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Dawson, New Mexico Photographs


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Dawson, New Mexico

Dawson New Mexico about 1900

Dawson, New Mexico in 1900, photo courtesy Denver Public Library



Dawson, New Mexico

Only one old building can still be seen today, viewed from the road to the cemetery.

September, 2008,  


Before and after Dawson became a coal mining mecca, it was ranchland. Purchased by John Barkley Dawson from the large  Maxwell Land Grant, John was the first discover coal in the area about 1870. He later sold the vast majority of his land to the Dawson Fuel Company in 1901, who began to develop coal mines. A dangerous business, tragedy struck the first of many blows to the new community on September 14, 1903 when fire broke out in the No. 1 Mine, followed by several explosions. With the grace of God, 500 miners escaped. The men worked for a week to control the fire and when it was over three were dead.







By 1905, 124 coke ovens were belching fire and the town was thriving with about 2000 residents and numerous businesses. In 1906 the Phelps Dodge Corporation bought the Dawson mines and, sparing no expense, determined to make Dawson a model city and the ideal company town. Soon more businesses and many new company homes for the miners were in place, the mines were expanded, and the population eventually grew to some grew again to some 9,000 residents.


Tragedy came to Dawson again on October 22, 1913 when Stag Canyon Mine No. 2 was rocked with an explosion that shook homes as far as two miles away. In the end, only 23 of the 286 men working in the mine were found alive. Almost ten years later, the doomed town would suffer one more disaster on February 8, 1923 when yet another mine exploded, killing 121 men.


Yet, Dawson survived, though its cemetery was filled with the white crosses of those killed in the many mining disasters. However, over the decades, dependence upon coal declined and in April, 1950, the mine was shut down and the whole town was sold to a salvage company and was mostly razed. The site then returned to a private ranch, who occupied a few of the remaining dwellings. Today, the old town is on private property and the only thing that can be seen is the lonely cemetery.



Continued Next Page



Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated October, 2008.


Read About Dawson, New Mexico

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