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Crosses of Iron: The Tragic Story of Dawson, New Mexico and Its Twin Mining Disasters

February 7

Nick Pappas

Journalist, Author

In October 1913, 261 miners and two rescuers died when a massive explosion ripped through a mine operated by Phelps, Dodge & Co. in Dawson, N.M. Ten years later, a second blast claimed the lives of another 120 miners. Today, all that remains is a cemetery marked by a sea of white iron crosses memorializing the nearly four hundred miners killed in the two explosions—and a vibrant community that still gathers by the hundreds every other Labor Day weekend for a picnic reunion on the old townsite, nearly three-quarters of a century after the town was no more. Nick will present the history of these events, of the rise and decline of  the mining town of Dawson, NM, and of the strong bond of former residents and families of that town that remains to this day.

Nick Pappas worked for four decades in the newspaper industry, most recently as an editor at the Albuquerque Journal. He has written news stories, columns and award-winning editorials, as well as freelance articles for magazines. Prior to the Journal, he spent nearly 24 years at The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H, where he served at different times as business editor, city editor, managing editor, editor-in-chief and editorial page editor. He was named an editorial writer of the year by the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2009 and 2011, and he was recognized by the New Hampshire Press Association with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. A native of Lowell, Mass., he now lives with his wife, Susan, in Albuquerque.

Nick Pappas’ book, Crosses of Iron: The Tragic Story of Dawson, New Mexico and Its Twin Mining Disasters (2023) is available from the University of New Mexico Press ( or through your local bookshop ((bookshop, org).

Here is the link to the presentation:   


February 7
Event Category:


Friends of History
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113 Lincoln Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501 United States
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