November 7, 1907 – Jesús García saves a town by driving a burning train full of dynamite away

The location of the explosion, outside of Nacozari.

Jesús García Corona, born on November 13, 1881, in Hermosillo, Sonora, was a Mexican railroad brakeman whose heroic act in 1907 made him an enduring symbol of courage and selflessness. Known as “el héroe de Nacozari,” García’s life was tragically cut short when he prevented a train loaded with dynamite from exploding near Nacozari, Sonora, Mexico. His remarkable sacrifice spared the lives of many, and today, he is revered as a national hero. In this blog, we will delve into the life and heroic actions of Jesús García, celebrating his unwavering bravery and the impact he made on Mexican history.

The early life of Jesús García

Jesús García
Jesús García

Jesús García was born into a family of eight children, growing up in Hermosillo, Sonora. His early life was marked by humble beginnings, but he showed promise and ambition from a young age. At the age of 17, García secured a job with the Moctezuma Copper Company, an opportunity that marked the beginning of his remarkable journey.

Despite his youth, García’s dedication and work ethic quickly became evident. Initially, he started as a waterboy, but his determination soon led to promotions within the company. He moved from a waterboy to a switchman, then to a brakeman, and finally to a fireman. His steady ascent through the ranks reflected his commitment to his work and the railroad industry.

A heroic moment

Jesús García’s most heroic moment took place on November 7, 1907, in the town of Nacozari, Sonora, home to some 5,000 residents, mostly copper miners. There is where he worked as a railroad brakeman on the line that connected Nacozari to Douglas, Arizona. Little did he know that this day would become a turning point not only in his life but in Mexican history.

As García was resting on the job, he noticed something truly alarming. A car containing dynamite on the train had caught fire. The source of the fire was traced back to a failing smokebox on the locomotive, which allowed sparks to escape from the smokestack. The wind carried these sparks and ignited the dynamite cars, putting the entire town of Nacozari in imminent danger.

A train at the Moctezuma Copper Corporation. Though not the train in this story it is known Garcia operated on this locomotive, #2, in his lifetime.

In a moment of extraordinary bravery, Jesús García Corona took swift and decisive action. Without hesitation, he jumped into action, quickly realizing the impending disaster. He knew that he had to prevent the locomotive from detonating within the town, a catastrophe that would have resulted in countless lives lost. García took courageous action, driving the train in reverse, downhill, at full steam, away from Nacozari. The perilous journey stretched for six kilometers before the inevitable occurred.

The legacy of Jesús García

Tragically, Jesús García’s selfless act came at a great cost. As he drove the train further away from Nacozari, the dynamite finally exploded, taking his life in the process, as well as 12 others who happened to be near the location of the explosion. His sacrifice, however, was not in vain. His efforts spared the population of the mining town, though nearly every window in the community shattered. From that moment on, Jesús García’s heroism became etched into the annals of Mexican history.

Jesús García’s selflessness and sacrifice did not go unnoticed. He became known as “el héroe de Nacozari,” and his actions continue to inspire generations of Mexicans. Streets, plazas, and schools across Mexico bear his name as a testament to his bravery and as a reminder of the importance of selfless acts in the face of danger.

Jesús García’s life was tragically short, but his legacy endures as a symbol of heroism and selflessness. His courageous act in driving a train loaded with dynamite away from Nacozari, Sonora, ultimately saved the town and its inhabitants. His story reminds us that one person can make a difference through acts of extraordinary bravery and sacrifice. García is immortalized in numerous ways, including in song:

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