Dawson New Mexico Association

528 N. First Street
Raton, NM 87740
Joe Bacca
Bobbie Jo Bacca
John Gabriele
Vivien Pick
John Bizyak
Ed and Betty Zavala

Click here to view a panorama photo of Dawson (circa early 1950's)

Click here to view a drone video of the Dawson Cemetery in 2016

Click here to view a drone video of Dawson, Rail Canyon,
and Capitan Hill in 2016

Click here to listen to a ballad by Rick Landers as a tribute
to the Dawson miners who lost their lives in coal mine
explosions of 1913 and 1923

The Dawson Reunion held on Labor Day weekend, September 3-4, 2022, was a total success! For 2023, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) conducted a Dawson Cemetery memorial paying special respects to the Dawson miners who lost their lives in the 1913 and 1923 mining explosions.

Nicolette Psyllas Panagopoulos, who coordinated the event, summarized the activities as a gravesite memorial honoring the victims of BOTH mining disasters (1913 and 1923) which was held Sunday, February 5, 2023, at the Dawson Cemetery at 3 pm. The weather was dry and clear. A traditional Orthodox memorial service was chanted. The names of those who perished in both disasters were read. Wreaths were also laid. The American Hellenic Education Progressive Association (AHEPA) made this memorial a national project. They did so in respect and humility. Greeks, along with Italians and other immigrant groups, came to this country for a better life. The mining victims gave the ultimate sacrifice in providing for their families. Let us all join together and honor their memories. To see photos of the memorial click here.

The 2022 Dawson Reunion had one of it's largest turnouts yet. There were 582 people who attended the reunion picnic on Sunday, September 4, 2022. On Saturday, there was a large group that attended a Dawson book presentation by Nick Pappas at the Raton Museum. Nick is a well-known journalist whose book about Dawson is coming out in 2023 and will mark the 100th anniversary of the 1923 mine explosion. Pietro Scarafiotti, a descendant of several generations of former Dawson residents and coal miners, was also present to assist in answering questions regarding Dawson coal mining operations and miners' life in the mines. On Saturday evening, many others attended a Dawson Reunion Social held at the Elk's Lodge in downtown Raton, NM. This was an opportunity for those coming to the reunion to meet old and new friends and share memories of life in Dawson before it was closed in 1950. A special treat this year was having Delores Huerta attending the Labor Day weekend events. Delores is a very famous labor leader and civil rights activist with Cesar Chavez, who together formed the National Farmworkers Association. Delores Huerta was born in Dawson, NM and shared many of her childhood memories with those who attended the Dawson Reunion Picnic the following day at the orginal Dawson townsite.

This year Joe Bacca, who normally coordinates the cleaning of the Dawson Cemetery and insures that the reunion goes as planned, was unable to attend because of back surgery in Denver. Our last update on Joe was that his surgery was successful, although he will be in rehabilitation for a while. In his absence, his daughter, Bobbie Jo Bacca, and many related family members were responsible for the organization of the very successful reunion activities. Those who deserve recognition are Bobbie Jo Bacca and her family cemetery cleanup crew, Angel Bacca, Cindy Macias (Ed and Betty Zavala's daughter), Rea Ann Bacca and Ray Flores. With the unexpected cancellation of the food truck this year, those who stepped up to cook and serve hot dogs were Angelo Vialpando and Hailey Bacca. Please forgive us if we failed to mention others who helped.

The Dawson Reunion Committee is still selling tee shirts for the 2022 Reunion until they are all sold. They are good quality tee shirts and are gray in color with black and white Dawson pictures spelling out, "Dawson". They are $20.00 plus shipping per shirt. You can purchase them several different ways: one way is by emailing Joe Bacca at baccaj2000@msn.com and let him know how many tee shirts and what sizes you want to purchase. Give him your address so he can calculate shipping and he will send you the total cost for your purchase along with all the information for paying by check or PayPal to baccaj2000@msn.com. If you wish to pay by cash or by a cash Internet banking app, you can do so by sending it to bobbiejobacca@yahoo.com. All the money received from the tee shirt sales goes back into paying for future reunion costs. See photos of tee shirts by clicking here.

We have exciting news to share concerning a new non-fiction book about Dawson, New Mexico that is being written by Nick Pappas, retired professional journalist formerly with the Albuquerque Journal. Nick was inspired to explore the history and personal life stories of the residents of this once largest company-owned coal mining town in the Southwest. Please click here to see Nick's web site, check out his blog, and sign up for the monthly newsletter to follow his progress toward final publication of this much-anticipated book on Dawson, New Mexico.

The 2018 Dawson Reunion was a big success. There were 441 people who attended the reunion picnic at the original Dawson town site and 133 people who attended the Saturday night reception in Raton, NM. The Raton Museum had 122 visitors who enjoyed seeing the large Dawson collection of photos and archives. There was a special treat this year at the reception with the showing of a new Dawson documentary produced by Emily Fraser. Emily produced a beautiful documentary about the early history of Dawson with interviews of former Dawson residents. Thank you, Emily, for sharing your wonderful work and expertise with our group. A big thanks also goes to Roger Sanchez, Curator for the Raton Museum, who kept it open on both Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, this year the reunion picnic was cut short a few hours due to rain that afternoon. Everyone still had a wonderful time visiting with old and new friends and sharing Dawson stories. Mark your calendars for the next Dawson Reunion two years from now on Saturday and Sunday, September 5 and 6, 2020. You can click here to see the reunion photos of the Saturday evening reception and the Sunday reunion picnic.

A BIG THANKS goes out to Joe Bacca and his family and friends who just mowed and cleaned the Dawson Cemetery for the Dawson Reunion held on Labor Day weekend, September 1 and 2, 2018. This is a completely volunteer effort on the part of these folks and makes it possible to have the Dawson Reunion every two years. From left to right are Joe Bacca, Adie Bacca and child, Laney Smith, John Smith, Angelo Vialpando, Mike Vialpando, Ray Ann Bacca, and Billie Jo Bacca. Not in the photo are Bobbie Bacca and Hailey Bacca.


Did you like the free Dawson Picnic Handout that you received at the gate this year? Well, since the rain shut down the picnic early, the Dawson Association still has some left and Joe Bacca would like for you to have extras, however, you will need to pay the shipping charge of $3.00 for shipping to you. The Dawson Association also still has Old Dawson Photo CDs left which are $10.00 plus $3.00 for shipping. Folks, you do not want to miss out on the photo CDs there are approximately 200 old Dawson photos on it, The Bacca family worked with Roger Sanchez at the Raton Museum to photograph their old photo collection, you will not find a collection like this again. Remember, the sales proceeds from the CD's go to support both the reunion picnic and the cemetery fund. Joe Bacca's email contact is baccaj2000@msn.com

One of our Dawson Reunion members, Tom Hay, has asked Joe Bacca to coordinate a donation drive to purchase a iron mule to be placed in the front of the coal mine pit car which is presently on display at the Dawson Cemetery. This will be in honor of the many mules that were used for years to haul coal from the mines. Tom Hay has started this project by donating $200 and Joe Bacca has donated $100. This way, the iron mule can be ordered and built by February 2020 and in place at the Dawson Cemetery for the reunion in September 2020. The total cost of the project is estimated to about $800. Below is a photo of a similar coal pit mule on display in Raton and at the NRA Whittington Center between Raton, NM and the Dawson Cemetery turnoff. Donations may be mailed to Joe Bacca, Dawson Association, 528 North First Street. Raton, NM 87740. If donations exceed the actual cost of the iron mule, the excess will be applied to future Dawson Reunion expenses


1. Dawson Book: Chris Palomino
2. Wooden Box: Jay Romero
3. Wooden Sign: Linsey
4. Dawson Book: Alex Cruz
5. Placemat Set: Vanjie Martinez
6. Quilt: Agnes Gibson
7. Dawson Quilt: Lorraine Buttram
8. Stamp Picture of Dawson: Pete Scarafiotti
9. Map of Dawson: Sara Vega
10. Book of Dawson: John Antczak
11. Phelp Dodge Hat: John Antczak turned the hat back in
12. Black and red Dawson Wreath: John Antczak
13. Red Quilt: Terry Nighberr
14. Lantern: Kathleen Farley
15. Wooden Plaque: John Antczak
16. Quilt: Sara Vega

Good News! In response to its proposal, the Dawson New Mexico Association received a grant from the Freeport McMoRan Foundation to make much-needed improvements to the Dawson Cemetery. The grant is covering the cost of building a strong, high game fence around the cemetery to keep elk and cattle out of the graveyard. These large animals have been breaking through the old barbed wire fence and roaming through the cemetery for years. This has resulted in serious damage to many of the headstones and other grave markers.

The other immediate need at the cemetery was restoring the drainage system to protect the graveyard from stormwater erosion. During rainstorms in the past, water ran through the graveyard and over the gravesites causing erosion and washing away topsoil around many of the grave markers including the metal crosses that mark many of the Dawson miners' graves. To remedy this erosion problem, the diversion ditches above and around the cemetery have been re-established to divert stormwater around the graveyard. Photos of this construction may be seen by clicking here.

The Dawson New Mexico Association would like to express its gratitude to Freeport-McMoRan, the company that acquired Phelps Dodge, for recognizing the importance of the Dawson Cemetery and acknowledging the rich history and heritage of Northern New Mexico. In particular, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude to Harry Milton (Red) Conger, president and chief operating officer of Freeport-McMoRan. Red has a long and deep connection to Dawson from his days as a mining engineer and mine manager for Phelps Dodge.

The Dawson New Mexico Association also extends its gratitude to Pietro Scarafiotti for his original idea and beginning the process to request, and ultimately secure, this grant. Pietro made several presentations to Colfax County and State of New Mexico government officials and the public to make them aware of this valuable historic site and the need for action to prevent further deterioration and complete destruction due to natural and environmental forces. Further thanks to Bruno Ridolfi, who became involved in this effort a few months ago and assisted in preparing the grant proposal and facilitating the funding process with Red Conger, Freeport McMoRan, and The Raton Museum.

Last but certainly not least, many thanks to Joe Bacca, his family, and the Dawson New Mexico Association for directing and coordinating the construction and maintenance work that was needed to save the Dawson Cemetery. Thanks to the grant and the efforts of everyone involved, descendants of the residents, miners, and employees of Dawson, New Mexico will be able to visit their ancestors' gravesites at Dawson Cemetery for many years to come. This grant and the hard and dedicated work that have resulted in these much-needed improvements are a clear demonstration of the respect and admiration we hold in our hearts for those who lived, worked, and gave their lives during the time when Dawson was a booming coal mining community.

The photo below is of a sculpture reproduction of a Native American Indian by Frederick Remington, famous artist of the early American West. This sculpture, purchased by the current owners of the Dawson property, was placed in 2016 on a nearby hill above the area which was the former town of Dawson, NM as a memorial to the original Native American Indians of this area.

A special group photo was taken of all those who attended the 2016 reunion who lived or were born in Dawson, NM. If you took a photo of this group at the reunion which shows everyone, please send a copy to Joe Bacca at baccaj2000@msn.com .

Emery Corley who attended the 2014 Dawson Reunion and was a raffle donor, wrote an article about his experience in the Philmont Staff Association publication, "High Country" (February 2015). Click here to read the article on page 33 of the magazine. Special thanks to the Philmont Staff Association for allowing us to share this article. Emery Corley is an Attorney at Law in St. Louis, MO. Reprinted on the Dawson Association web site with permission of High Country ®, the official magazine of the Philmont Staff Association.

Dawson Remembered in Ceremony at Raton, NM:
In 1913, the mining community of Dawson, New Mexico was rocked to its very foundations by an explosion in the Stag Canon #2 Mine that killed 263 miners. On October 20, 2013, Irene Buongiorno representing Giuseppe Perrone, the Italian Consul General of Los Angeles presented Joe Bacca from the Dawson New Mexico Association with a metal plaque commemorating the 100th anniversary of that deadly event. The plaque will be installed at a ceremony at the Dawson Cemetery during the biannual Dawson reunion picnic held on Labor Day weekend. Click here to see the presentation and photos.

I received an email from Manlio Badiali who lives in Modena, Italy. He asked that I share the names of 15 Dawson miners from his village of Modena who lost their lives in the 1913 Dawson mine explosion. This loss of life was a terrible tragedy for the families and loved ones of these miners who left their homes to work in the Dawson mines. Click here to see the names and ages of those brave men.

Also click here to see coverage by KRQE Albuqureque, NM television coverage of the event.

KRTN Radio of Raton, NM has posted a very interesting interview of Emagene Saracino and her memories of living in Dawson, NM. You can read the interview by clicking here for their KRTN Radio web site.

New Documentaries about Dawson

An experienced documentary film director and producer are in the process of creating a public documentary of Dawson, New Mexico titled, "Canaries in a Coal Mine". The documentary will be directed by Fulvio Ottaviano and produced by Claudio Ruben. The story will be told through the point of view of its immigrant communities. Please visit their web site here and learn more about this amazing documentary by viewing a brief preview.

Emily Fraser, an alumni of the Stanford Documentary Film MFA program, has produced a documentary film about Dawson's closing in 1950 and the remarkable way Dawsonites from around the country have kept its spirit alive in the 65 years since. If you'd like to share your stories about Dawson, please contact Emily at 703.220.4971 or emilyefraser@gmail.com. More information about Emily and her work is available at https://www.pineconepictures.com/.
As of 2020, Emily's final documentary in honor of these former Dawson residents can be viewed at this link.

Joe Bacca and his daughter have scanned over 800 old Dawson photographs taken over the years and place them on a CD. The photo CD is available for a $10 purchase by contacting Joe at his e-mail which is baccaj2000@msn.com . The proceeds from the sales of the CD will be used to offset expenses incurred in sponsoring the Dawson Reunion every two years. We were also pleased to hear that over 200 folks visted the Raton Museum and toured the Dawson exhibits.

We received an e-mail from Marty Tschetter from Greenville, NC stating that he recently came across an old 1924 Dawson, NM photograph at the Raton Museum. What makes this photograph so interesting is that it shows a Dawson coal miner writing the final score of the 1924 Baseball World Series on the side of a coal car that is going to be sent down into the Dawson coal mines to let the workers know the final score. You can see these two photos by clicking here. Marty has also sent copies of these photographs to the National Baseball Museum in Cooperstown, NY on behalf of the Raton Museum. A special thanks to Marty and to Roger Sanchez, Curator of the Raton Museum, for allowing Marty to scan these old photos and sending them to the National Baseball Museum.

There has been a special request made by Brian Beker, a documentary film producer, for anyone who might have information on early 1920 Dawson resident and aviation pioneer by the name of Jules "J. J." VanDersarl. The Raton Range newspaper published a short article on Mr. Beker's request on October 4, 2010. You can read this article by clicking here.

If you have any questions about future Dawson reunions, you may contact any member of the Dawson Reunion committee who is listed below:

Joe & Sue Bacca, e-mail: baccaj2000@msn.com or tele: (575) 707-0703
Bobbie Jo Bacca, e-mail: bobbiejobacca@yahoo.com or tele: (575) 707-2624
John Gabriele, e-mail: kmckelvie233@gmail.com or tele: (575) 477-0778
John Bizyak, e-mail: bizyak@msn.com, tele: (928) 757-9333
Vivien Andrews, e-mail: viv2quilt@gmail.com or tele: (575) 707-3839
Edward & Betty Zavala, e-mail: speedyzavala@yahoo.com or tele: (575) 445-8544
Emagene Saracino tele: (575) 445-8049
Mrs. Charles G. Buttram (Lorraine), tele: (575) 445-8709
Chris Palomino, tele: (702) 575-0056
Chuck Speed, e-mail: speedo@chuckspeed.com or tele: (806) 359-9177
Ludi Pacheco, Tele: (575) 770-9061
Park Clark, Tele: email: park56@msn.com tele: (575) 445-3168
Michael & Marty & Siobhan (Daughter) Sweeney, tele: (505) 454-1765 or (505) 454-9096