The Consolidation Coal Company (CCC) was founded in 1875 in Iowa and purchased by the Chicago and North Western Railroad in 1880 in order to secure a local source of coal. The company operated in south central Iowa in Mahaska and Monroe counties until after World War I. Exhaustion of some resources, competition from overseas markets, and other changes led to the company's closing down its mines and leaving its major planned towns by the late 1920s. The CCC worked at Muchakinock in Mahaska County until the coal resources of that area were largely exhausted. In 1900, the company purchased 10,000 acres (40 km2) in southern Mahaska County and northern Monroe County, Iowa.
After rapidly building the planned community of Buxton in northern Monroe County, CCC moved its headquarters there. Buxton has been described as "an example of the superimposition of the urban-industrial pattern on the rural countryside and the subsequent shifts that occur as regional economic exploitive systems change." CCC hired a high proportion of African-American workers, recruited from the South, and they occupied leadership positions in the local unions and company towns. Buxton was an active town until about 1925, when the CCC opened camps closer to its new mines. It had become the largest unincorporated city in the nation and the largest coal town west of the Mississippi River. In 1927 the mine closed and by the late 1930s, Buxton had been totally abandoned. The coal markets had changed after World War I, and the workers dispersed to other locales and cities across the country.
Consolidation's Mine No. 18 in Buxton was probably the largest bituminous coal mine in Iowa. By 1913, the Buxton UMWA union local was reported to have "at least 80 percent colored men." In 1914, Buxton had 5,000 people and was the largest town in the United States to be "populated and governed entirely or almost entirely by Negroes."
Beginning in 1880, Consolidation was one of the first northern industrial employers to make large-scale use of African-American labor. It recruited Southern black workers as strike breakers, most of whom came from mining regions of Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky, and retained them. Those working at Muchakinock and Buxton were given equal pay to white workers and lived in integrated communities. Due to its regional and national significance, the townsite of Buxton was surveyed for archeological resources and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
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