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New novel “Copper Divide” explores Italian Hall Disaster

Author Beth Kirschner provides in inside look on the Lake Superior Podcast

New novel Copper Divide explores the Christmas Eve Tragedy

Christmas Eve, 1913 is a tragic date in Lake Superior history, marking the death of 73 people in a stampede at the Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan. The disaster, caused by a deadly stampede when someone falsely yelled “Fire!” in the crowded hall, occurred five months into a crippling labor strike between Western Federation of Miners Union workers and the Calumet Hecla Mining Company.


Author Beth Kirschner’s new book, “Copper Divide,” explores this moment in history, following the story of three protagonists—a Jewish shopkeeper's daughter, the wife of a striking miner, and a scab miner brought in to cross the picket lines—from the start of the strike until after the Italian Hall disaster.


Kirschner shares her inspiration, and the relevance of the story to contemporary issues such as labor and immigration, on the Lake Superior Podcast with hosts Walt Lindala and Frida Waara.

“It's one thing to talk about how many people unionized how many people were hurt or killed and how many people died in the tragedy, it's another thing to humanize it,” noted podcast host Frida Waara.


A native New Yorker, Kirschner moved to Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula for college and became fascinated with the area’s history.


“Copper Divide” is available now, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, and select bookstores.


The Lake Superior Podcast is a project of the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation, the nonprofit friends group supporting the five national parks on Lake Superior, including the Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet. 


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