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Mussel Slough Tragedy

1880 gun battle in Hanford, California / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Quick facts: Mussel Slough Tragedy, Location, Date, Deaths...
Mussel Slough Tragedy
Mussel Slough Tragedy Historical Landmark
Location5.6 miles (9 km) northwest of Hanford, California
DateMay 11, 1880 (1880-05-11)
MotiveDispute over land titles
Reference no.245[1]

The Mussel Slough Tragedy was a dispute over land titles between settlers and the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) that took place on May 11, 1880, on a farm located 5.6 miles (9 km) northwest of Hanford, California, in the central San Joaquin Valley, leaving seven people dead.

The exact history of the incident has been the source of some disagreement, largely because popular anti-railroad sentiment in the 1880s interpreted the incident as a clear example of corrupt and cold-blooded corporate greed. Muckraking journalists and anti-railroad activists glorified the settlers and used the events as evidence and justification for their anti-corporate crusades.[2] Frank Norris' 1901 novel The Octopus: A Story of California was inspired by this incident, as was W. C. Morrow's 1882 novel Blood-Money. May Merrill Miller's novel First the Blade includes a fictionalized account of the conflict.

The site of the episode is now registered as California Historical Landmark #245.[1] A historical marker on the east side of 14th Avenue, 350 yards (320 m) north of Elder Avenue, memorializes the site.[3]