Rioting at the Dix River Dam Project Site
On November 1924 the Kentucky National Guard's Troop A-54 Machine Gun Squadron arrived at the Dix Dam hydroelectric project site to defuse a situation in the employee camps. White workers and farmers on one side were pitted against African American workers on the other side. The camps were located in Mercer County, KY. The clash between the two groups stemmed from the murder of a white employee, 21-year-old newlywed Edward Winkle.
About 300-500 of the 700 African American employees had been driven from their camp partially dressed, some without shoes. The men were being driven to the Burgin railroad depot by armed white men when Marshal J. T. Royalty and Sheriff Walter Kennedy of Mercer County took control of the situation. Suffering from exposure, the African American men returned to their camp escorted by one unit of the National Guard; at the request of the construction contractors another unit remained on guard at the dam.
African Americans John Chance and John Williams were arrested for the murder of Winkle. Work on the dam began in 1923 and was completed in 1927. The dam was the largest rock-filled dam in the world. It is still in use today.
For more, see "White man killed, Negroes menaced: Kentucky mob threatened workers after slaying of laborer on electric dam," New York Times, 11/11/1924, p. 25; Griffin, Gerald, "Four Sought in Dix River Riot," in The Courier-Journal, Nov. 12, 1924; and the article in the Fresno Bee, 11/10/1924. For more about the dam see the Herrington Lake Conservation League website; and search "Dix Dam" on the UofL Libraries Digital Collections.