Dawson, New Mexico
On October 22, 1913, Dawson suffered its first major disaster. Stag Canyon Coal Mine No. 2 was shaken by an explosion that was felt two miles away. Relief teams rushed in from surrounding communities, but of the 286 men who arrived to work in the Stag Canyon mine that morning, only 23 survived. Two rescuers died during the rescue effort. It was later determined that the explosion was caused by a dynamite charge set off while the mine was in general operation, igniting coal dust in the mine and killing 265 workers. On February 8, 1923, a mine car derailed, igniting coal dust in Stag Canyon Mine No. 1. 123 men were killed in this explosion, many of them children of the men who died in the 1913 explosion of Mine No. 2. In total, over 386 men were killed in the two explosions at Dawson mine, making it the worst disaster at a single mine US history.
Today, the Dawson Cemetery is the only landmark left of the once prosperous mining town and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
“Then there was the whole concept of coal mining, which is a culture unto itself, the most dangerous occupation in the world, and which draws and develops a certain kind of man.” – Martin C. Smith