in 1900, photo courtesy Denver Public Library
Only one old building can still be seen today,
viewed from the road to the cemetery,
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.
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
Continued Next Page
of America, updated May, 2016.