Museum of the New Llano Colony
Backstory and Context
As the U.S. entered the 20th century,
men were leaving the farms -- going to the big cities where they could find
work. Usually, they discovered deplorable working conditions which they
were forced to accept, having cut all ties with the farms they'd left
behind. The power of the capitalist class grew enormously. Their giant
monopolies and trusts came to dominate whole branches of industry.
Unhappy workers began to organize labor unions and demand better treatment for the workers. The Socialist Party was created and sent speakers throughout the country to promote their ideals -- things like old age pensions, health care, minimum wages, equal rights for women and child labor laws. Job Harriman, a successful Labor lawyer in Los Angeles, CA, became popular throughout the country for his Socialist lectures.
In 1914, Harriman decided that Socialist politics alone weren't going to change the world. He felt that men would be more likely to join the Socialist movement if he could show them a working example of a co-operative lifestyle. He established the Llano del Rio Co-operative Colony in the Antelope Valley, near Los Angeles, California. Growth was so rapid that within three years, it became obvious they didn’t have enough water for so many people. They purchased 20,000 acres in the highlands of western Louisiana and approximately 200 colonists made the move in November of 1917…