Jesús Garcia – A Mexican Hero

Jesús Garcia is an unsung hero. No, that’s not right – he’s a national hero in his home coutry, being the Mexican Casey Jones, but his fame hasn’t spread to Dudley, UK. Here’s an attempt to put that right.

It’s November 1907, and in the mining town of Nacozari, a train has pulled into the station. Not an unusual occurance, but this was the day that the train was filled with dynamite, and the day hay on the roof of one of the carriages caught fire. Dynamite and fire is never a good combination, especially not in a town of 5,000 people. The train had to be moved.

Step forward Jesús Garcia, who got in the train, cranked it up to full steam and drove it six kilometres out of town before it exploded, killing 12 people (including Garcia) but saving Nacozari. In memory of his heroism, November 7 is now commemorated as the Día del Ferrocarrilero (Day of the Railroad Worker) and, in 1909, the town was renamed Nacozari de Garcia.

It’s the sort of history people write songs about – here’s the folk song ‘Maquina 501’ (Locomotive 501) – they got the number wrong, but that’s where history enters myth. There’s a deeper treatment of the story here, which has it all – fiancee dying of a broken heart, the train exploding just a few metres from safety – so let’s take a moment to remember a man who deserves a little more fame than he has. Vaya con Dios.

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