Latitude / Longitude:
41° 9′ 30 N, 92° 49′ 15.63 W
Central (CST) (UTC-6)
As early as 1888, a few small mines were in operation along Bluff Creek, but this changed at the dawn of the 20th century. In 1900 and 1901, after extending the Muchakinock branch of the Chicago and North Western tracks across the Des Moines River, the Consolidation Coal Company opened a new mining camp at Buxton, in Monroe County 41°9’30N 92°49’15.63W. The camp was named by B. C. Buxton after his father, John E. Buxton, who had managed the mines at Muchakinock. The company created a planned community that was developed along a regular grid pattern. It hired architect Frank E. Wetherell to design miners’ houses, two churches, and a high school as part of its “urban planning and social humanitarianism.” The US Post Office at Buxton operated from 1901 to 1923.
Consolidation Mine No. 10 was about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Buxton, with a 119-foot-deep (36 m) shaft and a 69-foot (21 m) headframe, working a coal seam that varied from 4 to 7 feet (2.1 m) thick. The hoists could lift 4 cars to the surface in a minute, each carrying up to 1.5 tons of coal. Electric haulage was used in the mines, using a combination of third-rail, trolley wire, and rack-and-pinion haulage. Mine No. 11, opened in 1902, was about a mile south of No. 10, with a 207-foot (63 m) shaft. By 1908, Consolidation had opened Mine No. 15. All of the Buxton mines worked a coal seam about 54 inches thick.
The abandoned Buxton town land has been cultivated as farmland. The town site was the subject of an archaeological survey in the 1980s, which investigated the economic and social aspects of material culture of African Americans in Iowa. As a result of the finds and the regional and national significance of Buxton, the archeological site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The company town is notable as a former “black utopia.”
By the time Mine No. 18 had opened, the center of CCC mining activity had moved 10 miles to the west of Buxton, and the company opened new mining camps closer to the mines. As a result, the population shifted and Buxton declined markedly in the 1920s; its last mine closed in 1927. By 1938, the Federal Writers Project Guide to Iowa reported that the site of Buxton was abandoned and that the locations of Buxton’s former “stores, churches and schoolhouses are marked only by stakes.” Every September, hundreds of former Buxton residents met for a reunion on the site of the former town.