Investigation Report

Location: Dawson Cemetery, New Mexico
Date: 19 August 2000
Weather Conditions: Clear
Humidity: 28%
Geomagnetic Storm Activity: Inactive
Temperature: 87
Number of Photos taken: 36
Number with possible targets: 0
Average EM Readings: n/a
Average M fields Readings: 1 nt
Average E Field Readings: 1 vpm
Cold Spots detected: None
Hot Spots Detected: None
Olfactory Phenomena: None
Visual Phenomena: None
Type of Investigation: Ghost Hunt

All information and photos Copyright 2000 to 2006 by Cody Polston, Bob Carter and SGHA. All Rights Reserved.

Location Description and History

Dawson, New Mexico, was named for John B. Dawson, a rancher who bought the coal-rich property from the Maxwell Land Grant in 1869. The town was incorporated by the Dawson Fuel Company in 1901 and sold to the Phelps-Dodge Company in 1906. Phelps-Dodge soon developed Dawson into a major coal source for the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe railroads and laid down a model for the company town as among the most progressive in New Mexico.

Within years, Dawson’s downtown would boast of a gym, an opera house, a movie theater, several schools, two churches, a large mercantile store, and a modern hospital, and the town became the largest single-industry town in the Southwest.

On October 22, 1913, the mine suffered its first disaster. Stag Canyon Mine No. 2 was shaken by an explosion that was felt two miles away in the town proper. 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.

Damage 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 century.

It was determined that the explosion was caused by a dynamite charge igniting coal dust in the mine - a flagrant violation of mining safety laws.

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.

Over 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.


Reported Phenomena

Over the years there have been several reports of "ghost lights" in the cemetery. They appear at the top of the hill near the cemetery and come down into the graveyard. According to local legend, the lights are from the lamps in the miner's helmets.

Numerous sightings of apparitions have also been reported in the cemetery at night. They are often seen at a distance and are described as being mist like and transparent.

The Investigation

Our Investigation started at 10:00pm. The main focus of this ghost hunt was to watch the hill and cemetery for the ghost lights or anything that could be mistaken for them. After watching the area for five hours, we searched the entire cemetery for two hours without a single suspect reading or photograph.

Initial Conclusions

Filed for future reference.

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