Dawson Ghost Town and Cemetery

Posted by in US Ghost Adventures

Dawson, also called Mountview, is a former coal mining company turned ghost town in Colfax County, New Mexico. The area was the site of two separate coal mining disasters in 1913 and 1923. Dawson was founded in 1901 when the rancher John Barkley Dawson sold his coal-rich land in northern New Mexico to the Dawson Fuel Company. After, the Dawson Railway was built to connect the town to Tucumcari. The mines were productive, and by 1905, the town was boasting a population of nearly 2,000, reaching 9,000 later.


Why is Dawson haunted?


The tragedy of the mining disasters left behind a heavy energy that left Dawson a literal ghost town. Keep reading to learn more about Dawson and its infamous haunted. To discover New Mexico’s most haunted locations, book a ghost tour with Albuquerque Ghosts and Santa Fe Ghosts!

The History of Dawson

In 1906, the Phelps Dodge Corporation purchased the mines in Dawson. The company needed to attract workers to the remote town, so it built nice homes for miners and numerous other amenities like a hospital, movie theater, department store, and golf course—a lot of luxury for the miners of the early 1900s. Phelps Dodge was able to maintain a stable employment rate despite the dangers of mining and the isolation that the miners experienced working in northern New Mexico.

The Dawson coal mining company had ten mines in total. Several of these mines were connected to the coal processing and loading facilities in Dawson by means of an electric-powered railroad. The small railroad ran about 6,600 feet in total and along the Rail Canyon to the entries of seven of the mines.

As with most mining towns of the day, Dawson suffered a decline near 1950 when the Phelps Dodge Corporation shut down the mines. At its closure, the entire town had been sold, and some of the miner’s houses were moved to other locations. Phelps Dodge gave long-time residents 30 days to vacate, and then they sold, salvaged, and all but leveled the community. They got rid of the department store, the opera house, the hospital, as well as other structures. They even removed the Southern Pacific rails to Tucumcari through the Santa Fe Railroad and later rebuilt the track to facilitate mining in York Canyon.

These days, the town of Dawson is just barely visible, with only a few of the original buildings still standing. The one significant landmark in Dawson that remains is the cemetery, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery is filled to the brim with iron crosses painted white. These mark the graves of the many miners who perished on the job or during the disasters that occurred there.

Mining Disasters of Dawson

In the fall of 1913, Dawson suffered its first major disaster. Mine number two was shaken by an explosion that was felt almost two miles away. Relief teams rushed from surrounding communities, as far away as Pittsburg, Kansas, and Rock Springs, Wyoming. Of the 236 men working that day, only 23 survived the blast. It was the second-worst mining disaster in United States History.

An article about the mining disaster states:

“One of survived miners was George Mavroidis, born in Crete. He witnessed 16 men around him losing their lives before he himself lost consciousness. He woke up the next morning in the mine office.”

Phelps Dodge was sent a special train from El Paso with doctors and nurses to aid, but it was in vain. It was later found that the explosion was caused by a dynamite charge set off while the mine was in operation, which ignited coal dust. This was a violation of basic mining safety laws.

In February of 1923, mine number one suffered an explosion as well. A mine car had derailed, knocking down timbers and the electric trolley. This caused sparks and again ignited the coal dust in the time. 123 men were killed in this explosion, many of them the sons of the men who died in the first explosion.

The Dawson Cemetery

The mining disaster of 1913 filled the entire Dawson Cemetery, and the small burial plot was expanded after the second disaster of 1923. These days, the cemetery is just a lonely, overgrown, dusty shell. White iron crosses mark the burial sites, but visitors to the graveyard claim that the dead here aren’t as restful as the desert surrounding it.


Hauntings of Dawson


The Cemetery

Visitors to the Dawson Cemetery report all types of strange activity there. Some have seen lights bobbing up and down as though men with headlamps were wandering about among the headstones. Disembodied voices are heard carrying on the breezes, and even unexplained laughs and moans.

Others report full-bodied apparitions that approach visitors and disappear shortly before contact.

The Rest of the Town

Most of Dawson is just sagebrush, tumbleweeds, and rattlesnakes. The cemetery is the main haunted attraction of the ghost town, but the entire area has the energy of a quiet tomb. The air carries no noise but the sounds of rustling bushes and the pitter-patter of antelopes sneaking by. Orbs and apparitions are common in and out of the cemetery, moving about the town and returning to the graveyard.

Haunted Dawson

The New Mexico Office of Cultural Affairs ensured the cemetery was registered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Today, the site is part of a working ranch, and every two years, former residents hold a picnic on the site during Labor Day weekend. On Memorial Day, many visit the cemetery where their relatives remain buried underneath the dry, cracked ground.

Keep reading our blog to learn more about the most haunted locations in America, and be sure to take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures!