caused by the explosion on February 21, 1923
Dwight and Carol Myers Collection, NMSU.
Mass funerals were conducted for the victims and row upon row of
graves dug, making it necessary to extend the cemetery far up the
hill. The cemetery was marked by white iron crosses and the burials
continued for weeks. It was the second worst mine disaster of the
was determined that the explosion was caused by a dynamite charge
igniting coal dust in the mine - a flagrant violation of mining
Despite this disaster, Dawson continued as a successful mining town.
Then, on February 8, 1923, Stag Canyon Mine No. 1 suffered an explosion.
A mine cart jumped its tracks and ignited coal dust in the mine.
123 men were killed in this explosion, many of them children of
the men who died in 1913.
There were 123 men in the mine at the time.
Many women who lost husbands in the earlier disaster waited anxiously
for their sons to appear out of the smoke. Early the next morning
two miners who had been in an isolated section of the mine walked
out. They were the only survivors. The cemetery was extended once
again and more white crosses took their place in the cemetery.
Astonishingly, Dawson did not become a ghost town until 1950, when
the Phelps Dodge Corporation shut down the mine. The entire town
was sold or razed, and so today the only significant remaining landmark
in Dawson is the cemetery, full of iron crosses marking the graves
of men who died in the mines.
350 white iron crosses in the Dawson Cemetery mark the graves of
those who perished in the mining disasters. The cemetery, a deeply
moving site, is now the only part of Dawson still open to the visitor.
These silent sentinels, some with individual names and some unmarked,
are poignant reminders of the tragic deaths of the miners.