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Dawson, New Mexico Photo GalleryIMAGES OF THE AMERICAN WEST

Dawson, New Mexico Photographs

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Mine Buildings in Dawson, New Mexico



Dawson Mine, 1900, Denver Public Library

Dawson No 1 & 2 Tipple about 1900, courtesy Denver Public Library


Dawson, New Mexico Tipple

Dawson  Number 7 Tipple, 1920's, Myers Collection, NMSU




Though coal was discovered on the property as early as 1870, no development of the mines occurred until the ranchers who owned it sold most of the property to the Dawson Fuel Company for $400,000. The company was founded with the help of Charles B. Eddy, a railroad promotor from El Paso, Texas. A 137-mile-long railroad was built from the mine to Tucumcari, New Mexico linking the spot with the Rock Island Lines. By August 1, 1901, a crew of fifty miners was ready to work. A sawmill was busy turning out lumber for houses, coke ovens were smoking and by the end of that first year, Dawson was well on the way to becoming a city and the center of the largest coal mining operation in New Mexico. Later, the company built a hundred cottages for 500 more people and erected additional coke ovens. Off to a quick start, the town began to prosper.


In 1906 the Phelps Dodge Corporation bought the Dawson mines and, sparing no expense, began to develop both the mines and the town, eventually becoming one of the largest coal mining camps in the United States.







Though the mines would be wracked with mining disasters over the years, Phelps Dodge strove to make the mines as safe as possible. They did such a good job with one of their mines that it attracted the eyes of coal-mining experts in 1913, who described it as "the highest achievement in modern equipment and safety appliances that exists in the world."


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. From 1899-1950, the Dawson mines produced some 33 million salable tons of coal,  almost half the total for Colfax county during this period.


Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated May, 2016.


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