If you've heard about Dawson at
are you've heard it was the site of two of the world's worst mining
It was, but it was also a town of over 9,000 people, complete with
an opera house, a hospital, a hotel, a gymnasium, a church - even a
alley. It was a company town, owned and operated by Phelps Dodge, and a
home for miners who had come from all over the world.
People fell in love in Dawson.
cried when they skinned their knees. Someone dreamed about leaving,
the world and becoming famous. Dawson could have been Anytown, USA. But
two terrible mining disasters, one on October
22, 1913, and another in February
of 1923, ensured that Dawson would forever be remembered with
as well, and that may be the worst tragedy.
Over 350 white iron crosses in the
Cemetery mark the graves of those who perished in the mining disasters.
The cemetery is now the only part of Dawson still open to the public
Phelps Dodge shut the town down in 1950.
These silent sentinels, some with individual names and some unmarked,
moving reminders of the tragic deaths of the victims. And, more
I visited the Dawson Cemetery at
The air was cool and I was alone, and yet, of course, not. I walked
through the dried grass, thinking that the crosses would always be
guarding the mountain.
A childish but persistent thought nagged
Are they cold?
Now, many miles and many days away
visit, I remember the miners sleeping in the cemetery at the foothills.
When I reflect on my visit, I feel that just by thinking about the
I am intruding on its solitude, interrupting it mentally. I know that
crosses - larger in memory than they probably actually are - still
still guard, still remind. I know that the air still hangs heavy
something that should be making a sound but isn't. Can I hear it
that I'm gone? I listen harder, but nothing comes. Dawson, like a
star, is silent.