire whistle blew.

“Hose was strung out on the streets. C. I. O. men were wetted, clubbed and generally run out.”


We are always looking for new pictures to preserve and share in our historical photo collection and we would love to see yours.Your picture will be added to our digital archive for future use and we will make sure you receive credit whenever possible. Email your contribution along with your name and a short description of what you’ve sent to webxtra@susanvillestuff.com. A digital copy of every submission will also be donated to the Lassen Historical Society for preservation in their files.

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