The B&O Railroad Museum announces the opening of the new exhibit, The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 highlighting an economic depression that lead to severe wage cuts mandated by the B&O Railroad and other industries that sparked a violent outrage of over one million employees.
Within an eight month period, John Work Garrett, B&O president of the B&O Railroad, reduced employee wages by 20% for any employee making more than one dollar a day. When the pay cut took effect, July 16, 1877, B&O workers in Martinsburg, West Virginia went out on strike and refused to allow locomotives to operate until the pay cut was rescinded. Quickly violent riots broke out along B&O rail lines from Baltimore’s Camden Station to Cumberland, Maryland and then throughout the nation. Eventually military assistance from state and federal governments was sent to stop the violence. More than one month later the largest single industrial uprising in U.S. history ended and eventually brought about reform in labor relations and benefits.