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Héroe de Nacozari
The story behind Railroad Day in Mexico
A while back in this article, a reader commented that he now knew where some of the street names he was familiar with in Mexico came from. More recently in this article, I talked about the Niños Héroes in the context of the fact that so many streets in various cities and towns in Mexico bear that name. I like the idea of illuminating the stories behind some of the street, neighborhood, park, and monument names in Mexico, and I'd like to start with another héroe themed street name that is often seen in towns in Mexico: Héroe de Nacozari.
Jesús García Corona was born in Hermosillo, Sonora in 1881. At the age of 17, he began working for the rail industry and by the age of 20, he was driving trains for the Moctezuma Copper Company - a mining company in the state of Sonora. On November 7, 1907 when he was 25 years old, Jesús was called in to take over a shift as conductor for a worker who was sick. Due to a series of mistakes - boxcars carrying loads of dynamite had been attached to the front of the train instead of the rear; the locomotive's smokestack had a faulty screen that was supposed to catch embers from the burning fire that heated the boiler of the steam engine - one of the dynamite-laden boxcars caught fire while the train was stopped in the town of Nacozari. The members of the train's crew noticed the fire and quickly started to fight it, but the fire had grown beyond their capacity to extinguish. Jesús, knowing that the fire would eventually detonate the loads of dynamite and kill and injure many residents of the town, ordered his crew to abandon the train. Jesús then drove the train out of town, and continued driving to get as far away from Nacozari as possible. When the train was 6 kilometers from town, the dynamite detonated with an explosion that shook buildings and shattered windows as far as 16 kilometers from the site of the explosion. Jesús, of course, was killed instantly.
The news of Jesús García Corona's heroic deed spread quickly throughout Mexico. And as the legend of the Héroe de Nacozari grew, the name began appearing all over Mexico: streets, neighborhoods and municipalities were renamed Héroe de Nacozari (sometimes Héroes de Nacozari, in recognition of the acts of the other workers on the train to extinguish the fire). November 7, the anniversary of Jesús García Corona's sacrifice, is commemorated as Mexico's Día del Ferrocarrilero (Railroad Day). The town of Nacozari itself was renamed Nacozari de Garcia in Jesús García Corona's honor; and just a few years ago, his tomb was declared a cultural heritage site.
Sidenote and a Question
I enjoy these kinds of "people" stories. For me, I find they afford me the opportunity to create a deeper connection with Mexico; and if not a shared history, then a shared understanding of history with my Mexican friends and neighbors. However, I am curious if these kinds of less practical posts are getting in the way of what my readers really want to find here: namely, more useful and practical information about visiting or living in Mexico. I do write those kinds of articles too, but would you like to see more of them, and less of these? Please feel free to drop a comment below and let me know your thoughts. And thank you for reading!
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