‘Hell Popping in Montana’ by Fred J. Heslewood from The Industrial Union Bulletin. Vol. 2 No. 27. November 7, 1908.

Logging in the Bitterroot Mountains. c. 1905.

Wobbly road organizer Fred J. Heslewood arrives in the lumber camps of Missoula, Montana, where hell is popping, to build the I.W.W. in the face of the timber bosses, their partners in the A.F. of L., and the rump Western Federation of Miners.

‘Hell Popping in Montana’ by Fred J. Heslewood from The Industrial Union Bulletin. Vol. 2 No. 27. November 7, 1908.

When General Sherman said “War was hell,” he evidently knew what he was talking about, for we have war here and it is certainly “Hell.”

I arrived here in Missoula Wednesday, the 21st, at noon, and that evening, together with Shannon and Brown, the Secretary of the Darby Union, took in the camp at Harper’s and Baird’s. We booked up the camp and took orders from the men for their dues. Being too late that night to see “Mr. Boss,” we came to town and Thursday night went back to the mill, one mile from the camp; got some more members; but on presenting the orders to the gent who has only one pay day a year, he said there was nothing doing, and that he would have no I.W.W. men around there, that if any one wanted any money to join the I.W.W. with, they could take the whole works. The bluff was called and the whole works went, and today, Friday, the institution is closed. The boys have their cards. Some paid for all of 1909, and they are having a good time. The only fault of the lumber jack—the cursed good time.

Log wagon used in logging at Knutsen’s camp, Marion, Flathead County, Montana. 1904.

If the readers of the Bulletin have it in for anyone, just get the fellow a job as an organizer of the International connected with the A.F. of L. (it beats playing Rugby football), and send him into Montana among the lumber jacks.

The ” International” is the company organization and the managers of the companies are very much interested in getting it built up because they run it. It is a good thing for the corporations, as it was used by them to whip the Industrial Unionists. It is composed of company tools, and the most loving corporation tool of the bunch is the president of the Montana State Federation.

With the aid of the company, the International organizers have put in two or three charters, but the real fight will be on when they attempt to take in the camps.

Loggers at the French Gulch camp outside of Missoula, 1905.

The men are not discouraged, even though the Western Federation in Butte has assisted the employers in lowering their wages and raising the hours, and it will take “By Jingo Lowney” and “Dictionary Moyer” some time to convince the Montana lumber jacks that the miners are any better than the Fairgrieve International scabs, who were organized for the express purpose of assisting the lumber companies.

The fight is on in all its glory. The atmosphere is getting clearer, and the men who have any independence left are now in a position where the agents of the stepping stone to civilization, or the Fairgrieve scabs, can hoodwink them no longer.


The Industrial Union Bulletin, and the Industrial Worker were newspapers published by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) from 1907 until 1913. First printed in Joliet, Illinois, IUB incorporated The Voice of Labor, the newspaper of the American Labor Union which had joined the IWW, and another IWW affiliate, International Metal Worker.The Trautmann-DeLeon faction issued its weekly from March 1907. Soon after, De Leon would be expelled and Trautmann would continue IUB until March 1909. It was edited by A. S. Edwards. 1909, production moved to Spokane, Washington and became The Industrial Worker, “the voice of revolutionary industrial unionism.”

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/industrialworker/iub/v2n27-nov-07-1908-iub.pdf

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