A Brief History
On November 7, 1907, Jesús García saved the entire town of Nacozari de Garcia, Sonora by driving a burning train full of dynamite six kilometers away before it could explode.
By now on History and Headlines, we have had full towns and cities destroyed by everything from armies to earthquakes, floods, and even a tornado! In November 0f 1907, Nacozari, Sonora in Mexico nearly experienced a disaster that could have been added to the list of annihilated cities. The city survived thanks to a man now known as el héroe de Nacozari and for whom streets and schools have been named. Even the Red Cross declared him a “hero of humanity”!
This Mexican hero began working on the railroad at age 17. He climbed up the ranks from waterboy to switchman and finally to brakeman. In this final role, he worked on a train that traveled between Nacozari, Sonora and Douglas, Arizona. While stopped in the Mexican mining town, the resting brakeman noticed hay burning on the roof of a railway car that happened to be containing a decent quantity of dynamite. The wind had blown sparks from the locomotive’s smokestack onto the hay on top of the dynamite cars. To save the population of the town surrounding the train and with no time or readily available means to attempt to put out the fire, García sacrificed himself by driving the train in reverse downhill at full-steam out of the town. He made it six kilometers before the train, with him aboard, exploded. He was 25 when he did one of the bravest and noblest actions in world railroad history.
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Despite the impressive nature of the brakeman’s sacrifice, he is much more widely known in Mexico than in English-speaking countries. As such, he is only briefly mentioned in such English-language books as the one listed below:
Cummings, Joe. Moon Handbooks Northern Mexico: Including the Copper Canyon. Avalon Travel Pub, 1998.