Remembering another mining hero
The coal mine rescue of nine miners near Somerset, Pa., has been a spectacular success and dramatizes how the mining industry has led industry in safety for many generations, going as far back as the 16th century in German industry. Then miners were rated just below royalty and clergy in status because of their leading role in industrial progress.
In my quest for references to mine safety my files have produced a photograph of a group of Phelps Dodge copper miners from Nacozari, Sonora, Mexico enjoying the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904 after participating in a national mine safety contest. One of those miners was a Jesus Garcia.
The story of Jesus Garcia is an intriguing one and reflects upon the unselfish nature of heroes. Jesus Garcia, long a hero in Mexico, was inducted into our National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville last year, joining such noted mining people as Herbert Hoover.
I think you’ll enjoy visiting the National Mining Museum and researching Jesus Garcia in our newest Mining Hall of Fame Room on the third floor. While there be sure to check the historic murals in that room by our own artist, Esther Moolick.
Here is his incredible story.
Jesus Garcia, a young mining locomotive engineer in the employment of the copper producer Phelps Dodge, drove a train carrying four tons of burning dynamite away from the town center of Nacozari, Mexico, on Nov. 7, 1907. About a half mile out of town the dynamite exploded. The shock of the blast was felt 10 miles away. Jesus Garcia and 13 others were killed. Nacozari and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of its people were saved.
On that fateful day in 1907, a horrifying decision had confronted Jesus Garcia. The dynamite on his train caught fire not far from a powder magazine where another 500 tons of dynamite were stored. He could run away or he could attempt to remove the “bomb” from the compact town nestled in a bowl-shaped valley.
Jesus Garcia did not hesitate. He raised steam and headed uphill toward open country. On the way he ordered his crew to jump. Half a mile away the dynamite exploded. The train all but vanished.
The town of Nacozari was renamed Nacozari de Garcia.
The mining industry is full of courageous, well-trained heroes and safety has always been their prime concern.
R. T. Moolick
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