The AHEPAN - Fall 2013 - (Page 16)
of Mining Disaster
that took 35 Greek
A good aerial view of the town. According to the best source Coal Town:The Life and Times of Dawson New Mexico by Toby Smith, Dawson was
sorted out into neighborhoods according to various social distinctions, including ethnicity. There would be a Greek area, an Italian area, etc.
According to people from Dawson in spite of the geographic arrangements, it was a very tolerant community with no visible seperations otherwise. People tended to go with their group but were never excluded otherwise.
his fall, AHEPA marks the 100th anniversary of the
second largest mining accident in United States history.
Yes, that is correct.
The leading Hellenic heritage association adopted as a
national project at the 2013 Supreme Convention a nationwide
commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the coal mine
disaster at Dawson, New Mexico. The explosion took the lives of
263 miners on the afternoon of October 22, 1913. Most victims
were immigrants, including 35 Greeks.
"While we have in mind those of Greek descent who perished in 1913, and the second disaster at Dawson in 1923,
this memorial service will stand as a tribute to all the miners
and immigrants throughout the United States," Brother Robert
Sexton said, a past District governor and co-chair for the commemoration project. "It is expected that chapters throughout
the United States will join with our chapter [Chapter 151] in
honoring the memory of those miners who now lie nearly
forgotten in the lonely, windswept cemetery at Dawson, New
He added, "Because October 22 falls on a Tuesday, we asked
chapters to sponsor a memorial service on the Sunday prior to
anniversary date, which is October 20."
THE AHEPAN · Fall 2013
Only 23 Survivors
The Dawson coal mine was a complex of several mines
about thirty miles west of Raton, New Mexico. Mining began
there prior to 1900 by one J. B. Dawson who had purchased
3,700 acres of land that encompassed a major coal deposit.
A small town soon sprang up, and in 1905, the Phelps Dodge
Corporation bought the mine to provide fuel for its copper mining operations. The mines would produce more than 33 million
tons of coal before shutting down in April, 1950.
The miners, who worked in Dawson as well as mines
throughout the west, were a diverse lot. Prominent among them
were many Italians and Greeks. By 1913, the town numbered
some 6,000 residents.
Phelps Dodge was a safety-minded company but the dangers of coal dust were not recognized at the time. On October
22, 1913, at 3:10 p.m., an enormous explosion occurred in Stag
Canyon Mine No.2. It was ultimately determined that a dynamite charge had ignited coal dust in the mine and 263 miners
died in the resulting blast. There were twenty-three survivors,
including George Mavroidis, who escaped a blast of gas and
was taken out unconscious. Of the dead, 133 were Italians with
the Greeks being the next largest group. Phelps Dodge paid all
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The AHEPAN - Fall 2013