Buxton, Iowa was a mining town built in the late 1800’s by the Consolidation Coal Company. In a time where racial diversity and integration was uncommon, the town and workforce of Buxton was almost entirely made up of African Americans. Even with a smaller Caucasian population, the residents of Buxton all claimed that “segregation,” if present, was completely voluntary. Nearly every aspect of the town, including the schools, stores, and restaurants were all integrated, and many businesses were owned and operated by African Americans.
Not only was segregation not apparent in daily life in Buxton, but African-American workers were also treated the same as white employees by the Consolidation Coal Company. Almost 2,000 men were hired by the CCC, and each of them took home a weekly salary between $50 and $100. Mining workers accounted for approximately 40% of the population of Buxton, while others made livings working and/or operating their own small businesses in town. Buxton’s professional community included many highly-educated individuals, including Dr. E.A. Carter, the first black individual to ever graduate from the University of Iowa’s Medical School.
Buxton, Iowa reached its highest level of operation at the start of World War I. Although they only mined coal, the high demand for coal made Buxton an economic gold mine. Its residents, both black and white, received higher wages and experienced an incomparable standard of living for the time. However, as many individuals left Buxton to serve in the military, the population began to shift, and by 1915, African-Americans no longer made up the majority of the population. In 1923, the Consolidation Coal Company moved from Buxton to Haydock, Iowa, which sped up Buxton’s decline. Having had its population on the decline since as early as 1911, by 1930, Buxton was a modern ghost town.
Searching for Buxton Documentary:
Iowa Public Television’s Story on Buxton:
Black Past, Remembered & Reclaimed
Clio News, The Black Coal Mining Town of Buxton
Iowa Public Television, The Great Buxton
Perry News, Buxton, Iowa: A Town Built on Inclusion & Equality