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Dawson, New Mexico Photo GalleryIMAGES OF THE AMERICAN WEST

Dawson, New Mexico Photographs

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Dawson, New Mexico Main Street



Dawson, New Mexico Main Street, 1916

Dawson, New Mexico Main Street, 1916


Main Street, 1920's, Carol and Dwight Myers Collection, NMSU

Main Street, 1920's, Carol and Dwight Myers Collection, NMSU



When the mines were developed the Dawson Fuel Company in 1901, the town quickly began to grow as the company built about 100 houses for the miners and businesses began to move in. By 1905, the town boasted post office, a liquor store, a mercantile, a school, a newspaper and a large hotel. But, it was after Phelps Dodge bought the property in 1906, that it really began to grow. 


Sparing no expense, the company determined to make Dawson a model city and the ideal company town. They quickly built spacious homes for thier  miners and supplied the community with water from the company's water system. They also built a four-story brick building which housed the Phelps Dodge Mercantile Department Store which sold virtually anything the townsfolk might need -- food, clothing, shoes, hardware, furniture, drugs, jewelry, baked goods and ice from its own plant.  A modern hospital was built which maintained a staff of five doctors and was complete with a laboratory, surgery and x-ray equipment. For their leisure time, the miners enjoyed the use of the company built movie theater, swimming pool, bowling alley, baseball park, pool hall, golf course, lodge hall, and even an opera house.




Phelps Dodge also supported two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant. Children attended either the Central Elementary School in downtown Dawson or the Douglas Elementary School on Capitan Hill. A large high school building was built that eventually employed 40 teachers and their athletic teams won many state championships. The company also built a steam-powered electric plant, which powered not only Dawson, but also the nearby towns of Walsenburg, Colorado, and Raton, New Mexico. Providing good-paying jobs for the residents, the extra features of the company town helped keep the employment stable and under the new management Dawson's population eventually grew to some 9,000 people.




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


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