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ouraers  of 
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■  of  Ihe  Mining  and  Scientific  Press  ;  formerly 
Editor  of  the  Engineering  and  Mining  Journal;  Associate 
of  tfie  Royal  School  of  Mines;  Member  of  the  Institution  of 
Mining  and  Metallurgy;  Member  of  the  American  Institute 
of  Mining  Engineers ;  Stale  Geologist  of  Colorado  (1895-1901)  ; 
Author  of  'The  Stamp-Milling  of  Gold  Ores,'  'The  Copper 
Mines  of  Lake  Superior,'  'The  Sampling  and  Estimation  of 
Ore  in  a  Mine,'  'Pyrile  Smelling,'  'The  Economics  of  Mining.' 


SAN     FRANCISCO 


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Copyright  IQ07 
By  thb  Mining  and  Scientific  Pkbss 


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"preface 


This  book  records  the  observations  made  by  a 
traveler  who  happened  to  be  a  mining  engineer;  it 
is  supposed  to  belong  to  the  type  of  voyages  metallurgi- 
queSy  such  as  were  published  in  days  before  the  globe 
had  been  over-run  by  tourists  and  its  distant  corners 
rendered  commonplace  by  the  exaggerations  of  the 
daily  press.  To  the  members  of  my  profession  the 
comment  concerning  the  industrial  conditions,  geo- 
logical structure,  mining  methods,  and  metallurgical 
practice  of  southwestern  Colorado  and  a  progressive 
part  of  Mexico,  will  have  the  interest  that  comes  from 
observations  which  reflect  a  point  of  view  somewhat 
similar  to  their  own,  while  to  the  layman  the  not  too 
severely  technical  descriptions,  aided  by  beautiful 
photographs,  will  afford  information  of  a  kind  rarely 
obtainable  except  in  periodicals  devoted  to  tech- 
nology. It  is  hoped  that  this  record  of  conditions  in 
two  representative  mining  regions  may  have  a  his- 
torical value  in  the  days  to  come.  Moreover,  I  have 
thought  it  well  to  publish  this  volume  as  an  expres- 
sion of  thanks  to  those  who  were  kind  enough  to 
give  me  many  valuable  data  and  to  make  my  travels 
pleasant  by  their  courtesy  and  hospitality.  I  am 
indebted  to  many  friends  for  the  photographs,  for 
only  a  few  of  them  are  my  own.  From  the  United 
States  Geological  Survey  were  obtained  half  a  dozen 
of  the  best  views  of  the  San  Juan;  other  acknowledg- 
ments appear  in  the  text. 

T.  A.  RICKARD. 

San  Francisco,  September  15,  1907. 


5lllne5  of  Mlexlco 


Being  the  record  of  a  journey  from  New 
York  to  Mexico,  together  with  a  descrip- 
tion of  the  mining  industry  of  £1  Oro, 
Pachuca,  and  Guanajuato,  as  observed  in 
October,  1905.  Reprinted  by  permission 
from  the  Mining  and  Scientific  Press. 


(Contents 


Chapter  Page 

1.  New  York  from  the  Harbor.    A  Farewell  to  Man- 

hattan         I 

2.  Havana.    A  Cigar  Factory.    The  Spanish  Conquest. 

Hernando  Cortez.  The  First  Sight  of  Orizaba    .       5 

3.  Vera  Cruz.     On   the   Mexican   Railway.     Tropical 

Vegetation.    Coffee  Plantations.    At  Orizaba     .     13 

4.  The  Physiography  of  Mexico.    Outlines  of  History. 

At  Esperanza.     The  Maguey  and  Pulque.     A 
National  Habit.    Arrival  at  the  City  of  Mexico  .     18 
5-    Geology  Along  the  Railroad.    Precious  Metals  in  the 
Volcanic  Dust.     Vein  Formation.    The  Sulphur 
of  Popocatepetl 25 

6.  The  City  of  Mexico.    First  Impressions.    The  School 

of  Mines.  Memories  of  Del  Rio.  The  Meteor- 
ites.   Cortez 29 

7.  El  Oro.    Rich  Mines.    The  Geology  of  the  District. 

The  Mexico  Mine.  The  Structure  of  the  Lodes. 
In  the  El  Oro  Mine.  A  Wide  Lode-Channel. 
Faults 35 

8.  Geology  of  the  Esperanza  Mine.    Interesting  Struc- 

ture. A  Big  Fault.  Rich  Orebody.  Story  of 
the  Discovery.     Character  of  the  Ore     ...     43 

9.  Development  of  the  MilHng  Practice  at  El  Oro.     Be- 

ginning of  Cyanidation.  First  Big  Mill.  Change 
of  Method.  Tube-Mills  and  Re-Grinding  .  .  54 
10.  Treatment  of  Slime.  Use  of  Lead  Acetate.  Addi- 
tion of  Lime.  Its  Double  Function.  Settlement 
of  the  Slime.  The  Tube-Mills.  Their  Lining. 
Successful  Work 61 

ix 


CONTENTS 

Giapter  Page 

11.  Further  Notes  on  El  Oro  Practice.    The  Stamp-Mill. 

Mortars  and  Guides.  Apparatus  for  Sizing.  The 
Precipitation  House.  Filter-Presses.  Record  of 
Tests 69 

12.  The  Mill  of  the  Esperanza.    Use  of  Huntington  Mills. 

Treatment  of  Sand.  No  Amalgamation.  Extrac- 
tion       76 

13.  Mining  Methods  in  the  El  Oro  Mine.     Diamond- 

Drilling  in  the  Esperanza.  Timbering  Bad 
Ground,  Precautions  Taken.  Laying  of  Track. 
Excellent  System 79 

14.  Taxes.    The  Dynamite  Imposition.     Electric  Power. 

Dos  Estrellas.  Its  Discovery.  The  Humor  of 
Cyaniding.  How  Boundary  Marks  Are  Pre- 
served         93 

15.  Mine  Labor.    The  Contract  System.    Native  Improv- 

idence and  Skill.  Difference  of  Locality.  Poor 
Hammermen,  but  Willing  Workers.    Hot  Mines  loi 

16.  Pachuca.    An  Old  Mining  Centre.    Ancient  Methods. 

The  Discovery  of  the  Patio  Process.  Revolu- 
tionary Days.    The  Invasion  of  the  Moderns  .      .   109 

17.  Real   Del    Monte.     Old    Machinery.    The    Viscaiiia 

Lode.  Its  Early  Romance.  La  DiflScultad.  An 
Electrical  Pump.  Lode  Structure.  Local  Ge- 
ology.    Scenery 117 

18.  The  Reduction  Works  of  Pachuca.    The  Hacienda  de 

Guadalupe.  Treatment  on  the  Patio.  A  Metal- 
lurgical Survival.    Some  Criticisms     ....   129 

19.  The    Chemistry    of    the    Patio    Process.      Chemical 

Equations.  Observations  of  Humboldt.  Loss  of 
Mercury.    Contrast  of  Policy 139 

X 


CONTENTS 

Chapter  Page 

20.  Other   Metallurgical    Processes.    The    Hacienda    la 

Union.  Kroencke's  Method.  Tube-Mills.  The 
Barrel  Process.  Francke's  Process.  Chilean 
Mills.    Retorting  the  Amalgam.    The  Planilla  .   148 

21.  First  Glimpse  of  Guanajuato.    The  History  of  Local 

Mining.  The  Veta  Madre,  and  Its  Bonanzas. 
Rich  Mine-Owners.  The  Count  of  Valenciana. 
Story  of  the  Church.    Decadence  of  the  District  160 

22.  Guanajuato  at  Its  Height.    Deep  Mining.    Visit  of 

Humboldt.  Decadence.  La  Luz.  The  Revival. 
An  American  Invasion.  The  Story  of  Modem 
Progress 169 

23.  Visit  to  the  Old  Mines.    A  Cavalcade.    The  Bustos 

Plant.  Mechanical  Devices  Against  Manual 
Labor.  The  Mother  Lode.  San  Miguel  de 
Rayas 176 

24.  A  Grand  View.    Reminders  of  a  Former  Time.     Eng- 

lish Enterprise 184 

25.  The  Great  Shafts  of  the  Veta  Madre.    The  Rayas. 

The  Cata.  The  Tiro  General.  What  Bryan  Said 
of  It.  How  It  Was  Unwatered.  A  Wonderful 
Spectacle 188 

26.  The  Malacate  and  Its  Operation.    The  Avio  System. 

Electric  Power.  A  Curious  Difficulty.  How  the 
Eagles  Interrupt  the  Current.    A  Strike  .  .   196 

2*].  The  Peregrina  Mine.  Old  Spanish  Workings. 
Shrines  Underground.  Acetylene  Lamps.  Sam- 
pling a  Dump 201' 

28.  The  Dumps  of  Guanajuato.  How  to  Sample.  The 
Mexican  Idea.  Two  True  Stories.  The  Biter 
Bit 206 

xi 


CONTENTS 

Chapter  Page 

29.  The  Geology  of  the  Veta  Madre.    A  Big  Fault.    Posi- 

tion of  the  Orebodies.    A  Cross-Section.    Hum- 
boldt's Description.    What  is  a  True  Vein  ?  .      .211 

30.  The  Development  of  Metallurgical  Practice  at  the 

Sirena  Mill.     From  Amalgamation  to  Cyanida- 
tion.     Re-Grinding 229 

31.  Method  of  Treatment  in  the  Bustos  Mill.     Conveying 

the  Tailing  by  Pipe.    The  Stamp-Mill.    Cyanide 
Practice.    Comparison  with  the  Patio  Process     .  239 

32.  Old  Methods.     An  Abandoned  Arrastre.     The  Ha- 

cienda de  Rocha.    Men  and  Mules     ....  246 

33.  The  Flood  at  Guanajuato.     The  Humor  and  the 

Tragedy  of  It.     Conclusion 252 


xu 


TClsl  of  "JUuslraUotts 


The  Gateway Frontispiece 

Facing  Page 

Map  of  Mexico i 

On  the  East  River,  New  York 2 

New  York,  as  Seen  from  the  Harbor 3 

The  Morro,  Havana.    Making  Drawn- Work  in  Mexico  .  4 

Central  Park  and  Albesu  Theatre,  Havana 5 

The  Harbor  of  Havana 6 

Cabanas  Castle,  Opposite  Havana 7 

A  Glimpse  of  Old  Havana 10 

The  Prado,  Havana 11 

Orizaba 12 

On  the  Railroad  above  Maltrata 13 

Tropical  Vegetation 14 

A  Coffee  Plantation 15 

A  Maguey  Plantation 20 

The  Patio  of  the  Iturbide.    The  Plaza  at  Orizaba  ....  21 

The  Palace  of  Chapultepec 22 

The  Church  of  Guadalupe 23 

A  Country  House  in  Mexico 26 

Popocatepetl 27 

A  Fruit  Vendor 28 

On  the  Presa  at  Guanajuato.    A  Glimpse  of  Chapultepec  .      .  29 

The  Casa  Blanca,  at  El  Oro 34 

The  Timber  Camp  of  the  El  Oro  Mining  and  Railway  Co.     .  35 

Statue  to  the  Last  of  the  Aztec  Kings 36 

Sorting  Ore.    On  the  Outskirts  of  Guanajuato      ....  45 

Putting  Timbers  in  Place 46 

A  Good  Lode  in  the  El  Oro  Mine 47 


. .  ■ 


xiu 


LIST    OF    ILLUSTRATIONS 

Facing  Page 

A  Rich  Stope  in  the  Esperanza  Mine 52 

General  View  of  El  Oro 53 

In  the  Market  Place 60 

Another  Market  Place 61 

Cyanide  Vats  and  Tailing- Wheel 68 

Interior  of  the  El  Oro  Stamp-Mill 69 

Leaching- Vats  of  the  El  Oro  Mill 76 

Blaisdell  Excavator  and  Sand- Vats yy 

Timbering  in  the  El  Oro  Mine.    An  Old  Water-Carrier  .  84 

Electrical  Traction  Underground  in  the  Esperanza  Mine     .  85 

Timbering  a  Drift-Stope  in  the  El  Oro  Mine 85 

General  View  of  El  Oro  - 92 

The  Esperanza  Mine  and  Mill 93 

The  Water-Carrier  or  Botero 98 

The  Cross  near  the  Somera  Shaft 99 

Pay-Day  at  the  Casa  Blanca,  El  Oro 99 

General  View  of  Pachuca no 

The  Plaza  of  Pachuca in 

The  Mines  of  Pachuca 118 

The  Mines  of  Pachuca 1 19 

An  Old  Patio  in  Action 122 

A  Chilean  Mill  in  Operation 123 

El  Camonero.    Moving  Slime  onto  the  Patio 134 

A  Tube-Mill  in  the  Hacienda  La  Union  at  Pachuca  .  -134 

Two  Views  of  the  Patio  Process 135 

Three  Stages  in  the  Patio  Process 138 

Horses  Treading  the  Charge.    El  Camonero 139 

A  Typical  Patio 146 

Mixing  the  Charge  on  the  Patio 147 

Furnace  for  Retorting  Amalgam 158 

Two  Views  of  Men  Operating  the  Planilla  at  Pachuca  159 

The  Flying  Buttresses  of  San  Miguel  de  Rayas  ....  166 

In  the  Courtyard  of  the  Rayas  Mine 167 

Looking  Down  the  Main  Street  of  Guanajuato     ....  170 

xiv 


LIST    OF    ILLUSTRATIONS 

Facing  Page 
The  City  of  Guanajuato 171 

Among  Friends  at  Guanajuato 176 

Steel  Ore-Bins  and  Battery  Foundations  of  the  Bustos  Mill  .   177 

The  Gateway  of  the  Rayas  Mine 178 

The  Ruins  of  the  San  Miguel  de  Rayas  Mine  ....  179 
The  Great  Shaft  of  the  Valenciana,  Looking  Down  .  .  .  190 
Bridge  over  the  Guanajuato  River,  near  La  Presa  .     .  191 

Two  Views  of  the  Tiro  General 192 

The  Tiro  General  or  Valenciana  Shaft 193 

A  Malacate  or  Horse- Whim 196 

On  the  Road  to  the  Mines 197 

A  Bit  of  Old  Mexico 198 

A  Distant  View  of  Guanajuato.    The  Villas  of  the  Presa    .   199 

The  Basket  Store.    By  the  Way 202 

Shrine  in  the  Peregrina  Mine 203 

Hacienda  San  Francisco  de  Pastita 203 

A  Big  Stope  in  the  Peregrina  Mine 204 

Sorting  Ore  at  the  Peregrina  Mine 205 

Guanajuato 212 

A  Typical  Street  in  Guanajuato 213 

A  Bit  of  the  Veta  Madre 220 

A  Mexican  Ox  Wagon 221 

The  Tanateros.    On  the  Street 228 

Mexican  Miners  at  Work 229 

The  Hacienda  San  Francisco  de  Pastita 236 

A  Glimpse  of  Guanajuato  Through  a  Hedge  of  Organ  Cactus  237 
Pipe-Line  for  Conveying  Tailing.    Tube-Mill  at  Pachuca     .  242 

A  Mexican  Family 243 

Water  Wheel  and  Irrigation  Method 246 

An  Old  Arrastre 247 

Hacienda  de  Rocha 250 

Typical  Hacienda  de  Beneficio  or  Reduction  Works  .  .251 

Scenes  in  Guanajuato  After  the  Flood 254 

Plazuela  de  San  Pedro,  Guanajuato 255 

XV 


TClsl  of  T)rawlns5 


Figure  Page 

1.  Cross-Section  Through  Shaft  of  the  Mexico  Mine     .  37 

2.  Cross-Section  of  Vein  in. the  Mexico  Mine     ...  39 

3.  Diagram  Showing  the  Series  of  Geological  Events  45 

4.  Lode-Fault,  San  Rafael  Vein 47 

5.  The  Esperanza  Fault.    After  J.  E.  Spurr  ....  49 

6.  Plan  of  Second  Level  of  Esperanza  Mine  ....  51 

7.  Diagram  of  Cyanide  Treatment  at  Plant  No.  2     .      .  57 

8.  Diagram  of  Sizing  Tests  at  Mill  No.  2      ....  74 

9.  Drift  Timbering 82 

10.  Timbering  in  Bad  Ground 83 

11.  Use  of  Jack-Screw 83 

12.  Special  Shaft  Set;   14-in.  Timbers 85 

13.  Square  Set.    8-in.  Timbers.    Plan  and  Elevation  .      .  86 

14.  Square  Set.     8-in.  Timbers.     Elevation  and  Details  87 

15.  Split  Switch,  for  Electric  Motor  Underground     .      .  90 

16.  Fixed  Switch  in  Track  Underground 91 

17.  The  Santa  Inez  Vein 125 

18.  Cross-Section  of  the  Veta  Madre 212 

19.  Cross-Fault  of  the  Veta  Madre 213 

20.  Plan  and  Sections  of  the  Veta  Madre 215 

21.  Typical  Section  of  the  Veta  Madre 218 

22.  Arrangement  of  Classifiers 233 

23.  Old  Stamp-Mill .248 

24  and  25.    Arrastre  and  Pans 249 

26  and  27.     Retorting  the  Amalgam 251 


xvi 


5Ulne5  of  itlexlco 


(Lfytipl^r  \ 


NEW   YORK    FROM    THE    HARBOR - 
TO  MANHATTAN. 


A   FAREWELL 


HE  tide  was  sweeping 
down  the  channel  as  the 
j  Seguranfa  left  her  berth  at 
the  Brooklyn  wharf  and 
swung  into  the  East  river. 
It  was  a  clear  sunny  morn- 
ing early  in  October  and 
the  great  harbor  of  New 
York  looked  its  very  best. 
To  the  sound  of  many 
whistles  our  steamship  threaded  her  way  among  the 
ferry-boats  and  barges  that  congregate  where,  off 
Governor's  island,  the  estuary  separating  Long 
island  from  Manhattan  meets  the  waters  of  the 
Hudson.  As  we  passed  between  Fort  William  and 
the  statue  of  Liberty,  the  broken  sky-line  of  New 
York  City  stood  silhouetted  against  the  sky.    There 


,  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 


•  •  •  • 


•  •  • 


was  jtrst  enough  smoke  to  soften  the  outlines  of  the 
,  .'serrated  pile  of  lofty  buildings,  which,  like  a  Titan's 
••  -stronghold,  guard  the  great  waterway.  Knowing 
the  manifold  activities  that  have  created  the  island 
city,  I  felt  the  impressiveness,  rather  than  the  poetry, 
of  the  scene.  Even  such  smoke  as  came  from  the  tall 
towers  of  steel  and  stone,  called,  with  grim  humor, 
the  'sky-scrapers,'  seemed,  not  the  incense  rising  from 
a  peaceful  dwelling,  but  the  murk  of  battle,  the  con- 
fused black  fog  of  complex  strife.  Despite  her  higher 
mental  activities  and  benevolent  endeavors.  New 
York,  rising  proudly  by  the  waters  that  made  her  a 
great  seaport,  is  the  expression  in  stone  of  a  relent- 
less materialism,  a  predatory  finance,  and  a  reckless 
luxury  of  life.  Even  the  statue  of  Liberty,  with  her 
bronze  oxidized  to  green  and  her  guano-crowned 
head,  has  the  air  more  of  an  old  woman  holding  aloft 
a  hot  penny  to  incite  a  scramble  among  the  awaiting 
small  boys,  than  of  the  representative  of  a  freedom 
long  since  changed  to  license. 

As  the  Seguranga  turned  into  mid-channel  we 
could  see  the  dark  cafion  of  Broadway  and  the  series 
of  splendid  structures  that  line  its  sunless  depth. 
Trinity  church  is  no  longer  to  be  seen,  it  is  obscured 
by  a  23-story  sky-scraper  where  congregate  daily  a 
group  of  men  capable  of  running  a  continent — ^and 
they  do  their  best.  The  financiers  look  down  upon, 
and  over,  the  spire  of  Trinity — in  more  senses  than 
one.  When  Huxley  came  to  America,  in  1876,  he, 
like  all  visitors,  was  impressed  with  the  scene  pre- 


•''■1 

NEW  YORK  HARBOR  3 

sented  even  by  the  undeveloped  New  York  of  that 
day,  and  seeing  the  yellow  dome  of  the  World  build- 
ing, which  for  so  long  dominated  the  high  roofs  of 
the  city,  he  exclaimed  that  in  approaching  the  shores 
of  other  lands,  the  first  thing  to  be  seen  was  a  church- 
steeple,  but  that  here,  emblematic  of  the  unshackled 
thought  of  a  new  country,  the  first  to  catch  the  eye 
was  the  tower  of  a  newspaper.  If  he  had  only  known 
for  what  literary  sewage  that  yellow  dome  stood 
sentry,  he,  though  an  agnostic,  would  have  longed  to 
see  the  old-fashioned  landmark.  Trinity  steeple  is 
dwarfed  by  the  Empire  building,  but,  in  compensation, 
the  dome  of  the  World  building  is  hidden  by  several 
recent  monuments  to  the  growth  of  our  steel  in- 
dustry. 

As  the  city  is  left  in  our  wake,  growing  dim  amid 
its  thin  veil  of  smoke,  the  brutality  of  the  crowds  at 
Brooklyn  bridge,  the  foul  air  of  the  Subway,  the 
merciless  sandbagging  of  Wall  street,  and  the  putrid 
politics  of  Tammany,  are  forgotten  in  the  beauty  of 
the  harbor  and  the  splendor  of  its  life.  Approaching 
The  Narrows,  between  Staten  island  and  Long 
island,  the  white  hulls  of  the  battleships  at  anchor  off 
St.  George,  the  swift  passage  of  a  handsome  yacht, 
the  slow  procession  of  barges  crossing  to  Brooklyn, 
the  stately  sailing  ships  preparing  for  a  long  voyage, 
and  the  majestic  movement  of  a  huge  Atlantic  liner 
coming  to  port,  all  emphasize  the  multiplicity  of  a 
throbbing  life,  the  pulsations  of  which  are  felt  the 
world  over.    And  so,  farewell,  thou  Empress  City  of 


4  AMONG  THE  MINES  OF  MEXICO 

the  New  World,  thou  hast  the  respect  received  by 
those  that  have  power,  and  the  admiration  due  to 
those  that  are  magnificent;  if  thou  dost  not  win  the 
love  awakened  by  kindly  deeds  and  homely  service, 
thou  reckest  not.  Men  may  come  and  men  may  go, 
as  long  as  steel  is  strong  and  gold  is  good ! 


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HAVANA— A  CIGAR  FACTORY— THE  SPANISH  CON- 
QUEST—HERNANDO  CORTEZ— THE  FIRST  SIGHT 
OF  ORIZABA. 

I  T  was   four  days  to   Havana. 

j  The  port  is  guarded  by  the 
Morro,  a  castellated  fort  stand- 
ing on  a  promontory  to  the  left 
of  the  entrance.  During  the  late 
Spanish-American   war,   Morro 

*  castle  was  often  busy,  but  it  did 

1  no  execution  until  the  last  day; 
in  fact,  after  the  armistice  had  been  signed  at  Porto 
Rico.  On  that  solitary  occasion  a  shell  went  through 
the  New  Orleans,  a  cruiser,  from  stern  to  bow,  between 
decks,  killing  no  one,  but  playing  sad  havoc  with  the 
officers'  quarters.  Within  the  harbor,  one  is  still 
reminded  of  the  late  unpleasantness  by  the  remains 
of  the  sunken  battleship  Maine.  The  military  mast 
and  a  portion  of  the  'strong-backs,'  or  iron  super- 
structure, project  above  the  water.  To  them  I  saw 
attached  a  metallic  wreath  on  which  was  inscribed 
Memori  Missouri,  evidently  placed  there  by  the  men  of 
another  battleship.  The  Maine  was  blown  up  on  Feb- 
ruary 16,  1898,  and  I  recollect  the  stir  it  made  in  dis- 
tant lands,  for  on  that  day  I  happened  to  be  at  Cairo, 
Egypt,  where  everyone  in  the  Anglo-American  col- 


6  AMONG  THE  MINES  OF  MEXICO 

ony  confidently  accepted  the  tragedy  as  the  fore- 
runner of  war.  There  have  been  many  discussions  as 
to  the  responsibility  for  the  crime,  but  it  is  generally 
accepted  among  the  well-informed  that  it  rests  upon 
the  "j^artido  revolucionario^  the  revolutionary  party  in 
Cuba,  whose  object  it  was  to  embroil  the  United 
States  in  war  with  the  Spanish  Government.  How 
well  they  succeeded,  all  the  world  knows. 

I  shall  not  try  to  give  any  account  of  Cuba,  even 
at  second  hand,  for  is  it  not  told,  and  told  well,  by 
Robert  T.  Hill,  whose  *Cuba  and  Porto  Rico,'  is  a 
monument  to  his  insight  and  industry.  Cuba  is  a  lovely 
island,  about  the  size  of  New  York  State,  covered  by 
good  soil  and  possessing  a  wonderful  variety  of  eco- 
nomic resources.  Only  10  per  cent  of  the  island  is 
cultivated;  in  the  valleys  of  the  western  hill-country 
is  grown  the  tobacco  that  has  done  so  much  to  soothe 
mankind,  to  express  the  courtesy  of  the  civilized,  and 
to  promote  the  friendship  of  the  thoughtful.  Natu- 
rally, I  went  to  a  cigar  factory  and  bought  some  real 
Havana  cigars  on  the  spot,  fresh  from  the  making. 
In  a  large  room  about  a  hundred  men  sat  in  rows 
before  small  tables,  like  school-boys'  desks.  They 
were  wrapping  the  tobacco  leaf  into  cigar  form.  As 
they  worked,  a  man  standing  on  a  stool  read  to  them 
from  the  daily  paper;  he  read  dramatically  and  well, 
the  purpose  being  to  keep  the  workers  interested. 
The  proprietors  of  such  establishments  encourage 
this  practice,  which  is  general,  because  the  men  do 
not  talk  while  the  reading  proceeds.    When  a  Span- 


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1*.     A*^^'% 

SANITATION   AT  HAVANA  7 

iard  talks  he  uses  his  hands  in  gesture,  hence  he  can 
not  employ  them  in  labor;  therefore  the  reading  en- 
courages efficiency.  The  men  pay  10  cents  per  week 
from  their  wages  ($3  per  day)  to  the  reader,  who,  in 
large  establishments,  makes  as  much  as  $125  per 
month. 

Most  travelers  have  spoken  of  the  unhealthiness 
of  Havana,  of  the  dirt  and  filth  that  force  their  contrast 
with  its  beauty  and  color.  Whatever  criticism  may 
be  passed,  by  an  unfriendly  historian,  on  the  Ameri- 
can interference  with  Cuban  affairs,  it  is  certain  that 
the  sanitary  measures  undertaken  after  the  war  have 
wrought  wonderful  improvement.  Garcia,  Palma, 
even  Sampson  and  Schley,  were  great  men,  but 
gfreater  than  these  were  George  Waring  and  Leon- 
ard Wood,  who  did  more  for  civilization  than  the 
leaders  of  war.  And  theirs  was  a  contest  with  dan- 
gers as  g^eat  as  come  to  those  on  the  battlefield,  for 
Waring  died,  the  victim  of  the  yellow  fever  that  he 
alnK)st  eradicated. 

But  Havana  interested  me  most  as  a  link  in  the 
story  of  Spanish  conquest.  Hernando  Cortez,  after 
outfitting  at  Santiago,  called  at  the  port  of  Havana 
before  starting  upon  his  great  quest,  on  February  10, 
1519.  His  fleet  consisted  of  eleven  vessels,  more  than 
half  of  them  open  brigantines,  and  the  biggest  not  to 
be  rated  at  over  100  tons.  Thence  he  went  to  the 
coast  of  Yucatan,  making  a  halt  at  the  island  of 
Cozumel,  before  proceeding  to  the  mainland  of 
Mexico.     He  landed  at  Vera  Cruz  on  April  21.     We 


8  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

followed  nearly  in  this  course,  for  from  Havana  we 
went  to  Progreso,  the  port  of  Merida,  which  is  the 
chief  city  of  Yucatan,  and  from  there  we  also  went 
to  Vera  Cruz — as  did  Cortez — on  our  way  to  Mexico 
City.  The  parallel  served  to  emphasize  the  differ- 
ence. Cortez  and  his  buccaneers  went  through  un- 
charted seas  and  to  a  land  they  knew  only  by  rumor; 
to  them  the  West  was  full  of  an  unlocked  mystery 
and  the  place  of  untold  gold;  to  us  there  was  keen 
interest  and  expectation  also,  but  it  was  an  interest 
toned  by  experience  and  an  expectation  limited  by 
knowledge.  However,  even  the  conquist adores  can 
have  had  no  more  discomfort  or  have  used  language 
more  picturesque  than  the  passengers  of  the 
Seguranfa  when  we  lay  off  Progreso  for  three  days  at 
the  mercy  of  a  'norther,'  or  north  wind,  which  pre- 
vented the  captain  from  unloading  his  cargo  or  com- 
ing to  anchor.  Progreso  is  an  open  roadstead,  and 
when  the  north  wind  blows,  the  lighters  that  tranship 
the  cargo  of  the  larger  steamers  are  afraid  to  leave 
the  shelter  of  the  wharf;  hence  wearisome  delays 
such  as  ours.  And  when  the  sea  calmed  it  was  pain- 
ful to  watch  the  unintelligent  manner  in  which  un- 
loading proceeded.  Among  other  consignments 
there  was  one  of  40,000  bricks ;  the  passengers,  eager 
to  see  the  steamer  on  her  way,  watching  the  wretched 
peones  removing  this  cargo  from  the  hold,  suffered 
with  an  impatience  only  to  be  surpassed  by  the  mor- 
tification of  the  consignee,  who  must  have  paid 
heavily  for  his  bricks  only  to  receive  them  in  a  badly 


MINING  IN   CUBA  9 

battered  condition.  Don*t  ship  brick  from  New  York 
to  Yucatan! 

Between  New  York  and  Vera  Cruz  we  saw  no 
mines;  nevertheless,  it  will  be  interesting  to  refer  to 
certain  facts  of  history.  The  first  of  these  islands 
(afterward  called  the  West  Indies)  to  be  colonized 
was  Hispaniola,  subsequently  known  as  Hayti  and 
Santo  Domingo.  The  great  admiral,  Columbus,  had 
discovered  it  in  1492  and  it  was  he  that  named  it 
'Little  Spain.'  At  Isabella  and  Santo  Domingo  were 
founded  the  first  settlements  made  by  Europeans  in 
the  New  World.  Hispaniola  was  rich  in  gold,  for 
the  early  records  make  frequent  mention  of  the 
mines;  these  were  the  Buena  Ventura  placers  and 
other  diggings  in  the  Cibao  region  where  the  forced 
labor  of  natives  was  employed,  often  in  a  cruel  man- 
ner, to  wash  the  gravel.  Spanish  estimates  of  the 
production — according  to  my  friend,  F.  Lynwood 
Garrison — range  from  $200,000  to  a  million  dollars 
per  annum  during  the  first  quarter  of  the  sixteenth 
century.  The  chief  mining  towns  were  Cotui  and  La 
Vega ;  as  far  as  can  be  judged,  the  gold  came  chiefly 
from  the  erosion  of  small  stringers  in  the  diorite  of 
the  Cibao  range. 

It  was  the  impoverishment  of  these  mines  that 
led  to  the  colonization  of  Cuba.  This  island  had  been 
named  Juana,  and  then  Fernandina,  but  the  Indian 
name  has  survived  all  the  Spanish  christenings. 
Cortez  was  a  member  of  the  expedition  sent  by 
Velasquez,  the  governor  of  Hispaniola,  to  conquer 


10  AMONG   THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

Cuba,  in  1511.  Subsequently,  but  before  he  invaded 
Mexico,  he  was  one  of  those  that  secured  an  estate 
there,  living  on  his  plantation  and  introducing  some 
of  the  first  of  the  cattle  that  were  brought  to  Cuba. 
It  is  interesting  to  note  that  Cortez  settled  at  St. 
Jago,  a  name  since  corrupted  to  Santiago.  He  is 
said  to  have  worked  for  gold  within  his  domain,  the 
deposits  promising  better  than  those  of  Hispaniola. 
But  Cuba  never  produced  much  gold;  it  is  true  that 
the  first  Spaniards  found  the  natives  in  possession 
of  personal  ornaments  made  of  gold,  but  these  repre- 
sented the  metal  gathered  in  small  quantity  and  dur- 
ing a  long  period.  The  extermination  of  the  aborigi- 
nes prevented  their  tyrants  from  learning  anything 
about  the  source  of  the  metal.  Since  that  day  Cuba 
has  won  a  position  as  a  mineral  region,  but  this  is  due 
to  her  deposits  of  iron  and  manganese,  together  with 
those  of  copper,  which  occur  within  a  few  miles  of 
Santiago,  where  Cortez  was  alcalde.  Across  the  bay, 
in  the  mountains  of  Cobre,  are  the  ancient  mines 
whence  the  great  conquistador  derived  both  his  gold 
and  copper.  The  development  of  these  deposits  has 
been  revived  since  the  Spanish-American  war  and  it 
is  to  be  hoped  that  they  will  become  the  basis  of 
steady  industry. 

At  last,  three  days  overdue,  we  arrived  within 
sight  of  the  Mexican  mainland.  It  was  a  sunny  morn- 
ing, with  a  breeze  raising  white  caps  on  the  sea  and 
moving  masses  of  cloud  from  off  the  dark  bank  on  the 
western  horizon  that  marked  the  land  of  the  Aztecs. 


FIRST  SIGHT  OF  ORIZABA  ii 

Clouds  obscured  the  view,  mountains  loomed  to  the 
northward,  and  among  them  the  gleam  of  snow; 
straight  ahead  the  sun  shone  on  the  white  buildings 
of  Vera  Cruz,  making  a  brilliant  fringe  along  the 
shore.  But  there  was  no  sight  of  Orizaba,  the  vol- 
canic mountain,  17,356  feet  high,  which  rises  from 
the  flats  behind  Vera  Cruz  and  forms  a  great  land- 
mark in  this  part  of  Mexico.  Borrowing  a  telescope, 
I  could  distinguish,  over  the  dancing  blue  waves,  the 
yellow  strand  of  St.  Juan  de  Ulua  and  behind  it  the 
towers,  graceful  as  campaniles,  of  the  town  of  Vera 
Cruz.  The  white  wings  of  fishing  boats  came  into 
the  picture,  and  northward  forest-clad  mountains 
rose  massively,  some  of  their  summits  crested  with 
snow.  But  there  was  no  peak  of  Orizaba.  Almost 
by  accident,  I  shifted  the  telescope  to  a  higher  angle 
and  then,  suddenly,  in  startling  beauty,  above  the 
clouds,  almost  in  mid-sky,  there  stood  the  vision  of 
a  glorious  mountain,  the  sun  shining  on  the  snow- 
fields  and  defining  the  ravines,  a  vivid  picture, 
strangely  silent,  rising  above  the  darkly  wooded 
slopes  that  in  their  turn  rose  from  white  cumuli,  be- 
low which  level  lines  of  heavy  cloud  served  to  accen- 
tuate the  loftiness  of  the  peak  and  also  to  divide  the 
vision  piercing  the  upper  sky  from  the  panorama  of 
sea  and  shore.  It  was  a  delicious  moment ;  no  one  on 
the  ship  had  caught  sight  of  the  mountain ;  the  unex- 
pectedness of  the  apparition  and  the  vividness  of  it 
intensified  the  deep  delight  produced  by  one  of  the 
most  glorious  pictures  that  ever  awakened  an  artist 


13  AMONG  THE  MINES  OF  MEXICO 

or  inspired  a  poet.  It  seemed  so  high  above  all 
meaner  things,  rising  sheer  from  the  sea,  the  inter- 
vening flat  layers  of  mist  emphasizing  the  height, 
while  the  brilliant  sunlight  upon  the  snowfields  made 
it  appear  closer  than  the  lowlands  at  the  base.  In  a 
way,  it  reminded  me  of  my  first  view  of  the  Southern 
Alps  of  New  Zealand,  as  seen  one  morning  on  board 
ship  coming  from  Tasmania,  when  the  serrated  peaks 
flanked  by  pine  forests  rose  above  the  troublous  dark 
green  waves  following  in  the  wake  of  a  storm.  But 
in  that  picture  there  was  a  series  of  high  crests;  here, 
there  was  one  in  solitary  grandeur  and  without  a 
peer.  Scenes  such  as  these  compensate  for  the  dis- 
comforts of  travel  and  afford  a  stock  of  impressions 
from  which  one  can  draw  on  dark  days  and  in  restful 
hours,  when  the  memory  harks  back  to  the  past,  as 
to  the  refrain  of  some  sweet  song. 


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C^Of  Ur  3 


VERA  CRUZ  — ON  THE  MEXICAN  RAILWAY  — 
TROPICAL  VEGETATION— COFFEE  PLANTATIONS— 
AT  ORIZABA. 


ERA  CRUZ  is  not  the  dirty  city 
it  used  to  be;  the  streets  are 
!  cleaner  than  formerly,  and  the 
erection  of  new  wharves  and 
I  quays  gives  the  incoming  trav- 
eler an  excellent  impression.  But 
the  back  streets  and  by-ways  are 
not  salubrious,  nor  does  the  ever 
present  buzzard  suggest  pleasant  imaginings.  These 
hideous  carrion  birds  are  seen  everywhere,  flopping 
about  in  the  streets,  perched  on  roofs,  even  dominat- 
ing telegraph  poles ;  nay,  their  foul  black  shapes  ob- 
scure the  blue  canopy  and  desecrate  the  majesty  of 
Orizaba. 

If  you  arrive  in  the  morning  on  the  way  to  Mexico 
City,  you  can  leave  Vera  Cruz  in  the  afternoon,  so 
as  to  reach  the  town  of  Orizaba  by  dinner  time.  In 
this  way,  escaping  from  the  coast  and  going  to  an 
altitude  of  4,000  feet,  the  traveler  avoids  the  risk  of  the 
calentura,  the  fever  of  the  tropical  lowlands.  The 
journey  on  the  Mexican  Railway  is  one  of  the  won- 
ders of  the  world,  in  respect  of  scenic  beauty  and 
variety   of   vegetation.    At   first   the    train   winds 


14  AMONG  THE  MINES  OF  MEXICO 

through  sandhills,  partly  hidden  by  abundant  green, 
and  then  over  marshy  ground;  but  this  is  only  for  ten 
miles,  when  the  ascent  begins,  over  the  lower  plains. 
Sugar  and  corn  appear;  then  comes  a  grass  country 
interspersed  with  scrub  and  cactus,  much  like  Natal, 
only  the  cactus  here  is  in  greater  variety  and  instead 
of  anthills  the  surface  is  dotted  with  boulders  of  dark 
lava. 

The  train  threads  its  way  through  rank  grass  and 
past  frequent  hedges  of  organ  cactus ;  the  scars  made 
by  the  railroad,  even  the  steepest  banks,  are  entirely 
healed  with  verdure.  When  the  locomotive  stopped 
we  heard  the  broken  notes  of  the  orache  and  there  was 
further  confirmation  of  the  plentiful  bird-life,  already 
suggested  by  the  nests  hanging  from  trees  and  woven 
around  the  cross-bars  of  telegraph  poles. 

At  thirty  miles  from  Vera  Cruz,  near  Soledad,  the 
foothills  are  reached  and  in  this  well-watered  tract 
the  tropical  vegetation  is  luxuriant  in  the  extreme. 
The  ridges  of  lava  that  mark  the  base  of  Orizaba  are 
not  at  all  like  the  Drakensberg,  severely  bare  and 
drearily  rugged,  but  they  are  absolutely  smothered 
with  rich  verdure  from  foot  to  crest,  and  in  the 
canadas  or  ravines  now  visible,  as  the  train  emerges 
from  successive  tunnels,  there  is  a  foliage  of  increas- 
ing gorgeousness.  Between  Camaron  and  Cordoba 
the  botanical  wealth  of  the  tropics  is  lavishly  dis- 
played; nature,  stimulated  by  warmth  and  moisture, 
has  clothed  the  earth  with  splendor.  There  are  the 
scarlet  hibiscus,  purple  bougainvillea,  the  lavender 


TROPICAL  VEGETATION  15 

plumbago,  crimson  oleander,  pink  azaleas,  the  yellow 
and  red  flags  of  the  coleus,  even  magnificent  orchids, 
with  creepers  of  every  shade  of  green  festooning  the 
forest. 

Soon  the  train  passes  coffee  plantations.  The  wild 
undergrowth  has  been  cleared,  but  the  larger  trees  are 
left  in  place,  so  as  to  give  shade  to  the  coffee  shrubs 
(five  to  six  feet  high),  which  are  planted  between 
them.  The  young  coffee  shrub  is  delicate  and  must 
be  protected  from  the  direct  rays  of  the  sun  for  at 
least  two  years;  maturity  is  attained  in  the  fourth 
year.  The  plants  live  25  years  and  require  compara- 
tively little  care — less  than  sugar,  for  instance. 
Speaking  of  these  matters,  it  may  be  noted  that 
chocolate  is  indigenous  to  Mexico  and  the  word  itself 
comes  direct  from  the  Aztec  chocolatl^\  nevertheless, 
Mexico  nowadays  imports  chocolate  from  Guatemala 
and  Caracas.  Shade  is  imperative  for  the  young 
coffee  plant;  in  many  cases  it  is  cultivated  under  the 
protection  of  banana  palms.    This  is  the  practice  also 


'The  Aztec  language  is  still  spoken  by  a  million  people,  chiefly  in 
the  States  of  Puebla,  Jalisco,  and  a  part  of  Vera  Cruz;  it  is  a  semi- 
flectional  language  like  the  Maya  in  Yucatan.  The  Otomie  is  absolutely 
different  from  the  Aztec;  it  is  monosyllabic  and  probably  older;  it  is 
spoken  by  less  than  half  a  million  people,  chiefly  in  the  States  of  Hidalgo, 
Queretaro,  and  Mexico.  Otomie  in  structure  resembles  Chinese  and, 
indeed,  it  has  been  claimed  that  the  modem  Chinese  immigrant  can 
make  himself  understood  among  the  Otomie  Indians,  but  this,  so  I  was 
told  by  Don  Carlos  de  Landero,  is  neither  veto  nor  hen  trovato.  "It  is 
a  niere  philolo^cal  analogy."  However,  the  peipetuation  of  these 
ancient  tongues  is  an  interesting  fact.  Occasionally  it  is  a  nuisance,  be- 
cause of  the  difficulty  of  transmitting  intelligence.  At  El  Oro,  for  ex- 
ample, there  are  a  number  of  men  working  underground  that  do  not  under- 
stand Spanish  or  its  Mexican  variation,  and  they  have  to  be  shown  what 
to  do  1^  signs. 


i6  AMONG  THE  MINES   OF  MEXICO 

in  Ecuador,  Peru,  and  Brazil.  It  is  said  that  the  best 
coffee  in  the  world  comes  from  the  famous  Youngar 
valley,  in  Brazil,  where  it  is  grown  in  an  old  ceme- 
tery under  bananas.  The  yield  is  only  a  few  quintals 
per  year,  but  this  coffee  fetches  enormous  prices.  As 
a  rule  the  small  berries  {caracolillo)  are  preferred,  but 
the  Youngar  coffee  is  of  large  grain.  Owing,  how- 
ever, to  rankness  of  verdure,  many  of  the  Mexican 
plantations  looked  so  overgrown  as,  by  reason  also 
of  the  trees  retained  for  sheltering  the  coffee,  to  seem 
like  the  bush  primeval. 

Soon  we  saw  the  yellow  gleam  of  oranges  and 
limes  amid  dark  foliage;  picturesque  hamlets  ap- 
peared, with  red-tiled  roofs  and  thatched  houses,  and 
white-clad  peasants.  At  the  railway  stations  there  was 
always  a  crowd  of  fruit-sellers;  bunches  of  roses  and 
magnificent  bouquets  of  gardenias  were  purchasable 
for  a  song.  But  the  panorama  of  life  and  color  suf- 
fered eclipse  as  the  darkness  of  the  tropical  night 
came  suddenly,  without  any  intervening  twilight. 
We  lost  the  famous  view  of  the  Barranca  de  Metlac, 
but  even  in  the  dim  starlight  I  made  out  the  outlines 
of  the  curved  steel  bridge,  as  the  train  swung  round 
it;  there  was  the  gleam  of  the  torrent  below,  a  feel- 
ing of  space  and  dark  void,  with  the  lights  of  dwell- 
ings far  away. 

For  the  town  of  Orizaba  most  travelers  have  a 
kindly  feeling,  because  it  brings  the  first  sleep  on 
shore  after  the  sea  voyage,  it  means  a  good  dinner  at 
the  Grand  Hotel  de  France  and  a  perfect  cup  of  coffee 


THE  MALTRATA  VALLEY  17 

made  from  berries  grown  near  the  neighboring  town 
of  Cordoba.  Early  breakfast  in  a  patio  (courtyard) 
bowered  by  bougainvillea,  to  the  music  of  a  fountain, 
gave  the  bracing  morning  air  a  perfume  and  a  fra- 
grance long  to  be  remembered.  The  mountain  is  vis- 
ible from  the  town,  but  the  view  is  not  impressive.  On 
resuming  the  train  journey,  we  were  soon  climbing 
a  heavy  g^ade,  circling  the  famous  Maltrata  valley 
and  ascending  4,000  feet  more  in  a  distance  of  30 
miles.  One  looks  down  over  precipitous  slopes  of 
vivid  g^een  along  narrow  gorges  that  lead  to  a  valley 
cradled  among  the  onlooking  mountains  and  check- 
ered with  squares  of  cultivation.  The  little  huts  and 
the  clusters  of  trees  look  like  the  playthings  of  a 
doll's  house,  infinitely  far  away  and  quite  detached 
from  the  busy  life  that  throbs  through  the  train  with 
every  effort  of  the  locomotive.  This  view  of  Maltrata 
bears  some  resemblance  to  that  obtained  when  de- 
scending from  the  upper  to  the  middle  plateau  of  the 
Drakensberg,  Pietermaritzburg  taking  the  place  of 
Maltrata. 


<ri^if  t^r  4 


THE  PHYSIOGRAPHY  OF  MEXICO— OUTLINES  OF 
HISTORY  — AT  ESPERANZA  —  THE  MAGUEY  AND 
PULQUE  — A  NATIONAL  HABIT  —  ARRIVAL  AT  THE 
CITY  OF  MEXICO. 


;  S  everybody  ought  to  know,  the 
j  interior  of  Mexico  is  a  high 
plateau  enclosed  within  moun- 
tains of  volcanic  origin;  this 
plateau  rises  suddenly  from  the 
lowlands  that  fringe  the  east- 
I  ern  coast;  it  is  bounded  west- 
l  ward  by  the  Sierra  Madre 
mountains,  a  part  of  the  American  cordillera, 
on  the  farther  slope  of  which  there  is  a 
sudden  descent  to  the  coastal  plains  of  the 
Pacific.  In  traveling  from  Vera  Cruz  to  Mexico  City, 
a  part  of  this  structure  is  made  manifest.  The  tierra 
ealienie,  or  warm  lowlands,  forms  a  narrow  strip,  to 
which  succeeds  the  temperate  zone  or  tierra  templada, 
between  3,000  and  6,000  feet  above  sea-level ;  then,  by 
abrupt  ascent,  one  comes  into  the  /terra  fria  or  cold 
country  of  the  high  tableland,  at  an  altitude  of  6,000 
to  8,000  feet.  Any  rigor  of  climate  such  as  might  be 
due  to  a  high  altitude  is  tempered  by  the  latitude,  so 
that  Mexico  City,  at  7,349  feet,  and  a  little  south  of 


OUTLINES  OF  HISTORY  19 

Lat.  20*"  North,  has  a  temperature  ranging  between 
60  and  75**  F.  the  year  round. 

Mexico  is  1,950  miles  in  greatest  length,  from 
north-northwest  to  south-southeast;  her  northern 
frontier  is  1,500  miles  long,  while  at  the  isthmus  of 
Tehuantepec  the  breadth  of  land  has  narrowed  to  a 
neck  of  130  miles,  separating  the  two  oceans. 

A  few  dates  will  recall  the  history  of  the  country. 
Cortez  and  his  company  of  adventurers  captured  the 
City  of  Mexico  in  August,  1521.  Three  hundred 
years  of  Spanish  government,  varied  by  revolutions, 
ensued.  In  1810  the  people  finally  revolted  against 
Spanish  domination  and  after  an  internecine  strife  of 
eleven  years,  independence  was  gained.  Iturbide,  in 
command  of  the  insurgent  troops,  marched  into 
Mexico  City  on  September  21,  1821.  It  was  almost 
exactly  three  centuries  since  Hernando  Cortez  made 
his  triumphal  entry.  In  1821  Mexico  owned  an  enor- 
mous territory ;  besides  the  lands  of  the  present  Repub- 
lic, she  ruled  Guatemala,  and  to  the  north  all  that  part 
of  the  United  States  (up  to  Canada)  which  is  west 
of  the  Red  and  Arkansas  rivers.  Much  of  this  domain 
was  lost  as  the  result  of  the  war  with  the  United 
States  in  1846  and  1847.  Peace  was  made  by  the 
treaty  of  Guadalupe  Hidalgo  in  1848.  In  the  territory 
ceded  at  that  time  was  the  whole  of  the  Rocky  Moun- 
tain region  and  California.  I  have  never  seen  it  re- 
marked that  while  this  treaty  was  signed  on  February 
2,  1848,  the  first  discovery  of  gold,  by  James  W.  Mar- 
shall, at  Coloma,  was  made  on  the  January  19  pre- 


20  AMONG  THE  MINES  OF  MEXICO 

ceding,  or  two  weeks  earlier.  Mexico  did  not  know 
what  she  was  losing  and  the  United  States  did  not 
know  what  they  were  gaining.  It  is  certain  that  had 
the  goldfields  of  California  remained  under  Mexican 
rule  during  the  days  of  early  discovery  and  prolific 
production,  there  would  have  been  complications, 
into  which  the  European  governments  might  readily 
have  been  drawn  by  reason  of  the  magnitude  of  the 
prize  at  stake.  It  was  fortunate  indeed  that  Califor- 
nia became  United  States  territory  before  her  mineral 
wealth  had  aroused  the  greed  of  the  nations. 

To  return  to  our  story ;  we  had  seen  Maltrata  and 
had  reached  Esperanza,  8,044  feet  above  sea-level. 
Here  the  plateau  extends  with  a  sandy  severity  re- 
minding one  of  parts  of  Arizona ;  from  the  moist  air 
of  the  tropics  we  had  passed  into  the  dusty  winds  of 
the  highlands.  To  the  north,  Orizaba  hid  his  great 
head  under  a  panoply  of  cloud  and  over  the  brown 
plains  to  the  west  were  the  white  summits  of  Popo- 
catepetl (*the  smoking  mountain')  and  Ixtaccihuatl 
('the  white  woman').  This  part  of  Mexico  is  largely 
given  to  the  cultivation  of  the  maguey  or  aloe,  the  agave 
Mexicana.  Just  beyond  Apam  the  valley  widens,  be- 
coming one  immense  plantation  of  maguey^  reaching 
in  ordered  sequence  and  in  lines  of  mathematical  regu- 
larity to  the  dark  hills  in  the  south.  The  accompany- 
ing photograph  illustrates  the  appearance  of  such  a 
plantation.  Maguey  is  the  plant  the  fermented  sap  of 
which  yields  pulque^  the  national  drink  of  the  Mexican. 


THE   MAKING  OF   PULQUE  21 

It  is  the  'century  plant/  which  got  its  name  from  the 
idea  that  it  blooms  once  in  a  hundred  years ;  which  is 
true  enough  in  one  sense,  but  the  maguey  does  not 
bloom  each  one  hundred  years  or  at  the  end  of  one 
hundred  years.  It  matures  in  seven  years;  at 
that  time  the  central  shoot  springs  up  with  extraor- 
dinary rapidity  to  a  height  of  six  or  eight  feet,  and 
blossoms.  But  when  cultivated  as  the  source  of 
pulque^  this  flowering  of  the  plant  is  not  permitted; 
as  soon  as  the  stem  gives  evidence  of  emergence,  it 
is  cut  at  the  basal  socket,  so  as  to  form  a  bowl  in  which 
collects  the  sap  intended  for  the  nourishment  of  the 
gigantic  stem  we  associate  with  the  'century  plant.' 
If  the  incision  for  the  removal  of  the  heart  of  the  plant 
is  done  too  soon  or  too  late,  it  dies  unproductive.  The 
sap  oozes  into  the  socket  and  is  removed  twice  a  day 
at  first,  and  then  each  morning.  It  collects  at  the  rate 
of  one  to  two  gallons  per  day  until,  after  about  three 
weeks  of  tapping,  the  plant  is  exhausted.  In  extract- 
ing the  sap,  a  slender  gourd  is  used  as  a  siphon;  the 
operator  places  one  end  in  the  bowl  and  the  other  in 
his  mouth,  then  he  draws  the  sap  into  the  gourd  and 
pours  it  into  a  sheepskin  bottle.  These  bottles  are 
emptied  into  a  pigskin  bag,  for  loading  onto  the  mules 
and  burros  that  carry  the  liquor  to  the  hacienda  or  farm, 
where  it  ferments  over  night,  so  as  to  be  ready  for 
transport  to  the  City  early  next  morning.  In  the 
course  of  travel  this  liquid  intoxicant  gains  the  smell 
of  the  untanned  raw  pigskin,  acquiring  a  filthy  odor, 


22  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

so  that  the  fulquerias  or  saloons  at  which  it  is  sold  give 
forth  a  noisome  stench.  It  is  the  whisky  of  Mexico 
and  when  fresh  it  is  said  to  be  palatable.  To  me  it 
seemed  to  have  a  smell  compounded  of  sour  milk  and 
tainted  meat;  it  is  good  only  (if  at  any  time)  when  ab- 
solutely fresh,  that  is,  when  drunk  in  the  locality 
where  it  is  gathered.  Mescal  and  tequila  are  other  alco- 
holic products  of  the  maguey  \  they  are  derived  from 
the  distillation  of  the  roots.  From  the  heavy  pointed 
leaves,  five  to  eight  feet  long,  the  Aztec  made  the 
paper  on  which  his  picture-writings  were  recorded. 
The  modern  Mexican  uses  the  fibres  of  the  leaf,  after 
the  plant  has  been  exhausted  as  the  source  of  pulque^ 
to  make  twine  {pita^  and  rope.  With  it  he  also  makes 
the  ayate  or  coarse  cloth  in  which  earth,  corn,  pro- 
visions, almost  everything,  is  packed  for  transport  on 
his  own  or  his  mule's  back ;  for  instance,  the  pigskin 
bag  holding  the  pulque  is  held  in  an  ayate.  It  is  said 
that  1,300,000  pesos*  are  spent  each  month  in  Mexico 
City  for  pulque^  mescal^  and  tequila. 

It  is  recognized  by  physicians  and  other  thoughtful 
men  that  the  drinking  of  pulque  is  demoralizing  both 
physically  and  mentally.  (So  also  is  whisky,  es- 
pecially bad  whisky.  An  observant  Mexican  would 
find  abundant  cause  for  commenting  upon  the  demor- 
alization of  the  American  and  Englishman  that  soak 
themselves  with  poor  whisky  and  make  fortunes  for 

'Throughout  these  pages  the  Mexican  currency  will  be  expressed 
in  terms  of  pesos  and  centavos,  while  the  gold  standard  will  be  expressed 
in  terms  of  'dollars'  and  'cents/    One  dollar  is  roughly  equal  to  two  pesos. 


1 

-  m  ^^m^BHj 

^1 

^^S 

THE  ADMINISTRATION   OF   DIAZ  23 

the  distillers.)  Efforts  have  been  made  to  curb  the 
habit  by  moving  the  pulquerias  farther  from  the  centre 
of  the  City.  The  chief  obstacle  to  such  regulation  is 
the  long  leases  held  by  these  drinking-places. 

Barley  and  corn,  probably  wheat  also,  could  be 
grown  on  the  land  now  devoted  to  the  maguey.  In 
these  cereals  the  country  cannot  supply  the  needs  of 
the  population.  The  duty  on  wheat  was  reduced  for 
three  months  in  1905  by  reason  of  the  scarcity  of  flour 
and  the  hacendados  tried  to  put  up  prices  by  creating 
a  'comer.'  In  such  matters  as  these  President  Diaz 
is  enlightened;  he  abominates  strikes  and  is  opposed 
to  monopolies  injurious  to  the  community;  although 
there  is  one  glaring  exception  to  his  usual  methods. 
I  refer,  of  course,  to  dynamite,  in  which  commodity  a 
monopoly  has  been  legalized.  This  is  the  weak  spot 
in  his  administration;  some  of  his  personal  friends, 
and  even  his  son,  are  interested  in  the  concession  that 
has  been  so  hurtful  to  the  mining  interests. 

We  reached  Mexico  City  after  dark,  but  the  bril- 
liantly lighted  streets  and  crowded  thoroughfares 
gave  an  impression  of  pleasurable  life.  That  night  I 
heard  a  splendid  band  (of  the  police)  in  the  patio  of 
the  Iturbide  hotel,  playing  in  honor  of  the  convention 
of  American  railway  passenger  agents.  The  volume 
of  inspiriting  music  awakened  every  corner  of  the 
building,  which  was  once  Iturbide's  palace.  But  if 
the  first  Mexican  emperor  had  revisited  the  glimpses 
of  the  moon,  he  would  have  bent  his  head  with  shame. 


34  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

On  the  second  floor,  there  is  a  corner  room  that  once 
held  a  shrine;  it  was  Iturbide's  chapel,  and  now  it  is 
a  trunk-room  wherein  are  deposited  the  multitudi- 
nous wares  of  itinerant  Chicago  drummers!  Es  iriste. 
It  reminded  me  of  Kingsley's  words,  inscribed  upon 
the  drop-curtain  of  the  Tabor  Opera  House  at 
Denver : 


"So  fleet  the  works  of  man,  back  to  the  earth  again; 
Ancient  and  holy  things  fade  like  a  dream." 


C^ter  5 


GEOLOGY  ALONG  THE  RAILROAD  —  PRECIOUS 
METALS  IN  THE  VOLCANIC  DUST  — VEIN  FORMA- 
TION—THE SULPHUR  OF   POPOCATEPETL. 

J  HERE  was  not  much  geology  to 
J  be  deciphered  along  the  railroad 
I  from  Vera  Cruz  to  Mexico  City, 
I  except  the  wonderful  construct- 
i  ive  features  to  which  the  Sierra 
'  Madre  Oriental  and  the  great 
,  Mexican  table-land  owe  their 
i  origin.  The  plains  of  the  coast 
are  made  of  Tertiary  sedimentaries,  from  the  actual 
dunes  of  the  shore  to  the  foothills  of  the  Sierra  Madre, 
where  the  railroad  enters  the  Middle  Cretaceous,  the 
rocks  of  which  are  largely  covered  by  the  lava  emitted 
from  young  volcanoes.  At  Penuela  there  is  a  quarry  of 
Middle  Cretaceous  limestone,  which  is  the  stone  em- 
ployed in  building  the  mole  and  breakwater  at  Vera 
Cruz,  Coming  west,  between  Maltrata  and  Boca  del 
Monte,  the  railroad  cuttings  expose  intensely  folded 
strata,  traversed  by  faults  that  divide  the  Cretaceous 
series  in  step-like  succession.  Above  Boca  del  Monte, 
the  sedimentaries  are  crowned  by  remnants  of  lava 
streams  and  volcanic  dust,  in  part  consolidated  as  tuff 
and  in  part  loose  earth,  but  hardly  warranting  the  idea 


26  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

once  prevalent  that  these  deposits  had  been  accumu- 
lated by  wind  or,  in  geological  phrase,  were  of  eolian 
origin. 

Through  this  volcanic  material,  hummocks  of  the 
Cretaceous  make  an  appearance,  as  at  San  Andreas. 
The  rest  of  the  journey  to  Mexico  City  is  made  over 
plains  broken  by  occasional  rocky  domes  and  car- 
peted with  volcanic  scoria,  tuff,  and  malpais.^  Such  a 
formation  of  volcanic  dust  is  often  termed  *ash/  Ash 
is  the  product  of  combustion ;  this  material  is  the  re- 
sult of  violent  explosion  and  fragmentary  ejection 
from  the  vent  of  a  volcano;  it  is  lava  that  has  been 
torn  into  bits  by  the  expansive  force  of  steam,  formed 
by  release  of  pressure.  It  is,  therefore,  *dust,'  that  is, 
minutely  subdivided  rock.  This  material,  call  it  what 
you  may,  is  of  interest  to  the  miner,  because  occasion- 
ally, when  mixed  with  the  products  of  the  decay  of 
other  more  ancient  rocks,  it  carries  gold.  Near  Jalapa 
a  large  area  is  said  to  give  assays  of  one  to  four  grams 
of  gold  per  metric  ton  of  2,204  pounds.  Two  grams  is 
claimed  to  be  an  average,  and  as  this  material  cya- 
nides readily,  it  may  become  commercially  valuable. 
An  analogous  occurrence  is  found  in  the  massive  vol- 
canic rocks  of  the  ranges  northwest  of  Mexico  City, 
where  both  the  precious  metals  exist  along  zones  of 
fissuring,  to  the  extent  of  one  or  two  grams  of  gold 
and  nine  grams  of  silver  per  ton.    The  metals  have 


•This  is  the  word  that  in  its  corrupted  form,  malapai,  is  used  in 
Arizona  and  the  Southwest  generally,  to  designate  the  black  lava-fields. 
It  comes  from  the  Spanish  mal,  bad,  and  pais,  country. 


A  CouNTkv  House  in  Me.m 


SOLFATARIC  VENTS  27 

been  detected  in  places  where  solfataric  action  is  in 
evidence,  especially  along  cracks  in  the  solid  hyper- 
sthene  and  hornblende-andesites.  The  richest  ma- 
terial is  found  in  a  concretionary  form,  together  with 
hyaline  silica,  resembling  the  glassy  quartz  of  ordi- 
nary gold  veins.  The  waters  doing  this  work  are 
cold.  It  is  probable  that  the  gold  and  silver  are  de- 
rived from  the  decomposition  of  the  iron  pyrite,  which 
abounds,  finely  disseminated,  in  minute  crystals, 
throughout  the  rocks  of  these  localities.  Small  crys- 
tals of  hematite  have  also  been  distinguished,  more 
usually  in  the  rotten  rock.  It  can  also  be  said  that 
the  greater  the  decomposition,  the  greater  the  con- 
centration of  gold  and  silver  in  the  cracks  traversing 
this  formation.  In  the  dry  climate  of  the  Mexican 
plateau,  meteoric  water  dissolves  the  carbonic  acid, 
which,  sinking  below  the  surface,  exerts  a  solvent  ac- 
tion. In  the  Guadalupe  range,  five  miles  north  of  the 
City,  there  are  narrow  solfataric  vents,  the  warm 
waters  of  which  have  deposited  silica  in  the  form  of 
quartz  together  with  gold  and  silver,  the  first  in  traces 
and  the  second  to  the  extent  of  eight  grams  per  ton. 
These  occurrences,  while  of  no  immediate  commer- 
cial importance,  are  interesting  as  affording  present- 
day  manifestations  of  the  manner  in  which  thermal 
waters  make  ore.  The  same  process  continuing  for 
a  long  period,  and  protected  from  erosion,  would  lead 
to  the  creation  of  a  valuable  ore  deposit. 

Much  has  been  said  of  the  sulphur  in  the  crater  of 
Popocatepetl  and  a  company  formed  to  exploit  these 


28  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

deposits  of  brimstone  has  obtained  some  notoriety. 
Not  long  ago  Senors  Jose  G.  Aguilera  and  Ezequiel 
Ordonez  descended  into  the  crater  and  found  a  de- 
posit of  sulphur  not  more  than  15  centimetres  thick 
and  so  distributed  as  to  be  of  no  industrial  value. 
Although  exceptionally  pure,  the  sulphur  was  in  the 
form  of  small  particles  mixed  with  volcanic  dust 
around  cold  fumaroles;  these  emitted  steam  with 
traces  of  sulphuric  acid,  the  decomposition  of  which 
led  to  the  precipitation  of  the  sulphur.  It  was  the 
result  of  deposition  for  a  period  of  twenty  or  thirty 
years.  There  is  a  story — and  it  is  Prescott  who  tells 
it — of  an  ascent  of  Popocatepetl,  made  by  some  of 
the  men  under  Cortez,  to  secure  sulphur;  but  these 
explorers  did  not  go  to  the  bottom  of  the  crater, 
which  is  800  feet  below  the  summit;  they  went  only 
as  far  as  a  fumarole  on  the  lip  of  the  crater.  After 
all,  the  quantity  of  sulphur  that  they  needed — and 
they  took — to  make  gunpowder,  was  insignificant. 


1       ^        : 

Ox 
Phesa 

l^sOff^?!^^ 

JfATO 

.1 

K^' 

A 

GUN.P^L 
CHAPVi.- 

L 


(T^of  ter  6 


THE  CITY  OF  MEXICO— FIRST  IMPRESSIONS— THE 
SCHOOL  OF  MINES— MEMORIES  OF  DEL  RIO— THE 
METEORITES  —  CORTEZ. 

;  EXICO  is  the  Paris  of  the 
j  American  continent.  The  air  is 
clear  and  balmy  with  the  feel  of 
the  tropics,  the  early  mornings 
prompt  a  canter  on  horseback  in 
the  park  at  Chapultepec,  the 
I  story  of  the  City  gives  it  thedig- 
l  nity  of  history  and  the  glow  of 
romance,  the  actualities  of  today  are  touched  with  the 
silken  hand  of  luxury;  life  is  rich,  gay,  and  progres- 
sive. The  brutality  of  mere  materialism  and  the 
squalid  splendor  of  newly  made  wealth  are  not  evi- 
dent, the  invasion  of  Anglo-American  energy  and 
capital  has  prompted  many  sanitary  reforms  and 
municipal  improvements,  but  the  practical  man  from 
the  North  is  insignificant  in  numbers,  so  that  while 
he  may  be  partly  responsible  for  the  cleanliness  of  the 
streets,  he  is  unable  to  spoil  the  distinction  of  a  com- 
munity, the  members  of  which  go  to  Paris  as  to  the 
Lourdes  of  a  fashion  saint,  to  bring  home  a  taste  in 
clothes  and  horses  that  enhances  the  attractiveness 
of  the  daily  promenade,  giving  grace  to  the  Spaniard 
and  adornment  to  the  Mexican.    Time  was  when  the 


30  AMONG  THE  MINES  OF  MEXICO 

City  of  Mexico  was  far  from  salubrious,  when  her 
streets  were  badly  paved  and  her  hotels  among  the 
worst  of  their  kind;  but  all  that  has  been  changed. 
Of  comfortable  hostelries  there  are  plenty;  the  restau- 
rants afford  a  great  variety  of  good  cuisine,  and  the 
clubs — the  Jockey,  the  British,  the  American,  and 
several  others  —  give  sojourners  the  hospitality 
worthy  of  a  metropolis. 

There  are  many  fine  buildings  in  the  City.  The 
cathedral  and  the  museum  are  well  known  to  travel- 
ers; the  building  in  which  the  School  of  Mining  is 
now  situated  is  more  than  a  century  old,  and  it  is  full 
of  interesting  traditions.  One  of  the  founders  was 
Andres  Manuel  Del  Rio,  the  great  Spanish  mineralo- 
gist, who  adopted  Mexican  nationality;  he  belonged 
to  the  Freiberg  school,  and  during  Humboldt's  time 
was  sent  by  the  Spanish  government  to  Mexico  with 
a  view  to  stimulating  mining  education.  He  founded 
the  collection  now  to  be  seen  in  the  School  of  Engi- 
neering, which  includes  that  of  Mining.  There  is  a 
story  told  of  Del  Rio  and  Humboldt  that  is  not  with- 
out humor.  Del  Rio  found  a  new  mineral,  which  he 
called  plomo  rojo  de  Zimapam  or  red  lead;  it  was  a 
vanadate  of  lead,  vanadinite.  Humboldt  visited 
Mexico  at  that  time — between  1804  and  1808;  Del 
Rio  gave  him  a  specimen  and  his  notes  concerning 
the  discovery  of  the  new  mineral.  Humboldt  took 
them  to  Europe  with  him;  subsequently,  he  wrote  to 
say  that  he  had  lost  these  notes  and  the  specimen 
itself  in  some  boxes  that  fell  overboard  at  sea.     But, 


METEORITES  31 

strange  to  say,  a  few  years  later  the  vanadium  min- 
eral was  discovered  in  Scandinavia.  In  1836  Del  Rio 
made  a  sarcastic  reference  to  the  episode  in  a  paper 
that  he  wrote  as  a  sort  of  protest  against  the  injustice 
done  to  him,  in  calling  the  new  metal  after  the  Scan- 
dinavian goddess  instead  of — for  example — Riita.  For 
his  was  the  discovery. 

In  the  museum  there  are  some  fine  meteorites; 
one  specimen  weighs  14  tons;  it  came  from  Chihua- 
hua. Another,  called  the  San  Gregorio  mass,  has  in- 
scribed upon  it  the  following  Spanish  rhyme: 

Solo  Dios  Con  zu-Poder 
Este  fierro  destxuira 
Per  ce  en  el  Mundo  no  Abra 
Quien  lo  fueda  De facer. 

I  trust  no  scholar,  critical  of  the  Spanish  of  this 
quotation,  will  impute  its  apparent  errors  to  me.  I 
give  the  words  exactly  as  I  copied  them  from  the 
inscription.  Which  may  be  interpreted :  "Only  God 
with  his  power  can  destroy  this  iron,  for  there  is  no 
one  in  the  world  who  is  able  to  unmake  it."  It  was 
discovered  in  the  year  1600  and  weighs  10,000  kilo- 
grams; the  locality  whence  it  came  was  San  Gregorio, 
in  the  De  AUende  district  of  Chihuahua. 

From  the  observatory  on  top  of  the  building 
there  is  a  splendid  view  of  the  city  and  its  environs, 
especially  eastward,  where  the  towers  of  the  cathedral 
and  the  domes  of  the  churches  of  the  Profeso  and 
Santa  Teresa  rise   finely  above  the  multitudinous 


32  AMONG  THE  MINES  OF  MEXICO 

buildings,  cut  into  squares  by  straight  streets,  beyond 
which  are  the  dark  foothills  dominated  in  the  dis- 
tance by  the  broken  crest  of  Ixtaccihuatl  and  the  big 
cone  of  Popocatepetl.  To  the  southeast,  one  can  see 
Iztapalapan — now  Istapalapa — where,  on  the  eighth 
of  November,  in  1519,  Hernando  Cortez  met  Monte- 
zuma, and  the  pioneer  of  European  invasion  ex- 
changed courtesies  with  the  poor  king  whom  he  so 
utterly  destroyed  within  less  than  a  year. 

At  that  time  Iztapalapan  was  a  place  of  twelve 
thousand  houses  and  it  was  under  the  rule  of  Cuitla- 
hua,  the  brother  of  Montezuma.  Through  the  town 
passed  one  of  the  three  great  causeways  that  led 
across  the  lake  to  the  City  of  Mexico  itself,  and  it 
was  over  this  causeway  that  the  Spanish  adventurers 
made  their  way.  Today  Istapalapa  is  a  small  village 
and  where  once  spread  the  waters  of  the  lake,  there 
is  marshy  ground.  The  causeway  is  obliterated  by 
a  modern  street,  that  of  Acequia,  which  took  advan- 
tage of  the  secure  footing  thus  afforded.  It  starts 
from  the  portals  of  the  Plaza  de  la  Constitucion,  as 
does  also,  in  the  opposite  direction,  northward,  the 
San  Andreas  street,  which  merges  with  the  road  to 
Atzeapotzalco ;  this  was  the  line  of  the  causeway  to 

• 

Tlacopan  or  Tacuba  along  which  the  Spaniards  re- 
treated on  the  occasion  of  the  Noche  ^riste^  that  black 
night  of  July  1,  1520,  which  saw  them  all  but  anni- 
hilated by  the  fury  of  the  Aztec  populace.  At  Po- 
potla  the  survivors  halted  under  a  tree  that  exists 


THE  BATTLE  OF  OTUMBA  33 

to  this  day.  It  is  now  guarded  by  an  iron  railing, 
but  despite  even  this  protection  it  is  endangered,  for 
I  read  in  the  daily  paper,  during  my  visit,  of  the 
arrest  of  a  vandal,  who  wanted  a  piece  of  the  bark  to 
add  to  his  collection  of  curios.  If  ever  there  was  a 
time  in  the  Spanish  conquest  when  Cortez  and  his 
fellow  pirates  were  heroes  indeed,  it  was  just  after 
their  sad  halt  at  Popotla.  Of  the  number  that  had 
entered  the  City  only  a  third  (250)  of  the  Spaniards 
survived  and  of  their  native  auxiliaries  only  one  fifth 
(1,000).  They  had  lost  most  of  their  horses,  all  their 
artillery,  all  their  muskets,  so  that  there  remained 
only  their  swords  and  their  courage.  But  Cortez 
faced  the  music  like  a  man  and  was  confident  even  in 
the  hour  of  deepest  gloom.  Scarcely  one  week  later, 
on  the  plain  of  Otumba,  this  handful  of  men  met  a 
multitude  of  natives,  estimated  all  the  way  up  to 
200,000,  and  beat  them  off  the  field,  mainly  by  reason 
of  the  desperate  resolve  of  a  few  of  the  cavaliers,  who 
followed  the  immediate  lead  of  Cortez  and  penetrated 
the  thick  of  the  combat  in  order  to  kill  the  chieftains 
on  the  opposite  side.  It  may  have  been  comparable 
to  the  attack  of  a  centre-rush  of  a  senior  football 
team  into  the  midst  of  a  kindergarten,  but  it  was 
rendered  magnificent  by  reason  of  the  astonishing 
disparity  of  numbers  and  it  proved  abundantly  that 
the  superiority  of  race  was  not  due  to  physical 
strength  alone. 

It  is  a  fact,  both  significant  and  pathetic,  that 


34 


AMONG   THE  MINES    OF    MEXICO 


while  there  are  today  several  statues  to  the  last 
Aztec  king — Guatemotzin  or  Cuitlahuac — more  par- 
'ticularly  the  fine  monument  in  the  Paseo  de  Reforma, 
and  while  nearly  every  city  in  Mexico  has  a  bust  of 
Hidalgo,  the  priest  who  started  the  final  revolution 
against  Spanish  rule,  there  is  no  statue  to  Cortez  in 
the  whole  length  and  breadth  of  Mexico. 


THt  TiMBEM  Camp  ok  t}!k  El  Om.  Mininu  &  Railway  Co. 


(tfyxjptzr  7 


EL  ORO  — RICH  MINES  — THE  GEOLOGY  OF  THE 
DISTRICT—  THE  MEXICO  MINE  — THE  STRUCTURE 
OF  THE  LODES  — IN  THE  EL  ORO  MINE  — A  WIDE 
LODE-CHANNEL—  FAULTS. 


;  ROM  Mexico  City  I  went  to  El 
[  Ore.  This  mining  district  is  90 
I  miles  northwest,  and  while  most 
I  of  it  is  within  the  State  of 
Mexico,  its  northern  portion  ex- 
'  tends  into  the  adjoining  State 
'  of  Michoacan.  At  the  time  of 
t  my  visit  (October,  1905)  El  Oro 
was  attracting  much  attention;  a  new  orebody  in  the 
Esperanza  had  sent  up  the  shares  (of  the  company 
owning  that  mine)  in  London;  El  Ore  Mining  & 
Railway  Company  shares  had  risen  in  sympathy;  Dos 
Estrellas  was  making  a  boom  market  in  Mexico  City; 
and  Victoria  y  Anexas  was  fluctuating  in  a  manner 
beloved  of  speculators.  As  a  foundation  for  such 
financial  activities,  I  found  lodes  of  unusual  geo- 
logical interest  and  a  metallurgical  practice  that  rep- 
resented the  sum  of  great  technical  ability. 

The  mines  are  situated  on  the  slopes  of  a  ridge 
that  rises  600  feet  above  the  valley,  through  which 
runs  the  old  main  line  of  the  Mexican  National  Rail- 
way.   On  the  near  (eastern)  side  are  the  Mexico, 


36  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

Esperanza  and  EI  Oro  mines;  on  the  farther  slope 
is  the  Dos  Estrellas.  The  three  mines  first  men- 
tioned follow  a  series  of  veins  of  which  the  San 
Rafael  is  chief;  these  dip  into  the  mountain.  The 
Dos  Estrellas,  on  the  other  side,  also  dips  to  the  west. 
The  bush-covered  summits  of  the  ridge  consist  of  an 
andesite  lava,  while  the  mine  workings  are  mainly  in 
shale.  A  covering  several  hundred  feet  thick  of 
(probably  Pliocene)  andesite  is  spread  over  the  an- 
cient eroded  surface  of  a  (probably  late  Cretaceous) 
shale,  in  which  occurs  a  series  of  quartz  lodes,  con- 
taining gold  and  silver.  The  cap-rock  forms  part  of 
an  extensive  extrusion  of  volcanic  material,  the  main 
vent  of  which  is  not  known ;  although  in  the  mines 
there  have  been  encountered  tongues  and  irregular 
bodies  of  the  same  rock,  suggesting  many  minor 
places  of  emission.  The  shale  is  thinly  laminated, 
black,  and  calcareous ;  it  contains  occasional  layers  of 
limestone.  According  to  Robert  T.  Hill,  it  is  the 
formation  in  which  occur  many  of  the  best  mining  . 
districts  of  Mexico.  The  relation  of  the  cap-rock, 
the  shale,  and  the  quartz  lodes  is  seen  best  in  the 
Mexico  mine,  which,  being  a  young  property,  is  easily 
accessible  throughout.  The  accompanying  cross- 
section  (Fig.  1)  through  the  main  shaft  is  based  upon 
a  tracing  given  to  me  by  Mr.  Fergus  L.  Allan,  super- 
intendent of  the  mine. 

The  shaft  goes  through  the  andesite  of  the  cap- 
rock  for  nearly  600  feet  and  then  penetrates  the  shale. 
After  passing  through  this  shale  for  450  feet,  the 


Statue  to  the  Last  of  the  Aztec  Kings 


> 


GEOLOGIC  FORMATIONS 


Fig.  1. 
Caoss-SicnoM  Thboucb  Main  Shaft  or  ibi  Mkxioo  Mihx. 


38  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

shaft  encounters  andesite  and  continues  in  that  rock 
to  the  bottom,  just  below  the  sixth  level.  This  an- 
desite, in  the  foot-wall  country,  is  the  same  rock  as 
the  cap;  it  is  evidently  younger  than  the  vein  and, 
therefore,  later  than  the  other  andesite,  which  over- 
hangs the  San  Rafael  vein,  as  seen  in  the  first  four 
levels  west  of  the  shaft.  Some  distance  west  of  the 
San  Rafael  vein,  in  the  Nolan  mine,  narrow  intrusions 
of  this  younger  andesite  have  been  found  running  at 
right  angles  to  the  course  of  the  vein.  The  deeper 
levels  have  not  found  the  older  andesite  on  the  hang- 
ing wall;  it  antedates  the  vein,  for  mineralization 
extends  into  it.  The  same  tongue  of  andesite  occurs 
in  the  northern  workings  of  the  Esperanza  and  in  a 
similar  position  relative  to  the  vein.  In  some  places 
ore  has  been  found  in  this  andesite,  where  it  is  ad- 
jacent to  an  orebody  in  the  vein. 

The  lode  consists  of  banded  quartz,  built  mainly 
of  rock  in  place,  which  has  been  shattered  and 
silicified,  the  whole  body  attaining  a  width  of  30  to 
50  feet.  The  ore  occurs  in  streaks  parallel  to  the 
walls  of  the  vein,  in  some  places  combining  and  oc- 
cupying the  larger  part  of  the  space  between.  This 
quartz  contains  just  enough  iron  oxide  to  color  it; 
when  banded  it  is  always  good,  the  poor  portions  of 
the  vein  being  characterized  by  massive  white  quartz. 
The  shale  adjoining  the  lode  is  bent  and  shattered; 
it  shows  numerous  streaks  and  small  veins  lying 
parallel  to,  and  running  into,  the  main  vein.  That 
portion  of  the  vein  which  is  found  at  the  old  surface 


THE   VEIN   IN   THE   MEXICO   MINE  39 


^^g^Sisa. 


Flfl.  2.    CBOss-SicnoN  of  Vein  ik  thi  Mkxioo  Minb. 


40  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

of  the  shale  has  a  width  of  30  to  40  feet ;  it  had  evi- 
dently undergone  erosion  before  being  covered  by 
the  later  flow  of  andesite.  As  a  rule,  where  the  apex 
has  been  thus  exposed  to  weathering,  the  San  Rafael 
vein  is  richer  than  usual;  it  has  undergone  a  note- 
worthy concentration.  In  the  southern  portion  of 
the  Mexico  mine  the  apex  of  the  vein  is  found  at  the 
surface  of  the  shale,  but  farther  north  the  vein  comes 
to  an  end  100  to  250  feet  below  the  old  surface  of  the 
shale.  When  the  vein  does  not  reach  the  old  sur- 
face, it  frays  out  into  stringers,  bent  over  at  their 
ends,  as  shown  in  Fig.  2.  The  particular  vein  shown 
in  this  sketch  carries  an  average  assay- value  (11  dwt. 
gold  and  6  oz.  silver)  right  from  the  start;  it  widens 
until,  at  the  fourth  level,  there  is  20  feet  of  quartz; 
on  the  second  level,  only  25  feet  above  its  blind  apex, 
there  is  no  indication  whatever  of  the  proximity  of  a 
lode. 

The  conditions  just  described  as  occurring  in  the 
Mexico  mine  are  found  in  the  Esperanza  and  El  Oro 
workings,  which  extend  in  sequence  southward. 

As  seen  in  the  El  Oro  mine,  the  veins  really  con- 
stitute one  big  lode-channel  with  portions  of  country 
between,  that  is,  the  distinction  between  what  is  ore 
and  what  is  worthless  quartz  is  purely  commercial, 
based  on  assays,  and  not  upon  geological  and  struc- 
tural distinctions.  At  first  the  Branch  vein,  one 
member  of  the  system,  was  found  to  be  rich  enough 
to  exploit ;  then  a  smaller  streak  on  the  hanging  wall 
of  the  big  Main  vein  (the  San  Rafael)  was  worked. 


THE  EL  ORO  VEINS  41 

and  finally  the  fciot-wall  portion  of  the  San  Rafael 
was  stoped,  to  be  followed  by  the  exploitation  of 
various  subordinate  members  of  the  series,  as  they 
were  determined  to  be  rich  enough  in  gold  and  silver 
to  more  than  defray  the  costs  of  mining  and  milling. 
A  typical  cross-section  of  the  lode-channel  shows 
sundry  branch  veins,  then  the  foot-wall  orebody  of  35 
feet,  then  streaks  up  to  three  feet  wide  between  the 
foot-wall  ore  and  that  of  the  hanging,  which  is  40 
feet  wide;  finally,  beyond  these  there  is  the  Branch 
vein,  5  to  18  feet  wide. 

At  the  north  end  of  the  mine  the  orebodies  of  the 
foot  and  hanging  are  separate;  they  come  together 
in  a  distance  of  700  feet  and  form  one  width  of  80 
feet,  which  is  maintained  nearly  to  the  south  end  of 
the  shoot,  in  the  vicinity  of  the  incline  shaft.  The 
ore  on  the  hanging  is  fairly  uniform  in  value  across 
its  full  width,  but  the  foot-wall  ore  is  best  on  the 
hanging  side;  even  after  they  unite  the  individuality 
of  the  streaks  is  maintained.  When  the  bands  of 
rich  ore  in  this  mine  terminate,  they  do  so  first  by 
narrowing,  and  then  by  the  splitting  or  fanning  out 
of  the  mass  of  quartz  that  contains  them.  Divergent 
streaks  connect  the  various  orebodies,  and  some  of 
them  are  rich  enough  to  be  stoped.  The  whole  lode- 
channel  is  interrupted  at  intervals  by  a  succession  of 
faults  dipping  at  65  to  70°,  except  the  southernmost 
or  diagonal  break,  which  is  35*^ ;  all  of  them  dip  north. 

Water  was  first  struck  in  the  El  Oro  mine  at  425 
to  430  feet  below  the  cap — for  all  measurements  are 


42  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

made  from  this  old  surface.  Maximum  water  was 
encountered  at  1,200  feet.  The  Somera  shaft  began 
to  show  a  heavy  inflow  between  786  and  1,000  feet, 
especially  from  900  feet  down;  the  water  entered 
along  stringers  on  the  hanging-wall  side  of  the  lode. 
At  1,000  feet,  the  cross-cut  (90  feet  long)  to  the  lode 
cut  more  water  along  other  veins,  so  that  when  the 
lode  was  finally  struck  there  was  no  great  addition 
to  the  inflow.  The  water  in  the  workings  on  the 
main  lode  remained  at  the  786-foot  level  until  the 
lode  itself  was  cut  at  1,000  feet.  The  faults  appear 
to  be  impervious  and  serve  as  barriers ;  each  block  has 
to  be  drained  separately.  At  the  end  of  the  rainy 
season,  surface-water  makes  itself  felt  in  the  mine, 
but  only  in  the  northern  workings,  where  it  seeps 
down  through  cracks  in  the  cap-rock  caused  by 
mining  operations,  more  particularly  the  large  stopes 
on  the  San  Rafael  lode  made  by  the  Esperanza  and  El 
Oro  companies  near  their  common  boundary.  The 
rainfall  apparently  does  not  affect  the  inflow  of  water 
in  the  deep  workings,  the  mine- water  (except  in  the 
case  above  noted)  having  no  direct  connection  with 
the  surface. 


CbapUr  S 


GEOLOGY  OF  THE  ESPERANZA  MINE  — INTEREST- 
ING STRUCTURE  — A  BIG  FAULT  — RICH  OREBODY 
—  STORY  OF  THE  DISCOVERY  —  CHARACTER  OF 
THE  ORE. 

'  N  the  Mexico  and  E!  Oro  mines 
;  there  is  some  geology,  which  is 
not  particularly  compHcated,  but 
the  ground  between,  occupied 
by  the  Esperanza  mine,  presents 
many  intricate  problems. 

There  is  a  good  deal  of 
!  geology  in  the  Esperanza,  and 
there  is  a  good  deal  of  rich  ore.  The  geological  fea- 
tures have  been  carefully  studied  by  Mr.  J.  E.  Spurr, 
and  the  data  embodied  in  my  notes  are  largely  the 
result  of  his  work,  in  association  with  the  manage- 
ment. The  accompanying  diagrams  (Fig.  3,  4,  and 
5),  and  the  geological  plan  of  the  second  level,  as  given 
in  Fig.  6,  are  based  on  sketches  and  a  blue  print  given 
to  me  by  Mr.  W.  E.  Hindry,  the  manager.  To  him 
and  to  Mr.  W.  H.  Haynes,  the  assistant  manager,  I 
am  much  indebted. 

.     The  main  geological  events,  the  results  of  which 
are  evident  in  the  mine  workings,  are : 
1.     The  deposition  of  the  shale. 


44  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

2.  Intrusion  of  andesite  in  the  form  of  dikes  and 
sills. 

3.  Faulting,  involving  several  dislocations,  one 
of  which  became  the  channel  of  the  San  Rafael  lode; 
and  later  movements  that  displaced  the  lode. 

4.  Deposition  of  ore  by  waters  circulating  along 
the  channels  made  by  the  previous  fracturing. 

5.  Intrusion  of  a  later  andesite  that  overflowed 
at  surface  and  penetrated  the  shale  formation. 

6.  Cross-faults. 

In  Fig.  3  the  San  Rafael  lode  is  shown  as  seen  in 
cross-section,  looking  northwest,  in  the  northern  por- 
tion of  the  mine.  The  sequence  of  geological  events 
is  indicated  by  the  numbers  1  to  5.  First,  the  shale 
was  ruptured  and  dislocated  at  least  1,000  feet — from 
1  to  2.  Then  it  was  eroded  and  on  it  was  spread  the 
andesite,  the  original  surface  of  which  (at  4)  was 
reduced  by  erosion  to  the  present  surface  (at  5). 
The  thickness  of  this  andesite  cap  ranges  now  from 
nothing  up  to  700  feet.  In  the  meanwhile  the  intru- 
sions of  earlier  andesite  were  also  faulted  with  the 
shale,  as  is  suggested  by  a  tongue  of  that  rock  indi- 
cated on  the  diagram.  In  Fig.  4  the  same  sequence 
is  exhibited  as  is  seen  in  a  cross-section  of  the 
southern  end  of  the  mine.  In  this  case  a  higher 
intrusion  of  earlier  andesite  is  shown  and  also  a 
tongue  of  later  andesite. 

The  lode,  therefore,  follows  a  big  fault;  but  it  is 
itself  faulted,  as  shown  in  Fig.  5,  which  is  a  longi- 
tudinal projection  N  60*"  E,  magnetic.    On  the  first 


^^^^^^^^^^^^1^1 

-:<v.  ^■ 

J* 

^^^^SSl^** 

i^^B^ 

Om  thb  Outskikts  of  Guanajuato 


A   BIG   FAULT 


Fia  3.    DiACBAK  Showing  the  Sesies  of  Geological  Events  That 
Brought  About  the  Present  Shuctuke.    Cross-Section 
OF  Norhern  Portion  op  Esferanza  Mine. 


46  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

level  at  a  point  525  feet  north  of  the  El  Oro  boundary, 
this  fault  cuts  through  the  country  and  displaces  it, 
as  measured  by  broken  ends  of  intruded  older  an- 
desite,  500  feet  vertically.  This  same  fault  is  evident 
at  the  surface  of  the  shale  (now  buried  under  later 
andesite),  for  there  rs  a  drop  of  160  feet  in  the  bottom 
of  the  cap-rock.  This  would  appear  to  indicate  that 
the  movement  transverse  to  the  lode  continued  after 
the  later  andesite  overflow,  so  that  in  the  main  fault, 
the  total  dislocation  is  measured  in  two  parts,  two- 
thirds  or  about  340  feet  of  which  occurred  before  the 
cap-rock  was  formed,  and  one-third,  or  160  feet,  after 
that  event. 

In  the  mine  the  lateral  displacement  of  the  San 
Rafael  lode  is  130  feet,  to  the  right.  At  the  south 
shaft  the  cap  is  284  feet  thick ;  near  the  north  shaft  it 
is  165  feet  higher  (by  reason  of  the  rise  in  the  ground 
in  a  length  of  1,600  feet,  which  is  the  distance  be- 
tween the  shafts)  plus  the  fault  (160  feet),  plus  the 
elevation,  making  the  present  thickness  165  +  160  + 
284,  or  609  feet.  South  of  the  fault  the  lode  is  en- 
tirely in  shale  all  the  way  down  to  the  fifth 
level;  just  below  that  horizon  there  is  andesite  on  the 
foot-wall  and  shale  on  the  hanging.  North  of  the 
fault,  the  first  level  penetrates  cap-rock,  while  the 
second  has  shale  on  the  foot  and  the  older  andesite 
on  the  hanging.  The  third  and  fourth  levels  repeat 
the  conditions  observed  on  the  second.  At  the  fifth 
(still  north  of  the  fault)  there  is  a  change;  at  about 
100  feet  in  the  foot-wall  the  newer  andesite  (which  is 


Putting  Timbers  in  Place 


COMPLEX   GEOLOGY  47 

the  cap-rock)  appears  at  a  point  500  feet  north  of  the 
fault  and  thence  to  the  boundary  of  the  Mexico  mine. 
At  the  sixth  level  the  older  andesite  is  seen  in  the  foot- 
wall  south  of  the  fault  and  looks  like  the  top  of  an 


intrusion;  north  of  the  fault,  shale  appears  on  both 
foot  and  hanging,  that  is  to  say,  we  have  the  condi- 
tions which  exist  south  of  the  fault  500  feet  overhead 
— ^this  being  the  measure  of  the  dislocation.    On  the 


48  AMONG   THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

seventh  level  the  older  andesite  appears  along  the 
foot-wall  up  to  the  fault,  shale  showing  in  the  hang- 
ing. North  of  the  fault  the  lode  is  in  shale  as  regards 
both  walls,  with  the  newer  andesite  in  the  foot-wall 
country  (150  feet  east  of  the  lode)  near  the  Mexico 
boundary.  At  this  same  level — the  seventh — the 
newer  andesite  (or  cap  porphyry)  occurs  in  the  form 
of  an  east-west  dike,  153  feet  thick,  at  a  point  825  feet 
west  of  the  lode,  but  its  real  shape  has  not  been 
ascertained. 

All  this  refers  to  the  San  Rafael,  the  main  lode 
of  the  Mexico,  Esperanza,  and  El  Oro  mines.  The 
interesting  problem,  at  the  time  of  my  visit,  was 
whether  the  new  West  vein  is  faulted  (see  Fig.  6) 
in  a  manner  similar  to  the  San  Rafael  or  whether  this 
bonanza  vein  is  younger  than  the  fault  itself.  If  the 
latter  be  the  case,  the  vein  would  go  into  the  andesite 
north  of  the  fault  at  the  third,  fourth,  and  fifth  levels. 
The  ore  of  the  San  Rafael  extended  up  to  the  fault,  the 
break  being  clean.  At  the  fifth  level  pay-ore  was 
broken  almost  up  to  the  fault-line.  The  San  Rafael 
is  generally  more  broken  on  the  north  side,  the  ore 
not  reaching  up  to  the  fault  as  clearly  as  it  does  on 
the  south  side.  If  the  West  vein  be  later  than  the 
fault,  it  is  likely  to  be  weak  where  crossing  the  latter 
and  probably  it  will  be  less  rich  in  the  andesite  than 
in  the  shale,  the  bonanza  portions  of  the  veins  of  this 
district  being  in  shale  country.  With  the  limited 
data  at  my  disposal,  it  seems  to  me  unlikely  that  the 
new  vein  is  younger  than  the  fault,  because  there  is 


A   RICH   OREBODY 


49 


no  evidence  of  its  existence  in  the  northern  workings. 
The  new  Esperanza  orebody  is  a  sight  to  gladden 
the  eyes  of  a  miner.  It  is  680  feet  long,  with  an 
average  width  of  9  feet  and  an  average  yield  of  75 
g^ms  of  gold  (or  $49.70)  per  ton  and  1,150  grams  of 
silver  ($19.55)  per  ton.  The  shape  of  it  is  roughly 
lenticular;  it  is  widest  about  the  centre  and  comes 
nearly  to  a  point  both  north  and  south ;  in  depth  it  is 


iM«TH  tmitrw 


V  V  V    V 

V  V  V  V  ^ 
•     V    V     V     V 

V  V  *'  V  • 
^     V     V    V     v 

•    <f    V  y^  ^    V 
y    y*   Y   V    V 


Fig.  5.    The  Esperanza  Faxjlt.    After  J.  E.  Spurr. 

shaped  like  the  bottom  of  a  boat,  with  protruding 
keel.  Where  first  cut  on  the  fifth  level,  there  were 
two  veins  close  together;  the  first  assayed  $1.50  to 
$2  per  ton,  while  the  other,  or  No.  2,  to  the  west,  went 
$75  per  ton.  Subsequent  stoping  gave  a  different 
story;  the  No.  2  has  been  payable  only  for  50  feet 
above  this  level,  while  the  No.  1  gets  into  rich  ore 


50  AMONG  THE  MINES  OF  MEXICO 

three  feet  above  and  only  IS  feet  south  of  the  cross- 
cut. 

At  about  45  feet  south  of  the  cross-cut,  the  two 
veins  come  together  and  make  a  width  of  35  feet  of 
ore  worth  over  $100  per  ton.  The  moral  is:  If  you 
find  absolutely  nothing  by  drilling,  do  not  cross-cut; 
if  you  find  any  encouragement  whatever,  cross-cut. 
In  the  workings  that  I  visited  there  were  stopes  four 
feet  wide  of  ore  worth  $500  per  ton ;  where  the  quartz 
was  rich,  even  the  adjoining  shale  (penetrated  by 
small  stringers  of  quartz)  was  good  enough  to  stope, 
for  it  assayed  15  to  40  grams  of  gold.*  Small  bands 
of  shale  included  by  the  vein  assayed  equally  with  the 
quartz.  It  seemed  to  me  that,  as  compared  with  the 
San  Rafael  lode,  this  bonanza  vein  was  particularly 
well  defined;  there  was  no  gouge  and  the  shale  at  the 
walls  was  broken  off  clean,  without  shattering  or 
twisting,  the  bedding  of  the  outer  country  lying  flatly 
right  up  to  the  ore.  The  vein  is  apparently  younger 
than  the  San  Rafael,  because  there  are  few  signs  of 
later  movement,  such  as  slips  or  gouge-seams.  The 
ore  itself  is  beautifully  ribboned;  minute  crystals  of 
pyrite  incrust  the  quartz,  especially  in  geodes  or 
vugs;  the  richest  ore  is  mosceadoy  that  is,  speckled 
with  argentite. 

On  the  seventh  level  there  is  an  interesting  vein 
occurrence ;  this  is  a  seam  of  pyrite  called  the  'sulphide 


*  A  gram  of  gold  is  worth  66.4  cents  and  a  gram  of  silver  1.7c.  My 
description  of  the  orebody  is  based,  it  must  be  remembered,  on  notes 
made  at  the  end  of  October,  1905. 

'From  mosca,  a  fly. 


GEOLOGY   OF   THE   ESPERANZA   MINE 


■I!  II 


!      SS6 


D-asS 


J 


52  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

streak/  26  inches  wide,  in  the  foot  of  the  San  Rafael 
lode,  which  here  is  22  feet  wide.  The  sulphide  streak 
crosses  the  San  Rafael  and  is  therefore  younger.  The 
foot-wall  country  in  this  part  of  the  mine  is  porphyry 
(andesite)  and  the  sulphide  streak  is  built  up  of 
brecciated  porphyry,  the  hanging  being  irregular  and 
penetrated  by  quartz  veinlets,  while  the  foot-wall  car- 
ries a  gouge,  beneath  which  the  fragmentary  char- 
acter of  the  vein-stuff  is  evident.  This  vein  carries 
a  pyrite  which  is  coarser  than  that  of  the  new  West 
vein  and  in  the  ratio  of  12  per  cent;  the  West  vein 
yields  one  ton  of  concentrate  to  16  tons  of  crude  ore, 
that  is,  over  six  per  cent. 

In  speaking  of  ore  at  El  Oro  as  being  worth  so 
many  dollars,  it  is  meant  that  it  contains  so  many 
pennyweights  of  gold,  for  the  silver  is  not  included. 
This  is  largely  a  habit  inherited  from  the  days  when 
the  silver  was  not  extracted  in  commercial  quantity. 
A  $7  to  $9  (or  7  to  9  dwt.)  gold  ore  will  carry  $1.50  to 
$2  (or  2.5  to  3.3  dwt.)  silver  per  ton.  The  gold  is 
free  and  in  fine  particles,  rarely  visible,  while  the 
silver  occurs  chiefly  as  the  sulphide  (argentite),  with 
some  chloride  in  the  upper  levels.  The  quartz  is 
extremely  hard  and  flinty,  beautifully  ribboned  in 
lines  parallel  to  the  walls  of  the  lode.  In  this  respect 
and  in  its  general  appearance  it  often  reminded  me 
of  the  ore  produced  by  the  Amethyst  and  Last  Chance 
mines  at  Creede,  Colorado,  in  1894.  Argentite  occurs 
along  the  lines  of  ribboning  in  minute  streaks  be- 
tween seams  of  opalescent  quartz;  the  natives  call 


— ! 

f  ii»^^| 

I'F  ffl 

■  i^mI 

M 

■fwi:; 

■  1 

r|:'';  4g^ 

^H 

JTi 

GOLD   PRODUCTION  S3 

these  hilosy  or  threads.  The  ore  is  largely  a  replace- 
ment, by  siHcification,  of  the  encasing  country  and 
this  holds  true  no  less  of  the  andesite  than  the  shale. 
The  Esperanza  is  sending  mineralized  porphyry  to 
the  mill  and  mineralized  shale  to  the  smelter.  Beau- 
tiful pseudomorphs  of  quartz  after  calcite  are  fre- 
quent, they  appear  as  sharp  scalenohedra  and  re- 
semble the  'water  quartz'  of  Cripple  Creek.  The  best 
specimens  occur  in  the  small  'horses'  (or  included 
fragments  of  country)  within  the  vein  and  on  the 
outside  of  the  big  pay-streaks.  All  the  surrounding 
shale  shows  the  effects  of  mineralizing  activity  and 
the  outside  andesite  will  often  yield  traces  of  metal; 
for  instance,  the  old  decomposed  andesite  on  the  fifth 
level  of  the  Esperanza  assayed  0.29  oz.  silver  and 
traces  of  gold. 

At  the  time  of  my  visit,  at  the  end  of  October, 
1905,  the  rate  of  production  of  the  El  Oro  district  was 
slightly  over  $1,000,000  per  month,  distributed  thus: 
Esperanza,  $650,000;  Dos  Estrellas,  $240,000,  and  El 
Oro,  $200,000.  An  output  of  $12,000,000,  82  per  cent 
of  it  being  gold,  made  El  Oro  the  second  most  pro- 
ductive gold-mining  centre  on  the  American  con- 
tinent. 


ClKMPler  9 


DEVELOPMENT  OF  THE  MILLING  PRACTICE  AT 
EL  ORG  — BEGINNING  OF  CYAN IDATION  —  FIRST 
BIG  MILL  — CHANGE  OF  METHOD  — TUBE-MILLS 
AND  RE-GRINDING. 

;  EVELOPMENTS  in  the  mill- 
J  ing  practice  at  EI  Oro  are  full  of 
I  interest.  In  1873  a  hacienda  de 
I  beneficio,  or  reduction  plant,  was 
I  erected  to  crush  ore  and  treat 
'  the  accumulated  tailing  from  a 
\  still  older  arraslre*  and  to  this 
[  plant  further  addition  was  made 
in  1885.  The  mill  then  included  25  stamps  with 
amalgamating  tables.  In  1890  the  accumulation  of 
tailing  made  by  the  stamps  was  sold  to  a  man  from 
Butte,  named  Albertson.  The  tailing  he  handled 
was  richer  than  the  ore  being  mined  today.  Never- 
theless, the  contract  for  the  treatment  of  it  was 
cancelled  after  the  purchaser  had  installed  four 
amalgamating  pans,  with  settlers,  and  had  started  to 
ship  bullion.  This  was  under  the  regime  of  General 
Frisbie.  In  1894  a  Chilean  mill  was  brought  from 
Chicago,  to  grind  the  ore  after  it  had  passed  through 
a  Comet  crusher.     The  Chilean  mill  did  finer  grind- 


AN   EARLY   CYANIDE   PLANT  55 

ing  than  the  stamps,  which  at  that  time  were  also 
preceded  by  crushers,  of  the  Blake  type.  The  mill  in 
turn  left  a  dump  that,  eventually,  as  methods  im- 
proved, it  became  profitable  to  re-treat.  Late  in 
1894,  James  B.  Haggin  bought  control.  In  the  fol- 
lowing year  the  old  mule-stable  was  converted  into  a 
cyanide  annex.  Redwood  tanks  24  feet  in  diameter, 
with  43^-f oot  staves,  were  erected ;  the  sump-vats  were 
larger,  with  6-foot  staves.  The  tailing  was  carried,  in 
boxes  on  the  backs  of  peones  and  in  hand-barrows,  to 
the  vats.  Cyanide  solution  was  first  introduced  by 
upward  percolation  through  a  false  bottom,  the  suc- 
ceeding water-washes  being  applied  from  above. 
This  was  followed  by  precipitation  on  zinc  shaving, 
with  acid  treatment  for  the  zinc  'shorts,'  the  bulk  of 
the  precipitate  being  carefully  washed  and  melted 
forthwith.  The  bullion  thus  obtained  was  of  extra- 
ordinary fineness — 960  to  980 — without  the  use  of 
any  nitre  in  the  melting.  This  was  one  of  the  first 
successful  cyanide  plants  in  Mexico.  With  only  the 
addition  of  the  small  cyanide  annex  just  described, 
the  mine  paid  $1,000,000  in  dividends  up  to  May, 
1898,  besides  meeting  the  cost  of  various  installations, 
including  part  of  the  100-stamp  mill  taken  over  by 
the  English  company,  which  now  controls  the  prop- 
erty. 

The  first  100-stamp  mill  was  designed  under  the 
Haggin-Frisbie  regime  and  was  only  expected  to 
crush  4,500  tons  per  month  through  a  60-mesh  screen. 
When  the  property  was  purchased  by  the  Explora- 


S6  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

tion  Company  in  1898,  this  mill  was  too  near  comple- 
tion to  be  altered.  The  slime-plant  was  added  in 
1900,  after  the  present  company  had  been  formed. 
W.  K.  Betty  had  conducted  a  series  of  experiments 
for  the  new  owners  and  double  treatment  was  then 
adopted  for  the  slime-plant.  This  was  only  making 
the  best  of  conditions  as  they  were  found ;  hence  the 
pile  of  stored  tailing  now  about  to  be  re-treated. 

The  general  plan  of  treatment  was  as  follows: 
From  the  stamp-battery  the  pulp  passed  over  copper 
plates  and  was  then  divided,  by  spitzkasten,  into 
'coarse  sand,'  'fine  sand,'  and  'slime,'  each  product 
receiving  individual  treatment.  The  sand  underwent 
double  treatment  in  South  African  style;  it  was  first 
cyanided  in  collecting-vats  and  then  dropped  into 
cars  that  removed  it  to  the  treatment-vats.  The 
slime  was  caught  in  a  settling-vat  and  thence  went  to 
the  treatment-house,  where  it  was  agitated  by  jets  of 
compressed  air.  After  treatment,  the  sand  was 
dropped  into  cars  underneath  the  vat,  while  the  slime 
was  flushed  out  with  water  in  the  ordinary  manner. 

In  the  meanwhile  the  capacity  of  the  mine  grew, 
not  only  by  reason  of  the  discovery  of  new  orebodies, 
but  indirectly  through  the  cheapening  of  operations, 
so  that  further  enlargement  of  the  mill  became 
prudent.  In  1905  another,  and  the  last,  addition  to 
the  reduction  plant  was  made.  The  new  mill  of  100 
stamps,  with  its  up-to-date  cyanide  equipment,  differs 
from  the  old  one  in  five  respects,  namely: 


CYANIDE  TREATMENT  AT  EL  ORO 


58  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

1.  Mechanical  handling  of  the  ore. 

2.  Heavier  stamps. 

3.  Re-grinding  in  tube-mills. 

4.  Mechanical  handling  of  sand  by  distributors, 
excavators,  and  belts. 

5.  Mechanical  agitation  of  slime  by  stirrers  and 
centrifugal  pumps. 

The  new  mill  contains  100  stamps,  each  weighing 
1,180  pounds,  falling  102  times  per  miitute,  with  a 
6-inch  drop.  The  depth  of  discharge  is  lYz  to  3 
inches  with  a  new  die,  and  ZYz  inches  when  the  die 
is  worn  out.  Woven  brass  wire  screens  of  35  mesh 
are  used. 

The  accompanying  diagram*  (Fig.  7)  illustrates 
the  process.  From  the  stamps  the  crushed  ore  goes 
to  a  system  of  cone-classifiers  and  spitzkasten,  which 
separates  the  coarsest  sand  and  sends  it  to  the  tube- 
mills  for  re-grinding.  The  fine  sand  from  the  stamps 
combines  with  the  similar  product  from  the  tube-mills 
and  is  elevated  by  the  raflf-wheel  to  the  sand-collect- 
ing vats.  Any  slime  that  may  have  escaped  com- 
plete separation  and  accompanies  the  sand,  overflows 
from  these  vats  and  passes  to  the  slime-plant,  joining 
with  the  rest  of  this  product  that  has  been  eliminated 
from  the  sand  by  the  classifiers.     The  sand  is  dis- 


•  Borrowed  by  permission  from  'The  Grinding  of  Ore  by  Tube-Mills, 
and  Cyaniding  at  El  Oro,  Mexico/  by  G.  Caetani  and  E.  Burt.  Trans- 
actions American  Institute  of  Mining  Engineers,  February,  1906.  This 
is  a  conscientious  and  most  valuable  paper,  giving  a  detailed  account  of 
the  cyanide  practice  at  £1   Oro. 


MECHANICAL   DEVICES  59 

tributed  by  a  revolving  mechanism  of  the  Butters  & 
Mein  type.  There  is  no  chemical  treatment  in  the 
sand-receiver,  the  idea  being  to  keep  the  mill-water 
free  from  cyanide  while  effecting  a  final  separation 
of  slime,  so  as  to  get  a  clean  product.  The  water 
and  slime  are  drawn  off  through  gates  or  slots  on  the 
side  of  the  vats;  these  gates  are  closed  by  a  roll  of 
canvas  as  the  vats  fill.  The  sand,  when  thus  finally 
freed  from  the  last  trace  of  slime,  is  removed  by  a 
Blaisdell  excavator,  which  drops  it  through  a  central 
opening  onto  a  Robins  belt-conveyor.  This  Blais- 
dell excavator  is  like  a  revolving  disc-harrow  and  it 
has  proved  a  most  efficient  machine.  It  uses  com- 
paratively little  power  and  works  smoothly.  The 
belt-conveyor  takes  the  sand  (containing  now  only 
from  10  to  11%  moisture)  to  the  treatment-vat,  which 
is  fed  by  a  revolving  distributor  operated  by  a 
variable-speed  motor,  the  centrifugal  force  being  so 
regulated  as  to  throw  the  sand  to  the  sides  or  centre 
of  the  vat,  as  required.  The  charge  is  265  tons,  dry 
weight.  Ten  washes  of  alternately  medium  (0.1%) 
and  strong  (0.2%)  solution  ^re  introduced,  six  hours 
apart.  This  treatment  is  followed  by  no  less  than 
thirty  'weak'  washes,  such  a  lengthy  operation  being 
specially  designed  to  extract  the  silver.  These 
'weak'  washes  are  four  to  six  hours  apart  and  contain 
0.03%  cyanide.  Each  wash  is  equal  to  13  tons  of 
solution.  After  treatment,  the  residue,  again  using 
the  Blaisdell  machine,  which  moves  on  rails,  is  dis- 


6o  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF    MEXICO 

charged  onto  a  conveyor  that  takes  it  to  the  dump. 
Here  the  distribution  of  tailing  is  regulated,  as  the 
accumulation  grows,  by  a  hinged  belt-conveyor  in 
two  lengths,  the  last  one  being  swung  round  accord- 
ing to  the  contour  of  the  ground. 


<r^tet  10 


TREATMENT  OF  SLIME— USE  OF  LEAD  ACETATES 
ADDITION  OF  LIME  — ITS  DOUBLE  FUNCTION  — 
SETTLEMENT  OF  THE  SLIME  — THE  TUBE-MILLS  — 
THEIR  LINING— SUCCESSFUL  WORK. 


HE  slime  goes  to  a  collecting 
;  vat,  from  which  the  thick  mud  is 
drawn  off  at  the  bottom  and 
thrown  into. one  of  the  treat- 
I  ment-vats.  There  are  twelve  of 
these,  each  34  feet  in  diameter 
I  and  12  feet  deep.  Here  it  is 
I  agitated  with  a  proper  propor- 
tion of  cyanide  solution,  which  is  introduced  simul- 
taneously. The  apparatus  for  stirring  consists  of  two 
long  and  two  short  arms  made  of  oak.  These  are 
solid;  they  taper  outward  from  a  cross-section  of 
4  by  6  inches  to  4  by  4  inches.  The  thick  end  is 
bolted  to  a  steel  star,  which  is  set  on  a  vertical  shaft. 
When  the  vat  is  charged,  lead  acetate  is  added  imme- 
diately. Tests  have  shown  that  a  beneficial  result 
ensues  forthwith,  particularly  as  regards  the  disso- 
lution of  the  silver. 

Lead  salts,  when  added  in  excess  to  the  cyanide 
solution,  give  a  precipitate  of  basic  lead  cyanide,  but 
when  present  in  small  proportion  the  lead  remains 
in  solution,  presumably  owing  to  the  formation  of 


62  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

an  alkaline  plumbite  (K,PbO,)  by  reaction  with  the 
caustic  alkali,  thus : 

PbAc,  +  4KOH  =  K,PbO,  +  2KAc  +  2H,0. 

Mercuric  chloride  is  sometimes  employed  for  the 
same  purpose,  producing  a  reaction  with  the  KCy 
so  as  to  form  a  soluble  double  cyanide,  thus : 

HgQ,  +  4KCy  =  K^HgCy^  +  2Ka. 
The  most  useful  effect  of  these  soluble  lead  and  mer- 
cury compounds  is  the  removal,  in  the  form  of  in- 
soluble HgS  and  PbS,  of  any  soluble  sulphides  that 
would  otherwise  retard  the  solution  of  gold  and  silver, 
and  might  even  re-precipitate  silver  already  dissolved : 

K,S  +  K,HgCy,  =  HgS  +  4KCy. 
K,S  +  K,PbO,  +  2H,0  =  PbS  +  4KOH. 
The  double  mercuric-potassium  cyanide  also  acts  as 
a  solvent,  attacking  gold  more  readily  than  simple 
KCy;  and  this  action  is  independent  of  the  presence 
of  oxygen,  gold  replacing  mercury: 

K,HgCy,  +  Au  =  K,AuCy,  +  Hg. 

Silver  is  similarly  dissolved.  These  reactions  have 
been  amply  verified.  The  action  of  mercuric-potas- 
sium cyanide  on  gold  is  the  basis  of  patents  secured 
by  Keith  and  Hood;  the  latter  also  claims  the  use  of 
lead  as  facilitating  the  solvent  effect  of  cyanide  solu- 
tions. De  Wilde  has  a  patent  involving  addition  of 
lead  oxide  to  the  cyanide  solution.  These  compounds 
also  influence  precipitation  beneficially  if  they  remain 
in  the  solution  up  to  the  point  of  entering  the  zinc- 
box,  as  in  that  case  the  lead  and  mercury  are  precipi- 
tated on  the  zinc,  forming  zinc-lead  and  zinc-mercury 


CHEMICAL   EQUATIONS  63 

couples  of  high  electro-motive  force.  In  this  precipi- 
tation the  zinc  simply  changes  places  with  the  mer- 
cury or  lead,  as  is  also  the  case  when  zinc  shaving  is 
dipped  in  lead-acetate  solution. 

The  charge  is  60  tons  (dry  weight)  of  slime;  this 
is  mixed  with  a  solution  in  the  proportion  of  2^  solu- 
tion to  1  of  slime,  by  weight.  The  solution  contains 
0.05%  cyanide.^  Agitation  continues  for  six  hours. 
The  vat  is  then  filled  until  there  is  3^2  of  solution  to  1 
of  slime;  this  is  well  stirred  and  then  allowed  to  settle. 
Settling  and  decantation  consume  eight  hours.  This 
part  of  the  process  is  hastened  by  the  use  of  lime, 
which  is  added  to  the  feed  of  the  tube-mills. 

The  lime  has  two  functions,  one  of  them  chemi- 
cal, the  other  physical.  By  virtue  of  the  first  it  neu- 
tralizes the  sulphuric  acid  and  decomposes  the  ferric 
sulphate  contained  in  the  ore,  and  due  to  oxidation. 
Such  oxidation  may  have  occurred  in  parts  of  the  lode 
before  it  was  mined,  or  it  may  have  been  developed 
by  subsequent  contact  with  the  air  in  its  passage  to 
the  mill  or  during  treatment.  The  lime  serves  in  this 
way  to  protect  the  cyanide  of  potassium  or  sodium, 
as  the  case  may  be.  In  slaking,  the  calcium  oxide 
(CaO)  takes  up  water  to  form  the  hydroxide 
(Ca(OH)2),  which  dissolves  in  water  to  the  extent  of 
one  part  in  800.    Lime  is  preferable  to  caustic  soda, 


*  Sodium  cyanide  is  used,  but  all  calculations  are  made  in  terms  of 
the  equivalent  potassium  cyanide.  100  lb.  NaCy  is  equal  to  128  lb.  KCy, 
therefore  in  practice  eight-tenths  of  NaCy  does  the  work  of  one  unit  of 
KCy.  The  chemical  action  is  the  same,  the  lesser  freight  on  the  more 
concentrated  form  of  the  cyanide  making  the  sodium  preferable  to  the 
potassium  salt. 


64  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF    MEXICO 

for  this  particular  purpose,  because  the  calcium  car- 
bonate is  insoluble  in  water,  while  the  sulphate  is  but 
slightly  soluble,  so  that  they  do  not  accumulate  in  the 
cyanide  solution,  as  is  the  case  with  the  correspond- 
ing sodium  salts  where  NaOH  is  used  as  the  neutral- 
izing agent.    Soluble  carbonates  are  also  precipitated 

by  it,  leaving  caustic  alkali  in  solution,  thus : 
CO,  +  Ca(OH),  =  CaCO,  +  H,0 

Na,CO,  +  Ca(OH),  =  CaCO,  +  2NaOH. 

By  reason  of  its  physical  function  in  the  mill,  lime 
coagulates  slime,  so  as  to  cause  settling  of  the  parti- 
cles. The  effect  is  complex.  Much  of  the  material 
classed  as  slime  is  of  a  colloid  nature;  indeed,  slime 
has  been  recently  labeled  a  'colloid  hydrate.'  Such 
matter  when  brought  into  contact  with  pure  water 
becomes  almost  gelatinous,  and  therefore  impervious 
to  solution.  There  are  several  substances,  notably 
alum,  acids,  soap,  and  lime,  that,  when  added  to  the 
turbid  water,  cause  the  gelatinous  matter  to  coagu- 
late or  flocculate,  so  as  to  produce  a  separation  into 
distinct  agglomerations.  Further,  minute  particles 
of  ore,  whether  slimy  or  not,  if  suspended  in  water 
and  refusing  to  settle,  develop  a  tendency  to  subside 
when  lime,  alum,  and  other  substances  are  introduced. 
Although  imperfectly  understood,  these  reactions  are 
used  largely  both  in  metallurgy  and  in  agriculture. 

The  slime  settles  rapidly;  within  two  minutes 
there  is  an  inch  of  clear  water.  Then  the  clear  solu- 
tion is  decanted  and  passes  to  a  filter-vat,  the  bottom 
of  which  is  provided  with  two  or  three  feet  of  sand 


TUBE-MILLS  65 

on  the  top  of  burlap.  This  removes  any  remaining 
trace  of  slime,  cleaning  the  solution  so  that  it  is  fit 
to  go  to  the  precipitation-house. 

Returning  to  the  treatment-vat;  the  slime  re- 
maining after  decantation  undergoes  further  agita- 
tion. The  vat  is  filled  with  a  0.03%  solution  and  agi- 
tation ensues  for  IjJ/^  hours.  Then  follow  three  more 
successive  washes.  The  vat  is  then  filled  for  the  fifth 
time  and  the  mixture  is  thrown  by  a  centrifugal  pump 
into  a  deep  settling-vat.  Five  of  the  treatment- 
charges  go  to  one  of  these  vats,  of  which  there  are  six, 
each  being  20  feet  deep  and  34  feet  in  diameter,  with 
a  capacity  of  450  tons.  The  successive  charges  from 
the  treatment-vat  are  fed  into  one  settling-vat  until 
it  is  full  of  slime,  for  as  fast  as  the  solution  gathers 
on  top  it  is  run  off,  just  sufficient  time  being  given  for 
clarification.  This  clarified  solution  is  so  poor  in  gold 
and  silver  that  precipitation  is  not  attempted,  the 
solution  being  used  as  the  first  of  the  washes  in  the 
treatment-vat. 

The  new  mill  contains  three  tube-mills.  All  of 
them  were  made  by  Krupp,  at  Essen.  The  No.  3 
mill  is  19  ft.  8  in.  long  with  3  ft.  11  in.  diameter;  No.  4 
is  4  ft.  11  in.  diameter,  and  23  ft.  9  in.  long,  while  No. 
5  is  of  the  same  diameter  as  the  last,  but  26  ft.  3  in. 
long.  The  smallest  of  the  tubes  is  found  to  do  most 
work  per  horse-power  required.  In  Western  Aus- 
tralia the  tubes  or  grit-mills  (as  they  are  often  called) 
have  been  cut  down  to  a  length  of  13  feet,  but  the  ore 
at   Kalgoorlie  is  softer,  so  that  grinding  is  more 


66  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

quickly  accomplished  than  at  El  Oro.  The  time  re- 
quired is  determined  directly  by  the  hardness  of  the 
rock,  for  the  ore  is  fed  at  the  upper  end  and  makes 
its  exit  at  the  lower,  through  a  screen.  Of  the  three 
types  of  tube-mill,  the  Abbe  can  be  filled  more  than 
half  full ;  this  cannot  be  done  with  the  Krupp  mill  be- 
cause it  both  fills  and  discharges  at  the  centre.  The 
Davidsen  has  central  feed  but  peripheral  discharge, 
while  in  the  Abbe  mill  this  is  reversed,  the  feed  being 
peripheral  and  the  discharge  central.  The  last  men- 
tioned is  built  in  divisions  and  the  driving  is  done  on 
tires  and  by  gears,  which  circle  the  exterior  of  the 
shell,  like  a  Bruckner  furnace.  The  Krupp  tube  is 
made  of  wrought-iron  sheets,  welded ;  it  runs  on  trun- 
nions placed  at  one  end,  so  that  the  shell  does  not 
come  into  play  as  regards  the  driving  of  the  machine. 
The  lining  of  tube-mills  is  an  important  matter. 
Chilled  cast  iron,  both  that  imported  from  Krupp's 
works  and  that  made  by  the  El  Oro  company  itself, 
has  been  tried ;  the  latter  costing  one  half  the  former 
and  giving  equal  wear  weight-for-weight.  Krupp's 
lining  is  from  %  to  1  inch  thick;  El  Oro  lining  is 
Ij^-inch  thick.  Nevertheless,  it  is  the  intention  of 
the  manager'  to  substitute  silex,  a  natural  flint  with 
characteristic  conchoidal  fracture;  it  is  whittled  into 
shape  in  Germany  before  shipment,  arriving  in  pieces 
2]/%  to  4  in.  thick,  4  in.  wide,  and  6  in.  long.    The  peb- 


•  Robert  M.  Raymond,  to  whom  I  am  indebted  for  much  valuable 
information,  and  for  a  personal  kindness  it  is  not  possible  adequately  to 
acknowledge. 


LINING  OF  TUBE-MILLS  67 

bles  that  do  the  grinding  come  from  the  coast  of  Den- 
mark. They  vary  in  size  from  that  of  an  egg  to  that 
of  a  fist,  the  average  being  about  three  inches  in 
diameter.  They  wear  well,  six  pounds  of  pebble  being 
abraded  during  the  grinding  of  one  ton  of  sand;  the 
consumption  of  lining  being  1.6  pounds.  [Since  then 
the  abrasion  has  been  decreased  to  one  pound  per 
ton  of  sand.]  An  attempt  is  being  made  to  select 
some  of  the  flinty  quartz,  such  as  occurs  in  the  low- 
g^ade  ore  of  the  mine,  to  serve  as  grinding  material. 
This  seems  wise;  if  the  hard  portions  of  the  ore  can 
be  used  to  grind  the  soft,  the  economy  is  obvious. 
[According  to  later  advices,  this  was  not  a  success. 
I  also  learn  that  the  lining  of  silex  has  been  discarded 
in  favor  of  bar  plates.] 

At  the  time  of  my  visit.  No.  3  tube  was  being 
driven  at  the  rate  of  31  revolutions  per  minute,  while 
No.  4  and  No.  5  made  29  revolutions.  The  duty  of 
the  individual  tube-mills  cannot  be  stated;  172  tons 
of  the  coarsest  sand  from  the  new  100-stamp  mill  is 
re-ground  from  35  mesh  to  150  mesh,  or  finer,  by  the 
three  tubes.  In  addition,  85  tons  per  day  of  the 
coarsest  of  the  40-mesh  sand  coming  from  the  old 
100-stamp  mill  is  reduced  to  the  same  condition, 
making  the  total  work  of  the  three  tubes  257  tons. 

The  tube-mills  get  everything  above  150  mesh, 
as  separated  by  classification  in  cones.  The  aim  is 
to  grind  to  150  mesh  and  this  is  accomplished  as 
nearly  as  the  capacity  of  the  plant  will  permit.  Any 
oversize   is   returned — as  already   described — to   be 


68 


AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 


re-ground.  The  cyanide  treatment  is  based  on  mak- 
ing a  product  of  sand  as  nearly  150  mesh  as  possible, 
while  the  2(X)-mesh  pulp  and  finer  are  treated  as  slime. 
This  tube-mill  practice  has  steadily  gained  in  im- 
portance, the  tendency  being  to  treat  a  larger  propor- 
tion of  the  product  from  the  stamps  and  to  augment 
their  crushing  capacity,  while  enlarging  the  cyanide 
annex.  This  is  a  proper  way  of  meeting  the  neces- 
sities of  a  mine  the  output  of  which  increases  in  ton- 
nage as  the  assay-value  declines. 

The  following  statement  of  the  work  done  during 
the  month  previous  to  my  visit  explains  itself: 

REPORT  OF  CYANIDE  DEPARTMENT,  SEPTEMBER,  1905. 

Mill  No.  1. 

» Gold •         * Sarei » 

Assay-           Indi-  Assay-             ladi- 

ralue           cated  ralue             cated 

QattificatioB.                                     Tons              per           extrac-  per            extrac- 

treated.            ton.             tion.  ton.                tion. 

%  $  %  $  % 

Coarse  Sand  ...29.23  2,552  9.46  54.33  1.73  27.17 

Fine  Sand   25.57  2,233  7.86  72.14  1.57  45.86 

Slime   45.20  3.947  9.04  93.58  2.03  82.26 

Total  100  8,732  8.86  76.50  1.83  58.99 

The  old  mill  was  built  before  re-grrinding  was  adopted.  The  fine 
sand  is  poorer  than  the  coarse  because  it  contains  less  gold  open  to  attack. 
The  slime  is  richer  in  silver  because  of  the  presence  of  argentite. 

Mill  No.  2. 

%  Tons.  $  %  $  % 

Sand    24.12  2,527  8.28  83.94  1.59  65.41 

Slime   75.88  7,949  7.68  92.45  1.64  7a05 

Total  100  10,476  7.82  90.28  1.63  75.08 

The  new  mill  includes  a  systematic  scheme  of  re-grinding,  as  shown 
by  the  increased  proportion  of  slime.  A  better  extraction  on  slime  raises 
the  general  result  to  a  satisfactory  figure. 


chapter  tt 


FURTHER  NOTES  ON  EL  ORG  PRACTICE  — THE 
STAMP-MILL  —  MORTARS  AND  GUIDES  —  APPA- 
RATUS FOR  SIZING  — THE  PRECIPITATION  HOUSE 
—  FILTER-PRESSES  — RECORD    OF    TESTS. 

J  FEW  scattered  notes  on  the  El 
]  Oro  mill  may  be  worth  record- 
I  ing.  The  bolts  of  the  battery- 
I  frames  are  coupled  by  washers; 
I  these  are  6  to  10  inches  long  and 
'  from  2J^  to  3  inches  wide;  they 
'  connect  two  bolts  and  hold  them 
I  firm.  If  one  gets  loose,  the  other 
holds  it  in  grip  and  prevents  movement.  The  ac- 
companying photograph*  of  the  interior  of  the  mill 
will  aid  the  description. 

The  guides  are  made  at  the  company's  foundry, 
of  cast  iron;  instead  of  being  sectional,  with  bolts, 
they  consist  of  one  solid  piece.  Each  stamp  has  its 
own  guide  and  a  right-angle  plate,  to  keep  it  in  proper 
place  and  line.  The  wear  is  slight  and  therefore  the 
stamp  works  smoothly;  there  is  less  heating  than 
with  wooden  guides. 

The  mortar  is  a  development  of  the  anvil-block. 
This  is  an  excellent  mode  of  construction,  tf  properly 
done.     I  know  of  one  case — not  in  Mexico — where 


70  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

trouble  was  caused  by  the  anvil-block  being  con- 
structed so  that  it  did  not  rest  perfectly  true  on  the 
cement  foundation;  to  remedy  this,  it  was  the  custom 
to  shim  the  concrete  block  with  a  little  cement ;  when 
this  last  broke  and  crumbled,  there  was  a  movement 
of  the  mortar  itself.  At  El  Oro,  the  mortar-block  is 
made  extra  heavy,  becoming  to  some  extent  an  anvil 
in  itself,  with  a  base  three  feet  wide  and  a  bottom  13 
inches  thick;  this  is  placed  upon  a  concrete  founda- 
tion, with  a  piece  of  quarter-inch  rubber  belt  between. 

At  El  Oro,  cones  are  superior  to  spitzkasten; 
the  sizing  tests  have  proved  this  abundantly,  the 
separation  by  the  cones  being  much  sharper.  The 
circulation  and  agitation  of  slime  are  aided  by  six 
pumps,  which  are  the  Butters  modification  of  the 
Gwynne  pump,  such  as  is  used  in  the  London  dock- 
yards. They  are  of  the  centrifugal  type ;  compressed 
air  is  introduced  to  effect  aeration  of  the  solution. 
The  chief  advantage  of  the  Butters  modification  is 
that  all  wearing  parts  are  readily  removable.  Each 
pump  makes  1,300  revolutions  per  minute  and  in 
that  period  handles  4^  tons  (3^  tons  being  solution) 
of  slime. 

The  vats  are  all  made  of  steel  plates,  A  inch 
thick  on  the  sides,  with  34-inch  bottoms.  Redwood 
laid  down  at  El  Oro  comes  to  the  same  cost,  but  the 
steel  is  more  durable  and  makes  a  tighter  vat  in  a 
climate  such  as  that  of  central  Mexico.  The  vat  does 
not  dry  if  empty,  there  are  no  staves  to  check,  and 
there  is  no  absorption  of  solution. 


ZINC  SHAVING  71 

In  the  precipitation-house,  there  is  used  a  device 
introduced  independently  by  W.  K.  Betty  in  South 
Africa  and  by  Alfred  F.  Main  at  El  Oro;*  I  refer  to 
a  drop-drip  of  cyanide  (2^%  solution)  over  the  head 
compartment  of  each  zinc-box  that  is  precipitating 
from  the  weakest  solution,  namely,  the  one  coming 
from  the  treatment  of  slime.  This  drip  makes  the 
zinc  more  active,  so  that  a  precipitation  of  precious 
metal  is  obtained  in  a  manner  usually  unattainable 
from  so  weak  a  solution,  that  is,  one  containing  only 
0.02%  KCy.  Still  weaker  solutions  are  successfully 
precipitated  in  which  the  quantity  of  cyanide  is  so 
small  as  not  to  be  detected  by  the  ordinary  silver 
nitrate  test. 

The  method  of  dipping  the  zinc  shaving  in  lead 
acetate  (to  aid  precipitation)  is  not  employed  at  El 
Oro  because  lead  acetate  is  used  at  another  stage  of 
the  process,  as  already  explained.  Zinc  fume  was 
tried,  but  it  was  ineffective  with  such  weak  solutions. 
Great  care  is  taken  with  the  zinc  shaving,  to  cut  it  in 
thin  but  tough  filaments,  not  so  crinkly  as  to  break 
easily  in  handling.  The  shaving  is  laid  in  the  boxes 
most  carefully,  so  as  to  avoid  channeling.  The  El 
Oro  plant  is  the  only  one  of  its  size  where  acid  treat- 
ment is  not  used.  From  the  boxes  the  zinc  is  sent 
through  launders,  to  be  carefully  screened,  while  it 
is  also  being  washed  with  fresh  water.  Then  it  is 
pumped  into  two  filter-presses  until  they  are  full,  the 

*  Mr.  Main  is  assistant  manager  for  the  £1  Oro  Mining  &  Railway 
Company. 


72  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

charge  being  equivalent  to  19,000  ounces  of  bullion. 
The  effluent  solution  is  returned  to  the  sump,  the 
cakes  in  the  press  are  washed  and  then  dried  by 
steam,  the  steam  heating  the  iron  of  the  frame  suffi- 
ciently to  dry  the  cake  inside.  The  cakes  are  dried 
to  such  a  consistence  as  will  facilitate  fluxing  before 
briquetting;  they  fall  into  a  car  and  afe  then  mixed 
with  the  fluxes  needed  for  melting;  the  mixture  is  fed 
into  a  briquetting  machine,  making  round  bricks  3j4 
inches  thick,  3  inches  in  diameter.  These  are  dried 
before  being  thrown  into  the  melting  pot,  from  which 
bars  of  1,000  ounces  are  cast.  The  Mexican  work- 
men are  compelled  to  remove  their  clothes  after  work, 
before  passing  to  the  outer  room.  The  precipitation- 
room  has  a  cement  floor  and  the  furnace  has  a  dust- 
chamber. 

The  development  of  milling  at  El  Oro  em- 
phasizes the  relative  importance  of  the  cyanide 
annex  in  the  modern  wet  treatment  of  precious- 
metal  ore;  the  annex  to  the  new  mill  required  an 
expenditure  a  little  more  than  twice  the  cost  of  the 
new  100-stamp  mill  itself.  The  tendency  is  to  in-  ,  . 
crease  the  percentage  that  is  re-ground,  the  perfec- 
tion of  the  extraction  being  largely  dependent  upon 
the  fineness  of  comminution.  At  the  time  of  my  visit 
the  aim  was  to  make  two  products;  sand,  as  near  150 
mesh  as  possible  (and  a  decreasing  percentage  even 
of  that)  and  slime,  that  is,  all  below  200  mesh.  Of 
course,  sand,  even  when  re-ground,  is  different  from 
clay,  despite  equality  in  size  of  particles;  the  grains 


SIZING  TESTS   AT  EL  ORO  73 

of  *sand'  are  sharp  as  against  those  of  a  mud  (slime) 
rendered  impalpable  by  absence  of  sharp  edges. 
*Sand/  however  fine,  filters  well,  while  'slime'  will  not 
filter  at  all;  it  packs  like  glue.  On  the  other  hand,  by 
reason  of  the  relatively  larger  surface  presented  by 
minute  particles,  chemical  action  on  the  precious 
metals  in  'slime'  is  almost  instantaneous.  How 
necessary  re-grinding  is,  was  shown  by  a  simple  ex- 
periment made  by  Mr.  S.  H.  Pearce.  Sand,  after 
ordinary  cyanide  treatment  at  the  old  mill,  where 
there  is  no  re-grinding,  was  dissolved  in  aqua  regia^ 
but  the  'purple  of  Cassius'  test,  with  stannous 
chloride,  gave  no  precipitate  whatever,  the  gold  being 
effectively  locked  within  the  grains  of  quartz.  The 
assay  of  the  sand  gave  $4.50  per  ton.  Hence  the  need 
for  re-grinding. 

The  accompanying  record  of  tests  will  prove  in- 
teresting to  those  engaged  in  cyanide  work.  Look- 
ing at  Fig.  8,  it  will  be  noted  that  the  legend  explains 
the  graphic  representation  of  two  sizing  tests.  At 
the  time  of  these  tests,  a  2^-inch  chuck-block  was 
used,  but  it  was  too  low  to  have  much  effect  on  the 
degree  of  fineness  of  the  product;  during  the  test  the 
stamp-discharge  was  as  through  28  mesh.  Under 
these  conditions  the  load  on  the  tube-mills  and  on  the 
plant  became  too  heavy,  so  that  finer  screens  were 
substituted  shortly  afterward.  In  the  diagram  (taken 
from  the  paper  by  Caetani  and  Burt,  already  men- 
tioned) the  ordinates  represent  the  size  of  the  screen 
and  the  abscissae  the  percentage  retained  on  each  of 


74  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 


EXTRACTION   FROM   SAND  75 

the  screens.    In  the  legend,  "Thro'  250  mesh"  should 
read  "through  200  mesh." 

The  use  of  the  term  'sand-index/  to  be  seen  in  the 
note  appearing  on  the  diagram,  requires  explanation. 
Caetani  and  Burt  employ  it,  and  it  represents  one  of 
the  most  valuable  features  of  their  paper.  The  prob- 
lem may  be  stated  thus :  Given  two  sands  of  the  fol- 
lowing analysis: 

Mesh                              On  20  On  40  On  100  On  200  Through  200 

%  %  %               %        or  slime 

1st  sand   10  30  25                5              30 

2nd  sand  5  15  45              15              20 

Which  of  these  two  sands  is  the  finer?  Caetani 
answers  the  question  from  the  economic  point  of  view, 
thus*^ :  It  is  desired  to  know  the  fineness  of  a  sand  for 
the  reason  that  the  finer  the  sand,  the  better  the  ex- 
traction obtained.  Therefore  the  maximum  possible 
extraction  on  a  sand  of  given  composition  is  a  number 
proportional  to  its  fineness^  considered  from  an  economic 
standpoint.  As  at  El  Oro  the  metallurgist  can  a  priori 
calculate  exactly  the  extraction  from  a  sand  when  a 
sizing  test  has  been  made,  therefore  he  can  calculate 
the  index  and  represent  thereby  with  one  number  what 
would  otherwise  have  to  be  indicated  by  a  tabulation 
consisting  of  14  numbers.  In  the  examples  quoted  at 
the  beginning  of  the  paragraph,  the  second  sand  is 
finer  than  the  first,  although  it  contains  less  slime. 


In  a  letter  to  the  author. 


CfyxpUr  12 


THE  MILL  OF  THE  ESPERANZA  — USE  OF  HUNT- 
INGTON MILLS  —  TREATMENT  OF  SAND  — NO 
AMALGAMATION  —  EXTRACTION. 

J  HE  Esperanza  mill  had  120 
;  stamps  when  the  present  com- 
j  pany  took  it  over,  in  1904.  It 
I  was  deemed  advisable  to  in- 
I  crease  the  capacity  at  the  least 
f  possible  cost,  so  15  Huntington 
J  mills  (each  of  5-ft.  diam.)  were 
J  added,  with  the  idea  of  re-grind- 
ing before  cyanidation.  This  was  tried,  but  it  was 
found  necessary  to  place  the  Huntingtons  above  the 
stamp-batteries,  which  necessitated  elevating  the 
pulp.  It  being  difficult,  therefore,  to  distribute  the 
pulp  to  the  Huntington  mills,  it  was  finally  decided 
to  use  the  latter  machines  for  first  grinding,  in  asso- 
ciation with,  instead  of  in  succession  to,  the  stamps. 
The  crude  ore  passes  over  a  Ij^-inch  grizzly  be- 
fore it  reaches  the  rock-breakers;  after  being  crushed 
by  them,  the  ore  goes  over  a  ^-inch  grizzly,  the  un- 
dersize  being  allotted  to  the  Huntingtons  and  the 
oversize  to  the  stamps.  The  batteries  are  provided 
with  60-mesh  screens;  while  the  pulp  issuing  from  the 
Huntington  mills  goes  through  an  angle-slot  screen 


THE  ESPERANZA  MILL  TJ 

equivalent  to  60  mesh,  only  65  per  cent  of  the  product 
will  pass  200  mesh. 

Of  the  15  Huntingtons,  6  are  now  used  as  first 
grinders  on  low-grade  sulphide  ore,  the  product  be- 
ing sized  and  distributed  to  6  Wilfley  tables,  the  tail- 
ing from  which,  after  classification,  passes  down 
blanket-sluices  before  finally  reaching  the  cyanide- 
vats.  The  concentrate  from  the  Wilfleys  and  that 
washed  from  the  blankets,  goes  to  the  smelter  at 
Aguascalientes. 

The  other  nine  Huntingtons  treat  oxidized  ore, 
which,  after  being  ground,  goes  to  the  cyanide  annex. 
The  cost  of  steel  and  repairs  to  wearing  parts  amounts 
to  34  centavos  per  ton;  labor  averages  15  to  20cv.  per 
ton.  The  muller-shells  and  die-rings  are  made  of 
rolled  steel  manufactured  by  the  Midvale  Steel  Co., 
of  Philadelphia.  This  is  a  soft  metal  and  is  suscepti- 
ble of  being  kept  to  shape ;  it  can  be  used  until  worn 
out,  and  is,  therefore,  economical.  Each  Huntington 
mill  has  its  own  motor;  it  has  proved  itself  to  be  the 
best  machine  for  reducing  the  ore  to  a  certain  point 
— say,  60  mesh — beyond  which,  for  finer  grinding,  it 
is  not  economical. 

The  sand  undergoes  treatment  for  100  hours; 
for  it  is  found  that  extraction  ceases  then.  Aeration 
is  effected  by  a  perforated  pipe  discharging  over  the 
return-solution  vat;  yet  there  is  no  such  loss  of  cya- 
nide as  might  have  been  expected.  The  former  col- 
lecting-vats are  now  used  for  treatment;  there  is  less 
aeration  and  less  mixing,  but  there  is  a  great  gain  in 


78  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

the  capacity  of  the  plant  without  interference  with 
effective  percolation.  A  vacuum-pump,  for  with- 
drawing the  enriched  solution,  is  used  only  at  the 
close  of  the  operation.  Sodium  cyanide,  NaCy,  is 
the  chemical  employed;  it  is  guaranteed  equal  to 
125%  active  KCy,  ranging  from  124  to  128  per  cent. 
The  enriched  solution,  before  precipitation  in  zinc- 
boxes,  is  rarely  higher  than  $2.20  in  gold.  Fresh  cya- 
nide, in  crystals,  is  added  to  the  head  of  the  zinc- 
boxes,  sometimes  in  quantity  sufficient  to  keep  the 
solution  up  to  standard  strength. 

There  are  no  amalgamating  plates,  and  no  mer- 
cury is  used  in  the  Esperanza  plant.  This  is  an  inter- 
esting divergence  from  El  Oro  practice. 

During  September,  1905,  the  output  of  the  mine 
consisted  of  5,280  tons  of  shipping  ore  and  12,000  tons 
of  milling  ore,  having  together  a  value  of  $780,385. 
The  extraction  in  the  mill  was  91.64  per  cent  of  the 
gold  and  52.92  per  cent  of  the  silver  in  the  crude  ore. 

At  this  time  the  Esperanza  was  the  most  pro- 
ductive gold  mine  in  the  world,  the  two  ranking  next 
being  the  Simmer  &  Jack,  with  a  monthly  output  of 
$505,000,  and  the  Robinson,  with  $450,000;  these  two 
mines  being  in  the  Transvaal. 


dfyjipUr  13 


MINING  METHODS  IN  THE  EL  ORO  MINE— DIA- 
MOND-DRILLING IN  THE  ESPERANZA— TIMBERING 
BAD  GROUND  —  PRECAUTIONS  TAKEN  —  LAYING 
OF  TRACK  — EXCELLENT  SYSTEM. 

;  O  time  is  wasted  in  handling  ore 
;  from  the  El  Oro  mine.  At  the 
I  main  (incline)  shaft  there  are 
j  two  gyratory  (Comet  D)  crush- 
I  ers,  the  oversize  from  which 
'  goes  to  a  jaw  (Reliance) 
?  breaker,  9  by  15  inches.  Thence 
>  the  ore  passes  into  bins  and 
from  them  it  is  fed  onto  a  (Robins)  belt-conveyor, 
which  is  made  in  divisions  as  demanded  by  the 
length  (about  200  yards)  and  the  slope  to  the 
mill.  At  the  mill  the  ore  is  delivered  by  the 
conveyor  to  a  traveling  tripper  which  distributes 
it  automatically  into  the  bins;  the  tripper  moves  over 
the  bins  the  entire  length  of  the  mill  and  then  returns. 
When  opening  up  ground  previous  to  stoping,  it 
is  the  custom  to  run  a  main  drift  in  the  middle  of  the 
hanging-wall  orebody,  leaving  ore  on  both  sides  up 
to  the  top  of  the  timbers  constituting  the  drift-set. 
Then  stoping  begins  above  the  drift  for  the  full  width 
of  the  orebody.  When  the  ground  begins  to  weaken 
and  re-timbering  has  been  carried  as  far  as  practic- 


8o  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

able,  the  slopes  will  be  about  half-way  up  to  the  next 
level;  then  the  drift  in  the  foot-wall  orebody  is 
utilized,  by  driving  cross-cuts  from  it  to  the  hanging. 
These  tap  chutes  wherever  practicable,  but  if  the 
ground  near  a  chute  has  caved,  then  a  new  raise 
(from  the  lateral  drift)  is  made  to  serve  the  purpose 
of  extracting  ore.  Finally,  when  even  the  foot-wall 
begins  to  be  bad,  a  lateral  drift  is  run  in  the  foot-wall 
country  itself,  and  this  sometimes  leads  to  unsus- 
pected occurrences  of  ore. 

Another  procedure  is  to  leave  about  twenty  feet 
of  ore  above  the  top  of  the  hanging-wall  drift;  the 
arch  of  ground  being  removed  upon  the  final  extrac- 
tion of  that  block  of  ore.  This  method  is  employed 
when  the  maintenance  of  a  roadway  is  vital,  especially 
when  approaching  a  shaft. 

It  is  instructive  to  note  that  while  the  operating 
expenses  at  the  Esperanza  during  1904  represented 
74  per  cent  of  the  production,  after  the  bonanza  was 
struck  the  proportion  of  expenses  decreased  to  Z7 
per  cent.  The  diamond-drill  cut  the  new  West  vein 
in  August,  1904,  and  the  discovery  was  mentioned  by 
Mr.  R.  T.  Bayliss  at  the  El  Oro  annual  meeting  in 
October,  1904,  but  the  big  rise  in  Esperanza  shares 
did  not  begin  until  the  spring  of  1905.  The  story  of 
the  discovery  illustrates  anew  how  deceptive  a  single 
cross-cut  can  be.  The  West  vein  was  cut  by  a  cross- 
cut on  the  third  level  at  a  point  150  feet  north  of  the 
south  boundary  of  the  mine;  the  ore  was  poor,  about 
15  inches  of  stuff  assaying  17  grams  of  gold  per  ton. 


THE  ESPERANZA  BONANZA  8i 

Next  it  was  intersected  in  a  drill-hole  900  feet  north 
of  the  place  just  described,  but  on  the  fourth  level. 
Here  also  it  was  poor,  about  18  inches,  assaying  12 
grams.  This  was  done  by  the  former  Mexican  com- 
pany about  four  years  before  the  eventual  ascertain- 
ment of  its  real  value.  In  August,  1904,  the  drill-hole 
put  out  by  the  new  management,  at  the  fifth  level,  cut 
the  northern  portion  of  the  orebody  and  found  22  feet 
of  an  average  value  of  ^37  per  ton.  But  the  cross-cut 
which  was  started  at  once  on  the  track  of  the  hole  cut 
an  11-ft.  vein  assaying  $75,  the  probable  explanation 
being  that  the  drill  followed  a  cross-stringer  connect- 
ing a  poor  vein,  5  feet  thick,  to  the  1 1  feet  of  rich  ore, 
there  being  6  feet  of  shale  between  them,  so  that  the 
22  feet  of  core  assayed  ^37  per  ton. 

The  discovery  is  creditable  to  the  management, 
as  it  was  owing  to  their  good  judgment  in  the  use  of 
the  drill.  Now  two  drills  are  kept  in  constant  use, 
although  this  manner  of  testing  the  ground  is  expen- 
sive, because  the  hard  quartz  abrades  the  carbons. 
The  average  cost  is  five  pesos  per  foot  of  %-inch  core. 
A  Sullivan  E  drill  is  used,  capable  of  drilling  400  feet. 

In  the  Esperanza  mine,  it  is  the  custom  to  ex- 
tend main  drifts  in  the  ore,  which  is  hard  and  stands 
well.  Although  the  shale  is  softer,  it  is  found  eco- 
nomical to  keep  within  the  vein,  because  this  practice 
obviates  timbering  as  the  drift  progresses.  When 
the  drift  has  been  advanced  the  desired  length — a, 
month's  or  even  two  months'  work,  at  65  to  70  feet 
per  month — the  ore  is  taken  down  on  both  sides  and 


83  AMONG  THE  MINES    OF  MEXICO 

double  drift -sets  are  put  in  place.  When  mining  near 
the  big  fault,  skillful  work  is  required.  On  the  upper 
levels  the  shattered  ground  is  narrow,  but  this  evi- 
dence of  faulting  increases  in  depth,  so  that  while  it 
is  barely  one  foot  wide  on  the  first  level,  it  is  20  feet 


wide  at  the  fifth,  where  it  is  dangerous.  In  order  to 
traverse  this  ground,  not  only  is  'spiling'  required  on 
top,  but  also  on  the  side  of  the  drift.  The  set  is  put 
in  place  in  the  customary  manner,  with  cap, 
blocking,  and  'bridge,'  so  that  it  looks  like 
Fig.    9.      The    'bridge'    serves    as    a    resting    place 


METHODS  OF  TIMBERING 


84  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

for  the  spiling  poles  and  allows  space  under- 
neath for  driving.  Pointing  the  spiling  up- 
ward and  sharpening  it  from  one  side,  tends  to  lift  the 
soft  rock.  When  the  spiling  has  been  pushed  on  top 
and  at  sides,  it  is  driven  either  with  a  sledge-hammer 
or,  if  that  is  ineffective,  with  a  ram.  If  the  roof- 
spiling  needs  this  treatment,  the  ram  is  put  on  rollers. 
This  ram  is  a  piece  of  8  by  8  inch  timber,  from  8  to 
10  feet  long,  so  as  to  get  a  good  run  with  it  over 
rollers ;  if  it  is  to  be  used  for  driving  spiling  near  the 
floor,  the  ram  is  suspended  from  a  roof-timber  and 
thus  it  gets  a  swing.  If  the  ground  commences  to 
run,  the  face  is  bulk-headed  with  4  by  12  or  6  by 
12  inch  planks,  according  to  conditions.  These 
breast-boards  are  then  blocked  by  spiling,  both  on 
top  and  sides.  The  next  step  is  to  advance  them. 
If  the  bottom  one  is  advanced  first,  the  ground  would 
run,  but  if  the  top  one  is  pushed,  there  is  nothing  to 
escape,  because  the  top  spiling  holds  it  back.  There- 
fore, two  jack-screws  are  brought  to  the  spot  and 
they  are  placed  with  heel  (or  base)  on  a  cross-timber 
carried  by  the  rear  set.  The  top  breast-board  is  now 
advanced  8  or  12  inches  and  a  sawed-off  block  is  in- 
serted within  the  space  thus  obtained;  this  block 
holds  the  breast-board  in  its  advanced  position.  The 
next  board  is  pushed  to  a  corresponding  position,  as 
before;  the  cavity  made  is  cleared,  the  soft  ground 
being  taken  out  over  the  top  of  the  next  lower  board. 
This  procedure  is  repeated  with  the  other  boards 
until   they   are   all   in   line,   marking  a    permanent 


} 


TIMBERING  IN   BAD  GROUND 


85 


advance  of  8  or  10  inches  or  more,  as  circumstances 
permit.  This  is  position  No.  2,  as  shown  in  Fig.  10. 
On  the  next  advance,  longer  blocks  are  used  to  keep 
the  breast-boards  in  place  and  the  work  goes  on  until 
room  has  been  made  for  another  set.     See  Fig.  11. 

The  north  shaft  is  sunk  through  bad  ground, 
particularly  a  length  of  200  feet  between  the  third 
and  fourth  levels,  and  another  stretch  from  the  eighth 
to  the  ninth.     There  is  a  creep  of  15  inches  per  an- 


je'6' 


4^9' 


Fig.  12.    Speoal  Shaft  Set;   14-In.  Timbers. 

num,  and  it  is  found  necessary  to  renew  the  timbering 
every  nine  months;  this  is  done  by  a  gang  of  peones 
specially  trained  under  a  Piedmontese  foreman.  See 
Fig.  12. 

Double  sets  are  used  for  timbering  main  drifts; 
all  the  caps  are  double-locked  to  prevent  splitting 
and,  in  rare  cases,  even  the  sills  are  double,  when  the 
ground  underfoot  tends  to  rise.     In  such  cases  an 


86 


AMONG  THE  MINES   OF   MEXICO 


Fia  13.    Squask  Set.    8-In.  Timbers.    Plan  and  Elevation. 


SQUARE  SETS 


87 


4-6 


-&''* 


-.1.1 


^s'-n 


? 


Fig.  14.    Squaxe  Set.    8-In.  Timbers.    Side  Elevation  and  Details. 


88  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

intervening  block  of  ten  inches  is  inserted,  the  bottom 
sill  being  the  first  to  break.  Ordinary  sets  would 
last  only  60  days,  the  double  sets  are  in  service  for 
12  months;  the  top  set  takes  the  weight  and  yields, 
without  interfering  with  the  use  of  the  drift.  The 
lower  set  remains  unimpaired,  until  finally  it  is 
pushed  too  hard ;  then  the  pressure  is  opposed  by  the 
erection  of  a  false  set,  which,  while  the  lower  set  is 
being  replaced,  does  service  as  a  top  set. 

In  bad  ground  it  is  the  custom  to  leave  from 
three  to  four  inches  between  the  lagging,  so  as  to 
permit  the  soft  ground  to  come  through,  but  not 
enough  to  block  the  tram-track.  After  this  the 
ground  is  not  eased  further  until  the  lagging  breaks ; 
it  is  then  replaced  by  fresh  poles.  If  the  weight  is 
from  overhead,  no  eflfort  is  made  to  ease  the  pressure, 
which  is  allowed  to  break  the  timbers,  to  be  replaced 
by  fresh  sets.  The  choice  is  between  losing  time  in 
cleaning  the  track  or  letting  the  timber  stand  as  long 
as  possible  before  renewal.  It  is  held  that  the  ques- 
tion of  blocking  the  track  is  paramount  in  a  mine  pro- 
ducing so  large  a  tonnage  of  rich  ore. 

Where  it  is  the  intention  to  encourage  the 
ground  to  get  relief  of  pressure  by  pushing  through 
the  lagging,  the  space  between  poles  is  six  inches. 
Close  lagging  requires  more  frequent  renewal,  but  it 
eases  the  timbers.  By  allowing  the  side  of  the  drift  to 
break  through,  more  weight  is  thrown  on  the  timbers, 
by  the  enlargement  of  the  arch  of  ground  overhead. 

Stope-sets  are  five  feet  from  centre  to  centre, 


SYSTEM   OF  TRACK-LAYING  89 

with  a  height  of  eight  feet.  They  are  so  placed  as  to 
oppose  the  tendency  of  the  walls  to  close,  and  the 
consequent  strains  are  all  accepted  on  the  end  of 
timbers.     See  Fig.  13  and  14. 

Great  care  is  taken  with  the  tracks  and  ad- 
mirable system  is  exhibited  in  the  arrangement  of 
them.  The  cars  weigh  1,100  pounds  each  and  carry 
2,200  pounds,  the  total  weight  being  3,300  pounds. 
The  gradient  is  a  half  of  one  per  cent,  that  is,  it  is 
such  that  the  labor  of  pushing  an  empty  car  up-grade 
is  approximately  equal  to  that  of  pushing  a  full  car 
down-grade.  The  width  of  track  is  23  inches,  or  60 
centimetres,  the  gauge  being  based  on  the  metric 
system.  The  rails  are  20  pounds  per  yard,  and  of 
Carnegie  cross-section.  The  minimum  curvature 
adopted  throughout  the  mine  is  a  12-ft.  radius,  for 
which  standard  cast-iron  right  and  left-handed  frogs 
are  used.  Switch-points  are  carefully  made  in  the 
Esperanza  company's  own  shops;  the  points  them- 
selves being  reduced  in  a  planer  instead  of  the  cus- 
tomary blacksmith  shop.  All  of  these  precautions 
tend  to  assure  easy  handling  of  heavy  cars  by  in- 
ferior native  labor.  Special  tools  are  provided  for 
bending  and  punching  the  rails ;  all  curves  are  laid  to 
template.  The  ties  are  2  to  2^  feet  apart  and  are 
made  of  6  by  8-inch  timbers.  On  curves  the  gauge 
is  widened  1^4  inches,  and  the  inside  of  curves  is 
protected  by  a  guard-rail;  the  same  protection  is  pro- 
vided at  the  points  of  all  frogs.  When  using  hand- 
cars, fixed  points  are  laid  down;  but  where  electric 


90  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 


SPECIAL   SWITCHES 


92  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

motors  run,  the  switches  are  made  movable.     See 
Fig.  15  and  16. 

The  Esperanza  company  maintains  elaborate 
assay-plans.  There  is  one  for  each  floor  in  the  stopes, 
the  floors  being  7^  feet  apart.  On  the  plan  the 
timber  sets  are  marked  in  5-foot  squares ;  each  month's 
work  is  indicated  by  a  different  color,  and  in  every  set 
the  assay-value  of  each  square  of  ground  is  marked 
in  figures  indicating  grams  of  gold  per  metric  ton. 
There  is  no  assay  for  silver  because  the  ratio  between 
the  metals  is  known  from  experience ;  in  oxidized  ore 
it  is  6y2  grams  of  silver  to  1  gram  of  gold ;  in  sulphide 
ore  the  proportion  is  as  15  to  1.  Every  car  loaded 
with  ore  from  a  chute  is  grab-sampled  at  the  shaft- 
station,  the  assays  thus  obtained  giving  the  average 
value  of  the  mine-output  for  that  day,  while  the  num- 
ber of  cars  gives  the  quantity.  Thus  350  mine- 
assays  are  made  per  diem,  and  these  also  enable  the 
foreman  to  keep  a  check  on  the  kind  of  ore  being 
broken.  Gangs  of  samplers,  in  pairs,  test  daily  each 
working  face  in  stopes  and  drifts;  a  sampler  within 
the  space  of  one  set  will  get  a  chance  to  test  inore 
than  one  face,  sometimes  three  of  them.  Both  the 
moil  and  the  pick  are  used;  the  ore  is  broken  onto 
canvas  spread  underneath;  the  samples  average  50 
pounds  apiece  and  are  quartered  down  to  5  pounds 
each,  before  they  go  to  the  sampling-room  at  the 
assay-office.  All  these  returns  are  compared  with 
the  battery  sample  from  the  mill. 


I' 

4 

UErf'S'^H 

I^T;!^-'  |H 

iLfyuplzT  14 


TAXES  — THE  DYNAMITE  IMPOSITION  —  ELECTRIC 
POWER  — DOS  ESTRELLAS  —  ITS  DISCOVERY  —  THE 
HUMOR  OF  CYANIDING  — HOW  BOUNDARY  MARKS 
ARE  PRESERVED. 

'  AXES  are  heavy  at  El  Oro. 
J  They  amount,  for  instance,  to  13 
I  per  cent  on  the  gross  output  of 
I  the  Esperanza  mine,  but  this  in- 
1  eludes  State  and  Federal  taxes, 
'  import  duties,  and  the  care  of 
)  troops  stationed  in  the  district. 
J  On  bullion  the  mine  pays  2^^  per 
cent  to  the  Federal  Government  and  1^  per  cent  to 
the  State."  All  State  taxes  are  subject  to  a  second 
imposition  of  25  per  cent,  which  goes  to  the  Federal 
department.  There  is  a  wage  tax,  so  much  for  each 
man  on  the  payroll;  there  is  a  stamp-tax  on  every 
recorded  business  transaction;  and  there  are  duties 
on  imports,  particularly  on  dynamite. 

On  dynamite  there  is  a  tax  of  243  pesos  per  ton. 
The  EI  Oro  mine  uses  185  cases,  of  SO  pounds  each, 
per  month.  The  Esperanza  mine  consumes  400 
cases,  or  a  carload  in  six  weeks,  so  that  the  tax 
weighs  heavily.     It  is  intended  to  compel  the  mining 


"Gold,  however,  is  now  being  purchased  by  the  Government,  and  on 
bollioR  parted  and  refined  in  the  country  the  Federal  tax  on  gold  has  been 
mnoved,  while  the  silver  tax  is  reduced  to  1^  per  cent. 


94  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

companies  to  use  the  domestic  dynamite;  but  the 
Mexican  company's  factory  was  blown  up  twice  and 
they  had  ceased  to  manufacture  at  the  time  of  my 
visit ;  nevertheless,  according  to  the  terms  made  with 
the  Government,  they  had  to  furnish  60%  dynamite 
at  19.34  pesos  per  case  of  SO  pounds — a  rate  fixed  by 
the  Government,  as  against  16.34  pesos,  the  old  price. 
While  the  factory  was  in  operation  it  cost  29.67  pesos 
to  import  the  explosive  from  the  United  States;  the 
company  (Mexican  National  Dynamite  Co.)  was 
furnishing  (in  October,  1905)  American  dynamite  for 
19.34  pesos,  but  as  soon  as  their  factory  resumed,  it 
was  expected  that  they  would  sell  their  own  product 
at  the  same  price.  Americans  mining  in  Mexico  con- 
sider it  to  be  unsafe  and  usually  prefer  to  import 
dynamite  at  29.67  pesos.  Recently,  one  of  the  lead- 
ing companies  at  El  Oro  has  made  arrangements  to 
buy  from  the  monopoly,  which  furnishes  American 
dynamite  at  about  the  same  price  as  paid  formerly. 
The  management  could  not  import  the  American 
powder  direct,  however,  without  paying  the  increased 
price.  The  monopoly  is  allowed  to  charge  16.79 
pesos  for  40%;  18.07  for  50%;  and  19.34  for  60% 
dynamite. 

The  electric  power  used  at  El  Oro  comes  from 
the  Necaxa  plant,  on  the  river  of  that  name,  176  miles 
distant.  At  the  time  of  my  visit  the  line  was  nearly 
completed.  It  has  been  built  by  Canadian  capital. 
Mexico  City  is  supplied  from  the  same  power-plant, 
the  distance  being  100  miles  from  the  falls  to  the  city 


POWER  TRANSMISSION  95 

and  7(^  miles  from  there  to  El  Oro,  over  the  wires. 
There  are  eight  circuits  of  three  wires  each  between 
Mexico  and  Necaxa,  and  two  circuits,  also  of  three 
wires,  from  the  city  to  the  mines.  Fifty  thousand 
volts  are  delivered  at  El  Oro,  by  a  three-phase  sys- 
tem, and  it  is  expected  that  there  will  be  a  loss  of 
eight  per  cent  as  far  as  the  city  and  an  equal  loss 
thence  to  the  mines.  The  current  does  not  go 
through  a  transformer  at  Mexico.  Power  is  gen- 
erated under  a  head  of  1,450  feet  by  a  vertical-shaft 
turbine  with  the  generator  on  top;  the  wheel  is  the 
invention  of  Escher  Weiss,  at  Zurich  (Switzerland). 
The  hydrostatic  head  at  Necaxa  has  been  obtained 
by  the  building  of  an  earth  dam,  185  feet  high,  1,500 
feet  thick  at  the  base,  and  three-fourths  of  a  mile  long; 
it  holds  55,000,000  cubic  metres  of  water  and  backs 
the  river  2^  miles.  The  transmission  cable  has  a 
jute  core  and  consists  of  six  strands  of  No.  6  wire 
equivalent  to  No.  000  wire  or  0.229  inch.  The  power 
is  sold  to  the  mining  companies  on  a  sliding  scale,  the 
prices  being  graded  according  to  the  amount  con- 
sumed, the  lowest  price  being  $50  per  horse-power 
per  annum  to  those  consuming  over  1,000  horse- 
power. Several  times  the  natives  have  cut  down  the 
wires  and  stolen  them,  on  two  occasions  as  much  as 
a  kilometre  being  removed.  This  has  been  exag- 
gerated by  rumor  to  seven  or  eight  kilometres.  As 
soon  as  the  cables  were  erected,  a  small  current 
(generated  by  a  steam-plant  at  Mexico  City)  was  put 
on,  in  order  to  prevent  stealing;  the  result  was  that 


96  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

several  peones  were  killed.  Later,  when  one  line  had 
a  current  and  the  other  not,  the  thieves  seemed  to 
know  enough  to  distinguish  between  the  dead  line 
and  the  live  one.  The  copper  stolen  is  cut  up  and 
sold  to  the  junk  shops. 

Dos  Estrellas,  or  the  Two  Stars,  is  one  of  the 
three  great  mines  of  El  Oro;  it  is  interesting  not  only 
because  of  its  generous  production  but  also  by  reason 
of  the  romance  of  its  discovery.  J.  G.  Fournier,  its 
present  chief  owner,  is  a  Frenchman  of  education  who 
prospected  the  surrounding  region  with  much  per- 
sistence. He  found  'float*  (detached  lode-stuff) 
where  the  shale  is  exposed  below  the  andesite  cap 
and  he  found  similar  indications  also  in  the  barranca 
(or  gulch)  at  the  foot  of  the  mountain.  Subse- 
quently, he  started  to  work  at  the  creek-level  and  ran 
a  long  adit  to  intercept  the  vein  that  he  believed  to 
be  there.  At  a  distance  within  the  mountain  of  about 
2,000  feet  he  found  it,  and  no  mistake.  It  was  the 
gjeat  Dos  Estrellas  lode,  which  is  divided  into  two 
veins,  one  3  to  5  feet  thick,  with  rich  bodies  of  ore  in 
it,  and  beyond  it  another  vein  40  feet  thick  of  12  dwt. 
gold  ore;  the  latter  is  oxidized,  but  the  small  vein  is 
not,  except  in  patches.  This  resembles  the  conditions 
in  the  Esperanza,  where  the  new  West  vein  is  smaller, 
richer,  and  unoxidized,  while  the  old  San  Rafael  is 
wide,  poor,  and  thoroughly  oxidized.  Fournier  was 
long  ago  regarded  as  a  crazy  man,  as  has  been  the 
case  in  several  similar  instances  of  persistent  pros- 
pecting.    Thomas  Kruse,  who  discovered  the  Drum- 


THE  HUMOR  OF  A   CYANIDE  PLANT  97 

lummon  lode,  at  Marysville,  in  Montana,  worked  all 
alone.  He  started  to  sink  a  winze  and  gave  it  up ;  he 
then  commenced  to  dig  a  'tunnel'  for  a  supposedly 
unknown  lode.  When  he  cut  a  big  width  of  ore,  it 
was  considered,  by  the  ignorant,  as  'fool  luck/  But 
it  was  nothing  of  the  kind;  old  Tommy  Kruse  had 
found  an  outcrop  and  he  knew  that  he  alone  could 
not  sink  a  shaft,  but  he  could  drive  a  drift  into  the 
hill  without  assistance  and  without  the  risk  of  shar- 
ing in  the  proceeds  of  his  discovery.  He  persisted 
in  his  solitary  labors,  and  won  a  fortune. 

Even  the  operation  of  a  cyanide  plant  may  yield 
humorous  incidents.  A  note-book  belonging  to  one 
of  the  former  assistants  was  found;  it  recorded  the 
work  done  on  the  night  shift  in  the  precipitation- 
room.  The  particular  fragment  rescued  from  fire 
contained  instructions  how  to  pump  out  the  pre- 
cipitate-sump and  to  make  cake  in  the  press.  The 
operator,  a  new  hand,  had  recorded  that  at  a  certain 
hour:  "Pump  laboring — opened  press  to  see  why — 
found  press  choked  with  greasy  black  substance — re- 
moved same — pump  worked  perfectly."  He  threw 
the  precipitate  into  the  old  (empty)  cyanide-boxes, 
where  it  was  found  next  day;  no  damage  was  done. 
Another  story  is  that  of  visitors  being  shown  over  the 
new  mill  by  a  guide  from  the  village  of  El  Oro;  he 
pointed  to  the  tailing-wheel,  which  is  40  ft.  8  in.  high, 
and  said  that  it  was  the  wheel  that  operated  the  mill, 
the  conveyors,  and  everything  in  sight.  This  wheel 
is  run  by  wire-ropes;  there  are  two  that  transmit 


98  AMONG   THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

movement  to  the  wheel  itself,  there  are  four  that 
drive  the  first  line  of  agitator-shafts,  and  there  are 
two  more  that  go  to  the  pumps;  all  of  them  happen 
to  be  close  together  and  doubtless  the  number  of 
ropes  created  the  idea  that  the  wheel  was  responsible 
for  a  great  multiplicity  of  duties. 

The  only  salvation  for  land  titles  is  due  to  the 
regulation  that  compels  monuments  to  be  visible  from 
one  to  the  other.  By  law  also  it  is  specified  that  the 
monuments  must  be  permanent  stone  structures; 
otherwise  there  would  be  hopeless  confusion,  for  the 
records  in  the  mineral-land  offices  would  be  unintelli- 
gible, because  there  is  no  general  map  and  the 
boundaries  of  claims  are  not  referred  to  any  fixed 
point  or  landmark. 

The  boundaries  between  the  Esperanza  and  EI 
Oro  mines  are  marked  by  posts  of  masonry  plastered 
with  white  mortar;  thev  are  set  at  each  corner  of  a 
claim  and  where  the  lines  are  long  they  are  placed  at 
such  intervals  as  to  be  within  sight  from  one  to  the 
other.  The  natives  of  the  vicinity,  who  thought 
they  had  a  squatter's  rights  to  the  ground,  started  to 
demolish  these  monuments,  until  the  company's  sur- 
veyor marked,  with  black  paint,  a  cross  on  each  one ; 
since  then  they  have  been  reverently  left  untouched. 
Similar  superstitious  feeling  is  seen  in  other  observ- 
ances. Wherever  a  man  dies — whether  naturally  or 
not — a  cross  is  set  up,  even  underground  in  the  mine ; 
and  each  man  who  passes  by  picks  up  a  stone,  which 
is  supposed  to  represent  a  paper,  the  equivalent  of  a 


The  Water-Carhieh  oh  Boteho 


/'-'         I 


The  Ckoss  near  the  Somer.\  Sh 


Pay-day  at  the  Casa  Blanxa.  El  Oro 


LOCAL   COLOR  99 

prayer,  and  drops  it  at  the  place  so  designated.  On 
the  day  of  the  Holy  Cross  every  cross  in  the  country 
is  decorated  with  flowers,  even  artificial  ones  if  others 
are  not  procurable.  By  the  heaping  of  stones  at  such 
spots,  a  cairn  is  eventually  formed,  serving  as  a  land- 
mark. At  the  place  where  a  priest  was  killed,  near 
the  Somera  shaft,  there  is  an  enormous  pile  of  stones, 
as  is  shown  by  the  accompanying  photograph. 

In  the  course  of  a  ride  on  horseback  over  the 
surrounding  district,  on  a  Sunday,  I  observed  some- 
thing of  the  life  of  the  people.  There  is  a  notable 
absence  of  vehicular  traffic;  there  are  no  ruts  in  the 
roads,  which  practically  are  causeways,  worn  smooth 
by  the  sandals  and  bare  feet  of  the  peasants.  The 
paths  look  as  if  all  the  Veary  Willies'  in  the  world 
had  passed  that  way.  The  beauty  of  the  scenery  and 
the  picturesque  coloring  of  the  people  is  spoilt  by  the 
evil  smells  due  to  the  filthy  habits  of  the  peones.  At 
the  close  of  day,  when  the  tropic  darkness  comes 
swiftly  and  the  air  is  suddenly  cooled,  the  Mexicans 
stalk  about  silently  muffled  in  their  serapes  and  with 
covered  mouth,  in  order  not  to  inhale  the  air.  It  is 
a  characteristic  of  the  people  that  they  fear  the  cold 
air,  largely  because  they  are  so  poorly  nourished  as 
to  be  easily  subject  to  pneumonia.  With  their  wide- 
brimmed  conical  Ijats,  the  dirty  red  blanket  or  the 
striped  scrape  thrown  over  the  shoulder,  with  thin 
shanks  and  stealthy  gait,  the  natives  stalk  about  in 
the  gloaming  through  the  narrow  street  like  the 
brigands  of  an  opera  bouffe.    There  is  none  of  the 


I 
ft 


100  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

breezy  swing  or  the  cheerful  salutation  of  the  Anglo- 
Saxon;  nor  is  this  a  matter  for  wonder  when  one  gets 
to  know  the  miserable  life,  the  petty  tyranny,  and  the 
scant  food  that  is  their  lot.  Cleanliness,  good  food, 
and  freedom  of  opportunity  make  people  more  cheer- 
ful even  in  a  climate  less  sunny  than  Mexico. 

Nothing  that  I  saw  in  Mexico  seemed  so  pathetic 
as  the  conventional  acceptance  of  class  distinctions, 
especially  among  the  women,  the  sex  usually  most 
eager  to  ape  the  dress  and  habits  of  those  who  hap- 
pen to  be  more  favorably  placed  than  themselves. 
The  lowest  class  wears  blue  and  brown  shawls  or 
rebosos^  the  middle  class  is  distinguished  by  black 
rebosoSy  and  the  upper  class  sports  the  more  dainty 
mantilla  or  mantle  of  lace. 

The  most  vivid  impression  that  I  took  away  from 
El  Oro  was  that  of  a  Mexican  boy  controlling  the 
operation  of  a  sand-distributor  through  a  variable- 
speed  motor.  The  boy's  pay  was  75  centavos,  or  37 
cents  per  day,  and  he  had  charge  of  two  Blaisdell  ex- 
cavators and  the  distributor  referred  to.  It  was  a 
picture  of  mechanical  ingenuity  overcoming  a  poor 
labor  supply,  for  it  was  not  the  skill  of  the  boy  so 
much  as  the  perfection  of  the  machine  that  rendered 
such  economy  of  operation  possible. 


C^Hif  Ur  13 


MINE  LABOR  — THE  CONTRACT  SYSTEM  —  NATIVE- . 
IMPROVIDENCE      AND      SKILL  —  DIFFERENCE      OF 
LOCALITY  —  POOR     HAMMERMEN,     BUT     WILLING 
WORKERS  — HOT  MINES. 

;  EXICANS  take  kindly  to  me- 
j  chanical  labor,  such  as  that  o£ 
I  the  machine-shop  or  carpenter- 
I  ing.  The  average  native  car- 
penter, who  gets  from  2  to  4 
'  pesos  per  day,  is  as  good  as  the 
'  white  men  of  his  trade  that  drift 
I  into  the  country  from  the  north. 
Timbermen  are  fairly  satisfactory  also;  they  receive 
two  pesos  per  shift.  As  a  rule,  the  Mexican  is  clever 
with  his  fingers,  as  is  illustrated  in  the  shaping  of 
statuettes  and  in  weaving.  Guadalajara  is  famous 
for  carved  images  and  Cuernavaca  for  the  manner  in 
which  its  people  mold  clay  into  statuettes  and  flower- 
pots. The  assay  crucibles  used  in  the  El  Oro  mill  are 
made  locally;  so  also  are  the  muffles.  The  crucibles, 
sizes  F  and  G,  holding  two  assay-tons,  cost  only  two 
centavos  apiece  and  give  excellent  service. 

The  ordinary  unskilled  laborer — such  as  is  re- 
quired for  carrying  material,  for  unloading,  for  stack- 
ing cord-wood,  or  in  excavating  for  foundations — is 
paid  50  centavos  per  day,  but  it  is  becoming  difficult 
to  get  men  for  such  low  pay.     In  a  new  mining  camp 


102  ^<SiiiG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 


•  •• 


•  •     •- 


•   • 


•  •  • 


or  pjri-.the  farm,  the  day  laborer  is  paid  only  25 
4jentai^os,  while  in  the  north,  near  the  border,  he  gets 
.  •,  tirree  pesos.  This  is  owing  to  the  proximity  of  the 
.•/••'.••American  labor  supply  and  the  competition  between 
the  mining  companies,  the  wages  tending  to  equalize 
despite  the  international  boundary,  because  both  the 
northern  workmen  and  the  Mexicans  go  across  that 
line,  to  and  fro. 

Work  underground  is  done  on  contract  as  much 
as  possible;  even  the  trammers  and  skipmen  are  em- 
ployed on  this  system,  prices  being  set  so  that  the 
miners  earn  from  1  to  1.25  pesos  per  shift.  In 
measuring  ground  under  contract,  the  unit  is  a  width 
of  two  sets  (3.4  metres)  of  timbers,  and  the  pay  is  so 
much  per  metre  long  for  the  full  height  of  a  set  (two 
metres).  Mine  contracts  are  made  with  each  gang  of 
six  men  or  more,  the  agreement  being  arranged  with 
the  two  leaders  (one  to  watch  the  other) ;  and  these 
hire  any  additional  labor  such  as  is  needed  for  remov- 
ing rock  or  tramming.  Contracts  are  measured 
weekly,  on  Saturday  night.  Wages  also  are  paid 
weekly,  the  surface  laborers  on  Saturday  night  and 
the  miners  on  Sunday  morning;  this  frequency  of 
payment  being  due  to  the  fact  that  the  peones  have  not 
enough  money  to  carry  them  longer  than  seven  days. 
On  Sundays  the  market  is  crowded  with  vendors  of 
corn  (maize,  from  which  tortillas  are  made),  beans 
(the  frijoles),  vegetables,  and  fruit.  The  Mexicans 
lay  in  a  week's  supply ;  any  money  remaining  is  spent 
on  pulque.     On  Monday  they  are  in  a  demoralized 


THE  MEXICAN   MINER  103 

state.  Owing  to  these  customs  the  laborers  lose  two 
days  per  week  regxilarly,  besides  an  extra  feast-day 
{fiesta)  each  month.  But  annoying  as  these  condi- 
tions are  to  an  energetic  management,  they  are  better 
than  they  used  to  be.  Even  on  local  holidays,  the 
peones  formerly  took  three  days  for  their  celebration, 
while  now  one  day  ordinarily  will  suffice.  But  there 
are  still  seven  or  eight  fiestas  in  the  year  when  no 
pretense  of  working  is  made,  and  operations  under- 
ground cease.  Of  course,  these  national  character- 
istics of  the  Mexican  do  not  affect — at  least  directly — 
the  American  workmen;  they  are  paid  monthly,  and 
appear  to  be  not  only  sober  in  their  habits,  but  also 
unusually  efficient. 

In  different  parts  of  Mexico  the  skill  of  the 
miners  will  vary;  at  El  Oro  it  is  less  than  at  Pachuca. 
The  cost  per  ton  of  ore  is  not  much  cheaper  than  if 
done  by  skilled  white  miners.  Mexicans  are  not 
miners  by  instinct ;  as  long  as  they  can  maul  at  a  face 
and  detach  chips  of  rock,  they  will  hammer  it,  instead 
of  picking  it  loose  or  putting  in  a  shot.  They  are 
wretched  hammer-men ;  a  Cornishman  watching  them 
would  be  inclined  to  say  that  it  was  a  ''caution,"  and 
the  American  miner  would  exclaim  that  it  was  a 
"fright."  They  do  not  appear  to  have  any  of  that 
body-swing,  when  the  hand  slips  over  the  long  handle 
of  the  hammer;  instead  of  this,  they  have  a  tight  grip 
and  strike  short  blows  over  the  shoulder;  they  will 
insist  in  shortening  the  handles;  nor  do  they  use  the 
pick  where  obviously  it   would  bring  down   loose 


104  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

ground,  but  they  worry  the  rock  with  short  hammer- 
blows  delivered  with  woodpecker  persistence.  The 
heads  of  their  hammers  get  into  a  woeful  condition 
and  their  picks  are  rarely  such  as  a  white  man  would 
care  to  own;  in  general,  they  appear  to  take  poor 
care  of  their  tools.  Owing  to  their  inability  to  swing 
the  hammer  freely  over  the  shoulder,  they  cannot 
drill  an  'upper'  and  therefore  they  are  not  much  good 
in  a  raise;  but  they  are  most  expert  in  a  winze.  At 
the  south  end  of  the  El  Oro  mine,  I  saw  some  Mexi- 
cans sinking  a  winze  below  the  286-foot  level  and  they 
were  down  over  80  feet  on  a  dip  of  65°.  All  the  rock 
they  broke  was  being  carried  in  sacks  on  their  backs 
from  the  bottom  of  the  winze  to  the  level,  and  they 
were  being  paid  15  to  20  pesos  per  metre  for  a  winze 
3  feet  wide  by  6  feet  long.  In  the  Mexico  mine, 
winzes  5  by  6  feet  cost  25  to  30  pesos  per  metre.  The 
shift-bosses  in  the  Esperanza  mine  are  mostly  Italians 
(Piedmontese) ;  they  are  among  the  best  miners  in 
the  world  and  learn  Spanish  readily;  in  a  month  they 
acquire  a  working  knowledge  of  the  language  and 
they  seem  to  know  how  to  manage  the  peones.  Most 
of  the  Piedmontese  in  the  Esperanza  mine  come  from 
Bisbee,  Arizona,  simply  because  the  foreman  worked 
there  at  one  time. 

Boys  are  employed  underground  for  minor  tasks, 
such  as  doing  errands,  carrying  water,  and  cleaning 
tracks.  They  are  only  8  to  10  years  of  age.  On  the 
whole,  the  full-grown  workmen  are  not  well  built, 
they  have  the  physique  of  a  big  boy  rather  than  that 


HOT   WORKINGS  105 

of  a  mature  man ;  their  strength  is  all  in  the  back,  the 
muscles  of  which  have  been  developed  by  generations 
of  burden-carrying.  They  can  transport  enormous 
loads  on  their  shoulders,  but  are  incapable  of  carrying 
any  vsreight  in  their  hands. 

At  the  Esperanza  there  are  3,952  men  employed; 
scarcely  three  per  cent  are  whites.  For  some  tasks 
it  is  necessary  to  use  four  or  five  Mexicans  to  accom- 
plish what  one  white  man  could  do,  but  on  other 
work  the  Mexican  will  do  what  the  white  man  cannot 
do  at  all,  especially  as  regards  carrying  loads.  The 
Mexican  will  often  serve  where  a  mechanical  device 
would  cost  more. 

When  working  in  the  mines  the  natives  are  naked 
save  for  a  loin  cloth  and  sandals  {guaraches),  for  the 
air  underground  is  very  warm.  On  the  second  level 
of  the  Mexico  mine  it  was  85°;  in  the  shaft  (owing  to 
steam-pipes)  fully  100°  F.  In  the  cross-cut  from  the 
286-foot  level  going  west  from  the  Somera  shaft  the 
temperature  was  95°,  and  in  the  cross-cut  at  1,086  feet, 
it  was  up  to  105°,  by  reason  of  poor  ventilation  and 
escaping  steam.  The  general  temperature  in  the 
workings  is  60°  to  70°.  The  heat  is  due  largely  to 
the  action  of  water  on  the  lime  in  the  shale — slaking 
it — and  it  may  be  due  also  to  the  crushing  of  the 
shale,  which  is  often  seen  to  press  heavily  on  the 
timbers. 

At  Guanajuato,  it  is  estimated  that  it  takes  2  to 
2^  Mexicans  to  do  the  work  of  one  capable  white 
miner,  but  the  native  is  paid  one-fifth  the  wages  given 


io6  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

to  the  other.  The  men  seen  in  the  mines  are  under- 
sized, they  have  the  physical  proportions  of  an 
American  boy.  In  the  mountainous  regions,  as  in 
Durango,  the  miners  are  bigger  and  stronger,  and  on 
contract  work  they  can  earn  twice  as  much  as  the 
Guanajuatenses.  Owing  to  fiestas^  it  is  found  that  in 
employing  a  gang  of  peones  on  such  work  as  excava- 
tion, it  is  necessary  to  carry  100  men  on  the  payroll 
in  order  to  have  30  always  available,  that  is,  they  work 
one-third  time. 

By  a  town  ordinance  the  miners  are  compelled 
to  put  on  trousers  before  appearing  in  the  streets. 
In  coming  up  or  going  down  a  shaft  the  tanateros  sing 
alabanzas  (or  hymns)  in  rough  time;  it  is  a  sort  of 
chanty. 

In  drilling  a  'down'  hole,  there  is  no  difference 
worth  mentioning  between  white  and  native  labor; 
the  Mexicans  strike  the  drill  100  times  per  minute, 
and  their  short  rapid  blows  will  equal  in  final  effective- 
ness the  long  body  swing  and  harder  blow,  made 
one-half  as  fast,  of  the  European  or  American.  The 
Mexicans  work  in  less  space.  I  have  seen  18  men 
working  in  a  shaft  7  by  15  ft.;  there  were  nine  pairs, 
one  man  holding  the  drill  and  the  other  striking,  the 
change  of  one  to  the  task  of  the  other  being  made 
with  the  celerity  characterizing  a  drilling  contest. 
They  carry  water  for  the  hole  in  their  mouths  and 
squirt  it  out  as  it  is  required. 

Like  the  Turk,  the  native  Mexican  is  a  great 
porter.     In  carrying  weights,  the  load  is  hung  by  a 


A   STRIKE  AT  GUANAJUATO  107 

rope  attached  to  a  head-piece  {mecapal)^  which  is  a 
nearly  oval  mat  made  of  the  ixtle  fibre;  it  takes  the 
shape  of  the  forehead,  and  reaches  down  to  the  eyes, 
lying  over  the  front  hair  and  under  the  hat.  The 
tanateros,  or  ore-bearers,  can  carry  eight  arobas  or  200 
pounds  apiece;  they  will  transport  as  much  as  that 
100  feet  up  the  stone  stairways  of  the  old  mines.  At 
the  Prospero  mine,  each  man  carries  four  tons  per 
shift  a  vertical  height  of  75  feet,  and  a  length  of  400 
feet,  at  a  cost  of  50  centavos.  At  Guanajuato  I  saw 
some  excavating  for  foundations  done  at  25  centavos 
per  cubic  metre,  the  rock  being  carried  a  distance  of 
200  feet  across  the  gravel  of  a  barranca. 

They  are  good  blacksmiths.  At  the  Peregrina 
the  native  workmen  took  out  the  flues  from  a  boiler 
that  was  in  bad  repair ;  they  cut  the  tubes  at  both  ends, 
and  welded  on  an  extra  piece  to  make  the  original 
length.  One  smith  and  three  helpers  welded  24  tubes 
in  12  hours.  The  native  blacksmiths  are  good  drill- 
sharpeners,  though  better  at  shaping  than  at  tem- 
pering. 

Here  is  the  place  to  tell  the  story  of  a  strike  that 
occurred  near  Guanajuato.  Order  is  not  difficult  to 
maintain  in  a  mining  town  like  Guanajuato,  because 
the  people  possess  a  lively  respect  for  the  representa- 
tives of  the  law.  The  strike  at  the  Peregrina  mine 
affords  an  example.  In  that  episode  there  figured 
500  peones;  there  came  four  undersized  soldiers  and  a 
most  unimpressive  jefe  politico.  The  patio  was  full  of 
the  striking  miners,  ready  for  a  riot.     The  little  jefe 


io8  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

told  the  manager  to  open  the  patio;  the  big  doors 
swung  aside;  the  four  soldiers  entered  with  their 
muskets  clubbed  and  the  jefe  behind  them  with  a 
drawn  sword.  The  laborers  scattered  like  rabbits, 
the  four  soldiers  whacked  all  within  their  reach, 
the  peones  fled  and  fell  over  the  dump ;  the  strike  was 
over! 

The  authorities  keep  a  close  grip  on  the  native 
population.  Strikes  are  rare.  They  occur  occasion- 
ally in  the  cyanide  plant,  where  the  men  who  tram 
the  sand  are  inclined  to  think  that  they  do  too  much. 
EI  Oro  has  never  had  a  big  strike.  Should  there  be 
any  disorder  or  insubordination  requiring  serious 
action,  the  jefe  politico  (sheriff)  is  asked  to  call  out  his 
rurales  (police)  and  these  arrange  affairs  by  capturing 
the  ringleaders,  after  which  the  crowd  scatters  at 
once.  The  peon  is  an  inveterate  thief;  the  mill-hands 
steal  ore  and  the  precipitate  in  the  zinc-room  when- 
ever possible.  When  caught  in  the  act,  the  culprit  is 
turned  over  to  the  jefe  politico  and  in  short  order  the 
latter  sentences  him  to  serve  in  the  army.  He  is 
made  a  compulsory  soldier  and  may  be  drafted  to  the 
hot  country  of  the  Yucatan  peninsula,  which  is 
equivalent  to  exile.  To  put  the  peon  in  prison  means 
nothing  to  him;  he  has  a  quiet  time,  his  friends  bring 
him  food,  he  is  required  to  clean  the  streets  or  do 
similar  municipal  work;  it  is  no  punishment  to  him; 
but  to  be  placed  in  the  army  means  wailing  and  the 
gnashing  of  teeth  among  his  friends. 


(Z-fyxpl^t  16 


PACHUCA  — AN  OLD  MINING  CENTRE  —  ANCIENT 
METHODS  —  THE  DISCOVERY  OF  THE  PATIO 
PROCESS  —  REVOLUTIONARY  DAYS  —  THE  INVA- 
SION OF  THE  MODERNS. 


ACHUCA  is  approached  from 
Mexico  City  over  a  railroad  that 
traverses  the  w^ide  volcanic 
plains  covered  with  vast  planta- 
tions of  maguey,  in  serried  lines 
stretching  out  like  an  army  in 
skirmishing'  order.  A  journey 
!  of  62  miles  brings  the  traveler  to 
a  white  lown  at  the  foot  of  brown  hills  that  rise  to 
a  range  1,500  feet  above  the  valley,  which  is  8,200 
feet  above  sea-level.  The  morning  I  saw  them  first, 
the  mists  still  hid  their  summits  and  gave  them  the 
possibility  of  a  greater  height.  Pachuca  is  like  far- 
away Kalgoorlie  in  the  matter  of  dust ;  it  swirls  round 
every  street  corner  and  smothers  the  picturesque  in 
the  dry  folds  of  the  commonplace.  In  the  plaza, 
among  the  graceful  pepper  trees,  there  are  two  speci- 
mens of  eucalyptus,  fifteen  to  twenty  years  old,  whose 
dark  blue  foliage  and  ragged  columns  told  of  a  land 
unknown  to  the  civilized  world  for  250  years  after 
the  Spaniard  invaded  Mexico.     The  antiseptic  odor 


no  AMONG  THE  MINES   OF   MEXICO 

of  these  gum  trees  recalled  to  me  many  a  glorious  day 
spent  in  the  Australian  Alps." 

The  pepper  trees  that  ornament  Pachuca  also 
came  from  a  far  country;  they  are  called  the  Peruvian 
tree,  having  been  introduced  by  one  of  the  last  of  the 
Spanish  viceroys,  who  brought  them  from  Peru, 
wrhere  he  had  previously  held  office.  The  eucalyptus 
wras  introduced  thirty  years  ago  by  the  minister  de 
fomento^  but  it  has  not  done  very  well,  the  soil  being 
too  dry. 

In  every  respect,  save  its  dust,  Pachuca  differs 
from  any  modern  mining  town  in  English-speaking 
countries.  The  corrugated  shanties  and  the  white  tents 
of  ephemeral  mining  camps  are  here  replaced  by  a 
solidity  of  construction  that  bespeaks  a  hereditary  oc- 
cupation. Massive  stone  buildings  overlook  the  nar- 
row cobble-paved  streets  and  some  of  them  have 
architectural  pretensions,  as  for  example  the  offices 
of  the  Real  del  Monte  Mining  Company,  an  enter- 
prise of  historic  continuity  and  associated  with  names 
famous  in  mining,  for  John  Taylor  &  Sons  were  en- 
gineers of  the  old  company  sixty  years  ago.  Even 
to  this  day  John  Taylor's  name  is  honored,  and  in  the 
Santa  Brigida  mine  there  is  a  level  that  continues  to 
be  called  the  canon  de  Baylor.  Another  reminder  of 
the  Cornish  invasion  is  seen  in  the  fine  stone  man- 
sion, half  smothered  in  beautiful  bougainvillea,  of 


"For  even  in  Australia  there  is  mountaineering  and  snow.  Go  to 
Bright  and  Harrietville  in  Victoria  during  August  and  climb  Feather  Top 
or  Mt  Bogong.    Experto  credite. 


ANCIENT   METHODS   OF   SMELTING  in 

Mr.  Francis  Rule,  whom  his  countrymen  called  Capt. 
Frank  Rule,  and  the  Mexicans,  Don  Pancho,  an 
honored  and  successful  mining  engineer. 

Pachuca  has  a  population  of  40,000,  and  of  this 
number  7,000  work  underground.  The  district  pro- 
duces 6,000,000  ounces  of  silver  per  annum  and  30,000 
ounces  of  gold,  representing  9,000,000  pesos  or 
$4,500,000. 

Most  of  the  lodes  that  are  productive  today  were 
discovered  by  the  conquist adores  and  their  immediate 
(Spanish)  successors,  aided,  to  some  extent,  by  the 
natives  (Aztecs).  The  Spanish  pioneers  sought  for 
gold  placers  and  extracted  the  metal — not  much — 
that  they  found,  by  washing,  supplemented  sometimes 
by  amalgamation.  What  silver  ore  they  encoun- 
tered, they  smelted  with  carbonate  of  soda  (the 
tequesquite  of  the  Spaniard  and  the  earlier  tequixquitl 
of  the  Aztec),  a  supply  of  which  came  from  the  la- 
goons in  the  valley — for  instance,  in  the  lake  of 
Tezcoco.  Their  fuel  was  charcoal  made  from  fir  and 
oak;  possibly  also  they  used  some  lead  ore  to  collect 
the  silver  in  their  rudimentary  smelting  operation. 
When  Bartholome  de  Medina  invented  the  Patio 
process  at  the  Hacienda  Purisima  Grande  he  revolu- 
tionized the  silver  mining  industry.  This  was  in  1557; 
up  to  that  time  only  the  richest  mineral  could  be 
smelted  and  there  was  no  process  for  treating  the  low- 
gprade  ore.  Medina  was  the  first  to  apply  amalgama- 
tion to  silver,  despite  its  much  earlier  application  in 
gold  mining.    This  was  a  basic  improvement,  but  he 


112  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

also  elaborated  the  method  for  treating  silver  sul- 
phides by  chloridizing  with  salt  in  the  presence  of 
copper  sulphate,  using  mules  to  mix  the  charge.  This 
is  the  Patio  process,  so  called  because  it  takes  place  in 
an  inner  court  or  yard  (the  patio)  and  from  Medina's 
day  to  this,  for  350  years,  it  has  been  the  characteristic 
feature  of  Mexican  metallurgy. 

In  1739  Pedro  Jose  Romero  de  Terreros,  who  had 
made  money  by  mining  in  Queretaro,  visited  Pachuca 
and  became  impressed  with  the  Real  del  Monte  dis- 
trict. He  spent  his  capital,  said  to  have  been  $60,000, 
and  borrowed  more  to  carry  out  his  explorations,  but 
finally  he  struck  a  bonanza  and  won  a  big  fortune. 
He  gave  the  king  of  Spain  a  battleship  and  other  large 
gifts ;  in  consequence,  he  was  ennobled.  As  Count  of 
Regla  he  became  the  founder  of  a  family  of  successful 
miners.  They  worked  the  mines  until  1819,  when  the 
disorderly  condition  of  the  country,  due  to  the  revo- 
lution against  the  Spanish  Government,  caused  opera- 
tions to  cease.  A  few  years  later  the  mines  were  sold 
to  an  English  company,  which  took  charge  in  1824. 
The  doings  of  that  company  are  si\A  mentioned  in 
every  Mexican  guide-book,  the  writers  of  which  dwell 
with  g^sto  on  their  wild  speculation  in  London  and 
their  reckless  extravagance  in  Mexico.  The  £100 
shares  rose  to  £  16,000  apiece,  almost  before  a  start 
had  been  made;  enormous  sums  were  spent  at  the 
mines,  no  less  than  1,500  tons  of  machinery  being 
hauled  across  the  country  from  Vera  Cruz.  In  1848 
the  company  went  into  liquidation,  after  extracting 


THE  DAYS  OF  THE  REVOLUTION  113 

$16,000,000  in  silver  and  spending  $20,000,000.  In 
1850  a  Mexican  company  was  organized,  and  it  is  this 
ownership  that  survives  without  important  change  to 
the  present  day."  The  first  manager  of  the  Mexican 
company  was  the  last  manager  of  its  English  prede- 
cessor; that  was  John  Buchan,  obviously  a  Scotch- 
man; and  despite  the  change  of  ownership  there  was 
a  continuity  of  management,  the  Spanish  and  the 
British  members  of  the  staff  co-operating  loyally. 
During  the  Maximilian  days  and  the  later  successive 
fights  for  the  presidency,  the  mines  at  Pachuca  suf- 
fered from  the  depredations  of  the  military,  partly 
soldiers  but  mostly  bandits.  Stories  are  told  of  the 
miners  having  to  live  underground  for  days  at  a 
time  and  of  the  money  that  was  buried  in  the  levels 
when  people  at  surface  were  being  robbed  without 
compunction.  Up  to  1890  it  was  necessary  to  carry 
a  revolver  in  the  streets  of  Pachuca,  even  in  the  day- 
time. The  Real  del  Monte  office,  for  example,  is  a 
massive  stone  structure  which  originally  did  duty  as 
a  fortress;  the  ound  towers,  slotted  for  rifle-fire 
against  attacking  forces,  still  stand  at  each  of  the  four 
corners  of  the  building.  Every  mine  even  today  is 
enclosed  by  massive  walls,  which  at  one  time  served 
as  protection  from  assault,  although  nowadays  they 
are  retained  for  a  different  reason.  They  safeguard 
the  dumps,  which  are  recognized  as  having  a  possible 

"Since  this  was  written  the  Real  del  Monte  mines  have  been  sold  to 
a  Boston  corporation.    The  Anglo-Celtic  invasion  has  begun  1 


114  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

value  in  the  future,  for  the  peones  are  born  thieves  and 
their  pilfering  is  a  constant  nuisance  to  the  mining 
companies.  For  this  reason  also  the  reduction  works, 
or  haciendas^  are  enclosed  within  lofty  walls,  which  are 
entered  by  arched  doorways,  guarded  by  a  watchman. 
At  noon  the  women  crowd  at  these  entrance  gates 
with  baskets  containing  the  dinner  of  their  men,  who 
meet  them  there;  they  often  squat  down  beside  the 
wall  to  have  a  chat  and  share  a  smoke,  until  the 
lengthening  shadow  marks  the  time  to  resume  labor. 
All  the  peon  employees  of  the  mines  and  mills  are 
rigorously  searched  by  the  velador  as  they  pass  out 
through  the  gate  of  the  enclosure.  The  ordinary  peon 
laborers  are  cheap  enough,  but  it  is  what  they  steal 
that  makes  them  costly.  They  are  inveterate  thieves. 
All  sorts  of  precautions  are  taken.  At  the  Hacienda 
Loreto,  the  manager  proposes  to  make  his  men  pass 
through  a  water-tank  and  compel  them  to  shout  ^'Viva 
Mexico*'  three  times  in  order  to  detect  any  amalgam 
that  they  may  have  in  their  mouths.  And  they  have 
other  schemes  for  overcoming  their  excessive  poverty 
otherwise  than  by  earning  scanty  wages.  For  in- 
stance, there  is  a  great  deal  of  mutilated  coinage  and 
also  of  counterfeits.  When  pay-day  arrives,  the  work- 
man, in  sweeping  his  silver  across  the  office-counter, 
will  try  to  palm  off  a  spurious  coin  by  claiming  that 
the  cashier  gave  it  to  him.  The  trick  is  detected  by 
the  warmth  of  the  coin,  which  the  man  has  held  in 
his  hand  just  before  passing  it  in.    Punishment  for 


A  MACHINE-MADE  TORTILLA  115 

this  trick  is  severe,  as  it  is  an  offence  against  the  Fed- 
eral Government;  culprits  are  apt  to  get  a  sentence 
of  several  years  in  jail. 

At  Pachuca  the  application  of  mechanical  inven- 
tion to  a  basic  industry  is  amusingly  illustrated  by  the 
fact  that  even  tortillas — the  common  pancake  of  the 
country — are  made  by  machinery.  The  people  of 
Pachuca  patronize  the  establishment  where  this  is 
done  because  the  cost  of  the  machine-made  tortilla  is 
one  half  that  of  the  hand-made  article  and  it  is  equally 
palatable.  The  excellence  of  the  local  tortilla  may  ex- 
plain the  vigor  of  the  native  miner;  for  the  barateros  of 
Pachuca  are  recognized  to  be  the  best  miners  in 
Mexico;  they  have  learned  from  the  Cornish,  who 
settled  in  the  district  more  than  fifty  years  ago  and 
intermarried  with  the  natives.  The  Guanajuatenses, 
or  men  from  Gunanajuato,  have  the  reputation  of  be- 
ing quarrelsome  and  less  efficient  as  miners — which 
may  be  for  lack  of  admixture  with  a  strain  of  Cousin 
Jack,  but  we  do  not  make  the  suggestion  with  any 
confidence. 

The  natives  of  this  district,  like  most  Mexicans, 
are  wonderfully  clever  in  estimating  the  silver  con- 
tent of  an  ore  with  which  they  are  familiar;  stolen 
ore  is  invariably  bought  by  valuation  at  sight.  Even 
the  tributers  (those  that  work  on  tribute  or  partido) 
sell  the  product  of  their  work  to  the  proprietary  com- 
pany on  the  basis  of  an  estimate  of  its  assay-value 
made  at  sight  by  an  official  termed  the  rescatador\  if 


ii6 


AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 


the  appraisal  is  not  satisfactory,  they  can  sell  their  ore 
elsewhere.  Tributers  get  an  eighth  of  the  stuff  they 
mine — that  is,  one  sack  in  every  eight — the  remain- 
der going  to  the  company.  This  is  the  system  at  the 
Real  del  Monte  mines;  other  companies  work  chiefly 
on  contract. 


(T^after  \7 


REAL  DEL  MONTE  — OLD  MACHINERY  — THE 
VISCAINA  LODE  —  ITS  EARLY  ROMANCE  —  LA 
DIFFICULTAD  —  AN  ELECTRICAL  PUMP  —  LODE 
STRUCTURE— UDCAL    GEOLOGY  — SCENERY. 


E,  that  is  Robert  M.  Raymond 
J  of  EI  Ore  and  the  writer,  made 
interesting  visit  from 
I  Pachuca  to  the  neighboring 
I  mining  town  of  Real  del  Monte; 
'  this  courtesy,  and  much  infor- 
)  mation,  we  owed  to  Sefior  Don 
I  Carlos  de  Landero,  the  man- 
aging director  and  one  of  the  most  accompHshed  of 
Mexican  mining  engineers.  In  a  large  carriage 
drawn  by  four  mules,  with  a  driver  and  footman 
dressed  in  the  picturesque  uniform  of  the  company, 
to  the  crackling  of  the  whip  and  the  heavy  rumbling 
of  the  wagon  over  the  cobblestones  of  Pachuca,  we 
started  on  the  morning  of  October  30,  before  the 
mists  had  uncovered  the  crests  of  the  range  where 
lies  the  treasure  unexhausted  despite  the  mining  of 
three  and  a  half  centuries.  Emerging  from  the  nar- 
row streets,  the  road  cuts  the  edge  of  the  valley  and 
winds  slowly  among  the  brown  hills,  dotted  with  wild 
maguey.  At  the  San  Francisco  shaft  of  the  Santa 
Gertrudis  company  we  saw  a  large  pumping  engine 


ii8  AMONG  THE  MINES   OF   MEXICO 

of  the  Cornish  type,  built  by  Bickle  &  Co.,  of 
Plymouth,  in  1898.  The  cylinder  is  upright  and  90 
inches  in  diameter;  the  stroke  is  9  feet  and  the  pump- 
column  18  inches.  The  capacity  is  3y2  cubic  metres 
or  1,000  gallons  per  minute,  from  a  depth  of  400 
metres.  This  pump  was  chosen  by  Capt.  Frank  Rule, 
under  a  former  administration;  it  was  obtained  at  an 
enormous  cost,  on  account  of  the  difficulties  of  trans- 
port and  erection.  Although  made  in  1898,  it  was 
not  at  work  until  1902.  But  once  erected,  the  pump 
has  proved  most  efficient.  The  boilers  are  single- 
flue,  with  two  fire-places  and  nine  Galloway  tubes,  so 
as  to  be  well  adapted  to  the  use  of  mine-water. 

The  distance  from  Pachuca  to  Real  del  Monte  is 
six  to  eight  miles,  by  the  various  roads.  Haulage  of 
ore  costs  three  pesos  per  ton,  the  road  crossing  the 
summit  of  the  range,  1,100  feet  above  Pachuca.  Only 
one  trip  per  day  is  made. 

Nearing  the  divide,  the  road  crosses  the  red  out- 
crop of  the  Vizcaiiia  lode,  famous  in  local  mining 
annals  as  that  which  gave  such  wealth  to  the  first 
Count  of  Regla.  The  story  is  worthy  of  repetition, 
although  it  has  several  versions,  the  most  reasonable 
of  which  is  here  offered.  In  1739,  Pedro  Terreros, 
who  is  said  to  have  made  $60,000  in  the  mines  of 
Queretaro,  happened  to  visit  Pachuca.  He  was  an 
experienced  miner.  Becoming  interested,  he  aban- 
doned the  journey  to  Spain,  and  started  mining  at 
Real  del  Monte.  Humboldt  speaks  of  "the  vein  of 
la  Biscaina  or  Real  del  Monte;"  it  is  now  spelt  Viz- 


i 

THE  VISCAINA  VEIN  119 

caiiia  (pronunciation  remaining  unaltered,  but  the 
Mexican  orthography  being  substituted)  and  it  is 
evident  that  the  name  was  given  after  Terreros  came 
there,  for  it  refers  to  the  country  of  his  nativity, 
Biscay.  Most  sea-goers  know  the  Bay  of  Biscay. 
Terreros  was  successful,  but  the  increased  flow  of 
water  compelled  him  to  abandon  the  main  Santa 
Brigida  workings  when  they  were  120  metres  deep. 
In  the  early  part  of  the  eighteenth  century  the  water 
in  mines  was  hoisted  by  methods  that  still  survive, 
namely,  hide  bags  and  a  windlass.  Even  in  Hum- 
boldt's day,  sixty  years  later,  much  the  same  practice 
obtained.  He  says:  "A  bag  full  of  water  suspended 
to  the  drum  of  a  barritel  with  eight  horses  {malacate 
dohle  or  double  horse-whims)  weighs  1,250  pounds; 
it  is  made  of  two  hides  sewn  together.  The  tnalacate 
dohle  has  four  arms,  the  extremity  of  each  arm  has  a 
shaft  {timon)  to  which  two  horses  are  yoked.  The 
diameter  of  the  circle  traveled  by  the  horses  is 
seventeen  varas  and  a  half  (that  is,  47^  ft.);  the 
diameter  of  the  drum  is  twelve  (32  ft.).  The  horses 
are  changed  every  four  hours.'' 

However,  the  influx  of  water  was  finally  over- 
come in  miner-like  fashion  by  driving  a  drainage  adit 
{socahon)  into  the  hillside.  Humboldt  says:  "A  very 
enterprising  individual,  Don  Joseph  Alexander 
Bustamente,  was  courageous  enough  to  undertake  a 
level  near  Moran ;  but  he  died  before  completing  this 
gpreat  work,  which  is  2,352  metres  in  length  from  its 
mouth  to  the  point  where  it  crosses  the  Biscaina 


I20  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

vein.  *  *  *  The  level  was  only  finished  in  1762 
by  Don  Pedro  Terreros,  the  partner  of  Bustamente. 
*  *  *  The  level  of  Moran  traverses  the  Biscaina 
vein  in  the  pit  of  San  Ramon  at  a  depth  of  210 
metres/'  But  these  worthy  miners  were  plain 
'Jose'  and  Tcdro'  until  long  afterward,  when  their 
wealth  and  public  spirit  led  to  their  ennoblement. 
This  adit  of  over  a  mile  long  was  started  in  1850  and 
was  finished  in  twelve  years ;  the  smaller  veins  inter- 
sected during  the  progress  of  the  work  furnished 
funds  for  the  continuation  of  the  adit,  but  before  it 
was  completed  the  projectors  of  the  enterprise  were — 
as  is  usual  in  mining  romance — down  to  their  last 
penny.  When  the  vein  was  cut  below  the  Santa 
Brigida  shaft,  the  adit  was  in  bonanza.  This  was  at 
210  metres  below  surface.  The  orebody  was  worked 
for  twelve  years  and  the  money  secured  by  Terreros 
enabled  him  not  only  to  equip  the  old  mine  but  to  buy 
large  plantations  in  the  vicinity.  He  became  enor- 
mously wealthy;  "this  muleteer  and  illiterate  shop- 
keeper," so  says  the  chronicle,  became  Count  of 
Regla.  When  his  children  were  baptized  the  proces- 
sion walked  on  bars  of  silver.  Furthermore,  he 
loaned  mon^y  to  his  sovereign — this  was  one  of  the 
privileges  of  rich  men  in  those  days;  nowadays  they 
buy  yachts  and  found  trust  companies.  Humboldt 
says  that  Terreros  "known  by  the  title  of  Count  of 
Regla,  as  one  of  the  richest  men  of  his  age,  had  in 
1774  already  drawn  a  net  profit  of  more  than  25  mil- 
lions of  livres  turnois  ($5,208,750)  from  the  Biscaina 


DE-FORESTATION  121 

mine.  Besides  the  two  ships  of  war  that  he  presented 
to  King  Charles  the  Third,  one  of  them  of  120  g^ns, 
he  lent  five  millions  of  francs  ($1,041,750)  to  the 
court  of  Madrid,  which  has  never  yet  been  repaid 
him." 

Near  the  summit  of  the  ridge,  at  Hiloche,  where 
the  Pachuca  road  descends  to  Real  del  Monte,  there 
is  a  fine  grove  of  primeval  oak,  suggesting  the  forests 
that  covered  the  plains  and  hills  of  Mexico  before 
the  Spanish  conquest.  A  good  purpose  is  shown  in 
the  young  plantation  of  cedar  and  eucalyptus  that  has 
been  started  in  this  locality.  Mexico  has  suffered 
enormously  from  de-forestation,  and  the  laying  out 
of  trees  ought  to  be  one  of  the  first  duties  of  the  Fed- 
eral State  authorities,  as  well  as  of  public-spirited 
citizens.  At  Hiloche  is  the  big  pavilion  built  in  1901 
for  the  entertainment  of  600  people,  constituting  a 
party  of  the  American  Institute  of  Mining  Engineers. 
That  occasion  is  remembered  by  a  great  many  who 
are  now  scattered  over  the  mineral  regions  of  North 
America.  The  pavilion  has  not  been  demolished;  it 
is  used  for  picnics. 

Descending  by  a  winding  wagon-road  we  soon 
reached  La  Difficultad,  at  an  altitude  of  2,793.27 
metres.  This  mine  is  one  of  the  chief  openings  of 
the  Real  del  Monte  company.  It  affords,  among 
other  things,  an  interesting  example  of  pumping 
practice.  In  the  shaft-house  there  is  an  enormous 
engine  of  the  marine  type  built  by  Richard  Hart- 
mann,  of  Chemnitz  (Austria)  in  1889.    This  operates 


122  AMONG   THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

two  stationary  Rittinger  pumps,  with  a  discharge  of 
890  millimetres  and  a  stroke  of  2.5  metres;  also  a 
sinking  pump  of  the  same  kind  with  850-mm. 
discharge  and  3-m.  stroke.  The  capstan  engine, 
for  handling  heavy  pieces  of  pump  and  facilitating 
repairs,  is  from  Tangye  Bros.,  of  Birmingham  (Eng- 
land). These  pumps  have  been  replaced  recently  by 
a  new  Swiss  pump,  but  they  are  kept  ready  in  case 
of  need.  The  Swiss  pump  comes  from  Sulzer  Bros., 
at  Winterthur;  it  has  a  capacity  of  8,400  litres  per 
minute  to  a  height  of  240  metres,  delivering  the  water 
from  the  bottom,  at  540  m.,  to  a  drainage  level  at 
300  m.  below  surface.  The  pump  was  installed  on 
July  23,  1905;  it  has  four  compartments,  alongside, 
the  water  being  forced  from  one  into  the  next,  each 
pump  re-enforcing  the  other.  It  is  operated  by  a 
650-h.p.  motor  working  with  380  h.p.  and  was  taking 
about  4,000  litres  at  the  time  of  our  visit.  The  motor 
of  this  rotary  pump  was  supplied  by  Brown  Boveri 
&  Co.,  of  Baden,  and  is  of  the  three-phase  induction 
type.  It  is  constructed  to  yield  650  h.p.  at  60  cycles 
or  900  rev.  per  min.,  using  160  amperes  at  1,100  volts. 
The  pump-shaft  is  coupled  direct  to  the  motor-shaft. 
The  motor  was  running  at  only  two-thirds  its  normal 
speed,  yet  it  was  heating  rather  badly;  this  is  charac- 
teristic of  most  Swiss  motors.  Although  Swiss  and 
German  motors  are  cheaper,  they  have  got  no 
stamina  and  will  not  stand  an  overload  like  the  Ameri- 
can-made machines,  some  of  which  are  actually  guar- 
anteed to  carry  an  overload  of  25  per  cent  for  two 


i 

^ 

m 

fl 

A   BIG  PUMP  123 

hours  or  even  longer.  No  suction  is  used,  the  pump 
draws  from  a  dam  that  affords  a  50-ft.  head.  The 
pressure  in  the  column  is  25  kilograms  per  centimetre. 
The  sump  under  the  rotary  pump  is  three  metres 
deep,  the  water  from  it  being  raised  to  the  dam  by  a 
Knowles  pump  geared  to  a  motor,  which  gets  its  im- 
pulse from  a  Koerting  elevator,  operated  by  a  stream 
of  water  descending  from  the  300-m.  level.  These 
Swiss  centrifugal  pumps  are  used  in  other  mines  at 
Pachuca  and  they  are  said  to  be  highly  satisfactory; 
they  have  a  particular  and  effective  arrangement  of 
the  runners;  the  makers  of  them  are  willing  to  guar- 
antee a  specific  efficiency,  which,  as  yet,  American 
manufacturers  will  not  do.  Four  of  these  Sulzer 
pumps  (each  of  1,500-gal.  capacity)  have  been  or- 
dered for  the  El  Oro  mill,  to  raise  the  return  water 
and  solution  from  below  the  zinc-room.  At  the  pump- 
station  there  was  the  usual  shrine  with  lighted  candle 
on  each  side,  and  ornamented  with  artificial  white 
flowers.  Here  we  had  a  timely  luncheon  and  a  pleas- 
ant talk  with  the  engineers  of  the  mine. 

The  first  50  ft.  of  the  shaft  is  lined  with  masonry 
supported  by  arches  sprung  from  the  country  rock. 
The  shaft  is  not  continuous;  from  the  440-m.  level 
there  is  a  counter-shaft  to  the  bottom.  This  is  de- 
scended on  a  cage  with  steel-rope  guides.  At  the 
440-m.  level  there  are  some  large  underhand  stopes; 
when  the  flat  cable  is  worn  out,  its  separate  strands 
are  used  for  hoisting  ore  underground,  in  hides  that 
hold  25  kilograms  apiece.    These  are  not  made  in  the 


124  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF    MEXICO 

shape  of  buckets,  but  they  are  laid  flat,  the  broken  ore 
is  put  on  them  and  then  they  are  laced  so  as  to  make 
a  parcel.  The  ore  hoisted  by  windlass  in  this  way  is 
discharged  into  side-dumping  cars,  which  are  run 
on  a  wooden  track  lined  with  an  iron  band  to  the  sta- 
tion at  the  shaft,  where  the  ore  is  dumped  onto  a  plat- 
form to  be  shoveled  into  a  skip.  Altogether,  it  affords 
a  curious  mixture  of  old  and  new  methods;  it  is  a 
hybrid  practice.  At  the  463-m.  station  we  changed 
from  the  counter-shaft  to  the  main  shaft,  and  while 
waiting  for  the  cage  we  watched  some  men  who  were 
loading  the  accumulated  waste  into  ox-hides;  these 
held  300  kilograms,  or  the  third  of  a  ton,  and  after 
being  laced  they  were  hung  by  chain  to  the  bottom 
of  the  cage,  the  material  being  used  at  the  next  level 
for  filling.  All  the  rock  broken  in  shaft-sinking  is 
raised  in  this  way,  and  even  water,  just  as  they  did 
in  the  days  of  Pedro  Terreros.  As  the  five  men  filled 
and  then  laced  the  rawhide,  they  put  it  aside  for  the 
next  trip  of  the  cage;  when  I  first  saw  it,  I  thought  it 
was  the  carcass  of  a  dead  mule,  and  it  smelt  like  one. 
In  walking  through  the  workings,  one  notices 
that  the  cross-cuts  are  walled  up,  the  walls  being 
often  sealed  with  clay  to  divert  the  ventilation.  There 
is  a  good  deal  of  masonry  in  the  mine,  and  diflFerent 
parts  of  it  are  shut  oflF  by  iron  gates,  so  as  to  prevent 
pilfering.  There  is  no  timbering  worth  mention. 
The  ore  is  mainly  quartz ;  it  is  often  ribboned  by  the 
banding  of  rhodonite  and  sulphides  (iron  pyrite  and 
argentite);  in  many  respects  it  reminded  me  of  the 


THE  SANTA  INEZ  VEIN  125 

veins  in  the  Alice  and  Lexington  mines,  at  Butte, 
Montana.  The  accompanying  sketch  (Fig,  17)  of  the 
Santa  Inez  vein  is  a  fair  example  of  the  lodes  in  the 
Diflficultad  mine.  Both  walls  are  well  defined;  on  the 
foot  (G)  there  is  a  wet  slip;  £  is  a  band  of  rhodonite; 
D  is  mainly  amethystine  quartz;  F  and  B  B  are  sul- 
phide streaks;  ^  B  is  massive  poor  quartz;  B  to  C  is 
mottled  by  brecciation;  between  D  and  E  there  are 


streaks  and  spots  of  sulphides,  including  argentite,  a 
little  galena,  and  occasional  yellow  zinc-blende;  E  F 
is  brecciated  andesite,  now  partially  silicified;  F  G  is 
crushed  quartz.  The  whole  width  of  lode  is  seven  to 
eight  feet.  At  the  Difficultad  mine,  the  low-grade 
ore  left  on  the  dump  is  said  to  contain  400  grams  of 
silver  and  2  grams  of  gold.  This  affords  an  idea  of 
the  cost  of  working.     At  the  Barron  mine,  the  ore 


126  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

is  said  to  average  800  gm.  silver  and  4  gm.  gold,  while 
in  the  Difficultad  it  is  said  to  carry,  for  an  average  of 
eight  metres,  not  less  than  1  kilogram  of  silver  and 
the  usual  proportion  of  gold. 

It  may  be  added  that  the  prevailing  formation 
about  Pachuca  is  andesite ;  the  veins  are  lines  of  frac- 
ture which  have  been  healed  by  silicification.  There 
exist  in  the  district  several  islands  or  caps  of  basalt 
connected  with  vents  and  there  are  dikes  of  rhyolite 
accompanied  by  slight  mineralization  along  their 
walls.  For  details  of  the  geology,  the  reader  is  re- 
ferred to  a  valuable  paper  by  Seiior  Ezequiel 
Ordonez." 

On  leaving  Real  del  Monte  by  the  southern  road 
a  good  view  of  the  surrounding  country  is  obtained 
by  looking  back.  To  the  left  is  a  rounded  ridge 
clothed  with  groves  of  oak;  to  the  right,  a  conical 
hill  surmounted  by  a  coppice  of  dark  oak  and  cedars 
of  Lebanon,  and  under  their  shade  the  white-walled 
English  cemetery  where  many  a  Cornishman  has 
gone  underground  for  the  last  time.  Between  these 
flanking  hillslopes,  framing  a  picture,  there  are  the 
white  houses  and  red  roofs  of  the  town,  surmounted 
by  Moorish  church-towers,  among  which,  curiously 
out  of  place,  is  the  Cornish  engine-house  with  its  lofty 
chimney  rising  above  the  castellated  enclosure  of  the 
Difficultad  mine.  Behind  the  town  are  green  hill- 
sides, and  further  back,  after  the  interval  that  marks 


M  <' 


The  Mining  District  of  Pachuca,  Mexico,*  Transactions  American 
Institute  of  Mining  Engineers,  Vol.  XXXII,  pp.  224-241. 


A   WIDE   PROSPECT  127 

a  deep  barranca  or  gorge,  there  stands,  outlined 
against  the  blue  sky,  the  mountain  crowned  by  the 
battlemented  rocks  of  Zumate. 

After  crossing  the  summit  and  beginning  the 
long  descent  to  Pachuca,  there  is  much  to  be  seen  that 
typifies  the  Mexico  of  today.  The  broad  and  winding 
road  cuts  through  gray-purple  andesite;  it  is  lined 
with  massive  stone  culverts  and  does  credit  to  the 
engineers  responsible  for  the  construction.  It  skirts 
brown  hillsides,  darkened  in  spots  by  the  wild  maguey^ 
with  the  tall  central  stem  that  is  the  sign  of  an  uncul- 
tivated condition;  there  is  an  occasional  cactus  and 
a  few  palms,  mainly  the  izote  from  the  fibre  of  which 
are  made  the  straw  hats  of  the  peones.  Whitewashed 
monuments  dot  the  surface  and,  in  their  occasional 
sequence  of  direction,  mark  the  boundaries  of  mining 
property.  Yellow  scrub  fringes  the  road  and  en- 
hances the  value  of  the  purple  in  the  distance.  A 
flock  of  sheep,  a  string  of  patient  donkeys  laden  with 
charcoal  from  the  forests,  other  burros  coming  from 
the  valley  and  laden  with  pigskin  bags  inflated  with 
their  burden  of  pulque;  some  sad-faced  Indian  women 
trudging  up  hill,  one  of  them  with  a  baby  slung  in  her 
reboso^  another  walking  patiently  while  her  man  rides 
alongside  on  his  mule;  then  a  cavalier  with  wide 
sombrero  and  gaily  caparisoned  saddle,  a  serape  thrown 
over  the  silver-mounted  pummel  and  riding  his  horse 
superbly ;  a  wagon  heavily  laden  with  sacks  of  ore,  its 
brakes  crunching  noisily,  drawn  by  ten  mules,  with 
silver  bells,  and  driven  by  a  brigand-like  muleteer;  all 


128  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

these  are  part  of  the  stream  of  life  that  we  pass  or 
meet  on  this  road.  But  the  foreground  is  not  all  the 
picture;  at  our  feet,  to  the  south  and  west,  lies  out- 
spread the  vast  plain  known  as  the  valley  of  Mexico, 
crossed  by  white  streaks  of  dusty  road,  checkered  by 
squares  of  cultivation,  the  yellow  patches  of  maize, 
the  green  of  barley,  and  the  occasional  darker  shade 
of  alfalfa,  with  other  rectangular  lines  that  mark  the 
serried  rows  of  maguey}'^  Sunlight  and  shadow  shift 
over  the  vast  expanse;  in  the  distance,  more  than 
16,000  feet  high,  rises  the  snowy  crest  of  Ixtaccihuatl 
— 'the  white  woman' — partially  veiled  in  a  cloud,  and 
by  the  Aztec  name  recalling  the  pathetic  fate  of  an 
ancient  race.  In  middle  distance  there  is  a  blue  ridge 
behind  which  is  Mexico  City,  and  to  the  right,  under 
the  mountain  of  San  Cristobal,  hides  the  dusty  town 
of  Pachuca;  in  front  are  several  famous  mines — 
Corteza,  El  Lobo,  Santa  Gertrudis,  Barron,  and  La 
Blanca — each  in  its  walled  enclosure  and  dominated 
by  a  towering  shaft-house  of  stone.  And  then,  before 
we  realize  it,  we  are  awakening  the  echoes  of  the  nar- 
row streets  of  Pachuca,  and  amid  the  cracking  of  our 
cochero's  whip  and  the  warning  shouts  of  those  that 
clear  the  way,  we  pull  up  at  the  railway  station,  just 
in  time  to  catch  the  train. 


"  There  is  no  maguey  on  the  west  coast  of  Mexico ;  only  one-tenth  of 
the  population  of  the  entire  country  drinks  pulque,  chiefly  in  Mexico  City 
and  its  vicinity,  including  such  mining  towns  as  Pachuca  and  £1  Oro.  It 
is  unwholesome  because  it  is  drunk  when  still  in  process  of  fermentation; 
if  the  people  did  not  take  this  stimulant  they  would  take  some  other. 


C^ter  IS 


THE  REDUCTION  WORKS  OF  PACHUCA  — THE 
HAaENDA  DE  GUADALUPE  —  TREATMENT  ON  THE 
PATIO  — A  METALLURGICAL  SURVIVAL  — SOME 
CRITICISMS. 


'  ACHUCA  is  proud  of  its  kacien- 
'  das  de  beneficio  or  reduction 
works,  of  which  there  are  seven 
large  ones.  Six  of  these  are  in 
operation  and  they  treat  5,000 
'  tons  per  week.  Three  of  them 
I  are  custom  works;  those  of 
S  Guadalupe,  La  Luz,  and  Loreto 
are  not.  At  the  entrance  of  the  haciendas,  and  even  of 
private  residences,  one  sees  the  big  iron  hoods  of  the 
mercury  retorts.  They  are  buried  in  the  ground,  one 
on  each  side  of  the  gateway  and,  being  5  to  5^  feet 
long,  they  have  the  appearance  of  spiked  guns. 

The  Hacienda  de  Guadalupe  treats  900  tons  per 
week,  this  being  the  output  of  the  Santa  Gertrudis 
and  Guadalupe  mines.  At  the  mine  the  ore  is  broken 
by  hand,  and  picked  over;  the  'best  selected'  assays 
over  10  kilograms  of  silver  per  metric  ton  and  is  sent 
to  Europe,  the  second  class,  carrying  less  than  10  kilo- 
grams, but  over2  kg.  per  ton,  is  shipped  to  the  smelter 
at  Monterrey,  while  the  mine-run,  containing  less  than 
2  kg.,  comes  to  the  hacienda.    Here  it  is  screened  to  ^ 


I30  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

inch,  the  oversize  passing  through  Cornish  rolls,  while 
the  undersize  is  shoveled  into  bins.  These  are  built 
of  stone;  they  are  brick-lined  at  the  opening,  whence 
the  ore  falls  into  cars  that  take  it  to  Chilean  mills. 
The  oversize,  after  passing  through  the  rolls,  goes 
through  a  trommel  (2  ft.  diam.  and  3  ft.  long)  with 
half-inch  openings,  the  oversize  going  back  to  the 
rolls  while  the  undersize  falls  to  the  ground,  to  be 
shoveled  into  cars,  in  which  it  is  taken  to  bins  above 
the  Chilean  mills  and  subsequently  fed  into  them  by 
shovel.  There  are  14  Chilean  mills;  the  die-rings  (5 
ft.  inner  diam.,  6  ft.  outer)  and  shells  are  composed 
of  Siemens  &  Martin  steel,  made  in  Germany.  The  die 
lasts  one  year,  the  shells  twice  as  long.  There  is  an 
iron  ring  inside  the  steel  shell.  Each  mill  (inside 
diam.  1.85  m.)  has  six  openings,  guarded  by  a  60- 
mesh  screen,  all  on  one  side.  The  discharge  passes 
into  a  vat,  whence  it  is  raised  by  a  centrifugal  pump 
to  distributors  above  the  14  concentrators.  These  are 
vanners — with  belt  1.8  metres  wide — known  as  the 
Johnston  table  and  manufactured  by  the  Risdon  Iron 
Works,  San  Francisco.  It  does  good  work,  the  belt 
being  heavy,  so  as  to  give  it  the  motion  of  a  batea 
instead  of  being  simply  supported  on  a  frame.  The 
concentrate  is  shipped  to  Europe;  it  contains  14  to 
15  kg.  silver  and  100  gm.  gold  per  ton.  The  yield 
(from  900  tons  of  crude  ore)  is  21  tons  per  week,  of 
which  13J/2  tons  come  from  the  vanners  and  7j/^  tons 
from  canvas  tables  that  receive  the  tailing  from  the 
vanners. 


THE  HACIENDA   DE  GUADALUPE  131 

The  tailing  that  results  from  this  concentration 
process  goes  to  vats  or  bins ;  these  are  structures  built 
of  masonry,  4  to  5^  metres  deep.  Here  the  pulp 
settles  and  the  water  is  drawn  off  to  a  well,  from 
which  it  is  pumped  for  use  in  the  mill.  Stated  briefly, 
the  process  of  ore  reduction  consists  in  grinding  fine 
with  Chilean  mills,  extracting  the  heavy  sulphides 
(with  their  associated  gold)  on  concentrators,  and 
then  treating  the  tailing  (containing  the  bulk  of  the 
silver)  by  amalgamation  on  the  patio. 

On  the  flat  ground  below  the  terraced  slope  form- 
ing the  site  of  the  mill  just  described,  there  stretches 
the  broad  expanse  of  the  patio^  where  the  process  of 
that  name  is  carried  out.  Fatio  means  a  yard  or  enclo- 
sure, and  the  process  derives  its  name  therefrom.  The 
'patio  of  the  Hacienda  de  Guadalupe  is  the  size  of  a  city 
square,  it  is  paved  with  stone  and  divided  into  rect- 
angular spaces,  30  by  25  metres,  in  which  twenty  sep- 
arate charges  or  tortas^  each  weighing  300  tons,  are 
undergoing  various  stages  of  treatment.  Each  bin 
or  vat  that  holds  the  pulp  or  tailing  from  the  concen- 
trators, has  a  vertical  opening  5^  feet  wide  which  is 
kept  closed  by  a  series  of  boards  (6  to  9  in.).  These 
are  removed  one  by  one  so  as  to  allow  the  sludge  to 
flow  along  the  canals — 3  ft.  high,  6  ft.  wide  and  built 
of  stone — that  lead  into  the  patio  itself.  The  flow  of 
the  sludge  is  assisted  by  a  scraper  {camon)  pulled  by  a 
horse.  This  scraper  is  a  plain  plank,  two  inches  thick, 
to  which  chains,  connecting  with  the  traces,  are  at- 
tached, as  shown  in  the  photograph  facing  page  134. 


132  AMONG   THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

El  camoneroy  the  horse  that  does  this  duty,  milst  be 
strong,  for  the  work  is  hard;  he  scoops  the  slime 
along,  to  the  accompaniment  of  much  splashing  and 
the  encouraging  shouts  of  the  driver  who  controls  the 
operation.  Openings,  at  various  points  along  the 
canal,  serve  to  distribute  the  slime  to  separate  rectan- 
gular stone-paved  spaces,  where  the  chemical  work  is 
done.  Each  rectangle,  25  by  30  metres,  is  delimited 
by  two  timbers  (43^2  by  8  in.)  placed  one  over  the 
other  so  as  to  make  a  partition  16  inches  high.  The 
toTta  that  they  enclose  is  30  centimetres  thick. 

The  slime  or  tatna  is  allowed  to  thicken,  by  loss  of 
moisture  through  evaporation.  Then  comes  the  ad- 
dition of  the  first  chemical,  common  salt,  which  is 
thrown  over  the  charge  like  a  shower  of  hail.  The 
salt  is  obtained  from  the  lagoons  near  Zacatecas  and 
is  added  in  the  proportion  of  6  to  7  per  cent  of  the 
weight  of  the  ore.  This  is  an  excess,  but  it  is  found 
to  accelerate  action  and  to  diminish  the  consumption 
of  mercury.  After  this  part  of  the  process  (called 
ensalmorar)  is  finished,  the  mixing  or  repaso  begins. 
This  is  done  by  the  trampling  of  horses  or  mules.  One 
man,  himself  on  horseback,  drives  12  animals,  four  in 
a  row,  tied  by  the  neck  to  each  other.  The  cracking 
of  the  whip,  the  slushy  tramp  of  the  horses,  and  the 
shouts  of  the  driver  give  animation  to  the  scene.  This 
goes  on  by  day  only,  from  7  in  the  morning  until  2 
o'clock  in  the  afternoon.  When  the  day's  labor  is 
ended,  the  horses  are  driven  through  a  big  tank  to  be 
cleansed,  when  more  shouting  and  splashing  enlivens 


THE  PATIO  PROCESS  133 

the  hacienda.  This  mixing  continues  for  24  to  30 
days.  Each  afternoon  every  portion  of  the  torta  is 
turned  over  with  shovels  in  the  hands  of  12  to  15 
men.  After  the  first  three  days  comes  the  addition 
of  copper  sulphate  (bluestone)  followed  by  further 
mixing,  and  then  the  mercury  is  introduced.  The 
*bluestone'  comes  from  the  United  States ;  it  is  added 
to  the  torta  in  the  proportion  of  0.4  to  0.6  per  cent  of 
the  weight  of  the  ore.  In  looking  over  a  patio  in 
which  the  charges  are  in  various  stages  of  treatment, 
some  just  salted,  others  just  showered  with  copper 
sulphate,  the  contrast  between  the  rectangular 
patches  of  white  and  blue  leaves  a  vivid  impression. 
The  mercury  is  added  in  the  ratio  of  fully  eight 
times  the  amount  of  silver  estimated  to  be  in  the 
charge  undergoing  treatment.  It  is  carried  in  a  cloth, 
folded  like  a  bag,  and  swung  freely,  so  that  the  mer- 
cury squeezes  through  in  the  form  of  small  globules. 
This  is  done  to  ensure  thorough  assimilation;  the 
operation  being  appropriately  termed  incorporacion. 
Five  or  six  men  perform  this  work,  on  the  fourth  day. 
At  the  end  of  the  process  (after  24  to  30  days,  as  de- 
termined by  test)  more  mercury  is  added,  in  the  pro- 
portion of  5  kilograms  of  mercury  for  each  kilogram 
of  silver  present  in  the  charge,  making  about  2,500 
kg.  to  each  tortay  this  being  introduced  for  the  purpose 
of  collecting  the  amalgam  already  formed.  This 
operation  is  termed  the  bano.  During  the  continu- 
ance of  the  treatment  the  torta  is  tested  by  panning 


134  AMONG   THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

samples  in  clay  saucers  (6  in.  diam.)  called  jarros. 
The  operator  pans  the  stuff  down  to  a  button  of  mer- 
cury and  squeezes  it  between  the  thumb  and  index 
finger,  to  test  its  consistence,  a  flat  bit  of  amalgam 
remaining,  of  a  size  indicating  the  extent  to  which 
amalgamation  has  proceeded.  The  rejected  sand 
from  this  panning  undergoes  the  ordinary  fire-assay; 
when  there  is  no  further  decrease  in  the  content  of 
the  tailing,  complete  extraction  is  indicated  and 
mixing  on  the  patio  ceases. 

Then  the  horse  with  the  scraper  {camon)  is  em- 
ployed to  move  the  charge  forward  to  a  sump  or 
lavadero,  the  palio  being  finally  swept  clean  by  12  to 
16  peones  with  brooms;  the  mercury  can  be  seen  in 
small  pools  and  is  splashed  about  during  the  manipu- 
lation required  for  this  clean-up.  The  charge  is 
moved  to  a  basin  (cajon),  8  by  10  ft.,  where  seven 
men,  standing  in  water  just  over  their  knees,  stamp 
around,  and  stir  the  stuff,  while  clean  water  is  being 
added  and  fresh  material  is  being  fed  into  the  cajon. 
The  top  of  this  basin  is  level  with  the  floor  of  the  patio; 
the  bottom  of  it  is  six  feet  below  the  pavement  and  is 
enclosed  in  masonry,  except  on  the  lower  or  outlet 
side,  where  there  is  a  barrier  made  of  two  boards, 
which  are  perforated  with  3-inch  holes,  twelve  of  them, 
in  clusters  of  six  each.  The  amalgam  and  mercury  col- 
lect at  the  bottom,  while  the  overflow  drops  into  large 
cast-iron  hemispherical  basins  (apuros),  of  2}^  ft. 
diam.,  which  serve  as  traps.     There  are  five  of  these. 


I(.ik-ks    MiMN..      K     Mr- 


COLLECTING  THE  AMALGAM  135 

distributed  along  the  exit-sluice  below  the  sump. 
From  the  last  apuro^  the  pulp  flows  over  two  parallel 
sluices  with  riffles,  and  in  this  a  dozen  or  more  boys, 
8  to  9  years  old,  stamp  around,  in  order  to  aid  the 
separation  and  arrest  of  any  escaping  amalgam. 
These  little  fellows,  chocolate  colored,  with  big  straw 
hats  and  thin  bare  legs,  are  kept  on  the  move,  so  as 
to  stir  the  slime;  they  wade  around  at  the  bottom 
of  a  canal  10  to  12  feet  below  the  level  of  the  patio. 
They  receive  37  centavos,  or  about  20  cents,  per  day. 
Most  of  the  amalgam  is  caught  in  the  sump  and  in 
the  first  two  apuros  at  the  head  of  the  sluices.  This 
clean-up  occupies  16  to  17  hours.  Finally,  the  rich 
deposit  at  the  bottom  of  the  basin  is  washed,  one  of 
the  boards  of  the  lower  barrier  being  removed,  while 
fresh  water  is  turned  in.  What  amalgam  gets  out  of 
the  cajon,  lodges  in  the  first  (and  biggest)  apuro.  At 
the  very  end  of  the  operation  more  water  is  added; 
the  peones  use  scrub-brooms  and  sweep  the  bottom 
clean.  The  amalgam  and  mercury  make  a  big  show- 
ing; they  are  lifted  in  iron  ladles;  these  are  made  from 
the  flasks  in  which  the  quicksilver  is  bought,  their 
tops  being  cut  off,  and  an  iron  handle  inserted.  From 
1,500  to  2,000  kilograms  of  amalgam  are  obtained 
from  the  clean-up  of  a  single  torta. 

Six  hundred  horses  are  used  on  the  patio;  they 
last  four  or  five  years,  if  young;  the  older  ones  last 
only  six  months.  They  become  poisoned  by  the 
copper  sulphate;  hence  the  washing  each  day.     Some 


136  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

of  the  horses  are  found  to  gather  a  lump  of  amalgam 
in  their  stomachs,  as  much  as  half  a  kilogram,  say, 
one  pound.  This  used  to  be  removed  when  the  horse 
died,  but  now  the  Government  claims  the  deceased 
animal,  without  permitting  dissection,  and  it  goes  to 
the  crematory.  What  happens  to  the  silver  amalgam 
is  not  stated. 

The  extraction  is  80  to  85%,  the  tailing  (jales) 
containing  100  to  150  gm.  silver,  say,  3  to  5  oz.  per  ton. 
The  gold  is  caught  in  the  concentrate  on  the  vanners; 
practically  none  of  it  is  saved  on  the  palio.  Never- 
theless, down  the  creek  there  are  two  plants  that 
re-work  the  tailing  from  the  hacienda.  To  anyone 
accustomed  to  stamp-milling,  it  is  surprising  how  the 
mercury  is  splashed  about.  The  pavement  of  the 
patio  itself  must  absorb  some  of  it,  for  this  pavement 
is  made  of  slabs,  which  are  irregular  in  size,  but 
usually  1  by  1^  feet,  of  volcanic  stone,  a  basalt  called 
recinto. 

In  another  part  of  the  hacienda  one  can  observe 
the  working  of  a  mechanical  mixing  machine,  de- 
signed to  be  a  labor-saving  modification  of  the  Patio 
process  itself.  In  a  rectangle,  20  metres  wide  and  75 
metres  long,  a  plough,  with  eight  blades,  moving 
sideways,  travels  up  and  down.  It  is  operated 
through  a  ratchet  gear  by  a  man  who  sits  on  the 
machine,  as  it  is  pulled  by  an  endless  cable  of  one-half 
inch  diameter.  This  treatment  requires  45  days  and 
gives   the   same   extraction   as   the   ordinary   Patio 


> 


i 


A   MECHANICAL   MIXER  137 

process.  The  superintendent  prefers  the  old-fashioned 
horse  method  because  it  requires  less  time.  It  can 
be  said  truly  that  the  trampling  of  the  animals  affords 
a  better  aeration  of  the  charge  than  the  mechanical 
plough,  which  appears  to  go  through  the  sludge 
rather  than  turn  it  over.  There  should  be  more 
turning  of  the  furrow. 

Mechanical  devices  in  place  of  animals  were  tried 
long  ago  and  they  have  been  used  in  different  parts  of 
Mexico,  especially  Sonora.  In  M.  C.  Roswag's 
'Metallurgie  de  I'Argent,'  there  are  descriptions  of 
such  substitutes,  which  in  English  are  called  'knead- 
ing' machines  and  in  Spanish  repasadoras. 

Other  observations  are  permissible.  The  small 
boys  that  tramp  about  in  the  tail-sluice  give  their  toes 
as  riffles  to  assist  the  settling  of  escaping  particles  of 
amalgam.  The  stirring  in  the  clean-up  basin,  as  done 
by  seven  grown  men,  has  its  humorous  feature,  but  it 
is  effective.  The  method  of  moving  slime  onto  the 
patio  by  the  camonero  is  an  absurdity  at  first  sight,  but 
it  obviates  a  costly  conveyor,  and  both  horses  and 
men  are  cheap  at  Pachuca.  The  Chilean  mill  affords 
better  grinding  than  the  pounding  action  of  the 
stamp,  although  it  seems  strange  to  see  the  peones 
shoveling  into  the  mills  and  then  taking  a  rest  when 
a  mechanical  feeder  would  do  it  so  nicely.  The  tem- 
porary canals  made  between  the  toria  and  ihtcajort  to 
confine  the  passage  of  the  pulp,  are  kept  tight  with 
manure,  the  droppings  of  the  animals  on  the  patio 


138  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

thus  contributing  smells  to  the  sights,  a  combination 
not  uncommon  in  Mexico.  There  is  a  striking  con- 
trast between  the  modern  vanning  tables  and  the 
patio  itself,  the  whole  picture  exhibiting  a  sublime 
disregard  of  all  modern  mechanical  ingenuity  as 
applied  to  the  handling  of  material. 


The  accompanying  photographs  will  aid  the 
foregoing  description.  A  A  indicate  the  position  of 
the  Johnston  vanners;  B  B  are  the  sludge  vats,  with 
their  outlet  at  C  C.  D  is  the  camon  or  scraper.  E  is 
a  canal  or  conduit  for  the  slimed  ore.  In  the  three 
photographs  given  on  the  page  opposite,  the  first 
shows  the  workmen  mixing  the  charge,  with  the 
horses  at  work  behind  them.  In  the  second,  the  men 
are  mopping  the  floor  of  the  patio  and  sweeping  the 
amalgam  into  the  basin  or  cajon^  shown  in  the  bottom 
illustration;  here  the  work  of  separating  the  amalgam 
is  finished  and  the  men  are  cleaning  up. 


EIoksKS  Trkading  the  Cii.m 


I-j.    C.VM.INKKI. 

A(  the  Hacienda  ik-  Guadalupe.  Pacliuca 


(Tbof  ter  19 


THE  CHEMISTRY  OF  THE  PATIO  PROCESS— CHEM- 
ICAL EQUATIONS— OBSERVATIONS  OF  HUMBOLDT 
—LOSS  OF  MERCURY— CONTRAST  OF  POLICY. 

\  HE  Patio  process  has  been  used 
J  on  a  large  scale  and  continu- 
j  ously  since  1557,  therefore  it  is 
I  probable  that  a  great  many  have 
I  attempted,  at  various  times,  to 
'  investigate  the  theory  of  it; 
I  nevertheless,  few  have  been  bold 
i  enough  to  publish  the  results  of 
their  investigations.  In  offering  a  few  notes,  it  is 
with  the  hope,  mainly,  of  helping  the  younger 
students  in  our  profession. 

The  right  amount  of  bluestone"  is  important,  for 
if  it  be  insufficient,  the  copper  sulphate  is  converted 
into  the  sub-oxide,  which  reacts  on  the  mercury  so  as 
to  sicken  it,  covering  it  with  a  film.  The  bluestone 
consists  of  the  sulphate  of  iron  as  well  as  of  copper, 
for  it  is  formed  by  the  roasting  of  chalcopyrite;  these 
sulphates  react  on  the  sodium  chloride  so  as  to  lib- 
erate hydrochloric  acid,  which,  according  to  Ortega," 
first  forms  cupric  chloride  and  then,  in  the  presence 

"ifagutral,  an  impure  mixture  of  copper  and  iron  sulphate,  was  for- 
merly employed.  Bluestone,  commercial  copper  sulphate,  has  replaced 
it  in  practice. 

"The  Patio  Process  for  Amalgamation  of  Silver  Ores,'  W  Manuel 
Valerio  Ortega.  Tranjacliom  American  Institute  of  Mining  Engineers, 
Vol.  XXXII,  pp.  279-282. 


140  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

of  mercury,  cuprous  chloride  and  mercurous  chloride. 
The  cuprous  chloride  absorbs  oxygen  and  then  re- 
duces the  silver  sulphide  in  the  ore,  with  the  forma- 
tion of  mercuric  sulphate  and  the  liberation  of  the 

silver.     Thus : 

2Naa  +  CUSO4  =  Na^SO^  +  CuCl^ 

CuQ,  4-  Hg  =  CuQ  +  HgQ 

CuQ  +  4O  +  Hg  +  Ag,S  =  CuQ  +  HgSO^  +  2Ag. 

On  being  liberated,  the  silver  immediately  forms  an 
amalgam  with  the  excess  of  mercury. 

On  the  other  hand  Bustamente"  claims  that  the 
iron  sulphate  in  the  magistral  is  essential,  the  role  of 
the  copper  being,  in  many  respects,  subordinate,  al- 
though necessary,  to  the  iron.  According  to  his  expla- 
nation, ferric  chloride  is  formed;  this,  on  being  re- 
duced to  a  lower  chloride,  releases  chlorine,  which, 
while  nascent,  acts  upon  the  silver  mineral,  transform- 
ing it  to  a  chloride.  A  subsequent  reaction  with  the 
hydrated  oxides  liberates  the  silver  and  hands  it  over 
to  the  mercury,  for  amalgamation.  The  copper  sul- 
phate acts  as  a  carrier  of  oxygen  and  the  presence 
of  it  is  required  to  preserve  the  mercury  in  a  metallic 
state. 

The  old  theory,  to  be  found  in  most  text-books, 
was  that  after  the  cupric  chloride  was  formed,  a  re- 
action with  the  silver  sulphide  mineral,  in  the  pres- 
ence of  air,  yielded  cuprous  chloride  and  argentic 


"'A  Study  of  Amalgamation  Methods,  etc./  by  Miguel  Bustamente, 
in  Transactions  American  Institute  of  Mining  Engineers,  Vol.  XXXII, 
p.  489. 


COMPLEX   CHEMISTRY  141 

chloride,  the  argentic  chloride  coming  in  contact  with 

the  mercury,  so  as  to  form  an  amalgam,  together 

with  mercurous  chloride,  thus: 
( I )     CuSO,+2Naa=CuCl2+Na,SO^ 

(2)   2Cua2+Ag2S=2AgCi+Cu2a,+s 

(3)  2Ag,S+4Cu,a,+60=4Aga+2(Cua2+3CuO)+2S 

(4)  2AgCl+3Hg=Hg,a,+Ag,Hg 

It  is  a  complex  bit  of  chemistry,  rendered  obscure 
by  the  lack  of  accurate  data.  The  Patio  process  is 
rarely  checked  by  systematic  analyses  and  assays,  so 
that,  despite  the  three  centuries  and  a  half  during 
which  it  has  been  used  in  Mexico,  there  is  but  little 
evidence  available.  One  or  two  points  stand  out 
clearly.  If  silver  chloride  be  formed  directly  from 
the  action  of  the  chlorine  liberated  from  the  salt,  and 
if  this  be  a  necessary  chemical  stage,  why  is  it  that  ore 
containing  hornsilver  or  natural  silver  chloride  cannot 
be  treated  successfully  by  this  method?  If  copper 
sulphate  be  the  sole  active  agent  in  the  magistral^  why 
is  it  that  the  pure  copper  sulphate  gives  such  poor 
results?  If  there  is  no  direct  chlorination  of  the 
silver,  why  is  so  much  salt  required?  The  first  two 
queries  have  been  answered ;  the  last  can  be  explained 
on  the  ground  that  the  brine  serves  as  a  solvent  for 
the  cuprous  chloride,  rendering  it  more  active  as  a 
carrier  of  oxygen. 

Humboldt  makes  several  interesting  remarks^* 
concerning  the  process  of  amalgamation  on  the  patio^ 


'"Political  Essay  on  the  Kingdom  of  New  Spain/     Black's  transla- 
tion.   VoL  III,  Book  IV,  p.  268. 


142  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF    MEXICO 

as  carried  out  during  his  visit  to  Mexico,  a  hundred 
years  ago : 

"The  process  invented  by  the  miner  of  Pachuca 
is  one  of  those  chemical  operations,  which  for  cen- 
turies have  been  practised  with  a  certain  degree  of 
success,  notwithstanding  the  persons  who  extract 
silver  from  minerals  by  means  of  mercury,  have  not 
the  smallest  acquaintance  either  of  the  nature  of  the 
substances  employed,  or  the  particular  mode  of  their 
action.  The  azogueros  (or  amalgamators)  speak  of  a 
mass  of  minerals  as  of  an  organized  body,  of  which 
they  augment  or  diminish  the  natural  heat.  Like 
physicians,  who,  in  ages  of  barbarism,  divided  all  ail- 
ments and  all  remedies  into  two  classes,  hot  and  cold, 
the  azogueros  see  nothing  in  minerals  but  substances 
which  must  be  heated  by  sulphates  if  they  are  too 
cold,  or  cooled  by  alkalies  if  too  warm.  The  custom 
which  was  already  introduced  in  the  time  of  Pliny,  of 
rubbing  metals  with  salt,  before  applying  the  amal- 
gam of  gold,  has  undoubtedly  given  rise  to  the  use 
of  muriate  of  soda  in  the  process  of  Mexican  amal- 
gamation. This  salt,  according  to  the  accounts  of 
the  azogueros^  serves  to  clean  and  to  unskin  the  silver, 
which  is  enveloped  with  sulphur,  arsenic,  and  anti- 
mony, as  with  a  skin  {tililla  or  capuz),  whose  presence 
prevents  the  immediate  contact  of  the  silver  with  the 
mercury.  The  action  of  this  last  metal  is  rendered 
more  energetic  by  the  sulphates  with  which  the  mass 
is  heated;  and  it  is  even  probable  that  Medina  only 
employed  simultaneously  the  sulphate  of  iron  and 


HUMBOLDT'S   DESCRIPTION  143 

copper  and  the  muriate  of  soda,  because  he  discovered 
in  these  first  attempts,  that  salt  was  only  favorable  to 
the  process  in  the  minerals  which  contained  decom- 
posed pyrites.  Without  having  any  clear  idea  of  the 
action  of  the  sulphates  on  the  muriate  of  soda,  he 
endeavored  to  recompense  {refaire)  the  minerals,  that 
is,  to  add  magistraly  to  those  which  the  miner  considers 
as  not  vitriolic/* 

The  *hot'  and  'cold'  condition — called  calentura^ 
or  fever,  and  frio,  or  chill — are  untechnical  references 
to  oxidation  and  reduction,  the  sulphates  contributing 
oxygen  as  fuel  to  the  chemical  reactions,  while  the 
alkali  of  the  lime,  ashes,  or  cement  copper  employed 
to  doctor  a  'hot'  torta^  neutralizes  any  excess  of  acid 
sulphate.  The  idea  that  the  silver  of  the  argentite 
was  coated  with  sulphur,  which  had  to  be  removed 
to  permit  of  contact  with  mercury,  illustrates  the 
ignorance  of  what  constitutes  a  chemical  compound. 
The  sodium  sulphate  is  formed  by  the  reaction  be- 
tween the  "muriate  of  soda"  or  common  salt  and  the 
copper  sulphate,  so  that  the  addition  of  it  simply 
anticipated  a  reaction  consequent  upon  the  use  of 
magistral.  The  mention  of  "decomposed  pyrites" 
suggests  the  agency  of  iron  sulphate  in  the  Patio 
process,  an  agency  the  exact  working  of  which  is 
yet  a  subject  for  debate  among  metallurgists. 

Further  on,  he  explains  how,  by  the  leaden  look 
of  the  mercury,  they  inferred  the  commencement  of 
chemical  action;  when  a  fine  gray  powder  was  sep- 


144  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

arated  from  it  so  as  to  stick  to  the  fingers,  they  said 
the  paste  was  too  *hot*  and  they  'cooled'  it  by  adding 
lime.  If  it  preserved  its  metallic  lustre,  or  was  cov- 
ered with  a  reddish  pellicle  or  film,  if  it  did  not 
appear  to  act  upon  the  mass,  the  amalgamation 
was  considered  too  'cold'  and  they  endeavored  to 
*heat'  it  (calendar)  by  mixing  magistral. 

The  "leaden  look  of  mercury"  is  due  to  excess 
of  copper  sulphate,  -with  formation  of  flouring  mer- 
curic chloride,  which,  in  the  presence  of  sunlight  and 
organic  matter  (such  as  the  droppings  of  the  horses 
or  mules  that  trample  the  torta)  is  converted  into 
oxide;  this  is  almost  insoluble  in  the  brine,  formed 
by  the  excess  of  salt,  and  in  consequence  it  is  apt  to 
be  lost  in  the  torta  when  it  is  finally  discharged  after 
treatment.  When  the  torta  is  cold,  the  mercury  is 
apt  to  show  'flouring';  it  is  in  minute  globules  that 
do  not  coalesce,  being  coated  with  a  reddish  film  of 
copper  sub-oxide,  because  there  is  not  enough  of  the 
copper  sulphate  present  to  generate  chlorine  from 
the  salt,  so  as  to  form  cuprous  chloride. 

At  first  the  charge  was  mixed  by  the  treading  of 
a  number  of  bare-footed  workmen,  but  in  1783  Juan 
Comejo  brought,  from  Peru,  the  idea  of  using  mules. 
The  Government  granted  him  a  privilege  for  it. 
This  decreased  the  expenses  of  the  process  by  one- 
quarter. 

Then  Humboldt  continues:  "It  has  been  long 
proposed  to  cover  the  surface  on  which  the  pastes 


THE  WASTE  OF  MERCURY  145 

repose  with  plates  of  iron  and  copper  instead  of  flags ; 
and  it  has  been  endeavored  to  stir  the  mass  bv  work- 
ing  it  with  ploughs  of  which  the  share  and  coulter 
should  be  made  of  the  metals  mentioned*  but  the 
mules  suffered  too  much  from  this  work,  the  schlich 
(slime)  forming  a  thick  and  by  no  means  ductile 
paste/'  Finally,  he  concludes:  *'The  process  in- 
vented by  Medina  possesses  the  great  advantage  of 
simplicity;  it  requires  no  construction  of  edifices,  no 
combustibles,  no  machines,  and  almost  no  impelling 
force.  With  mercury  and  a  few  mules  to  move  the 
arrastres,  we  may,  by  means  of  amalgamation  por 
paliOy  extract  the  silver  from  all  the  meagre  minerals 
near  the  pit  from  which  they  are  taken  in  the  midst 
of  a  desert,  provided  the  surface  be  sufficiently  smooth 
to  admit  of  the  establishment  of  the  tortus;  but  this 
process  has  also  the  great  disadvantage  of  being  slow 
and  causing  an  enormous  waste  of  mercury." 

How  great  this  waste  of  mercury  was,  it  is  diffi- 
cult to  realize  today  when  the  old  tailing  has  been 
washed  by  several  generations  of  patient  'peones^  or 
else  scattered  abroad  by  the  torrential  rains  of  the 
tropics  and  the  dry  wind  of  the  high  plateau.  They 
used  eight  parts  of  mercury  to  one  of  silver.  At  El 
Oro  the  mill  of  100  stamps  was  run  for  six  years  with- 
out the  purchase  of  a  single  flask  of  quicksilver.  The 
tailing  heap  of  the  old  hacienda — built  30  years  ago — 
gave  all  the  mercury  wanted.  In  cyaniding  the  tail- 
ing, the  mercury  was  dissolved,  to  be  precipitated  in 


146  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

the  zinc-boxes  with  the  gold.  The  precipitate  was 
retorted  in  order  to  drive  off  the  water  and  the  quick- 
silver. Out  of  a  retort  of  1,000  pounds  there  would 
be  obtained  150  pounds,  or  two  flasks,  of  quicksilver. 
Another  suggestive  incident  may  be  mentioned. 
Nearly  two  years  ago,  when  the  mechanical  ploughs 
(repasadoras)  were  installed  at  the  Loreto  mill,  a 
cement  floor  was  laid  down,  and  in  excavating  for  this 
purpose  a  big  find  of  quicksilver  was  made,  the  earth 
being  saturated  with  it.  It  is  said  that  mercury 
worth  more  than  30,000  pesos  was  obtained. 

As  Humboldt  said,  the  Patio  was  successful  de- 
spite the  ignorance  of  any  chemical  reactions  in- 
volved. It  is  only  recently,  when  the  process  is  being 
discarded  for  more  effective  methods,  that  the  chem- 
istry of  it  has  been  investigated  intelligently.  As  used 
for  350  years  it  was  an  empirical  process,  regfulated 
by  the  experience  obtained  with  the  particular  ore  of 
each  district. 

The  Patio  process  was  invented  when  men, 
horses,  and  time  were  cheap,  when  there  was  no  haste 
to  realize  on  the  ore  in  the  mine.  And  this  spirit 
survives ;  when  I  asked  one  of  the  Mexican  engineers 
why  they  did  not  exploit  a  certain  rich  mine  on  a 
larger  scale,  he  said  that  the  shareholders  did  not 
care  to  rush  the  production  because  they  feared  the 
mine  might  be  worked  out  too  soon.  This  is  the 
European  idea  of  fifty  years  ago ;  the  opposite  of  it  is 
the  American  notion  that  it  is  best  to  gut  a  mine 


i 

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P 

m 

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/-,.  -«/ 

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DIFFERENCE  OF  IDEAS 


147 


expeditiously  and  make  the  maximum  money  in  the 
minimum  time.     Both  extremes  are  extravagant. 

Pachuca  affords  examples  of  other  methods  be- 
sides the  ancient  Patio  process.  Some  of  these  I  shall 
describe  in  the  next  chapter. 


C^ter  20 


OTHER  METALLURGICAL  PROCESSES  — THE 
HACIENDA  LA  UNION —  KROENCKE'S  METHOD  — 
TUBE-MILLS— THE  BARREL  PROCESS— FRANCKE'S 
PROCESS  — CHILEAN  MILLS  — RETORTING  THE 
AMALGAM  — THE  PLANILLA. 


T  the  Hacienda  La  Union  there 
is  much  that  is  interesting  to  the 
I  metallurgist.  The  process  is 
that  of  Kroencke,  used  in  Chile, 
I  but  modified  by  the  manager, 
Francisco  Narvaez,  formerly  a 
captain  of  artillery  and  graduate 
,  of  the  military  engineering 
school  of  Chapultepec.  As  a  military  officer  he 
visited  the  United  States  three  years  ago,  and,  be- 
coming much  interested  in  metallurgical  practice,  he 
resigned  from  the  service  to  undertake  the  work  for 
which  he  has  since  shown  so  much  aptitude. 

The  scheme  of  milling  involves  first  a  Sturtevant 
roll-crusher,  which  reduces  the  ore  from  3  or  4  inches 
to  ^-inch  diameter.  An  Imperial  shaking-screen 
sizes  the  material  to  16  mesh;  the  undersize  is  fed 
into  an  Abbe  tube-mill  of  5-foot  diameter  and  22  feet 
long,  while  the  oversize  passes  through  rolls  without 
springs,  with  14  by  27  inch  faces  (made  by  the  Denver 
Engineering  Works).     The  amount  of  iron  that  gets 


THE  CHILEAN  MILL  149 

into  the  pulp  is  only  2  per  cent;  this  fact  is  important 
in  view  of  the  chemical  treatment  that  follows.  Capt. 
Narvaez  was  led  to  adopt  this  method  by  reading 
the  book  on  'Ore  Dressing/  by  Robert  H.  Richards. 

Later  on,  without  stopping  the  regular  operation 
of  the  mill,  he  intends  to  replace  the  barrel-amalgama- 
tion process  by  cyanidation ;  as  far  as  grinding  is  con- 
cerned, his  results  indicate  that  Chilean  mills  will 
more  than  hold  their  own  against  the  competition  of 
newer  devices  for  pulverization.  They  permit  of  a 
very  fine  grinding  at  a  low  cost  per  ton.  From  an 
average  of  thirty  sizing  tests,  made  on  the  product  of 
the  Chilean  mill  at  this  hacienda^  Capt.  Narvaez  ob- 
tained the  following  results : 

Assay  in      Percentage 
silver,    of  assay-value 
Percentage.         Grams.        retained. 

Finer  than  200  mesh 80.00  1,290  93.65 

Between  200  and  150  mesh 4.75  626  2.69 

150    "    100     "    13.45  385  0.47 

100    "     80     "    1.50  355  0.48 

80    "      60      "    0.41  346  0.01 

The  original  assay  of  the  ore  gave  1,102  grams  per 
metric  ton.  One  of  these  mills,  for  example,  worked 
from  February  to  June  without  stopping  once  for  re- 
pairs ;  and  with  the  ordinary  unskilled  labor,  it  ground 
15  to  18  tons  per  24  hours  from  IJ/^-inch  size  to  the 
fineness  recorded  in  the  tests  just  quoted.  The  cost 
per  ton  did  not  exceed  one  peso,  or  less  than  50  cents 
per  ton. 

At  the  time  of  my  visit  there  was  one  Krupp 
tube-mill,  with  other  foundations  ready  for  the  Abbe 


ISO  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

tube.  The  Krupp  tube  crushed  50  tons  to  100  mesh 
in  24  hours.  It  was  preceded  by  a  Krupp  ball-mill, 
which  reduced  the  ore  from  1^-inch  size  to  24  mesh. 
It  is  necessary  to  grind  dry,  on  account  of  the  barrel 
process,  which  constitutes  the  main  feature  of  the 
treatment.  With  the  use  of  Chilean  mills,  as  at  the 
time  of  my  visit,  it  was  necessary  to  dry  the  product. 
Both  ball-mill  and  tube  work  dry.  Silex  linings  in 
the  tube  last  three  years.  The  use  of  the  Chilean  mills 
yields  iron  that  becomes  oxidized  by  the  water,  while 
the  iron  worn  away  from  the  balls  in  dry  crushing 
through  the  Krupp  mill,  is  in  a  metallic  condition  and 
in  an  amount  suited  to  the  later  chemical  reactions  in 
the  barrel.  The  ball-mill  is  charged  with  four  balls 
of  eight  kilograms  each  per  day,  this  representing  the 
iron  abraded  from  the  balls  themselves  and  the  lining 
also.  For  setting  the  silex  lining  in  the  tube,  a  com- 
mon cement  with  two  parts  of  sand  is  used;  it  sets  in 
three  days.  Trouble  has  been  made  by  the  fact  that 
some  of  the  sectional  pieces  of  lining  are  not  cut  to  the 
right  curve;  however,  only  three  dropped  out  after 
being  in  use  for  a  month.  The  flint  pebbles  are 
bought  from  Indians,  who  will  not  divulge  the  lo- 
cality where  they  find  them.  They  are  paid  35  pesos 
per  ton,  while  the  imported  pebbles  cost  75  to  90 
pesos  per  ton.  The  tube  has  no  screen,  the  material 
passes  through  the  length  of  it  and  is  then  discharged. 
In  the  new  plant  as  it  will  be  re-arranged,  the 
Krupp  ball-mill  will  deliver  its  product  to  the  Abbe 
tube,  for  re-grinding,  and  both  will  work  wet,  instead 


BALL-MILLS  AND  TUBE-MILLS  151 

of  dry.  The  ore  that  goes  to  the  Chilean  mills  will 
be  crushed  to  l^^-inch  size  in  a  breaker  and  from  the 
Chilean  machines  the  pulp  will  be  pumped  direct  to 
the  vats  and  cyanided.  From  the  day  (in  January, 
1906)  that  E.  M.  Hamilton,  associated  with  Charles 
Butters,  made  a  cyanide  test  on  the  ore  at  this 
hacienda^  Capt.  Narvaez  has  made  more  than  200  tests, 
obtaining  an  extraction  of  98.12%  on  the  silver  and 
88.4%  on  the  gold.  He  believes  that  extraction  of  the 
gold  is  less  than  that  of  the  silver  because  the  gold  is 
encased  in  the  pyrite  and,  to  liberate  it,  re-grinding 
is  imperative.  But  the  ore  contains  only  5  grams  of 
gold  per  ton,  therefore  it  remains  yet  to  be  proved,  by 
further  experiment,  whether  it  will  be  necessary  to 
re-grind  more  than  20%  of  the  ore. 

It  was  the  custom  formerly  to  use  the  camonero 
to  move  the  product  of  the  Chilean  mills  onto  \\i^  patio ^ 
where  it  was  allowed  to  dry  in  the  sun,  but  the  change 
to  dry  crushing  will  obviate  the  necessity  for  this  prac- 
tice. At  the  time  of  my  visit,  the  Chilean  mills  were 
being  operated  without  screens,  the  discharge  being 
by  overflow,  thus  saving  labor  while  using  a  great 
deal  of  water,  of  which  there  was  plenty.  The  tires 
on  the  Chilean  mills  are  changed  so  as  to  equalize  the 
wear;  they  last  two  years;  the  dies  last  only  about 
eighteen  months.  Each  mill  requires  10  h.p.  The 
Eraser  &  Chalmers,  or  Union,  type  of  Chilean  mill, 
modeled  after  Walker's  patent,  gives  good  service, 
grinding  15  tons  per  day;  those  of  other  makers  treat 
only  8  or  9  tons,  because  the  runners  do  not  maintain 


152  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

a  vertical  attitude.  Seven  Chilean  mills  ground  60 
to  70  tons  per  day,  while  the  Krupp  ball-mill  crushed 
50  tons  per  day  of  24  hours. 

The  product  from  the  grinding  machinery  goes 
to  the  barrel-room.  There  are  13  barrels,  originally 
made  by  Allis-Chalmers  and  since  modified  on  the 
spot.  Each  barrel  is  beneath  a  hopper  that  holds  a 
charge  of  4.7  tons.  As  this  is  filled  by  the  cars  (each 
carrying  half  a  ton)  a  grab  sample  is  taken  to  deter- 
mine the  percentage  of  moisture  and  the  richness  in 
silver;  from  the  aggregate  of  all  these  samples  a  mean 
of  the  iron  assay  is  obtained  for  the  week,  so  as  to 
indicate  if  the  amount  be  sufficient  to  effect  precipita- 
tion ;  if  not,  zinc  is  added  in  order  to  help  precipitation 
and  also  because  it  has  been  observed  that  the  gold 
recovery  is  better  when  zinc  is  employed  in  addition 
to  the  iron.  The  cuprous  chloride  is  proportioned  to 
the  amount  of  silver  amalgam  in  the  barrel,  decreas- 
ing from,  say,  60%  CU2CI2  at  the  beginning  of  the 
month  to  22  or  24%  at  the  end.  The  silver  in  the 
charge  is  precipitated  on  iron.  The  barrel  treatment 
consumes  eight  hours ;  it  requires  four  hours  to  charge 
and  discharge.  Mercury  is  added  half  an  hour  after 
the  treatment  has  beg^n.  Salt  is  added  in  the  ratio 
of  27  kilograms  per  ton  of  ore;  no  more  copper  sul- 
phate is  added  than  that  required  when  making  the 
copper  chloride  solution.  The  loss  of  mercury  per 
month  is  800  grams  per  kilogram  of  silver;  the  loss 
of  silver  is  6.88  to  9%  when  treating  three  charges 
per  day. 


THE   BARREL   PROCESS  153 

The  barrels  are  washed  out  once  per  month,  dur- 
ing the  remainder  of  the  time  the  silver  amalgam 
accumulates  inside  of  them;  it  is  taken  out  every 
other  day,  in  such  an  amount  as  to  yield  250  to  300 
kilograms  of  silver  bars. 

From  the  barrels  the  pulp  goes  to  six  washers 
or  agitators,  and  from  them  to  apuros  (or  wells)  un- 
derneath, where  the  silver  amalgam  is  collected. 
Thence  the  tailing  passes  outdoors  to  a  crude  form  of 
conical  buddle.  The  2,300  to  2,500  tons  of  tailing 
treated  each  month  contain  110  to  120  gm.  silver  per 
ton  and  yield  25  to  30  tons  of  concentrate  assaying 
2  to  3  kg.  silver  and  30  to  40  gm.  gold  per  ton. 

When  CU2CI2  is  added,  there  is  a  formation  of 
AgCl  and  sometimes  of  HgCl;  then  if  zinc  (in  the 
form  of  strips  of  metal,  not  shaving)  is  added,  the 
metallic  silver  is  precipitated  and  also  the  mercury. 
Sodium  hyposulphite  was  tried,  but,  although  useful, 
it  was  not  found  necessary.  The  purpose  of  it  was  to 
regenerate  the  Hg  from  the  HgCl  formed,  and  the 
same  end  could  be  gained  by  the  motion  of  the  pulp 
in  the  barrel.  If  there  is  enough  iron  in  the  pulp,  it 
will  precipitate  the  silver,  but  the  amount  of  iron  is 
not  under  control,  hence  the  addition  of  zinc  if  the 
iron  be  inadequate.  From  the  wear  of  the  lining  and 
of  the  balls  in  the  Krupp  mill,  Capt.  Narvaez  was  get- 
ting 600  gm.  iron  per  ton  of  ore,  this  being  the  amount 
which  practice  has  demonstrated  to  be  necessary. 
Whenever,  for  any  reason,  the  amount  is  less  than 
as  specified,  zinc  is  added.     Experience  has  proved 


154  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

that,  although  1,200  gm.  iron  is  adequate  to  precipi- 
tate the  silver  in  a  charge  of  two  tons  of  ore  and  g^ve 
bullion  999  fine,  yet  zinc  is  always  needed  in  order 
to  increase  the  gold  recovery.  If  this  be  done,  the  bul- 
lion will  assay  960  gm.  silver  and  2.8  gm.  gold  per 
kilogram,  while,  if  the  zinc  be  omitted,  the  gold  will 
not  exceed  one  gram  per  kilogram. 

The  total  extraction  of  silver  by  this  barrel 
process  is  95%;  that  of  the  gold  is  from  35  to  75%. 
In  the  concentrate,  5%  more  of  the  gold  is  saved.  The 
gold  is  to  the  silver  in  the  ore  in  the  ratio  of  5  to  1,000. 
The  ore  treated  at  the  mill  is  worth  as  delivered  23  to 
25  pesos  per  ton,  the  cost  of  extraction  (maquila)  last 
year  was  10.50  per  ton,  and  the  profit  8  pesos  per  ton. 
The  ore  assays  generally  1.2  kg.  silver,  equal  to  about 
41  pesos  per  ton. 

The  bulk  of  the  ore  obtained  from  the  mines  of 
the  Real  del  Monte  Company  is  similar  to  that  treated 
at  the  Hacienda  La  Union,  although  in  the  Corteza 
mine  of  that  company  there  is  produced  the  class  of 
manganese  ore  called  ^quemazones/  on  account  of  its 
black  appearance.  Such  ore  is  not  suitable  for  the 
process  of  amalgamation  because  of  the  loss  of  mer- 
cury, following  upon  the  familiar  reaction  in  which 
a  mixture  of  salt,  manganese  dioxide,  and  sulphuric 
acid  evolves  the  chlorine  destructive  to  mercury.  At 
the  time  of  my  visit,  this  ore  from  the  Corteza  mine 
went  to  the  Hacienda  de  Loreto;  it  was  a  black  sili- 
cious  material  containing  8%  manganese  dioxide. 
The  treatment  to  be  described  has  ceased  lately,  the 


REFRACTORY  ORE  155 

mill  having  been  utilized  to  test  the  adaptability  of 
the  cyanide  process  to  this  class  of  ore.  At  first  the 
idea  was  to  erect  a  ball-mill,  followed  by  a  re-grind- 
ing tube,  as  at  La  Union,  but  later  it  was  decided  to 
install  two  sets  of  rolls,  of  the  same  dimensions  and 
running  at  the  same  speed,  the  first  pair  for  reducing 
the  ore  from  3  to  ^-inch  and  the  other  for  grinding 
to  16  mesh ;  between  the  rolls  there  is  a  trommel,  and 
thence  the  material  goes  to  the  tube-mill.  Trouble 
was  caused  by  the  moisture  in  the  ore,  a  coating  be- 
ing formed  on  the  silex,  requiring  removal  with  a 
chisel. 

I  shall  now  describe  the  process  for  which  the 
original  plant  was  built ;  it  was  a  modification  of  the 
Francke  process,  originally  developed  in  Chile.  On 
arrival,  the  ore  passes  through  a  Blake  crusher  and 
then  it  is  fed  to  the  rolls,  which  deliver  it  to  a  trommel 
provided  with  a  70-mesh  screen;  the  undersize  goes 
to  the  bins,  while  the  oversize  passes  to  a  tube-mill 
{cilindro  remoledor)^  also  made  by  Krupp,  where  it  is 
re-ground  with  flints  {piedras  de  chispa)  at  the  rate  of 
about  40  tons  per  day.  Then  it  joins  the  previous  un- 
dersize in  the  bins.  Next  come  four  calcining  fur- 
naces, each  with  a  capacity  of  20  to  30  tons  per  day. 
The  charge  of  10  tons  is  given  1^4  hours.  Salt  is  added 
in  the  proportion  of  18  kilograms  per  ton  of  ore.  The 
calcined  product  drops  below  the  furnace  and  is  taken 
in  wheelbarrows  to  the  cooling-floor.  Here  it  is 
shoveled  into  vats  {Unas  de  Bolivia)  where  it  becomes 
mixed,  through  the  agency  of  revolving  arms,  with 


IS6  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

cupric  chloride  (CuCU)  and  mercury.  Copper  plates 
placed  along  the  sides  of  the  vats  catch  any  gold  in  the 
pulp.  Each  vat  is  3  metres  deep  and  2^  m.  in  diame- 
ter. During  the  treatment,  steam  enters  through  the 
bottom.  Three  charges  of  nine  tons  each  are  treated 
per  day.  Then,  after  four  hours  of  mixing,  the  pulp 
is  discharged  from  these  vats,  through  three  openings 
at  successive  levels  leading  into  pipes  that  empty  in 
a  mercury  trap  (apuro)  outside.  Here  the  silver  amal- 
gam is  caught.  The  tailing  passes  on  to  two  settlers, 
without  further  addition  of  mercury,  the  purpose  be- 
ing to  arrest  any  amalgam  escaping  from  the  preced- 
ing operation.  Below  each  settler  there  is  an  apuro, 
which  finishes  the  treatment. 

Only  one  shift  of  12  hours  (by  day)  is  employed. 
Two  men  attend  to  each  furnace;  these  also  do  the 
wheelbarrow  work.  Three  men  attend  to  the  pans ;  in 
addition,  there  are  two  roustabouts  and  one  foreman. 
Each  charge  is  not  followed  by  a  clean-up ;  the  amal- 
gam is  allowed  to  accumulate. 

The  mill  was  idle  at  the  time  of  my  visit;  it  is 
probable  that  there  was  a  heavy  loss  through  mineral 
which  was  ground  fine  in  the  tube  and  then  pulled  by 
the  strong  draft  into  the  chimney  of  the  calcining 
furnace.  Also  there  is  likely  to  have  been  loss  of  silver 
by  volatilization  as  chloride. 

The  machinery  is  operated  by  electricity,  and  in 
contrast  to  this  flagrant  modernism  is  the  shrine  in 
the  roaster-house,  with  its  picture  of  the  Virgin.  In 
other  parts  of  the  establishment  there  are  crosses. 


SHRINES   AND   SMELTING  157 

decorated  by  withered  flowers.  Everywhere  in  the 
hacienda  there  is  an  exuberance  of  masonry;  the 
works  are  enclosed  by  massive  walls,  like  the  ram- 
parts of  a  fortress  of  the  old-fashioned  kind. 

Such  ore  as  does  not  contain  manganese  oxide, 
and  comes  from  the  other  mines  operated  by  the  Real 
del  Monte  Company,  undergoes  direct  concentration, 
followed  by  amalgamation.  This  quartz  ore  is  re- 
duced by  two  Blake  crushers  and  then  passes  to  14 
Chilean  mills,  which  discharge  through  80-mesh 
screens.  The  feeding  is  done  by  automatic  (the 
Hendy  Challenge)  machines.  From  the  Chilean  mills 
the  pulp  goes  to  32  Johnston  vanners,  which  extract 
the  pyrite,  not  only  to  get  at  the  gold  that  is  inti- 
mately associated  with  this  pyrite,  and  to  take  out 
half  the  silver  in  the  ore,  but  also  with  a  view  to  sim- 
plifying the  Patio  process,  which  follows  and  which 
would  otherwise  need  the  addition  of  more  chemicals. 
The  14  Chilean  mills  grind  800  to  900  tons  per  week; 
the  crude  ore  contains  1  kilogram  of  silver  to  5  or  6 
grams  of  gold;  the  pyritic  concentrate  represents  4 
to  Ay2  per  cent  of  the  crude  ore;  the  richer  concen- 
trate, with  9  to  10  kg.  silver  and  its  proportionate 
amount  of  gold,  is  shipped  to  Germany,  while  the 
poorer,  with  4  to  6  kg.  silver,  is  sent  to  the  smelters 
at  Monterrey  and  Aguascalientes. 

The  tailing  from  the  vanners  goes  to  big  ponds, 
where  it  settles  to  a  thickness  of  8  to  9  inches  of  pulp. 
The  camonero^  or  horse  with  the  drag,  is  employed  to 
move  the  slime  to  the  different  rectangles  in  which 


IS8  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

the  mixing  stage  of  the  Patio  process  is  carried  out. 
There  are  17  rectangles  (50  metres  wide  and  80  m. 
long),  for  the  treatment  of  as  many  charges  or  tortus^ 
each  being  equal  to  220  to  300  tons.  The  mixing  is 
done,  not  in  the  old  way  by  horses,  but  with  a  me- 
chanical harrow,  such  as  has  been  described  in  con- 
nection with  the  Hacienda  Guadalupe.  In  this  case 
also,  it  seemed  to  me  that  the  mechanical  mixer  failed 
in  its  service;  the  material  was  too  wet,  the  harrow 
omitted  to  turn  the  pulp  over  and  simply  passed 
through  it,  without  causing  aeration.  Moreover,  as 
the  harrow  cannot  be  made  to  scrape  the  floor,  there 
always  remains  at  the  very  bottom  an  inch  or  more  of 
pulp,  which  is  not  moved  and  which,  therefore,  escapes 
metallurgical  treatment.  The  clean-up  was  done  as 
at  the  Hacienda  Guadalupe,  so  that  the  description 
need  not  be  repeated. 

The  retorting  is  worth  noting.  The  bricks  of 
amalgam  are  arranged  in  the  form  of  a  pyramid  of 
about  one  ton  weight  standing  in  an  iron  pan,  the 
bottom  of  which  is  perforated.  A  hood  is  then  dropped 
over  the  amalgam;  a  flue  from  the  furnace  enters 
through  an  aperture  near  the  base  of  the  hood.  The 
mercury,  as  it  is  distilled,  passes  out  at  the  bottom 
into  a  stream  of  cold  water,  by  which  it  is  condensed. 
The  ratio  of  mercury  to  silver  in  the  amalgam  is  as 
8  to  1. 

At  the  Progreso  mill,  which  was  built  by  that  rep- 
resentative American  millman,  M.  P.  Boss,  there  are 
50  stamps,  followed  by  four  Kinkead  mills;  the  lat- 


^_^^^^^ 

FT 

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~  ^^Binl^r 

^^^H^t^^ 

1 

Two  Views  of  Men  Ori.KAiiNL  mt  Flanilla  ai  Pachuca 


THE  PLANILLA  159 

ter  is  a  machine  for  re-grinding.  Then  come  two 
chemical  mixers,  16  pans,  and  4  settlers,  followed  by 
4  New  Standard  and  6  Johnston  concentrators. 

Just  outside  the  mill  I  saw  the  Mexican  method 
of  concentration  by  the  planilla,  or  little  plane.  The 
material  is  heaped  up  at  the  head  of  an  incline  plane, 
8  to  10  feet  long,  4  to  4>^  feet  wide;  the  operator 
throws  the  water  with  a  horn,  by  successive  regular 
sweeps  of  his  arm;  at  intervals  he  scoops  up  the  ma- 
terial with  a  wooden  shovel,  and  as  the  heading  be- 
comes cleaned  (or  concentrated)  he  moves  fresh  ma- 
terial to  the  top  of  the  incline.  Mexicans  can  be  seen 
operating  the  planilla  along  the  beds  of  streams  that 
receive  the  tailing  from  the  mills  at  Pachuca  and 
Guanajuato,  as  the  accompanying  photographs  show. 
The  device  resembles  the  'tyes'  or  straight  buddies 
employed  for  the  treatment  of  slime  in  Cornwall. 


(T^ter  2t 


FIRST  GLIMPSE  OF  GUANAJUATO— THE  HISTORY 
OF  LOCAL  MINING— THE  VETA  MADRE  AND  ITS 
BONANZAS— RICH  MINE-OWNERS— THE  COUNT  OF 
VALENCIANA— STORY  OF  THE  CHURCH— DECA- 
DENCE OF  THE  DISTRICT. 


T  is  uncomfortable  to  arrive  at 
;  one's  destination  just  before 
I  dawn,  but  sometimes  the  dis- 
comfort is  not  without  compen- 
sation. Owing  to  the  wretched 
train  service  between  Mexico 
City  and  Guanajuato  (406  kilo- 
metres or  252  miles),  the  trav- 
eler reaches  Silao  at  1  a.  m.  and  then,  changing  to  a 
branch  railroad  14  miles  long,  he  arrives  at  Marfil  at 
3  A.  M.,  whence  a  horse-car  bears  him  to  Guanajuato, 
a  distance  of  four  miles  and  occupying  an  hour.  The 
car  is  pulled  by  mules,  at  a  sharp  trot,  along  a  winding 
tramroad  that  follows  the  bottom  of  a  ravine;  there 
are  glimpses  of  high  walls,  dark  archways,  and  silent 
courtyards,  an  occasional  hooded  figure  comes  within 
the  rays  of  the  feeble  lamp  at  the  front  of  the  car, 
other  lights  are  infrequent;  soon  the  tram  penetrates 
a  thickly  built  town,  the  mules  awaken  echoes  as  they 
scramble  over  the  cobbles;  the  reverberations  are  lost 
in  narrow  alleys,  but  there  is  no  sign  of  life,  save  the 


EARLY  MORNING  AT  GUANAJUATO  i6i 

tired  watchman  who  blows  his  whistle  to  prove  him- 
self awake  and  to  prevent  the  other  watchmen  from 
falling  asleep — incidentally  telling  any  prowler  just 
where  to  avoid  him.  The  car  goes  up  a  steep  gradient, 
almost  brushing  the  walls  that  look  down  on  either 
side,  around  sharp  turns  that  threaten  a  capsize,  over 
a  narrow  bridge  and  along  a  stream  flanked  by 
rustling  trees.  The  journey  is  over.  A  friend  conducts 
me  to  a  lofty  wall,  a  door  opens,  we  are  in  a  moonlit 
patio^  in  front  of  a  white  colonnade,  in  that  light  as 
poetic  as  the  moonlight  itself,  the  effect  of  which  is 
heightened  by  a  sound  as  of  surf  borne  inland  from 
the  shore;  it  seemed  the  voice  of  the  distant  sea,  but 
it  was  the  muffled  roar  of  a  stamp-mill.  However, 
that  rhythmic  swell  served  to  put  me  to  sleep,  deeply 
grateful  for  a  little  rest  after  the  tiresome  travel  of 
the  night.  This  was  part  of  the  compensation,  but 
the  best  of  it  came  on  awakening  three  hours  later. 

It  was  a  sunny  morning,  with  all  the  coolness 
of  the  highlands  and  all  the  fragrance  of  the  tropics; 
going  on  the  portico,  I  found  myself  overlooking  a 
lawn  behind  which  extended  an  array  of  steel  vats 
indicative  of  a  cyanide  plant;  to  the  right  were  the 
white-washed  houses  occupied  by  offices,  and  to  the 
left  rose  a  loftier  building — ^audibly,  a  stamp-mill. 
The  whole  foreground  was  surrounded  by  a  wall  on 
which  the  sunlight  played  gladly.  Beyond  were  low 
roofs  and  trees,  rising  on  hillslopes,  partly  under  cul- 
tivation and  leading  to  a  brown  ridge  whose  clear-cut 
edge  was  silhouetted  against  the  blue  of  a  perfect  sky. 


i62  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

It  was  the  Hacienda  San  Francisco  de  Pastita,  an  old 
Mexican  reduction  works,  now  transformed  to  mod- 
ern methods,  it  was  an  island  of  Anglo-Celtic  energy 
in  the  midst  of  an  old  Spanish  mining  centre,  and  the 
spirit  of  the  men  and  the  machinery  of  this  new  mill 
of  the  Sirena  mine  was  to  the  old  era  represented  by 
the  decrepit  town  outside  its  walls  as  the  invigorating 
sunshine  of  this  bright  morning  to  the  dark  weariness 
of  my  experience  during  the  night  that  was  past. 

Guanajuato,  in  the  State  of  the  same  name,  is  a 
city  of  50,000  people,  situated  at  an  altitude  of  6,600 
feet  among  the  foothills  of  the  Sierra  de  Santa  Rosa. 
The  air  is  dry  and  clear,  colors  are  vivid,  lines  are 
defined,  and  the  sunlight  is  brilliant.  The  town  is  not 
without  character,  for  it  is  adorned  by  many  churches 
and  other  impressive  buildings;  it  lies  ensconced 
among  terraced  gardens  and  brown  hills,  on  the 
higher  slopes  of  which  stand  the  battlemented  en- 
closures and  picturesque  churches  of  historic  mines. 
Their  story  is  worth  the  telling.'® 

The  history  of  Guanajuato  begins  in  1526,  six 
years  after  the  Spanish  Conquest,  when  the  mineral 
wealth  of  Mexico  was  being  eagerly  sought  out  by  the 
hardy  conquistador es.  To  the  north,  the  mines  of 
Zacatecas  and  San  Luis  Potosi  had  been  uncovered; 
the  road  to  them,  from  Mexico  City,  passed  near  the 
site  of  Guanajuato,  but  in  those  days  it  was  danger- 
ous to  depart  from  the  highway,  for  the  natives,  the 


"And  in  the  telling  of  it,  I  am  indebted  for  many  of  my  data  to 
Capt  W.  Murdoch  Wiley,  who  has  studied  the  records. 


FIRST   DISCOVERIES   OF   ORE  163 

Chicemecas,  were  unfriendly.  A  fort  was  built  at 
Santa  Ana,  and  this  became  the  first  European  settle- 
ment in  the  region.  Prospecting  became  more  prac- 
ticable, but  no  mineral  discovery  of  importance  fol- 
lowed, until  1548,  when  the  silver  mine  of  San 
Bernabe  was  discovered  at  La  Luz,  six  miles  from 
the  Guanajuato  of  today.  Two  years  later  rich  ore 
was  found  on  the  hills  adjajcent  to  the  present  city; 
the  Rayas  mine  being  started  by  a  Spaniard  of  that 
name.  The  document  that  registered  this  fact  is  the 
oldest  in  the  archives  of  the  Court  of  Mines  at  Guana- 
juato. It  was  not  until  nine  years  later  that  the  work 
done  at  the  Rayas  and  Mellado  mines  led  to  the  recog- 
nition of  the  mother  vein,  la  Veta  Madre.  The  ore  was 
mined  for  a  width  of  100  feet,  so  wide  indeed  as  to 
postpone  further  exploration  along  the  course  of  the 
lode.  But  the  ore  found  by  the  Mellado  shaft,  in 
1559,  suggested  the  idea  of  continuity  and  caused  an 
extension  of  activity,  so  that  it  was  not  long  before 
mining  operations  were  under  way  from  the  Tepeyac 
to  the  Sirena  workings.  To  those  of  us  who  regard 
the  discovery  of  the  Comstock,  less  than  50  years  ago, 
or  even  the  event  at  Sutter's  Mill,  58  years  ago,  as  a 
historic  event,  it  is  worth  noting  that  the  happenings 
briefly  chronicled  in  the  foregoing  lines  occurred  be- 
fore 1600 — before  the  first  settlement  of  Virginia, 
shortly  after  the  sailor  captains  of  Elizabeth  had 
swept  the  Spaniards  off  the  seas,  and  just  about  the 
period  when  Shakespeare  and  Bacon  were  busy  pre- 
paring documents  of  controverted  authorship. 


i64  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

By  this  time  the  population  of  the  town  had 
grown  to  4,000,  and  it  continued  to  increase  as  vil- 
lages sprang  up  around  the  individual  mines.  In  1619 
the  town  was  granted  a  patent,  becoming  dignified 
by  the  name  of  Villa  Real  de  Guanajuato.  This  was 
a  year  before  the  landing  of  the  Pilgrim  Fathers  at 
Plymouth. 

The  industry  grew;  amalgamation  was  intro- 
duced from  Pachuca,  the  Patio  process  being  first 
employed  at  the  Hacienda  de  Duran,  just  below  the 
Rayas  mine.  The  best  selected  ore  was  smelted  on 
the  spot  and,  considering  the  high  grade  of  it,  the  slag 
was  surprisingly  clean,  for  the  remains  of  old  smelter 
dumps  below  the  Rayas  and  Cata  have  been  found  to 
assay  only  two  ounces  of  silver  per  ton.  Forced 
labor,  of  course,  was  employed,  and  two  proclama- 
tions bear  testimony  to  the  brutality  of  it,  for  one  of 
them  prohibited  the  indiscriminate  sale  of  Indians 
and  the  other  forbade  the  branding  of  a  slave  in  the 
face. 

Within  a  century,  that  is,  by  1700,  the  population 
was  quadrupled  and  the  area  of  the  camp  was 
doubled.  Immigration  was  slow,  for  Spain  was  a 
long  way  off  in  those  days  of  uncertain  sea  voyages ; 
the  transport  of  supplies  was  both  laborious  and 
hazardous,  the  whole  European  population  of  Mexico 
was  still  meagre,  and  mining  methods  were  as  yet 
primitive.  But  the  discovery  of  gunpowder  and  its 
application  to  mining,  the  introduction  of  pumps  and 
the  accumulation  of  wealth  among  the  mine  owners, 


MINERS   THAT  WERE  ENNOBLED  165 

all  tended  to  enlarge  the  scale  of  operations  until 
Guanajuato,  toward  the  end  of  the  18th  century,  be- 
came one  of  the  great  mining  centres  of  the  New 
World. 

The  big  mine  owners  won  such  wealth  that,  like 
their  modern  successors  in  Nevada  and  Montana, 
they  became  legislators  and  were  given  seats  in  high 
places;  they  were  granted  titles  of  nobility  and  en- 
livened the  ranks  of  Spanish  aristocracy.  Jose  de 
Sardaneta  was  created  Marquis  of  Rayas;  Francisco 
Mathias,  the  owner  of  the  Cata  and  Secho  mines,  be- 
came Marquis  of  San  Clemente  and  Viscount  of 
Duarte,  while  Antonio  Obregon,  the  discoverer  of 
the  Valenciana,  became  Count  of  that  name.  It  was 
a  great  day  for  these  mine  operators.  They  were  con- 
sulted in  affairs  of  State,  just  as  nowadays  men  who 
contribute  to  campaign  funds  are  likely  to  possess 
what  Mr.  Mike  O'Flaherty  terms  'infloo-ence' ;  they 
posed  as  Providence  to  the  poor  people,  for  when 
times  were  hard  and  the  corn  crop  was  a  failure,  they 
provided  work  for  the  needy  and  saved  them  from 
starvation.  It  is  said  that  the  big  galleries  and  com- 
fortable cross-cuts,  large  enough  for  the  passage  of 
a  broad-gauge  locomotive,  that  surprise  the  mining 
engineer  when  he  first  visits  Guanajuato,  are  the  evi- 
dence of  work  carried  out  with  such  charitable  intent. 

When  an  unusual  bonanza  was  struck,  the  for- 
tunate miner  built  a  shrine  or  even  a  church,  in  token 
of  gratitude  to  his  tutelary  saint.  Thus  one  Sarda- 
neta advanced  an  adit  so  as  to  cut  the  Santa  Anita 


i66  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

ore-shoot  on  its  dip,  but  failing  to  reach  this  point 
before  he  died,  he  told  his  son  to  continue  the  good 
work.  He  did,  and  found  the  bonanza  of  Santa  Rosa, 
which  made  the  Rayas  mine  famous.  This  Sar- 
dafieta  became  Marquis  of  Rayas  and  erected  the 
monumental  buildings  whose  flying  buttresses  and 
sculptured  portal,  surmounted  by  the  figure  of  the 
archangel  Michael,  are  today  the  glory  of  the  San 
Miguel  shaft-house. 

The  church  of  Valenciana  is  another  such  me- 
morial to  successful  prospecting.  This  edifice  was 
consecrated  in  1778;  though  badly  cracked  in  many 
places  and  doomed  to  destruction,  its  fine  harmonious 
facade  in  carved  cantera  was  rendered  doubly  impres- 
sive when  I  saw  it  at  the  end  of  a  day's  investigation 
of  the  old  mines,  and,  mindful  of  a  most  romantic 
chapter  of  mining  history,  watched  the  shafts  of  sun- 
light suffuse  the  old  church-front  with  a  glory  richer 
than  the  treasure  vault  of  silver  that  it  commemorated. 
The  church  was  built  by  Antonio  Obregon,  a  Spanish 
miner,  who  discovered  a  great  orebody  north  of  the 
Cata  mine,  in  ground  that  had  long  been  held  to  be 
barren.  He  had  thought  otherwise  and  prospected 
for  three  years,  until  penniless.  Then  a  merchant 
of  Guanajuato  provided  some  funds,  until  he  too  was 
bankrupt.  Others  were  persuaded  to  share  in  the 
venture,  only  to  lose  their  money,  until  Obregon 
won  the  name  of  el  tonto  (the  fool)  de  Valenciana. 
But  his  justification  came  at  the  end  of  seven  years  of 
persevering  work,  when  he  broke  into  the  biggest 


San  Miguel  de  Rayas 


THE   CHURCH   OF  VALENCIANA  167 

bonanza  ever  found  on  the  Veta  Madre.  It  was 
much  more  than  his  fondest  expectation,  for,  while 
the  Tepeyac  had  been  worked  in  a  desultory  way 
from  1590  and  the  outcrop  of  that  vein  in  the  Valen- 
ciana  ground  has  yielded  some  ore,  it  is  doubtful 
whether  any  such  ordinary  body  of  mineral  could 
have  repaid  the  long  and  expensive  search  made  by 
Obregon  and  his  backers.  In  a  few  months  all  the 
expenses  of  years  were  repaid  and  eventually  Obre- 
gon became,  the  chronicle  says,  the  richest  man  in  the 
world,  at  that  time.  The  immediate  origin  of  the 
church  is  told  thus:  On  the  ground  near  the  mine, 
Obregon  marked  out  an  irregular  quadrangle  within 
which  the  miners  were  told  to  place  a  handful  of  rich 
ore,  which  each  man  was  allowed,  for  this  exceptional 
purpose,  to  bring  out  of  the  mine.  It  was  a  custom 
that  recognized  the  innate  tendency  of  the  miner  to 
purloin  a  little — a  specimen  or  a  sample — of  the  rich 
ore  that  he  was  helping  to  extract;  and  by  requiring 
his  men  to  donate  that  larcenous  portion  of  mineral 
for  the  benefit  of  Holy  Church,  Obregon  was  finally 
able  to  do  a  great  deed  without  unduly  taxing  his  own 
receipts.  The  quadrangular  area  as  marked  was 
eventually  covered  three  feet  thick  with  rich  ore;  this 
was  sold  and  the  proceeds  of  it  were  employed  to  build 
the  church.  It  was  begun  in  1765  and  finished  in 
1785;  it  is  said  to  have  cost  $1,000,000,  which  was 
about  equivalent  to  the  annulal  income  of  Obregon. 
He  made  gifts  to  the  Crown  and,  becoming  the 
wealthiest  subject  of  Spain,  he  was  made  Count  of 


i68 


AMONG   THE  MINES    OF   MEXICO 


Valenciana.  This  was  at  the  time  of  the  American 
revolution,  and  since  then  we  have  had  many  a  Monte 
Cristo  among  mining  adventurers,  a  motley  crew  of 
ill-balanced  men,  from  vulgar  spendthrifts  like  Tabor 
and  Barnato  to  great-minded  builders  of  empire  like 
Cecil  Rhodes  and  Alfred  Beit. 


(Z:()af  ter  22 


GUANAJUATO  AT  ITS  HEIGHT  — DEEP  MINING  — 
VISIT  OF  HUMBOLDT— DECADENCE— LA  LUZ— THE 
REVIVAI^AN  AMERICAN  INVASION— THE  STORY 
OF  MODERN  PROGRESS. 


;  T  the  end  of  the  18th  century 
the  mines  of  Guanajuato  were 
I  the  foremost  of  their  kind.  It 
I  was  then  that  the  Valenciana 
shaft  was  sunk  to  1,800  feet,  and 
it  is  still  the  deepest  in  the  dis- 
[  trict.  This  work,  done  by  Obre- 
l  gon,  was  completed  in  1785  at  a 
fabulous  expense.  It  is  said  to  have  cost  a  million, 
though  even  this  expenditure  becomes  small  rela- 
tively to  that  of  the  Combination  shaft,  sunk  on  the 
Comstock  lode,  in  1881;  this  was  3,100  feet  deep  and 
cost  $6,000,000.  However,  the  cost  of  the  big  shaft 
of  the  Valenciana  was  offset  by  an  extraordinary  pro- 
duction, stated  at  300,000,000  dollars,  most  of  it  ex- 
tracted during  the  last  half  of  the  18th  century.  This 
figure  corresponds  to  the  total  output  of  the  Com- 
stock up  to  the  time  when  the  lower  workings  were 
abandoned,  in  1884.  On  August  20,  1804,  the  King's 
tax,  amounting  to  the  sum  of  2,648,866  dollars  was 
paid.  As  this  represented  one-fifth  of  the  yield  for  a 
period  of  five  years,  it  serves  to  substantiate  even  the 


I70  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

extraordinary  statistics  of  these  old  mines.  The  other 
mines  on  the  Veta  Madre  and  those  on  the  La  Luz 
veins  also  produced  enormously  at  this  period,  so 
that  the  population  of  the  district  at  the  beginning 
of  the  19th  century  had  increased  to  100,000.  This 
was  the  time  of  Humboldt's  visit.  He  says  that  "the 
whole  vein  (the  Veta  Madre)  of  Guanaxuato"  may  be 
estimated  at  four  ounces  of  silver  per  quintal  of  mine- 
rals.*' As  a  quintal  is  100  pounds,  this  means  ore  aver- 
aging 80  oz.  per  ton  of  2,000  pounds. 

Then  came  the  long  years  of  the  revolution 
against  Spanish  domination.  In  1810,  when  at  the 
height  of  her  prosperity  as  a  mining  centre,  Guanajuato 
was  attacked  by  the  Republican  forces  under  Miguel 
Hidalgo,  a  priest,  who  became  the  hero  of  the  Mexi- 
can war  of  independence.  There  was  desperate  fight- 
ing and  the  city  was  captured.  The  entire  fabric  of 
government  and  of  business  went  to  pieces.  The 
warring  factions  made  forced  loans  on  the  mines, 
horses  and  provisions  were  wantonly  seized,  life  be- 
came insecure,  so  that  mining  operations  were  dis- 
couraged and  all  work  of  importance  was  discon- 
tinued. Deep  work  ceased  entirely,  no  shafts  were 
sunk,  and  the  production  of  ore  was  reduced  to  infre- 
quent shipments  taken  from  supporting  pillars  and 
from  the  sides  of  old  stopes.  Even  such  decadent 
mining  soon  became  insignificant  as  the  miners  were 
driven  toward  the  surface  by  the  slowly  rising  water. 


It  is  always  spelled  with  an  x  in  Humboldt's  memoirs. 


DURING  THE  REVOLUTION  171 

It  was  at  this  period  of  general  lawlessness  that  the 
heavy  walls  with  watch-towers  were  built  around  the 
mines,  until  every  property  of  consequence  had  the 
look  of  a  fortress.  Similar  protection  was  given  to 
the  reduction  works,  which  became  fortified  enclo- 
sures, for  the  patios  were  frequently  robbed  of  their 
clean-up  by  roving  bands  belonging  to  both  factions, 
which  made  the  necessities  of  their  organization  an  ex- 
cuse for  a  general  system  of  pillage  and  murder. 
The  battlemented  ruins  that  survive  in  the  vicinity 
of  Guanajuato  are  eloquent  of  this  period  of  lawless- 
ness and  afford  today  a  picturesque  setting  to  mines 
already  romantic  through  their  earlier  traditions. 

Twelve  years  elapsed  before  the  Spanish  rule 
ended  in  the  crowning  of  Iturbide  as  the  first  Mexi- 
can Emperor,  at  Mexico  City,  on  July  21,  1822.  Dur- 
ing the  interval  the  population  of  Guanajuato  dwin- 
dled to  20,000  and  mining  almost  ceased.  With  the 
restoration  of  order,  the  mine-owners  set  to  work  to 
rehabilitate  their  properties.  Among  the  most  enter- 
prising was  Don  Lucas  Alaman,  who  represented  the 
new  Republic  at  the  Court  of  St.  James,  and  was  an 
enthusiastic  believer  in  the  mineral  wealth  of  Guana- 
juato. He  interested  English  capitalists  in  his 
schemes,  with  the  result  that  two  large  companies 
were  formed,  the  United  Mexican  Mining  Association 
and  the  Anglo-Mexican  Mining  Company.  They  ac- 
quired several  of  the  biggest  mines  on  the  Veta 
Madre,  besides  others  of  the  Sierra  and  La  Luz  sys- 
tems.    The  old  workings  were  unwatered  and  the 


172  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

mills  were  renovated.  But  it  was  not  smooth  sailing 
for  these  English  companies,  there  were  periodical 
local  insurrections,  life  and  property  were  still  inse- 
cure, and  mining  was  attended  by  many  interruptions ; 
for  example,  in  1832,  one  Ariste,  at  the  head  of  a  're- 
generating army,'  or  ejercito  regeneradoro^  swooped 
down  on  the  Rayas  mine,  then  the  property  of  the 
United  Mexican  Co.  and  lifted  silver  and  corn  to 
the  value  of  26,000  pesos. 

The  mines  of  La  Luz  were  in  bonanza  in  1842  and 
for  many  years  after,  so  that  Guanajuato  itself  be- 
came less  important,  but  twenty  years  later  Francisco 
Glennie  took  charge  of  the  Rul  estate  and  by  his  skill 
he  made  these  mines  on  the  Veta  Madre  more  pro- 
ductive than  they  had  been  at  any  time  since  the 
palmy  days  at  the  close  of  the  eighteenth  century. 
The  Valenciana  was  unwatered  to  the  bottom  at 
1,800  feet  and  a  new  orebody  was  discovered  in  the 
Merced"  vein.  At  the  same  time  Glennie  developed 
the  Cata  mine  and  found  the  rich  Juanita"  vein. 
When  he  became  invalided,  in  1890,  another  period 
of  depression  ensued  at  Guanajuato.  All  the  com- 
pany work  at  the  Valenciana  was  stopped  and  the 
water  was  allowed  to  rise.  At  the  Cata,  the 
water  was  kept  down,  but  here,  as  at  the  Valenciana, 
the  workings  were  handed  over  to  the  tender  mercies 
of  the  buscones.  These  are  'tributers'  on  a  small  scale; 
they  take  a  lease  from  week  to  week  without  any  writ- 


These  were  special  segregations  of  rich  ore  in  the  Mother  Lode. 


ENERGETIC  PROMOTERS  173 

ten  contract  and  divide  the  ore  they  get  with  the 
mine-owner,  who  provides  the  tools,  powder,  and 
blacksmith.  On  each  Saturday  morning  the  buscon 
sorts  his  ore,  arranging  it  in  two  equal  piles,  of  which 
the  foreman  takes  his  choice  on  behalf  of  the  owners 
of  the  mine.  Of  course,  the  buscon  cannot  afford  to 
explore,  he  does  no  'dead  work*;  and  as  he  moves  no 
more  waste  than  is  necessary,  the  workings  soon  be- 
come choked  with  refuse.  He  nibbles  at  every  pillar 
left  to  support  the  old  stopes,  and  causes  caving  that 
will  close  the  mine  or  portions  of  it,  permanently. 

And  so  mining  came  down  to  a  dreary  unprogres- 
sive  level,  with  no  new  work  and  no  fresh  discoveries 
of  ore,  until,  in  1898,  another  revival  was  inaugurated 
by  the  enterprise  of  a  few  Americans.  In  that  year 
the  Guanajuato  Consolidated  Mining  &  Milling  Com- 
pany secured  the  Sirena  mine  and  erected  a  modern 
mill,  under  the  direction  of  Mr.  M.  E.  MacDonald, 
assisted  subsequently  by  his  brother,  Mr.  Bernard 
MacDonald. 

In  1902  the  Guanajuato  Power  &  Electric  Com- 
pany was  formed  by  a  group  of  mining  men  at  Colo- 
rado Springs,  on  the  initiative  of  Mr.  Leonard  F. 
Curtis;  he  was  ably  supported  by  Messrs.  George 
Bryant  and  George  W.  McElhiney,  to  whose  financial 
ability  are  due  several  of  the  most  important  enter- 
prises in  the  district.  As  fuel  of  any  kind  was  very 
expensive,  the  introduction  of  power  at  a  reasonable 
price  was  an  important  step  in  the  progress  of  min- 
ing.    This  was   accomplished   in   November,    1904. 


174  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

The  electric  energy  now  used  at  every  large  mine  in 
the  Guanajuato  district  is  obtained  from  the  river 
Duero,  in  the  State  of  Michoacan,  101  miles  distant. 
This  power  at  185  pesos  per  h.p.  year"  replaced  wood 
at  8  to  10  pesos  per  metric  ton  and  stone  coal,  from 
Las  Esperanzas,  in  Coahuila,  at  20  to  24  pesos, 
delivered. 

The  next  enterprise  of  importance  to  be  started 
was  the  Guanajuato  Reduction  &  Mines  Company. 
The  history  of  the  mines  that  it  acquired  has  been 
mentioned;  they  included  the  property  originally  be- 
longing to  Obregon,  the  discoverer  of  the  Valenciana, 
and  from  his  descendants  by  intermarriage  they  had 
passed  to  the  noble  family  of  Rul.  In  1860  the  Senora 
Perez  Galvez,  then  head  of  the  house  of  Rul,  began  a 
clever  campaign,  the  purpose  of  which  was  to  obtain 
avios  or  perpetual  leases  on  these  mines,  including  the 
Valenciana,  Cata,  Tepiac,  and  Mellado.  By  the  avio 
she  was  able  to  charge  all  expenditures  against  the 
mines,  crediting  them  with  the  money  received  from 
the  sale  of  ore;  by  building  large  works  or  haciendas ^ 
she  made  contracts  with  herself  to  purchase  the  out- 
put of  ore,  deducting  high  rates  for  treatment  and 
mixing  the  rich  with  the  poor  ore,  so  that  the  expenses 
of  mining  were  always  in  excess  and  steadily  in- 
creased the  debt  against  the  mines,  while  permitting 
of  handsome  profits  at  the  haciendas.  The  options  to 
these  contracts  or  avios  were  acquired  by  Messrs. 

"This  is  the  average  price.    The  lowest  price  in  the  district  today  is 
$60  per  h.p.  year. 


THE  AVIO   CONTRACTS  175 

Bryant  &  McElhiney,  and  transferred  by  them  to  the 
Guanajuato  Reduction  &  Mines  Co.,  which  finally 
bought  them  outright.  According  to  Mexican  law, 
if  at  any  time  the  mines  get  into  bonanza,  so  as  to 
make  big  profits  from  the  sale  of  ore,  the  lessee  has 
the  right  to  take  all  such  profits,  without  any  division 
with  the  owners,  until  the  entire  accumulated  debt — 
about  six  million  pesos — is  paid,  thereafter  dividing 
the  further  profits  according  to  the  terms  specified 
in  the  lease;  in  plain  English,  the  original  ownership 
is  a  legal  figment.  Besides  acquiring  these  old  con- 
tracts, the  promoters  mentioned  had  the  foresight  to 
'denounce'  or  'locate'  claims  covering  the  dip  of  all 
the  important  properties  on  this  part  of  the  Veta 
Madre;  that  is,  they  secured  the  'deep  levels/ 
Finally,  after  expert  examinations  and  reports  had 
been  made  by  such  men  as  Carlos  Van  Law,  Robert 
T.  Hill,  and  Louis  Noble,  these  properties  and  all  their 
rights  passed  under  the  control  of  the  Guanajuato 
Reduction  &  Mines  Co.,  in  November,  1904. 

Since  then  other  ventures  have  been  organized 
and  started,  but  their  story  is  in  process  of  making 
and  must  be  left  to  a  later  record. 


While  the  peso  today  is  worth  about  half  of  a  dollar,  before  the 
demonetization  of  silver  they  were  about  equal,  for  each  contained  about 
an  ounce  of  silver. 


Cfyxptzv  23 


VISIT  TO  THE  OLD  MINES— A  CAVALCADE— THE 
BUSTOS  PLANT— MECHANICAL  DEVICES  AGAINST 
MANUAL  LABOR  — THE  MOTHER  LODE  — SAN 
MIGUEL  DE  RAYAS. 

N  the  morning  of  November  2, 
;  a  party  was  made  to  visit  the  old 
I  mines  of  the  Veta  Madre.  We 
formed  an  imposing  cavalcade, 
for  it  is  the  custom  in  Mexico 
for  each  horseman  to  be  accom- 
panied by  a  mozo,  who  serves  as 
[  groom  on  ordinary  occasions, 
and  is  a  courier  and  general  servant  when  going 
across  country  to  the  mines  at  a  distance.  These 
men  wear  the  wide-brimmed  sombrero,  fancy  leggings, 
and  big  spurs,  so  that  they  are  picturesque  if  nothing 
else,  and  on  an  occasion  of  pleasure  such  as  this  was, 
they  gave  a  touch  of  gaiety  to  a  group  of  horsemen, 
most  of  whom  were  as  properly  accoutred  as  in 
Chapultepec  or  Central  Park.  There  were  ten  of  us, 
and  eight  mozos,  so  that  when  we  clattered  down  the 
narrow  cobble-paved  alleys  of  the  old  Mexican  town, 
we  made  noise  enough  for  a  regiment,  scattering  care- 
less wayfarers  and  awakening  echoes  under  arches 
that  had  seen  many  invasions  much  less  peaceable. 
The  well-bred  Mexican  is  a  splendid  horseman,  but 
the  inhabitants  of  such  a  town  as  Guanajuato  are,  of 


Stekl  Oke-Bi.ns  and  Battekv  Founi 


BusTos  Mill 


THE   BUSTOS   MILL  177 

course,  content  to  go  afoot,  so  that  accompanied  as  I 
was  by  a  group  of  engineers  and  metallurgists,  it 
occurred  to  me  that  there  was  a  simile  to  be  snatched 
from  the  scene,  the  technical  man  being  the  fellow 
on  horseback,  progressing  confidently  (usually  with 
less  noise),  while  the  rest  of  the  world  is  content  per- 
force to  go  on  foot.  Well,  my  friends  rode  several 
hobbies,  not  to  mention  spirited  steeds;  one  of  them 
was  the  application  of  the  cyanide  process  to  silver 
ores;  and  their  horsemanship  was  good  either  way. 
On  arrival  at  the  lower  end  of  the  town,  I  was  shown 
the  Hacienda  de  Bustos,  where  the  Guanajuato  Re-, 
duction  &  Mines  Company  is  remodeling  an  old  re- 
duction works  to  the  needs  of  a  modern  equipment, 
as  the  accompanying  photograph  will  illustrate. 
This  hacienda  is  about  a  hundred  years  old ;  in  pulling 
down  the  walls  to  make  room  for  the  concentrator 
floor,  there  was  found  a  system  of  older  unconform- 
able foundations,  and  in  the  angle  made  by  two  walls 
of  ancient  date,  the  workmen  unearthed  half  a  dozen 
complete  skeletons,  with  a  bullet  hole  in  each  skull, 
and  so  placed  as  to  indicate  that  the  originals  were 
pistoled  while  lying  down.  However,  this  gruesome 
find  did  not  hold  our  attention  long,  for  the  founda- 
tions of  the  new  stamp-batteries  and  the  steel  framing 
of  the  ore-bins  aflforded  more  cheerful  subject  for 
thought. 

In  the  erection  of  the  Bustos  plant,  bedrock  was 
everywhere  available,  and  the  heavy  masonry  walls 
were  built  cheaply  by  Mexican  labor,  which  is  par- 


178  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

ticularly  skilled  in  such  work.  Each  stamp  weighs 
1,050  pounds.  The  mortars  are  of  El  Oro  type  and 
weigh  9,000  pounds ;  they  rest  upon  massive  concrete 
blocks  laid  in  Dyckerhoff  cement.  The  concentrator 
room  is  spacious,  being  covered  by  a  well-designed 
roof-truss  of  steel  construction.  The  tailing  from 
the  Wilfley  tables  runs  into  a  concrete  launder,  which 
extends  down  the  longer  axis  of  the  concentrator 
room  to  the  centre  of  it,  delivering  its  contents  to  a 
tunnel  at  right  angles  and  thence  to  the  cyanide 
annex.  While  the  plant  was  in  course  of  construc- 
tion, a  5-stamp  battery,  with  its  cyanide  annex  com- 
plete, was  being  employed  for  testing  the  various  ores 
destined  to  be  delivered  to  the  works  when  finished. 
Even  when  the  80  stamps  are  at  work,  this  small  addi- 
tion will  be  kept  in  service,  for  experimental  purposes. 
In  the  concentration  department  of  this  testing  plant 
there  is  a  Wilfley  table,  a  Gilpin  county  bumper,  and 
an  Overstrom  table.  After  being  crushed  under  the 
stamps,  the  pulp  passes  over  one  of  the  three  ma- 
chines just  mentioned  and  then  to  a  sump,  whence  it 
is  pumped  60  feet  to  cone-separators.  The  sand 
undergoes  percolation  in  vats  8  feet  deep  and  8  feet 
diameter,  provided  with  the  Butters  hydraulic  dis- 
tributor. The  slime  is  agitated  in  vats  9  feet  deep 
and  8  feet  diameter;  one  vat  using  the  Hobson  aero- 
mechanical  agitator  and.  the  other  a  Butters  pump 
with  mechanical  stirrers.  Thus  the  testing  plant  is 
designed  throughout  to  duplicate  the  conditions 
under  which  the  big  mill  is  to  be  operated. 


The  Gateway  of  the  Rayas  Mlni 


■"' 

i\  ^s\:j^ 

^ 

i 

4^ 

^^1 

•* 

i 

t^^B^ 

i-A"Sw|m8 

STEEL  ORE-BINS  179 

The  Bustos  mill  is  planned  so  that  it  can  be 
doubled  conveniently;  in  fact,  excavations  for  that 
purpose  were  under  way  at  the  time  of  my  visit.  A 
sufficient  space  will  be  cleared  at  the  back  of  the  ex- 
isting plant  to  allow  of  the  erection  of  a  second  row 
of  80  stamps  on  the  other  side  of  the  bins.  A  concen- 
trator room,  identical  with  the  existing  one,  will  be 
added,  so  as  to  make  the  plant  a  160-stamp  mill  of 
back-to-back  construction. 

Owing  to  the  high  price  of  American  lumber 
when  delivered  at  Guanajuato,  and  the  poor  quality 
of  the  Mexican  material,  it  is  considered  economical 
to  use  steel.  The  skeleton  of  the  bin  is  of  15-inch 
channels  placed  back-to-back  in  bents  that  are  on 
approximately  6-foot  centres,  the  vertical  channel 
posts  being  tied  together  at  the  bin-floor  level  by  two 
15-inch  channels,  which  are  braced  from  the  feet  of 
the  posts  by  inclined  struts  composed  of  four  5  by 
3yi  by  f^-inch  latticed  angles.  The  thrust  that  these 
inclined  struts  carry  to  the  feet  of  the  posts  is  taken 
by  two  8-inch  channels  acting  as  a  tie  between  the 
feet  of  the  posts,  thus  trussing  the  whole  and  making 
the  strains  on  the  masonry  wholly  vertical.  As  the 
weight  in  the  bin  is  about  2,500  tons,  exclusive  of  the 
bin  itself,  the  feet  of  the  columns  are  supported  upon 
a  grillage  of  six  5-inch  I-beams,  two  feet  long,  held 
together  by  plates  riveted  to  the  top  and  bottoms. 
This  rests  directly  upon  the  masonry.  All  the  bents 
are  braced  together  longitudinally  at  the  top  and 
floor-level  of  the  bin  by  8-inch  channels  and  heavy 


i8o  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

angles ;  at  the  ends  of  the  bin  the  outward  thrust  upon 
the  bents  is  taken  by  a  truss-member  at  the  top  of 
the  bin.  The  bents  themselves  are  tied  together  at 
the  top  by  ^-inch  plates  4  inches  wide,  riveted  be- 
tween the  channel-beams  to  the  posts.  Within  this 
skeleton  is  a  lining  of  plank,  4  inches  thick  in  the 
bottom  courses,  with  an  inner  sheathing  of  2-inch 
plank  having  the  grain  vertical.  The  bin  has  a  flat 
bottom  supported  on  4  by  14-inch  joists  on  12-inch 
centres,  carried  upon  horizontal  members  of  the 
steel  bents  before  mentioned,  on  the  top  of  which 
is  laid  a  3-inch  plank  covered  by  a  2-inch  lining.  The 
entire  construction  does  credit  to  the  manager,  Mr. 
Carlos  W.  Van  Law. 

While  we  examined  the  mill,  an  interesting  dis- 
cussion arose  regarding  the  comparative  value  of  the 
mechanical  conveyor.  Cars  were  advocated  as 
economical  because  the  cost  of  power  alone  (apart 
from  repairs  to  the  conveyor,  maintenance,  and  in- 
terest on  capital)  exceeds  the  expenditure  for  labor 
when  employing  cars  plus  human  labor.  A  conveyor 
requiring  7  h.p.  at  $7  per  h.p.  month  is  equivalent  to, 
say,  $50  or  100  pesos  per  month.  The  same  work 
can  be  done  by  two  peones  at  50  centavos  per  day, 
equivalent  to  30  pesos  per  month.  In  case  a  peon 
wears  out,  you  can  get  another  without  absorption 
of  capital!  But  alas  for  such  calculations,  the  peon 
does  not  work  on  feast  days.  There  is  a  great  ad- 
vantage in  employing  machinery  that  goes  forward 
without  any  stops.     For  in  Mexico  there  are  25  fiestas 


THE  MOTHER  LODE  i8i 

per  annum  that  are  rigidly  observed,  besides  Sunday 
and  San  Lunas  (or  St.  Monday — sacred  to  sobering 
observance),  so  that  there  are  at  least  75  days  of 
interruption  in  a  year,  and  wherever  laborers  are  not 
plentiful,  this  feature  must  be  taken  into  account. 
On  the  other  hand,  if  one  has  a  bin  capable  of  holding 
a  ten  days'  supply  of  ore  for  the  entire  plant — as  is 
the  case  at  the  Bustos  mill — the  bad  effect  of  two  or 
three  days  of  fiesta  is  obviated.  Of  course,  where  a 
car-track  is  impracticable  or  where  elevating  is  re- 
quired, the  conveyor  holds  the  field — and  that  is 
often. 

Leaving  the  Hacienda  de  Bustos,  we  rode  up  a 
ravine  leading  to  the  mines  on  the  great  lode  of 
Guanajuato,  called  the  Veta  Madre,  a  term  which  in 
the  guise  of  'Mother  Lode'  has  also  been  applied  to 
the  main  vein-system  of  California.  In  the  State  of 
the  Argonauts  it  refers  to  a  general  zone  or  belt  sev- 
eral miles  wide  and  300  miles  long,  but  at  Guanajuato 
it  defines  a  distinct  lode-channel  about  600  feet  wide 
and  seven  miles  long.  At  the  foot  of  the  hill  on 
which  stands  the  Rayas  mine,  the  Veta  Madre  is 
crossed  by  the  Canon  de  Zapote,  and  a  natural  section 
of  the  big  outcrop  is  visible.  The  lode  consists  here  of 
eight  feet  of  silicified  breccia;  on  the  foot-wall,  ex- 
posed in  the  bed  of  the  stream,  there  is  a  quartz  vein 
traversed  by  black  streaks  of  argentite  that  dip  at 
45**;  and  under  this  ore  comes  brecciated  schist 
cemented  by  quartz,  the  latter  diminishing  until  the 
schist  exhibits  a  ramification  {ramillo)  of  stringers, 


i82  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

the  dominant  members  of  which  are  parallel  to  the 
foot-walL  Beyond  this  point,  the  quartz  continues 
to  decrease,  and  on  the  farther  side  of  the  stream  the 
schist  appears  in  the  regular  laminae  to  which  it  owes 
its  name  of  hoja  de  libro^  or  book-leaves.  This  is  the 
main  foot-wall  country. 

Remounting  our  horses,  we  returned  down  the 
canon,  soon  reaching  the  Rayas  church,  a  beautiful 
remnant  of  the  loving  architecture  that  the  Spaniard 
lavished  even  on  his  mines.  In  these  churches  are 
found  all  sorts  of  queer  pictures  celebrating  the 
thankfulness  of  the  donor  for  deliverance  from  vari- 
ous perils.  In  them  the  miner  testified  to  the  danger 
of  his  calling,  by  the  tribute  offered  to  his  particular 
saint. 

Ascending  the  hillside  overlooking  the  church 
and  its  environing  buildings,  we  turned  to  look  on 
the  crumbling  walls  of  an  old  hacienda^  which  we  had 
failed  to  notice  as  we  rode  past  it.  The  walled  en- 
closures seem  inadequate  for  protection,  and  yet  they 
served  their  purpose  before  long-range  rifle  practice 
was  developed.  Until  about  twenty-five  years  ago, 
brigandage  was  so  rife  in  this,  as  in  other  parts,  of 
Mexico,  that  the  haciendas  or  reduction  works  were 
periodically  'held  up'  by  outlaws,  particularly  in  out- 
lying districts.  As  regards  Guanajuato,  their  special 
nest  was  at  El  Capulin,  on  the  road  between  Silao  and 
Marfil.  They  terrorized  the  country,  and  despite  oc- 
casional raids  from  the  military,  who  drove  them 
into  the  hills,  the  bandits  would  return  after  a  short 


THE  RAYAS  SHAFT  183 

interval,  to  resume  their  depredations.  Finally,  in 
1883,  the  State  Government  sent  a  body  of  mounted 
police  to  attack  them.  Sixty  men  were  captured, 
placed  against  a  wall,  stnd  shot.  El  Capulin  was 
completely  destroyed ;  not  a  hut  was  left  to  mark  the 
spot.     That  ended  the  business. 

Passing  close  to  the  flying  buttresses  of  the  mag- 
nificent walls  that  enclose  the  San  Miguel  shaft  of  the 
Rayas  mine,  we  entered  the  old  enclosure.  A  sug- 
gestion of  the  appearance  of  this  architectural  sur- 
vival is  presented  by  the  photograph  facing  page  167. 

A  little  farther  and  we  entered  the  courtyard  of 
the  Rayas  shaft,  one  of  the  four  great  openings  on  the 
Veta  Madre.  This  one  is  octagonal  in  shape,  and  38 
feet  in  diameter.  The  depth  is  1,400  feet.  Why 
these  shafts  were  so  big  and  the  manner  in  which 
they  were  operated,  will  be  told  in  the  sequel.  They 
make  even  the  most  self-confident  American  miner 
realize  that  his  science  did  not  begin  at  Virginia  City, 
nor  was  it  born  in  Colorado.  The  Rayas  was  sunk 
by  the  Spaniards  in  1850,  while  the  Valenciana  shaft 
is  a  hundred  years  old,  and  yet  one  can  read  in  the 
Mining  and  Scientific  Press  of  forty  years  ago  that  there 
was  jubilation  on  the  Comstock  when  the  Ophir  shaft 
reached  400  feet,  and  that  doubts  were  entertained 
whether  there  would  be  machinery  able  to  cope  with 
any  greater  depth.  Yet  eventually  the  men  of  Ne- 
vada went  down  3,250  feet. 


C^afUr24 


A  OkASO  WEW— REMIXDE31S  OF  A  FCMUEX  THE— 
EXGLISH  EXTEkPRISE. 

■  ROM  tlie  stone  balooTtr  or 
;  miradcv  of  the  Raras  mine,  there 
j  is  a  splendid  view  of  the  coontrr 
I  around  Guanajuato.  I  shall  try 
1  to  describe  it. 

In  the  distance  to  the  left, 
I  the  bold  ridge  of  La  Bura,  a 
y,y-^  scarp  of  rhyolite  tuff,  is  sil- 
houetted against  the  clear  blue  sk>-.  Under  the 
overhanging  brows  of  these  cliffs  and  protected  from 
the  weather,  there  are  figures  of  heroic  size  painted 
on  the  rock;  they  represent  a  red  devil  and  his  retinue 
tempting  the  Christ.  In  the  cavern  adjoining  these 
are  several  paintings  of  St.  Ignacio  and  the  Virgin, 
done  in  color  with  as  much  skill  as  the  similar  work 
to  be  seen  in  the  churches.  This  mountain  top — from 
which  may  be  seen  Guanajuato,  Silao,  Leon,  and  the 
wide  expanse  of  the  rich  Bajio — was  supposed  to 
suggest  that  from  which  El  Salvador  was  shown  the 
kingdoms  of  this  world  and  their  glory,  in  the  great 
temptation.  Lower  down,  near  the  talus  slope,  the 
other  temptations  are  depicted  in  a  crude  way.  It 
is  not  said  that  the  riches  of  the  Veta  Madre  were 


MEXICAN  ARCHITECTURE  185 

offered;  they  have  tempted  many  men  to  their  un- 
doing during  the  last  two  hundred  years. 

On  the  rounded  foothills  that  extend  from  the 
base  of  La  Bufa  begins  the  residence  portion  of 
Guanajuato;  it  is  called  La  Presa,  because  of  its 
dominant  feature,  a  big  dam  with  an  encircling  park. 
Seen  from  a  distance,  there  is  a  gleam  of  pink  walls 
among  cedars  and  the  tops  of  some  church-towers; 
then  the  crest  of  a  ridge  intervenes.  At  the  foot  of 
this  and  in  the  Canada  below  the  Rayas,  there  is  a 
cluster  of  brown  ruins.  La  Duran,  the  oldest  hacienda 
de  beneficio  in  Guanajuato,  and  contemporaneous  with 
the  discovery  of  the  Patio  process,  in  1557.  A  hun- 
dred yards  below  it,  the  bed  of  the  stream  is  crossed 
by  the  slender  line  of  an  aqueduct,  which  now  serves 
to  carry  the  pipe-line  that  brings  the  water-supply  of 
the  town.  The  six  pillars  are  capped  by  a  series  of 
broad  keystones,  which  do  duty  as  arches.  This  is 
a  characteristic  type  of  Mexican  architecture."  Be- 
low the  aqueduct,  the  Canada  turns  to  the  right  and 
becomes  fringed  by  Peruvian  pepper  trees,  and  beyond 
them  is  the  big  hollow  in  which  the  town  of  Guana- 
juato lies  huddled — ^a  multitudinous  complex  of  walls 
— pink,  yellow,  and  white — with  red  Moorish  cam- 
paniles.    The  narrow  river-bed  is  marked  by  a  con- 


*•  The  'flat  arch*  is  held  by  some  to  be  the  oldest  and  simplest  expedient 
for  supporting  a  structure ;  it  is  supposed  to  have  originated  from  the  big 
stone  placed  over  a  doorway  in  the  days  before  the  idea  of  the  true  arch 
was  developed.  Other  engineers,  for  instance,  Mr.  Carlos  Van  Law,  arc 
of  the  opinion  that  the  flat  arch  was  a  development  from  the  true  ardi, 
and  that,  in  form  and  principle,  it  is  the  real  origin  of  our  modern  'inven- 
tion' of  fire-proof  floor  construction  with  its  so-called  arch-tiles. 


i86  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

gestion  of  brown  walls;  on  the  onlooking  slopes 
there  is  a  decrease  in  the  density  of  building  and  an 
increase  of  verdure,  until  the  top  of  the  ridges  is 
reached,  where  there  are  no  dwellings,  but  only  the 
dark  red  earth  of  the  cornfields,  defined  by  hedges  of 
organ  cactus.  Surrounding  the  town  and  overlook- 
ing it,  are  golden  brown  hills,  with  contours  deeply 
eroded  and  steep  ravines,  the  culminating  point  being 
the  cone  of  Cubilete.  The  broken  sky-line  is  carved  in 
diabase,  and  the  nearer  slopes  are  eroded  in  the  con- 
glomerate that  lies  on  the  flanks  of  the  main  ridge. 

In  front,  beyond  the  huddled  habitations  of  man 
and  the  brown  hills,  crossed  by  the  traveling  shadows 
of  clouds  that  fleck  the  vivid  blue  of  the  sky,  stretches 
the  purple  interval  that  marks  the  Bajio,  a  great 
valley  along  which  runs  the  Mexican  Central — an 
unromantic  railroad,  with  slow  trains,  sloppy  Chinese 
cooking,  and  a  most  distressing  service.  Beyond  it, 
like  the  good  things  promised  on  the  other  side  of  this 
vale  of  tears,  is  the  blue  line  of  the  Cordilleras,  throb- 
bing with  soft  enchantment  and  pulsating  with  the 
romance  of  mining  that  shall  not  die. 

When  luncheon  was  over  we  left  the  mirador^  and 
in  doing  so  passed  through  the  remains  of  a  pretty 
garden.  It  seemed  strange  to  see  the  old-fashioned 
gilly-flower,  rose  bushes,  and  violets  among  these 
mine  buildings.  They  had  a  story  to  tell  of  the  Eng- 
lishmen who  planted  them.  There  was  a  time,  from 
1824  to  1850,  when  English  capital  irrigated  the  min- 
ing camps  of  Mexico,  and  among  them  Guanajuato. 


REMINDERS  OF  ANOTHER  DAY  187 

Owing  to  the  costly  methods  of  operation,  the  attempt 
to  employ  only  the  comparatively  expensive  imported 
white  labor,  and  the  lack  of  experience  in  treating  the 
silicious  silver  ores,  these  early  efforts  were  generally 
unprofitable,  although  with  their  characteristic 
dogged  determination,  the  English  companies  con- 
tinued to  operate  the  mines,  with  steadily  diminishing 
intensity,  for  many  years.  While  active  work  on  any 
important  mine  ceased  fifty  years  ago,  they  held  on 
to  the  San  Cayetano  until  within  a  few  months,  when 
that  property  was  transferred  by  the  United  Mexican 
Mines  Association,  Ltd.,  organized  in  1814,  to  a  new 
American  company.  Between  the  English  period, 
already  defined,  and  the  present  American  dispensa- 
tion, there  was  a  good  deal  of  work  done  under  Mexi- 
can companies,  although  these  lacked  the  enterprise 
of  the  heroic  days  at  the  very  beginning  of  the  nine- 
teenth century. 


€fyipX<it  25 


THE  GREAT  SHAFTS  OF  THE  VETA  MADRE— THE 
RAYAS  — THE  CATA  — THE  TIRO  GENERAL  — WHAT 
BRYAN  SAID  OF  IT— HOW  IT  WAS  UNWATERED— 
A  WONDERFUL  SPECTACLE. 


'  HE  four  great  shafts  on  the 
J  Veta  Madre  are  the  Rayas,  the 
I  Cata,  and  the  two  pits  of  the 
Valenciana,  namely,  those  of 
I  San  Jose  and  Guadalupe. 

The  Rayas  is  octagonal  and 
'  38  feet  in  diameter,  with  a  depth 
I  of  1,400  feet.  Among  the  old 
machinery  to  be  seen  near-by  is  a  Cornish  hoisting 
engine  of  1835  built  by  Harvey  &  Co.,  at  Hayle,  Corn- 
wall; alongside  are  two  Lancashire  boilers.  In  an- 
other building  is  a  first-motion  hoist  built  by  the 
Union  Iron  Works,  of  San  Francisco,  in  1866;  it  is 
one  of  the  best  of  the  old  style,  with  jaw-brake  and 
flat  wire-ropes.  The  head-frame  is  built  with  timber 
struts  footed  in  cemented  masonry.  This  was  erected 
in  1887,  when  the  Rayas  mine  was  unwatered.  But 
there  is  a  suggestion  of  methods  used  long  before 
even  this  old  machinery  was  set  to  work;  the  sites  of 
the  horse-whims  used  by  the  Mexicans  is  marked  by 
a  tablet  inscribed  to  the  patron  saint  of  each  operator. 


THE  CATA  SHAFT  189 

One,  for  instance,  reads  "San  Francisco.  Nov.  1, 
1820." 

The  Cata  shaft  is  280  metres,  or  about  925  feet, 
deep  and  20  feet  wide.  At  the  collar,  and  for  50  feet 
down,  it  is  octagonal,  with  sides  of  masonry.  I  went 
down  in  a  cage  running  on  wire-rope  guides,  which 
gave  one  a  feeling  of  detachment,  for  in  places,  below 
the  portion  that  is  lined  with  masonry,  the  pit  is  30 
to  40  feet  wide.  A  native  boy  held  a  torch  to  illu- 
minate the  distant  sides  of  the  shaft.  The  torch  used 
in  the  mines  is  worth  describing:  It  is  called  a  mecha 
and  consists  of  40  native  candles,  made  of  tallow  and 
yarn,  which  are  pounded  into  a  mass  and  wrapped  in 
a  cloth  with  wood  splints  to  stiffen  it.  Outside  of 
this  is  a  wrapping  of  riata  or  twine,  obtained  from  the 
maguey  plant.  The  torch  is  two  feet  long  and  2^ 
inches  thick;  it  is  wetted  outside,  so  that  the  tallow 
will  congeal  as  it  drips.  By  the  light  of  it,  when  we 
reached  the  bottom  of  the  shaft,  we  saw  the  Aldrich 
quintuplex  pump,  made  by  the  AUentown  Rolling 
Mills,  Pennsylvania.  It  consists  of  a  battery  of  five 
vertical  plungers,  all  the  five  cranks  inside,  with  two 
post-bearings  outside.  This  pump  is  said  to  be  doing 
good  work,  lifting  300  gallons  per  minute  to  the 
drainage  adit,  880  feet  overhead. 

The  San  Jose  shaft  was  also  known  as  the  tiro 
general  or  general  shaft  of  the  Valenciana ;  it  has  been 
mentioned  already  in  recounting  the  early  history  of 
Guanajuato.  It  is  an  impressive  hole.  There  is  none 
like  it.     It  is  octagonal,  ZZ  feet  in  diameter  and  lined 


igo  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

with  masonry  for  100  feet.  The  bottom  is  at  525 
metres  or  1,730  feet.  Water-level  stood  at  198  metres 
or  650  feet  at  the  time  of  my  visit.  This  is  the  shaft 
of  v^hich  it  was  truly  said — among  others,  so  I  was 
informed,  by  Robert  Bunsen  at  Leadville  in  1881 — 
that  a  man  can  read  his  paper  at  the  bottom  by  the 
light  of  the  sun,  because  here  in  the  tropics  during  the 
summer  solstice  the  sun  for  two  weeks  is  vertically 
overhead.  Early  in  July,  the  mist  caused  by  the  sun's 
heat  striking  directly  on  the  water  at  the  bottom  of 
the  shaft,  causes  a  beautiful  rainbow  every  day  at  noon. 
This  is  the  shaft  also  of  which  William  Jennings 
Bryan — who  visited  Mexico  after  his  first  silver  cam- 
paign and  was  royally  entertained — said,  that  he  had 
never  before  seen  a  hole  big  enough  and  deep  enough 
to  bury  the  gold  standard.  But  he  said  nothing  at  all 
about  the  shallowness  of  the  oratory  of  the  river 
Platte!  However  deep  the  shaft  may  be,  it  will  be 
filled  up  some  day  unless  tourists  are  forbidden  a 
near  approach.  From  time  out  of  mind  it  has  been 
deemed  great  sport  to  throw  stones  down  this  vast 
pit  and  listen  to  the  reverberations.  I  offered  my 
tribute  to  the  Tiro  General.  First  one  hears  the 
sound  of  rushing  wind — the  echo  of  the  passage  of 
the  stone  through  the  air;  then  there  comes  a  roar 
as  it  strikes  the  side  of  the  shaft,  and  this  is  followed 
by  a  crash  as  it  hits  the  water.  (In  the  light  of  later 
events,  here  in  San  Francisco,  I  can  tell  my  friends 
at  Guanajuato  that  these  sounds  resemble  the  on- 


The  Great  Shaft 
I.ooKiNc  Down  ; 
BY    THE    WaIEB 


THE  TIRO   GENERAL  191 

coming  of  an  earthquake,  to  anyone  living  near  the 
actual  line  of  faulting.) 

The  shaft  is  octagonal,  this  shape  being  due  to 
the  method  of  hoisting  prevailing  at  the  time  it  was 
sunk.  Around  it,  at  a  radius  of  150  feet,  can  still  be 
seen  the  ruined  gables  of  the  eight  houses,  each  of 
which  contained  a  malacate  or  horse-whim.  A  tnalacate 
is  said  by  the  Mexicans  to  be  operated  by  fuerza  de 
sangre  or  force  of  blood,  as  compared  to  the  fuerza  de 
vapor  or  steam-hoist.  The  typical  malacate  employed 
in  this  work  was  usually  a  vertical  drum  of  oak  or 
mesquite,  from  12  to  16  feet  in  diameter  and  12  to  14 
feet  high,  with  a  wooden  central  axis  supported  on 
iron  gudgeons,  top  and  bottom.  The  lower  end  of 
this  drum  was  about  three  feet  off  the  ground  and  to 
it  were  fixed  four  heavy  tnesquite  sweeps  of  15-ft. 
radius.  To  the  end  of  each  sweep  were  harnessed 
four  horses,  in  crude  rawhide  harness,  driven  by  a 
boy  (seated  on  each  sweep)  at  a  gallop  around  the 
circle.  Originally  a  hemp  rope — later,  a  steel  cable 
— was  wound  eight  or  ten  turns  around  the  drum, 
both  ends  depending  in  the  shaft  and  hoisting  in  bal- 
ance. The  trip  completed,  the  horses  were  reversed 
on  the  sweep  and  the  return  trip  commenced.  As, 
with  the  depths  worked,  the  empty  bucket,  plus  rope, 
considerably  overbalanced  the  load  when  the  latter 
neared  the  surface,  the  driving  boys  usually  had  to 
hop  down  from  their  perch  toward  the  end  of  each 
trip  and  restrain  the  motion  of  the  drum  by  holding 


192  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

back  while  the  horses  were  turned  out  to  one  side  and 
disconnected,  all  without  stopping  the  hoisting. 
There  was  no  brake  on  any  of  these  old  malacates;  when 
it  was  desired  to  hold  them  at  any  given  point,  an  at- 
tachment was  made  to  the  nearest  fixed  timber. 

Rawhide  buckets,  made  by  sewing  together  two 
bulls'  hides,  were  used  exclusively.  In  these,  both  ore 
and  water  were  hoisted,  and  the  experience  of  Ameri- 
can engineers  has  proved  that  for  taking  water  out  of 
shafts  in  sinking,  the  rawhide  is  better  than  anything 
else,  being  lighter  and  easier  to  handle  in  proportion 
to  the  quantity  of  water  raised  than  any  other  form 
of  bailer. 

Over  the  shaft  stands  the  shaky  head-frame  built 
in  1872  during  the  unwatering  of  the  mine  by  the 
engineers  of  the  Mexican  company.  They  started 
with  four  winches,  not  over  20  h.p.  apiece,  and  fooled 
along  for  nine  years,  finally  getting  the  water  out; 
then,  in  1881,  they  purchased  a  good  Fraser  & 
Chalmers'  double-drum  double-cylinder  winding  en- 
gine of  120  h.p.  Mr.  Dwight  Furness,  who  was  in 
our  party,  told  me  that  when  he  visited  the  mine  in 
1888,  the  yard  was  full  of  women  engaged  in  sorting 
ore.  They  sent  300  tons  of  this  ore  to  the  mills,  the 
remainder  being  shipped  to  Germany.  These  opera- 
tions stopped  in  1892,  and  the  water  has  been  rising 
in  the  shaft  ever  since.  I  saw  some  of  the  little  hoists 
used  in  1872;  they  had  tooth-gearing  made  of  mor- 
tised wood;   they  came  from  Manchester,  and  were 


■      Tiro     (iENKRAf..         OLR      irKAh-I-~HAMK.     KOCLEH     HOUSI 


•""  Chimkcts 

*^« 

'       „.;^-^^'%l^ 

31  ,^J 

k--^'  '^ 

UNWATERING  THE  VALENQANA  193 

brought  on  ox-carts  from  Vera  Cruz,  a  distance  of 
fully  500  miles. 

A  little  farther  north  is  the  other  great  shaft,  that 
of  Guadalupe,  which  is  22  feet  in  diameter,  and  325 
metres,  or  1,072  feet  deep.  It  has  a  hexagonal  collar 
built  of  masonry;  through  it  a  great  deal  of  material 
was  hoisted,  the  dump  being  the  largest  on  the  Veta 
Madre,  containing  350,000  tons. 

The  unwatering  of  the  Valenciana  shaft  must 
have  been  a  wonderful  spectacle ;  the  story  of  it  is  told 
in  the  old  company's  records.  When  they  beg^n, 
there  were  four  steam-hoists  raising  as  many  iron 
buckets  restrained  by  wire  guides.  The  water  being 
high  in  the  shaft,  it  was  not  possible  to  anchor  the 
glides  to  the  bottom,  so  they  were  attached  to  a  big 
wooden  float,  which  was  weighted  until  it  sank. 
Then  the  upper  ends  of  the  guide-ropes  were  run 
over  sheaves,  in  order  that  they  might  be  paid  out  as 
the  water  was  lowered.  As  long  as  only  one  hoist 
was  running,  all  went  finely;  but  when  all  four  got  to 
work,  the  apparatus,  that  is,  the  float,  g^ide-ropes, 
and  toneles  (bailing-buckets),  commenced  to  twist 
until  the  whole  lot  of  them  were  completely  wound 
up  in  an  utterly  hopeless  tangle.  The  bailing  opera- 
tions had  removed  the  water  unequally  over  the  area 
of  the  shaft,  and  this  had  created  a  vortex  that  caused 
the  float  to  move  round,  twisting  the  16  ropes  used 
as  glides  and  the  eight  more  employed  in  balance- 
hoisting,  until  with  rapidly  increasing  gyrations,  the 


194  AMONG   THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

float  became  the  base  of  a  tangle  that  baffled  descrip- 
tion and  made  the  engineers  hysterical. 

After  the  unwatering  was  completed,  in  1881, 
Miguel  Rul  made  a  speech"  before  the  Guanajuato 
Society  of  Engineers,  and  in  that  speech  he  dwelt 
upon  their  early  troubles.  The  speech  is  on  record. 
He  describes  the  cylindrical  iron  bailers,  made  of  gal- 
vanized sheets  of  No.  22  iron,  with  wooden  bottoms 
and  rawhide  valves ;  he  tells  of  the  various  difficulties 
with  the  valve  mechanism  and  over-winding,  and  then 
he  finally  comes  to  the  trouble  connected  with  the 
attachment  for  the  eight  wire-glides  below  the  sur- 
face of  the  water  in  the  shaft.  I  quote  his  words: 
"On  making  the  general  trial  with  the  four  hoisters, 
after  many  partial  trials  which  had  resulted  well,  we 
noticed  a  phenomenon  which  disconcerted  us.  The 
effect  of  the  different  movements  on  the  single  timber- 
frame,  to  which  the  guides  were  attached  below 
water-level,  commenced  to  stir  the  water  and  to  pro- 
duce a  tumultuous  motion  of  rotation,  which  finished 
by  resembling  a  water-spout  and  winding  up  the 
cables  and  glides,  completely  interrupting  the  ma- 
noeuvres. Many  times  we  four  engineers  repeated  the 
trial  through  a  whole  day,  and  the  following  day  with 
only  three  (since  he  who  recites  this  fell  ill),  without 
obtaining  any  favorable  result.  The  three  com- 
panions came  to  the  bedside  of  the  patient  com- 
pletely disheartened  and  sad,  as  was  to  be  expected, 

"This  speech,  before  the  Guanajuato  Society  of  Engineers,  was  pub- 
lished in  their  Bulletin,  and  is  dated  August  5,  1888. 


EUREKA !  195 

but  at  the  same  instant  the  same  exclamation  burst 
from  the  mouths  of  all,  the  very  syllables  falling  to- 
gether, without  anyone  of  the  four  being  able  to  say, 
'I  was  the  first  to  speak';  we  shouted,  'We  will  secure 
the  fixity  of  the  frame  with  diagonal  props  resting  against 
the  walls  of  the  shaff!  This  common  idea  was  the 
equivalent  of  the  Eureka!  of  the  Greeks.  It  raised  the 
patient  from  his  bed,  re-established  happiness  and, 
when  put  in  operation,  it  gave  the  much  desired  re- 
sult. The  ninth  day  of  June,  1873,  the  unwatering 
was  inaugurated  with  great  solemnity." 

What  a  scene  it  must  have  been;  the  courtyard 
fairly  buzzing  with  the  noise  of  the  little  hoists,  the 
shouts  of  the  bewildered  engineers,  the  imprecations 
of  the  workmen,  and  the  tremendous  turmoil  of  the 
water  in  the  big  shaft  as  the  g^ide-ropes  twisted  into 
a  hopeless  coil !  And  then  the  silence  when  the  whole 
came  to  a  futile  conclusion,  the  operations  remain- 
ing suspended  until  those  three  mine  captains,  gath- 
ered around  the  bed  of  their  invalided  comrade,  were 
suddenly  inspired  with  the  happy  solution  of  their 
trouble.  The  courtyard  is  empty  now,  the  waters 
have  again  invaded  the  shaft,  and  the  vertical  rays 
of  sunlight  once  more  pierce  the  gloom  within  the 
stagnant  pit. 


C^ter  26 


THE  MALACATE  AND  ITS  OPERATION—THE  AVIO 
SYSTEM— ELECTRIC  POWER— A  CURIOUS  DIFFI- 
CULTY—HOW THE  EAGLES  INTERRUPT  THE  CUR- 
RENT—A  STRIKE. 


;  S  a  rule  the  miner  does  not 
[  choose  the  top  of  a  hill  for  the 
site  of  his  shaft;  he  goes  where 
he  can  economize  on  his  sink- 
ing, without  depriving  himself 
of  the  chance  to  distribute  the 
\  waste  rock.  At  Guanajuato  the 
:  shafts  are  on  knolls,  some  of 
which  rise  to  the  dignity  of  hills.  The  reason  for 
this  was  the  space  the  Spanish  miners  wanted  for 
their  malacates  or  horse-whims.  At  each  shaft  there 
were  so  many  of  these  that  a  yard  of  100-foot  radius 
was  required.  When  this  had  been  planned  they  would 
begin  to  construct  a  wall  just  beyond  the  end  of  the 
arms  of  the  malacate,  the  wall  being  built  with  the  waste 
(extracted  from  the  shaft),  which  was  then  filled  into 
the  enclosure  until  the  yard  had  a  level  surface.  The 
haciendas  were  rarely  near  the  mine,  they  were  erected 
in  the  town,  for  the  sake  of  safety  and  convenience. 
The  ore  was  carried  on  mules  to  the  patio  establish- 
ments, which  were  custom  mills. 


/^^ 


THE  AVIO  CONTRACTS  197 

The  mines  were  not  worked  by  their  owners  but 
by  parties  who  secured  a  lease  in  perpetuity,  termed 
an  avio^  which  gave  them  (the  aviadores)  the  right  to 
do  what  they  pleased  in  the  mine,  and  to  make  con- 
tracts for  the  disposal  of  the  ore.  The  aviadores 
charged,  as  a  lien  against  the  mine,  all  expense  of 
whatever  nature  they  incurred,  such  as  development, 
operation,  taxes,  plant — in  fact,  everything.  Against 
these  items  they  credited  the  net  returns  obtained 
from  the  sale  of  ore,  but  being  able  to  dispose  of  it 
wherever  they  pleased,  they  built  haciendas  on  their 
own  account  and  then  made  numerous  contracts  for 
the  treatment  of  the  ore,  and  mixed  the  several  grades 
of  it  so  that  the  yield  could  not  meet  the  treatment 
charges.  Then,  as  the  owner  never  got  a  centavo 
unless  there  was  a  balance  to  credit,  he  never  received 
anything.  The  mine  ran  up  an  ever-increasing  debt 
until  it  amounted  to  an  impossible  sum ;  thus,  for  ex- 
ample, in  the  group  of  mines  held  by  the  Guanajuato 
Reduction  &  Mines  Company,  the  indebtedness 
amounted  to  6,000,000  pesos,  most  of  this  sum  being 
entered  against  four  properties,  namely,  the  Rayas, 
Mellado,  Cata,  and  Valenciana. 

The  American  company  bought  the  avio  contracts 
and  the  debt  becomes  payable  to  these  new  owners; 
the  company  inherits  all  the  old  contracts,  including 
the  agreement  for  ore-treatment ;  it  will  never  have  to 
pay  the  former — almost  nebulous — owners  unless  the 
profits  to  the  mine  from  sale  of  ore  to  reduction  works 
first  repay  the  accumulated  interest  and  then  grow 


198  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

into  a  surplus.  All  the  contracts  are  based  on  the  old 
treatment  charge,  which  was:  360  grams  silver  per 
ton  to  be  deducted  from  contents  of  ore,  the  balance 
to  be  paid  for  at  the  rate  of  3  centavos  per  gram ;  and 
the  gold  contents  up  to  6  gjams  per  ton  to  be  paid  for 
at  the  rate  of  30  centavos  per  gram;  between  6  and  15 
grams,  the  payment  to  be  45  centavos.  As  the  aver- 
age ore  of  the  best  mines  contains  350  to  400  grams 
silver  and  3  grams  gold,  it  is  pretty  obvious  that  the 
aviadores  will  not  have  to  make  an  accounting.  Several 
attempts,  naturally,  have  been  made  to  break  these 
curious  Spanish  contracts,  but  in  vain.  The  aviadores 
are  the  unquestioned  owners  of  the  mines  today  and 
no  court  can  invalidate  their  peculiar  rights. 

The  new  enterprises  at  Guanajuato  have  swal- 
lowed the  aviosj  and  all  the  big  mines  have  passed  out 
of  the  hands  of  the  native  population.  It  is  a  fact  that 
the  Mexicans  look  upon  the  American  operations  with 
scepticism,  largely  because  earlier  efforts  made  by  for- 
eigners came  to  grief.  They  are  inclined  to  regard 
with  humor  the  removal  of  dumps  and  the  working  of 
abandoned  mines;  in  consequence,  although  the  old 
work  was  done  by  their  own  people,  only  a  few  local 
merchants  have  any  financial  interest  in  the  present 
profitable  undertakings. 

The  introduction  of  electric  power  has  been  of 
great  help  in  the  re-opening  of  the  old  mines  at 
Guanajuato.  It  used  to  cost  400  pesos  per  horse- 
power per  annum,  burning  oak  for  fuel  and  using 
compound  engines.     Now  the  rate  is  five  pesos  per 


A  Bit  of  Old  Mexico 


■ 

wp 

-^ 

^4-^'-. 

* 

'vmwifi*...^ 

A    DCSTANT    VitW    (^^-   CiVANAJU, 


INTRODUCTION   OF   ELECTRIC   POWER        199 

horse-power  month  for  the  right  to  use  electricity, 
and  0.026  centavos  per  kilowatt-hour,  the  latter  be- 
ing equal  to  about  five  pesos  more  per  month  if  run- 
ning steadily,  making  the  cost  10  pesos  per  h.p. 
month.  The  power  comes  from  the  falls  of  Zamora, 
on  the  Duero  river,  in  the  State  of  Michoacan  and 
101  miles  from  Guanajuato.  There  45,000  to  60,000 
volts  are  generated,  with  a  step-down  to  15,000  volts 
and  again  to  440  volts.  Thus  4,000  h.p.  is  generated, 
and  another  plant  of  equal  capacity  is  about  to  be 
erected.  Time  flies.  This  must  now  be  completed, 
for  I  speak  of  more  than  a  year  ago  (November, 
1905),  when  I  visited  Guanajuato. 

The  natives  were  troublesome  at  first;  they  cut 
and  stole  several  hundred  metres  of  copper  wire. 
Two  men  were  killed  by  a  live  wire,  after  public  warn- 
ing of  the  danger.  There  was  also  some  difficulty 
at  first  in  transmitting  power,  by  reason  of  the  sud- 
den change  in  temperature  at  dawn,  when  there  is  a 
rise  of  15°  C.  This  causes  condensation  of  moisture 
on  the  porcelain  insulators,  which  remain  cool  after 
the  temperature  of  the  surrounding  air  has  risen.  The 
moisture  on  the  insulators  is  sufficient  to  cause  the 
current  to  short-circuit  between  the  iron  pin  of  the 
insulator  and  the  cross-arm  of  the  iron  tower.  This 
happens  between  5  and  6  a.  m.  The  only  way  to  stop 
it  is  to  turn  off  the  current,  so  that  there  is  a  break 
for  an  hour.  However,  energetic  investigation  into 
the  subject  will  solve  this  difficulty,  a  return  to 
wooden  pins  being  possible.     At  first  the  break  in 


aoo  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF    MEXICO 

transmission  was  attributed  to  the  malice  of  dis- 
charged employees  and  then  to  the  eagles,  many  of 
which  were  found  dead  at  the  base  of  the  towers. 
They  alight  on  the  top  of  the  iron  supports  at  dawn 
and  stretch  their  wings  so  as  to  arc  across  the  wires, 
being  killed  instantly,  but  establishing  a  short-circuit 
through  themselves  before  they  drop. 


Cljof  let  27 


THE  PEREGRINA  MINE— OLD  SPANISH  WORKINGS- 
SHRINES  UNDERGROUND  — ACETYLENE  LAMPS - 
SAMPLING  A  DUMP. 


'  N  the  Peregrina  mine,  near 
'  Guanajuato,  I  had  a  good  oppor- 
I  tunity  of  examining  some  typi- 
f  cal  old  Spanish-Mexican  work- 
ings. We  entered  by  a  door 
into  a  small  gallery  and  thence 
'  through  the  opening  or  mouth 
\  of  the  mine  {boca  de  mina)  that 
descended  into  the  darkness.  The  way  was  down  a 
twisting  stairway  that  zig-zagged  within  the  vein- 
walls;  the  steps  were  laid  in  lime  mortar,  the  general 
slope  varying  between  45  and  55".  Such  passages 
are  common  in  the  old  Mexican  mines;  they  are  made 
in  slopes,  the  filling  of  which  has  been  used  to  build 
the  masonry  of  the  stairway.  At  intervals,  shrines 
are  to  be  seen;  there  was  one  30  feet  from  the  en- 
trance, just  at  the  end  of  daylight,  and  there  was  a 
principal  shrine  in  a  parapet  above  the  big  workings 
{obra  grande)  at  the  lOO-ft.  level.  Every  shrine  is 
guarded  by  lighted  candles,  left  there  by  the  miners; 
and  it  is  said  that  they  will  even  go  up  and  down  the 
underground  passages  in  the  dark  in  order  to  save 
candles  for  this  purpose.    At  about  5  o'clock,  when 


202  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

the  shifts  change,  there  are  150  to  200  candles  burning- 
before  the  principal  shrine,  forming  a  grand  illumina- 
tion, the  effect  of  which  is  heightened  by  the  cavern- 
ous old  stopes  that  yawn  in  front  of  the  sacred  image. 
As  they  pass  it,  the  men  stop  and  make  a  genuflection^ 
with  the  sign  of  the  cross.  Descending  farther,  the 
stairway  becomes  wider  as  it  passes  into  the  big  stope 
and  we  noticed  another  shrine — a  cross  set  in  a  frame, 
with  a  solitary  candle;  this  marks  the  spot  where  a 
man  carrying  drills  {refacctionero)  tripped  at  the  head 
of  a  series  of  steps  and  fell  fatally. 

The  big  stope  is  a  cavernous  excavation  250  feet 
long,  by  450  feet  deep,  and  8  to  25  feet  wide.  The 
footway  at  the  end  of  the  first  stairs,  about  100  feet 
from  daylight,  is  blasted  in  the  wall  of  the  lode  and 
is  provided  with  a  parapet  of  masonry.  Leaning  over 
it,  one  looks  into  an  abyss,  the  effect  being  like  a 
miniature  Cornice  road  underground.  The  lode  is 
nearly  vertical,  changing  from  80"^  W,  at  the  south 
end  of  the  mine,  to  a  dip  of  70""  E,  at  the  north  end. 
The  ore  is  from  8  to  20  feet  wide ;  it  consists  of  quartz^ 
partly  ribboned  and  traversing  a  breccia,  the  edges 
of  which  show  replacement ;  it  follows  a  line  of  frac- 
ture in  the  breccia;  where  the  vein  is  tight  and  the 
quartz  massive,  the  silver  is  highest  in  proportion  to 
gold,  ranging  from  50  to  55%.  Going  south  the  lode 
becomes  more  open,  the  vugs  contain  clay,  and  there 
is  such  evidence  of  leaching  as  is  usually  seen  close  to 
the  surface.  In  this  part  of  the  mine  the  proportion 
of  silver  to  gold  is  smaller.    The  Mexicans  could  not 


^^ 

fe  ^.-^ismi:!! 

3!^ 

1:  33 

Hacienda  San  Francisco  de  Pastita 


ACETYLENE   LAMPS  203 

work  the  gold  ore  because  the  haciendas  paid  nothing 
for  gold  and  the  ore-buyers  gave  only  30  centavos  per 
gram,  when  it  is  really  worth  66  cents  or  132  centavos 
per  gram.  This  ore  cannot  be  sorted  like  that  which 
is  rich  in  silver,  the  argentite  being  visible  in  threads 
and  spots,  while  the  metallic  gold  is  disseminated  in 
particles  too  small  to  be  seen.  The  argentite  some- 
times impregnates  the  chalcedonic  quartz  so  deli- 
cately as  to  make  a  moss  agate. 

Our  progress  through  the  mine  was  lighted  by 
two  peones  carrying  meckas  or  torches.  Mr.  E.  P. 
Ryan,  the  superintendent  of  the  property,  carried  an 
acetylene  lamp,  so  that  the  old  and  the  new  were  well 
contrasted.  The  time  may  come  when  acetylene  will 
be  in  general  use  underground,  but  it  will  not  become 
popular  until  the  present  lamp  is  superseded  by  some- 
thing better.  As  it  is  now,  you  have  a  small  can  that 
holds  the  granulated  calcium  carbide  and  to  this 
water  is  added;  then  the  cover  is  securely  replaced, 
and  the  chemical  action  produces  the  acetylene  gas, 
which  is  lit  as  it  escapes  through  a  small  aperture. 
The  smell  of  it  gave  me  a  headache,  both  in  Mexico 
and  in  the  Lake  Superior  copper  mines,  the  two  dis- 
tricts where  I  used  acetylene  lamps.  But  there  is  a 
newer  invention  that  promises  to  prevent  the  escape 
of  gas  and  the  consequent  headache.  The  emission 
of  gas  is  nicely  regulated  and  all  of  it  is  burnt  in  the 
process  of  illumination. 

We  met  boys  {tanateros)  carrying  waste  in  tanates^ 
the  bags  made  of  the  fibre  taken  from  the  ixtle  plant. 


204  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

a  variety  of  maguey.  We  were  passed  by  other  natives 
descending  to  the  place  of  their  work,  whistling  as 
they  went  at  a  trot  down  the  rough  steps/'  Then,  in 
contrast  to  such  breathing  antiquities,  we  found  a 
couple  of  young  mining  engineers"  who  were  taking 
samples  in  a  thoroughly  modern  way,  aided  by  Mexi- 
can miners  to  do  the  moiling.  The  quartz  ore  was 
hard  and  10  to  15  feet  wide,  so  that  two  moils  were 
blunted  for  each  foot  of  sampling.  They  used  the 
straw  hats  of  the  barreteros  to  catch  the  sample.  As 
we  proceeded,  I  could  see  by  the  white  channeling 
across  the  dark  drifts  that  the  work  was  being  well 
done. 

Speaking  of  sampling,  reminds  me  of  the  old 
dumps  and  the  way  they  were  tested.  At  the  Pere- 
grina,  this  work  was  done  by  Mr.  George  A.  Schroter. 
He  did  it  with  system  and  care.  An  aggregate  of 
250  feet  of  shaft-sinking  was  required ;  one  shaft  was 
as  much  as  70  feet  deep,  the  usual  depth  being  40  feet. 
Each  shaft  was  3  by  4  feet  in  the  clear;  it  was  kept 
open  by  small  timbers,  4  by  6  inches  in  cross-section. 
Two-inch  round  oak  spiling  was  driven  over  a  'bridge' 
by  double-hand  hammers,  as  fast  as  the  ground 
yielded,  in  consequence  of  the  removal  of  the  material 
at  the  bottom.  The  hoisting  was  done  in  baskets. 
The  average  cost  was  $1.25  for  the  first  metre  and 
then  25  cents  extra  for  each  succeeding  metre  of 


"A  G)mishman  thinks  it  unlucky  to  whistle  when  underground. 
*'  G.  A.  Kennedy,  of  the  G)lorado  School  of  Mines,  and  L.  C.  Pearce, 
of  the  Michigan  College  of  Mines. 


A  Big  Stope  i.v  the  Peregrc.va  Mj 


-N 


BUYING  OF  ORE  205 

sinking.  The  material  obtained  from  each  metre  of 
shaft  was  kept  separate  and  sorted,  for  25  centavos 
per  ton.  This  sorting  was  done  by  women,  who  made 
three  piles,  consisting  respectively  of  fine  ore,  lump 
quartz,  and  waste.  On  the  day  of  my  visit  there 
were  60  to  70  women  at  work,  handling  100  to  110 
tons  per  day.  They  are  better  than  men — more 
steady — because  they  do  not  stop  to  smoke  a  ciga- 
rette; nor  do  they  steal  as  much  as  their  husbands 
and  brothers.  The  sorting  is  done  with  a  3-lb.  ham- 
mer, a  horn  spoon,  and  a  wicker  basket  {chiquihuite) 
reenforced  with  hide,  holding  about  30  pounds  of  ore. 
The  dump  contained  $8  to  $9  per  ton,  70%  of  this 
assay-value  being  in  gold.  In  the  open-cut,  where  the 
ore  is  mixed  with  wall-rock,  the  assays  averaged  about 
$4.50  per  ton.  Underground,  it  was  found  that  the 
filling  of  old  stopes  ranged  between  $5  and  $10,  being 
highest  in  the  southern  part  of  the  mine,  where  the 
ore  is  more  difficult  to  sort. 

The  buying  used  to  be  done  entirely  at  sight,  the 
grade  and  weight  were  both  guessed,  with  plentiful 
allowance  for  error  and  deception.  The  buscon  or 
tributer  would  make  a  pile  and  put  big  chunks  of  good 
ore  on  the  outside,  and  then  fill  his  mouth  with  water 
and  squirt  it  over  the  pile,  so  as  to  make  a  fine  show- 
ing of  black  (silver)  streaks  across  the  gray  rock,  on 
the  same  principle  as  the  old  woman  polished  the  ap- 
ples for  sale  on  her  stall. 


ClHMPUr  26 


THE  DUMPS  OF  GUANAJUATO— HOW  TO  SAMPLE— 
THE  MEXICAN  IDEA  — TWO  TRUE  STORIES  — THE 
BITER  BIT. 

;  HE  dumps  of  Guanajuato  have 
;  figured  largely  in  recent  pros- 
pectuses, many  companies  hav- 
ing been  organized  with  the  par- 
I  ticular  purpose  of  treating  the 
ore  left  by  the  old  Mexican  man- 
'  agements.  On  careful  inquiry, 
;  I  can  give  the  average  assay- 
value  of  the  best  of  these  immense  accumulations  as 
4  to  6  ounces  of  silver,  and  1.5  grains  of  gold  per  ton, 
equivalent  to,  say,  $4  per  ton. 

When  the  American  invasion  began,  the  Mexi- 
can was  not  slow  to  appreciate  his  opportunity.  In 
one  case,  peones  were  set  to  work  removing  the  dump 
in  sacks  and  loading  burros  with  it,  so  as  to  impress 
a  visitor  with  the  idea  that  the  stuff  was  fairly  rich. 
But  grab  samples  gave  only  five  ounces  of  silver  per 
ton.    It  was  hardly  worth  sacking! 

As  regards  sampling,  in  all  the  discussions  on 
this  subject  while  I  was  at  Guanajuato,  emphasis  was 
laid  upon  the  danger  of  doing  the  work  without  trust- 
worthy assistance.     When  using  outside  help,  it  is 


NATIVE  IDEAS   OF  SAMPLING  207 

difficult  to  prevent  salting,  if  well  planned,  unless  the 
following  three  operations  be  performed : 

1.  Take  samples  with  the  help  of  the  miners 
available. 

2.  Blast  the  lode  at  a  few  points  and  take  check 
samples. 

3.  Cut  down  another  set  of  samples  yourself, 
with  the  aid  of  the  one  personal  assistant,  without 
whom  such  work  should  not  be  undertaken. 

Mexican  miners  make  poor  assistants  to  an  en- 
gineer sampling  a  mine.  When  the  groove  is  being 
cut  across  the  vein,  they  linger  in  the  rich  ore  from 
force  of  habit;  it  is  hard  to  make  them  understand 
that  the  poor  quartz  must  be  included.  To  this  very 
day,  the  Mexicans  at  Guanajuato  deride  the  Ameri- 
can method  of  sampling.  One  of  our  friends  had 
taken  a  large  sample  laboriously  and  carefully;  he 
was  just  in  time  to  see  the  foreman  of  the  mine  in  the 
act  of  throwing  out  pieces  of  poor  rock,  '^^iene  nada^* 
*'It  carries  nothing,"  he  explained,  as  though  it  were 
foolish  to  include  anything  but  rich  ore.  Other  en- 
gineers can  tell  you  of  similar  experiences,  when, 
after  breaking  a  sample  with  particular  care  to  make 
it  a  true  section  of  the  vein,  their  Mexican  helper  has 
picked  out  the  barren-looking  quartz.  The  whole 
training  of  the  native  for  generations  has  been  to 
sort  his  ore,  rejecting  the  poor  stuff,  and  he  cannot 
get  it  into  his  head  that  anyone  should  do  otherwise. 
But  he  is  not  the  only  eccentric ;  when  I  was  in  West- 
ern Australia,  during  1897,  the  owners  of  mining 


2o8  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

claims,  or  their  representatives,  did  not  hesitate  to 
express  surprise  at  my  omission  to  sample  the  small 
patches  of  specimen  ore.  One  incident  I  shall  not  for- 
get, for  I  have  a  memento  of  it.  Having  been  retained 
to  inspect  a  mine  at  Red  Hill,  near  Coolgardie,  I  was 
escorted  to  the  spot — 50  miles  away — by  a  Mr.  Pat- 
rick Walsh,  a  local  celebrity  of  the  boom  days.  His 
language  was  picturesque  and  free,  he  had  rudimen- 
tary ideas  of  mining,  and  he  took  me  for  a  'tenderfoot' 
— they  call  them  *new  chums'  in  Australia.  The  mine 
had  several  shafts  and  a  couple  of  shallow  adits,  most 
of  which  had  but  little  ore  to  show,  but  on  the  top  of 
a  small  ridge  there  was  a  trench  that  exposed  a  quartz 
cropping  in  which  glistened  a  patch  of  beautiful 
specimen  ore — ounces  of  gold  to  the  pound  of  quartz. 
I  admired  it  and  proceeded  to  pass  on,  but  he  asked 
me  if  I  did  not  intend  to  take  a  sample,  for  in  those 
days  pseudo-experts  took  a  dozen  samples  of  poor 
quartz,  and  then  a  thirteenth  unlucky  one  of  speci- 
men stuff,  and  averaged  the  lot,  with  the  result  that  4 
dwt.  ore  appeared  in  their  report  as  running  2  oz.  10 
dwt.,  or  something  like  it.  Seeing  that  Mr.  Walsh 
would  think  I  was  not  fair  to  his  mine  if  I  demurred, 
the  sample  was  taken.  But  it  was  never  assayed;  the 
gold  was  melted,  and  I  now  possess  a  pair  of  hand- 
some cuff-buttons  to  remind  me  of  Red  Hill,  Western 
Australia. 

To  return  to  Guanajuato ;  sampling  of  the  streaky 
lodes  in  that  district  is  difficult;  re-sampling  of  the 
same  groove   is  known  to   have   given  three   such 


■> 


MISLEADING  SAMPLES  209 

divergent  results  as  1,800,  350,  and  150  grams  of  silver 
per  ton.  The  discrepancy  is  due  in  part  to  the  fact 
that  the  threads  of  argentite  are  thin  and  wavy  in 
direction,  so  that  when  the  groove  is  made  deeper  by 
a  later  cut,  the  amount  of  silver  mineral  obtained  is 
less  or  more,  according  to  the  chances  of  striking  or 
missing  a  streak  or  kilo  of  argentite.  Re-sampling  is 
usually  accompanied,  in  the  case  of  an  intelligent  en- 
gineer, by  the  special  desire  to  avoid  taking  too  much 
of  the  rich  stuff,  and  this  is  apt  to  cause  a  leaning  the 
contrary  way.  On  the  other  hand,  the  first  sampling 
— made  for  the  vendor — is  likely  to  be  left  to  the 
Mexicans,  who  instinctively  put  too  much  of  the  soft 
argentite  into  the  hat  that  holds  the  ore  as  it  is  broken. 

The  story  is  told  of  a  mine  that,  along  its  main 
level,  showed  a  width  of  8  to  10  feet  of  beautiful 
quartz  ribboned  with  black  threads  of  rich  mineral. 
The  back  of  the  drift  looked  handsome.  An  option 
was  secured  by  Americans  residing  at  Guanajuato, 
who  knew  rich  ore  when  they  saw  it.  The  sampling 
done  by  an  engineer  in  behalf  of  a  putative  purchaser 
gave  the  astonishingly  low  result  of  an  average  of  $2 
per  ton.  A  protest  against  this  finding  ended  in  the 
breaking  of  a  few  tons  of  ore  with  a  view  to  checking 
the  sampling,  and  the  result  was  5  cents  per  ton  less. 
The  black  streaks  were  not  argentite,  but  stibnite ! 

There  was  another  story  of  an  ore-purchasing 
agent  who  found  that  the  smelter  returns  at  Monter- 
rey were  30%  less  than  his  own  sampling,  on  which  he 
had  made  settlements  with  the  Mexicans.     He  dis- 


210  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

covered  that  the  ore,  when  being  sampled  at  the  mine, 
was  turned  over  in  the  teeth  of  a  wind,  which  blew  the 
fine  black  (silver)  dust  over  the  fraction  representing 
the  pulp  that  went  to  the  assayer.  This  residual  por- 
tion was  always  placed  to  leeward.  He  lost  8,000 
pesos,  but  took  his  medicine  like  a  sportsman.  In  the 
course  of  time,  it  was  decided  to  sample  at  the  receiv- 
ing station  instead  of  at  the  mine;  there  was  a  nice 
yard  {patio)  available  for  the  purpose,  it  was  paved 
with  red  brick  of  the  usual  soft  character.  The 
buscones  (tributers,  or  lessees  of  the  mine)  sent  a  rep- 
resentative to  watch  the  sampling  in  their  interest, 
and  he  noticed  that  the  sweeping  of  the  floor  threw  red 
brick-dust  into  the  sample.  He  became  fussy,  and 
insisted  that  the  objectionable  material  should  be 
ejected,  and  it  was.  The  ore-buyers'  agent  did  not 
prove  obdurate,  for  the  brick-dust  included  fine  parti- 
cles of  rich  ore  that  filtered  to  the  bottom,  making  a 
mixture  15%  richer  than  the  average.  The  8,000 
pesos  that  had  been  lost  were  soon  recovered,  and  a 
few  more  to  make  them  comfortable. 


/ 


ClKMpUr  29 


THE  GEOLOGY  OF  THE  VETA  MADRE— A  BIG  FAULT 
—POSITION  OF  THE  OREBODIES— A  CROSS-SECTIOK 
—HUMBOLDT'S  DESCRIPTION— WHAT  IS  A  TRUE 
VEIN? 


I  OME  idea  of  the  general  geol- 
;  ogy  of  the  Guanajuato  district 
is    obtainable    along    the    road 
that  crosses  La  Bufa.    I  went 
j  this  way  to  the  Peregrina  mine, 
'  seven   miles   from   the   city   of 
I  Guanajuato,     and     incidentally 
I  formed    my   first    notions   con- 
cerning the  country  enclosing  the  Veta  Madre. 

The  accompanying  cross-section  (Fig.  18)  I  owe 
to  Senor  Ponciano  Aguilar,  of  the  Mexican  Geologi- 
cal Survey.  It  illustrates  the  fact  that  the  Veta 
Madre  follows  a  fault  of  big  throw,  so  that  the  foot- 
wall  is  shale"  and  the  hanging  a  series  of  layers  of 
volcanic  fragmentary  material.  The  magnitude  of 
the  fault  that  made  the  Veta  Madre  is  clearly 
indicated. 

In  the  shale  of  Guanajuato  were  detected  the 
first  Triassic  marine  fossils  found  in  Mexico.  They 
were  bivalves,  not  well  defined.    The  shale  is  meta- 

e  the  term  'schist'  for  this  rock,  but  it  is 


AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 


J 

m 

H| 

m 

9 

B   S 


GEOLOGY  OF  THE  VETA  MADRE  213 

morphic  and  resembles  the  Upper  Trias  of  Zacatecas, 
where  fossil  remnants  of  the  same  kind  are  found. 

The  Miocene  agglomerate  of  the  hanging  wall, 
usually  called  the  'red  conglomerate,'  or  Guanajuato 
formation,  is  overlaid  by  breccia  and  rhyolite  tuff, 
termed  'sandstone'  by  the  ouitlanders,  while  the  Mexi- 
can geologists  call  it  loxas**.  Next  comes  more  ag- 
glomerate and  then  tuff,  the  latter  a  succession  of 
layers  of  volcanic  fragmentary  material,  altogether 


1,200  feet  thick,  and  reminding  me  of  the  formation 
that  prevails  in  the  San  Juan  region  of  Colorado.  On 

"Lotas  literally  means  flagstones,  it  is  a  term  applied  to  the  water- 
laid  volcanic  dnst,  porous  in  texture  and  well  stratified,  which  looks  like 
a  sandstone.  It  lies  on  the  top  of  the  'red  conglomerate'  and  below  the 
Other  ta£Fs,  The  lotat  constitute  a  thinly  bedded  formation  of  green  rocks, 
only  from  10  to  40  ft  thick.  At  some  places  the  texture  is  fine  enough 
to  make  diem  eauivalent  to  a  'free-stone,'  eminently  suitable  for  building 
purposes.  The  facade  of  the  Juarez  theatre  is  built  of  this  material,  and 
the  ornamental   stone-work  all  over   Guanajuato  is   derived   from  this 


214  AMONG  THE  MINES    OF   MEXICO 

« 

the  farther  edges  of  the  eruptive  centre  these  clastic 
rocks  are  replaced  by  lava  flows  of  dense  rhyolite. 
The  foot-wall  of  the  big  lode,  as  seen  in  this  section, 
is  Miocene  agglomerate,  and  different  from  the  foot- 
wall  rocks  north  of  the  Sirena  mine;  the  change  of 
formation  being  due  to  a  cross-fault  coming  into  the 
Veta  Madre  on  its  foot-wall  side,  producing  a  down- 
throw of  the  southern  portion  of  the  foot-wall  rocks. 
This  is  illustrated  in  the  accompanying  drawing  (Fig. 
19),  made  from  a  sketch  given  to  me  by  Mr.  R.  H. 
Burrows,  an  experienced  economic  geologist,  resi- 
dent at  Guanajuato.  The  Sirena  mine  is  indicated  at 
J;  2it  B,  the  approximate  relative  position  of  the  Va- 
lenciana  mine,  the  throw  is  at  least  6,000  feet,  while  at 
C,  the  place  of  the  Cedro  mine,  the  throw  is  probably 
2,000  feet.  The  difference  in  throw  is  not  effected 
by  bending  of  either  side  of  the  Veta  Madre,  but  by 
step-faults. 

Northwest  of  this  cross-fault  it  is  difficult  to  de- 
termine the  extent  of  the  displacement  along  the 
Veta  Madre,  because  the  relation  of  the  agglomerate 
to  the  shale  has  not  been  established.  After  the  lode 
passes  southeast  of  the  cross-fault,  the  throw  can 
be  determined  by  estimating  the  distance  from  the 
top  of  the  red  agglomerate  on  the  hanging-wall  side 
to  the  top  of  the  same  formation  on  the  foot-wall  side. 
This  distance  is  shown  in  the  section  B  B,  in  Fig.  20, 
where  it  is  represented  as  2,000  feet.  Referring  to  the 
section  C  C,  there  is  no  formation  now  in  contact 
above  or  below  the  shale,  and  the  bottom  of  the  red 


SECTIONS  OF  THE  VETA  MADRE 


Fig.  20.    Plam  and  Sections  or  the  Veta  Maske. 
After  R.  H.  Borrows. 


2i6  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

agglomerate  is  nowhere  visible.  As  the  shale  is  older 
than  the  red  agglomerate,  the  throw  will  be  repre- 
sented by  the  known  thickness  of  the  ted  beds,  plus 
the  amount  of  the  latter  that  has  been  eroded  on  the 
foot-wall  side  of  the  lode.  Of  these  two  factors, 
which  together  make  up  the  sum  of  the  throw,  only 
the  first  mentioned  is  definitely  known.  Starting 
downward  from  the  top  of  the  red  agglomerate  on 
Sirena  Mtn.  this  formation  is  traced  all  the  way  to 
Marfil,  a  distance  of  six  miles,  exhibiting  a  constant 
strike  and  a  dip  varying  from  5  to  30°  east.  The 
thickness  thus  represented  is  fully  6,000  feet,  so  that, 
omitting  the  other  factor,  it  is  well  within  the  mark 
to  estimate  the  throw  at  6,000  feet. 

At  the  Sirena  mine,  the  foot-wall  is  shale  (prob- 
ably Cretaceous),  varying  from  argillaceous  to  cal- 
careous, from  clay  to  lime.  On  the  hanging  the  lay- 
ers of  agglomerate  dip  eastward  toward  the  lode. 
The  agglomerate  becomes  deeper  as  one  goes  south- 
east along  the  outcrop  of  the  Veta  Madre;  it  feathers 
out  to  nothing  at  the  Valenciana,  and  at  Bustos  it  is 
about  200  feet  below  the  bottom  of  the  valley.  The 
slope  taken  at  right  angles  to  the  strike  of  the  Veta 
Madre,  is  about  30*"  downward  and  toward  the  vein, 
the  strata  therefore  making  an  angle  of  approxi- 
mately 75*"  with  the  dip  of  the  Mother  Vein.  The  dip 
of  all  the  bedded  rocks  in  the  district  is  about  due 
east-west,  and  the  strike  of  the  lode  is  northwest- 
southeast.  It  is  not  a  simple  vein,  but  a  vein-system 
within  a  zone  50  to  600  ft.  wide.    The  principal  ore- 


THE   SIRENA   OREBODY  217 

bodies  in  the  Sirena  mine  occur  near  the  intersection 
of  the  Amparo  vein  coming  in  from  the  hanging  wall. 
Much  the  same  is  true  of  the  orebody  in  the  Rayas 
mine,  formed  at  the  intersection  with  the  Santa 
Toribio  vein,  which  also  comes  into  the  main  lode 
from  the  hanging-wall  side,  the  ore  pitching  with  the 
line  of  this  intersection. 

At  the  time  of  my  visit,  the  Sirena  was  in  bo- 
nanza; a  new  orebody  had  been  found  on  the  fourth 
level  in  a  raise,  where  it  touched  the  quartz  of  the  old 
foot-wall  stopes.  At  the  fifth  level — 800  feet  (on  the 
dip  of  the  vein)  below  the  Purisima  adit  and  1,320  feet 
from  the  outcrop — cross-cuts  and  raises  had  proved 
that  there  was  120  feet  of  pay-ore,  which,  allowing 
for  the  diagonal  course  of  the  cross-cut  and  the  dip 
of  the  lode,  was  equivalent  to  a  width  of  65  feet.  An- 
other cross-cut,  300  feet  farther  east,  had  proved  a 
width  of  45  feet.  One  section  showed  three  ore- 
streaks,  parallel  in  strike,  but  converging  in  dip  to- 
ward the  foot-wall. 

In  Fig.  21  I  have  drawn  a  generalized  cross-sec- 
tion of  the  Veta  Madre  as  it  appeared  to  me  on  the 
fifth  level  of  the  Sirena  mine.  ^  ^  is  the  hanging  wall 
and  C  C  is  the  foot-wall;'B  B  is  the  lower  limit  of  the 
main  vein  and  is  called  the  intermedio^  or  intermediate 
wall.  The  distance  between  A  and  B  is  25  to  75  feet, 
between  B  and  C,  75  to  150  feet.  On  the  foot- wall 
there  is  a  vein,  from  1  to  6  feet  wide,  of  quartz,  which 
is  not  ore.  The  shale  is  bent  near  the  foot-wall  and  is 
shattered  between  that  line  and  the  intermedio.    B  B 


3l8 


AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 


represents  the  line  of  the  fault  along  which  a  width 
of  shattered  rock  has  created  an  ore-channel.  Be- 
tween B  and  J  there  are  numerous  stringers  of  quartz, 


en 

_,^ 

a- 

□• 

- 

s  ^. 

Fig. 

21. 

some  of  which  is  ore,  but  the  main  orebody  extends 
from  the  hanging  into  the  agglomerate.  The  so- 
called  'foot-wall  quartz'  has  been  stoped  on  the  fourth 
level  for  a  width  of  20  feet,  and  on  the  higher  levels 


UMITS   OF  PAY-ORE  219 

this  body  of  poor  quartz  is  200  feet  wide  and  there  it 
lies  against  the  shale.  The  lode  is  broken  by  step- 
faults  east  of  the  Principe  shaft,  the  fault-planes  pitch- 
ing east  at  a  strong  angle.  For  a  distance  of  1,200 
feet  on  the  vein,  northwestward  from  the  Principe 
shaft,  the  lode  is  ore-bearing,  to  a  varying  extent,  and 
in  bodies  of  different  shape.  The  pay-ore  lies  in  soft 
brecciated  ground,  exhibiting  traces  of  oxidation  and 
lying  between  the  hard  vein-quartz  of  the  foot-wall 
and  mineralized  ground,  the  limit  of  which  has  not 
been  determined.  It  is  an  impregnation  of  irregular 
shape,  extending  along  the  structural  lines  of  the  ag- 
glomerate. At  the  time  of  my  visit  the  ore  as  sent 
to  the  mill  yielded  517  grams  of  silver  and  2.76  gm. 
gold  per  ton.  The  agglomerate  does  not  wholly  lose 
its  identity  by  reason  of  impregnation  with  ore,  and 
it  is  necessary  to  sample  carefully  in  order  to  deter- 
mine where  profitable  exploitation  will  cease.  It  is 
fair  to  say  that  the  cyanide  process  has  done  more  to 
widen  pay-ore  than  the  geologist,  that  is  to  say,  the 
decrease  in  the  cost  of  milling  has  enabled  the  man- 
ager to  treat  profitably  material  previously  considered 
too  poor.  Where  the  lode  is  not  rich  the  distinction 
between  quartzified  country  and  profitable  ore  is  de- 
termined by  the  assayer,  and  not  by  the  mineralogist. 
The  stalactites  of  iron  on  timbers  and  on  the  foot- 
wall  of  the  old  workings  carry  silver.  As  much  as 
30  grams,  say,  an  ounce  of  silver,  has  been  detected  in 
such  deposits  formed  within  one  year.  The  general 
assay-value  is  5  to  20  grams  per  ton.    After  rains  the 


220  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

water  of  the  mine  contains  2^  to  3%  sulphuric  acid 
and  it  will  eat  through  an  iron  pipe  ^-inch  thick 
within  60  days. 

I  was  informed  that  the  orebody  of  the  hanging 
wall,  in  the  Sirena  mine,  was  found  while  blasting  for 
a  cross-cut,  intended  to  make  room  for  a  new  hoist 
underground.  The  appearance  of  this  ore  suggests 
that  it  was  formed  by  one  of  those  movements  that 
took  place  subsequent  to  the  formation  of  the  main 
fracture  of  the  Veta  Madre  and  its  accompanying 
vein-matter;  this  later  movement  evidently  shat- 
tered the  older  quartz-filling  and  then  passed  through 
the  hanging-wall  country  so  as  to  make  a  big  mass 
of  brecciated  ground,  suitable  for  infiltration  by  min- 
eral solutions,  which  re-cemented  it  with  calcite  and 
the  more  valuable  metallic  minerals.  Diamond- 
drilling  ought  to  be  useful  in  exploring  this  ground; 
for  the  orebodies  are  large,  but  not  connected.  The 
old  stairways  and  communicating  passages  appear 
often  to  be  the  bottom  of  underhand  stopes,  and 
therefore  suggest  the  lower  limit  of  profitable  ore  at 
the  time  the  work  was  done. 

The  accompanying  photograph  illustrates  a  part 
of  the  Veta  Madre  as  seen  in  the  Rayas  mine.  It  is 
near  the  foot-wall,  as  indicated  by  the  fragments  of 
shale,  which  are  partly  silicified  at  the  edges.  Black 
threads  of  argentite  traverse  the  white  quartz. 

The  geology  of  the  Veta  Madre  has  not  received 
detailed  study  as  yet,  at  least  nothing  has  been  pub- 
lished commensurate  with  the  size  of  the  subject,  so 


p 

J^^^^^^^ft»r1^^^' 

1 

r  ■ 

] 

^^ 

t 

r 

^^T^^^^^^Bhi 

r 

NOTES   FROM   HUMBOLDT  221 

that  Humboldt's  observations  still  possess  a  com- 
manding interest.  I  shall  quote  from  the  old  English 
translation  already  mentioned.  He  says:  "The  fa- 
mous vein  of  Guanaxuato,  which  has  alone,  since  the 
end  of  the  sixteenth  century,  produced  a  mass  of  sil- 
ver equal  to  fourteen  hundred  millions  of  francs,'** 
crosses  the  southern  slope  of  the  Sierra  de  Santa 
Rosa."  Beginning  to  touch  upon  geological  matters, 
he  states  that  "the  most  ancient  rock  known  in  the 
district  is  the  clay  slate  {thonschiefer)  which  reposes 
on  the  granite  rock  of  Zacatecas.  It  is  of  an  ash-gray 
color  and  is  frequently  intersected  by  an  infinity  of 
small  quartz  veins.  I  consider  this  clay  slate  as  a 
primitive  formation,  although  the  beds  with  very  thin 
folia  and  which  are  surcharged  with  carbon,  appear 
to  approximate  a  transition  clay  slate.  These  beds 
{hoja  de  libro)  are  for  the  most  part  near  the  surface. 
On  digging  the  great  pit  {tiro  general)  of  Valenciana, 
they  discovered  banks  of  syenite  or  hornblende  schist 
and  true  serpentine,  alternating  with  one  another  and 
forming  subordinate  beds  in  the  clay  slate.*' 

Humboldt  wrote  in  French,  so  that  his  use  of  the 
term  thonschiefer  indicates  that  he  was  thinking  of  the 
Erzgebirge,  at  that  time — ^just  one  hundred  years 
ago — the  most  scientific  mining  centre  in  Europe. 
His  description  of  the  shale,  which  constitutes  the 
foot-wall  of  the  Veta  Madre,  is  correct.  It  does  ex- 
hibit a  ramification  of  quartz  veins.     But  the  label 


••£57754,620  or,  say,  $285,500,000. 


222  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

'primitive'  will  not  do,  for  the  formation  is  probably 
Cretaceous ;  moreover,  'primitive'  is  a  word  belonging 
to  an  outworn  idea,  that  the  basement  rocks  were  the 
original  cooled  crust  of  the  earth.  Petrography 
knows  no  simple  starting  point ;  the  rocks  we  see  are 
only  in  a  particular  stage  out  of  the  many  through 
which  they  pass  in  the  course  of  their  geological  evo- 
lution. The  modern  geologist  begins  with  the  old 
crystallines,  earlier  than  fossils.  The  undermost  rock 
now  known  is  a  granitic  batholith,  which  seems  in 
places  to  have  invaded  the  oldest  schists.  This  granite 
may  be  an  original  igneous  rock  for  aught  we  know, 
it  is  probably  not  a  fused  sediment,  and  is  the  nearest 
approach  to  anything  'primitive.'  The  crystalline 
granite,  formed  by  slow  cooling  from  a  molten 
magma,  when  exposed  to  weathering  at  the  surface  of 
the  earth,  becomes  disintegrated  into  sand  and  clay, 
which,  being  deposited  in  the  ocean  depths,  are  re- 
cemented  and  again  solidified  in  process  of  time,  pass- 
ing through  chemical  and  physical  changes  that  make 
sandstone  out  of  the  sand,  and  shale  out  of  the  clay, 
at  first,  and  then  by  further  interplay  of  subterranean 
pressure,  heat,  and  chemical  action,  these  become  on 
the  one  hand  quartzite,  on  the  other  slate,  with  a 
mixed  product  of  schist  between  them. 

The  Valenciana  shaft  passes  through  the  car- 
bonaceous shale,  with  layers  like  the  leaves  of  a  book 
{hoja  de  libro)  and  penetrates  the  intrusive  diorite,  the 
decomposition  of  which,  in  places,  gives  the  magne- 
sian  rock  that  Humboldt  called  'serpentine.'    He  con- 


PORPHYRY  AND  FREE-STONE  223 

tinues :  "Porphyry  forms  gigantic  stony  masses  which 
appear  at  a  distance  under  the  strangest  aspect,  fre- 
quently like  ruins  of  walls  and  bastions.  In  the  coun- 
try they  go  by  the  name  of  bufa.  This  porphyry,  of 
which  the  Sierra  de  Santa  Rosa  is  chiefly  composed, 
is  generally  of  a  greenish  color."  Colors  in  rocks 
have  ceased  to  have  the  importance  they  once  had,  for 
we  have  learned  that  the  same  rock  can  change  its 
appearance  while  retaining  an  identity  of  compo- 
sition. The  name  bufa  still  lingers  at  Guanajuato 
(but  it  is  spelled  with  one  f),  and  has  almost  replaced 
the  higher  sounding  *Sierra  de  Santa  Rosa.'  The 
sculptured  summits  and  bold  cliffs  of  La  Bufa  are 
due  to  unequal  weathering  of  the  rhyolite  tuff  that 
caps  the  Guanajuato  series.  Even  in  those  days  the 
term  'porphyry'  played  many  parts. 

Continuing,  Von  Humboldt  mentions  that  "on 
the  southern  slope  of  the  Sierra,  the  clay  slate  is  cov- 
ered with  free-stone  of  very  old  formation.  This  free- 
stone {urfels-conglomerat)  is  a  breccia  of  clayey  cement, 
mixed  with  oxide  of  iron,  in  which  are  imbedded 
angulous  fragments  of  quartz,  lydian  stone,  syenite 
porphyry,  and  splintery  hornstone."  He  speaks  of 
the  dip  being  opposed  to  that  of  the  clay  slate.  Above 
this  *free-stone'  there  is  "an  agglomeration  {lozero)  of 
later  date  from  which  the  finest  hewn  stone  is  manu- 
factured.'' 

The  free-stone  is  a  fine-grained  tuff,  used  in  the 
building  of  the  city  of  Guanajuato,  as  already  men- 
tioned; it  is  soft  enough  to  be  easily  worked,  and  yet 


224  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

hardens  on  weathering,  so  as  to  be  durable.  It  is  the 
cantera  of  the  Mexicans.  This  formation  occurs  both 
above  the  shale  of  the  foot-wall  country,  as  Humboldt 
states,  and  also  on  the  hanging- wall  side;  in  fact,  it 
marks  the  extent  of  the  great  fault  of  1,200  feet,  along 
which  the  Veta  Madre  was  made.  On  the  hanging- 
wall  side  the  dip  of  the  country  is  nearly  at  right 
angles  to  the  vein,  which  cuts  strongly  across  the 
bedding,  and,  for  a  great  distance,  follows  a  line  along 
which  the  later  tuffs  and  breccia  are  opposed  to  the 
shale.  But  on  the  outer  edges  of  the  mining  district, 
the  vein  cuts  through  the  younger  rocks  also.  Hum- 
boldt saw  this;  he  says:  "The  vein  traverses  both  the 
clay  slate  and  porphyry.  We  have  already  stated  that 
it  has  been  wrought  for  a  length  of  more  than  12,000 
metres;  and  yet  the  enormous  mass  of  silver  which  it 
has  supplied  for  the  last  hundred  years,  sufficient  of 
itself  to  produce  a  change  in  the  price  of  commodities 
in  Europe,"  has  been  extracted  from  that  part  of  the 
vein  alone  contained  between  the  pits  of  Esperanza 
and  Santa  Anita,  an  extent  of  less  than  2,600  metres 
(8,529  ft.).  In  this  part  we  find  the  mines  of  Valen- 
ciana,  Cata,  San  Lorenzo,  Animas,  Mellado,  Frau- 
stros,  Rayas,  and  Santa  Anita,  which  at  different 
periods  have  been  very  highly  celebrated." 

According  to  Humboldt,  the  European  miners 
had  been  in  doubt  whether  to  consider  the  Veta 
Madre    a    "true    vein"    or    a    "metalliferous    bed 


''An  effect  produced  seventy  years  later,  by  the  equally  tremendous 
output  from  the  Comstock  lode,  in  Nevada. 


WHAT   IS  A  TRUE  VEIN  ?  225 

{erzlager) .^*  He  then  proceeds  to  give  some  sound  geo- 
logical views : 

"If  we  examine  only  the  veta  madre  of  Guanaxuato 
where  the  roof  and  the  wall,  in  the  mines  of  the  Valen- 
ciana  or  Rayas,  are  of  clay  slate,  we  might  be  tempted 
to  acquiesce  in  the  latter  opinion;  for  far  from  cutting 
or  crossing  the  strata  of  the  rock,  the  vein  has  exactly 
the  same  direction  and  the  same  inclination  as  its 
strata;  but  can  a  metalliferous  bed  which  has  been 
formed  at  the  same  period  as  the  whole  mass  of  the 
mountain  in  which  it  is  found,  pass  from  a  superior 
to  an  inferior  rock,  from  porphyry  to  clay  slate?  If 
the  veta  madre  was  really  a  bed,  we  should  not  find 
angular  fragments  of  its  roof  contained  in  its  mass, 
as  we  generally  observe  on  points  where  the  roof  is 
a  slate  charged  with  carhone^  and  the  wall  a  talc  slate. 
In  a  vein,  the  roof  and  the  wall  are  deemed  anterior 
to  the  formation  of  the  crevice,  and  to  the  minerals 
which  have  successfully  filled  it;  but  a  bed  has  un- 
doubtedly pre-existed  to  the  strata  of  the  rock  which 
compose  its  roof.  Hence  we  may  discover  in  a  bed 
fragments  of  the  wall,  but  never  pieces  detached  from 
the  roof." 

The  attempts  to  define  a  *true  vein'  have  not 
ceased  even  a  hundred  years  after  the  above  words 
were  written.  While  the  debate  is  adjourned  and  re- 
sumed at  intervals  by  savants,  the  miner  has  disre- 
garded evasive  distinctions  and  has  proved  by  his 
profitable  toil  that  "metalliferous  beds"  are  just  about 
as  good  as  the  "true  veins."    The  Calumet  &  Hecla, 


226  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

the  Leadville  orebodies,  the  Aspen  contacts,  the  sad- 
dle reefs  of  Bendigo  and  Broken  Hill,  the  lenticular 
masses  of  Rio  Tinto,  the  disseminated  copper  de- 
posits of  Bingham  and  Ely — to  mention  only  a  few — 
are  representative  of  occurrences  that  do  not  belong 
to  what  the  schools  of  Saxony  and  Cornwall  labeled 
'true  fissure  veins/  Nevertheless,  Humboldt's  eflFort 
to  distinguish  betwen  an  ore  deposit  contempora- 
neous with  the  formation  that  encloses  it,  and  one 
that  has  originated  along  later  fractures  crossing  such 
rocks,  is  not  without  interest.  He  refers  to  the  in- 
clusion of  rock  fragments  in  the  Veta  Madre  thus: 

"Its  extent  varies  like  that  of  all  the  veins  of 
Europe.  When  not  ramified,  it  is  generally  from 
12  to  15  metres  in  breadth;  sometimes  it  is  even 
strangled  to  the  extent  of  half  a  metre;  and  it  is  for 
the  most  part  found  divided  into  three  masses 
{cuerpos)y  separated  either  by  banks  of  rock  (caballos) 
or  by  parts  of  the  gang^e  almost  destitute  of  minerals. 
In  the  mine  of  Valenciana  the  Veta  Madre  has  been 
found  without  ramification,  and  for  a  breadth  of 
seven  metres,  from  the  surface  of  the  ground  to  the 
depth  of  170  metres.  At  this  point  it  divides  into 
three  branches,  and  its  extent,  reckoning  from  the 
walls  to  the  roof  of  the  entire  mass,  is  50  and  some- 
times even  60  metres.  Of  these  three  branches  of 
the  vein  there  is  in  general  but  one  alone  which  is 
rich ;  and  sometimes  when  all  the  three  join  and  drag 
one  another,  as  at  Valenciana,  near  the  pit  of  San 
Antonio,  at  a  depth  of  300  metres,  the  vein  contains 


MEXICAN  MINING  TERMS  227 

immense  riches  of  an  extent  {puissance)  of  more  than 
25  metres.  *  *  *  Valenciana  is  almost  the  sole 
example  of  a  mine,  which  for  forty  years  has  never 
yielded  less  to  its  proprietors  than  from  two  to  three 
million  of  francs  (£82,506  to  £123,759)  of  annual 
profit.'' 

Here  we  have  the  Spanish  equivalent  of  our  term 
*horse'  literally  translated  into  caballo;  it  is  the  in- 
cluded rock  that  the  vein  rides,  passing  astride  of  it. 
If  the  branches  of  the  vein  do  not  re-unite,  the  result 
is  a  split  or  embranchment ;  if  they  come  together,  it 
is  a  'horse.' 

Mexican  mining  terms  are  frequently  dis- 
tinguished by  their  aptitude.  The  hanging  wall  is 
called  alto  (high  or  up),  the  foot-wall  is  bajo  (down 
or  low).  But  at  El  Oro  I  found  that  the  natives 
spoke  of  the  hanging  as  reliz  (pronounced  like  re- 
lease). It  is  a  word  signifying  a  landslide  or  slip, 
and  as  suggesting  a  plane  of  parting  or  what  a  miner 
calls  a  'shooting  course,'  it  struck  me  as  excellent. 
The  hanging  is  also  described  as  reliz  arriba^  or  arriba 
by  itself.  Waste  is  tepetate.  All  stringers  are  called 
hilos,  hilo  being  a  thread.  Ore  that  is  speckled  with 
black  sulphide  is  known  as  mosceado^  or  fly-specked, 
mosca  being  a  fly.  At  Guanajuato  the  honeycombed 
quartz  on  the  foot-wall  of  the  Veta  Madre  is  termed 
cherasco. 

Dikes  of  andesite  penetrate  the  agglomerate  and 
the  shale  in  various  directions,  and,  as  Mr.  Robert  T. 
Hill  suggests,  it  is  to  them  that  we  may  impute  the 


228  AMONG  THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

latest  mineralization  of  the  district;  at  least,  it  is 
probable  that  their  intrusion  along  lines  of  fracture 
was  coincident  with  a  period  of  thermal  activity. 
The  Veta  Madre,  being  essentially  a  big  width  of 
rock  sheeted  by  fractures  near  the  contact  of  two 
unlike  formations,  afforded  unusually  favorable  con- 
ditions for  the  penetration  of  ore-forming  solutions, 
which  followed  the  main  fractures  and  spread  out- 
ward and  upward  into  the  shattered  agglomerate, 
where  they  found  the  inducement  to  precipitate  the 
wealth  of  silver  that  is  now  suggested  by  the  name 
of  Guanajuato. 


;v 


^5^^i«%i 


On  the  Street 


ClKKf  ter  30 


THE  DEVELOPMENT  OF  METALLURGICAL  PRAC- 
TICE AT  THE  SIRENA  MILL— FROM  AMALGAMATION 
TO  CYANIDATION— RE-GRINDING. 

'  T  is  worth  while  to  tell  the  story 
;  of  the  metallurgical  develop- 
j  ment  at  the  Sirena  mill,  more 
properly  named  La  Hacienda  San 
I  Francisco  de  Pastita.  The  suc- 
'  cesser  to  the  old  patio  was  a  mill 
'  erected  in  1899;  it  contained  20 
\  stamps,  each  weighing  1,250 
pounds.  The  ore  was  first  broken  by  a  9  by  15-in. 
Blake  crusher  and  was  then  reduced  to  20  mesh  by 
the  stamps,  from  which  it  was  passed  to  six  Boss 
rapid-grinding  pans.  Here  it  was  re-ground,  so  that 
all  save  5  to  10%  passed  an  80-mesh  screen ;  and  then 
it  descended  to  12  more  pans  and  six  settlers.  From 
these  the  pulp  went  to  five  Wilfley  tables.  The 
capacity  of  the  mill  was  1,500  to  1,800  tons  per  month. 
The  product  was  amalgam  and  concentrate. 

The  pans  extracted  65%  of  the  assay-value  and 
the  concentrate  contained  12%  more.  This  was  on 
the  oxidized  ore.  Although  the  concentrate  con- 
tained two  kilograms  or  64.2  ounces  of  silver,  it 
barely  paid  to  send  it  to  market  under  the  smelter 
conditions   then   existing  in   that   part   of   Mexico. 


230  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

However,  another  factor  came  into  play ;  as  the  lower 
workings  were  opened  up,  the  percentage  of  recovery 
by  amalgamation  fell  off  until  it  was  only  60%.  Con- 
currently, the  consumption  of  mercury  and  copper 
sulphate  in  the  pans  increased,  while  the  concentrate 
became  richer — 5  to  7  kg.  silver  per  ton.  The  method 
was  changed ;  concentration  was  made  to  precede  pan 
amalgamation. 

By  this  new  arrangement,  the  cost  of  milling 
was  reduced  from  7.86  pesos  to  4.81.  The  concentra- 
tion was  carried  further,  so  that  the  product  con- 
tained 10  to  11  kg.  silver  and  115  gm.  gold  per  ton; 
yet  the  weight  of  concentrate  remained  at  2  per  cent 
of  the  crude  ore.  The  higher  recovery  by  concentra- 
tion balanced  the  lower  yield  by  amalgamation,  the 
commercial  result  being  less  satisfactory  because  the 
precious  metals  in  the  form  of  amalgam  were  worth 
more  than  when  enclosed  within  a  concentrate  that 
had  to  be  transported  to  a  distant  smelter.  More- 
over, the  variation  in  smelter  rates  introduced  a 
factor  of  uncertainty. 

Extraction  finally  fell  below  60%.  This  sug- 
gested an  enlargement  of  the  mill,  so  as  to  lower  the 
fixed  charges.  At  this  period  the  Government  tax 
and  the  expenses  in  connection  with  realization  of 
bullion  amounted  to  11%  of  its  gross  value.  The 
poor  extraction  and  the  high  imposts  left  but  a  small 
margin  of  profit.  A  search  for  better  metallurgical 
treatment  was  undertaken.  The  cyanidation  tests 
made  by  Leonard  Holms  in  1901  did  not  seem  to 


CONCENTRATION  AND  AMALGAMATION       231 

justify  turning  to  that  method  at  that  time;  subse- 
quently, however,  E.  M.  Hamilton  made  a  new  re- 
search on  a  working  basis,  with  a  5-ton  plant,  and  he 
obtained  encouraging  results.  However,  nothing 
was  done  for  a  year. 

Meanwhile  the  recovery  by  amalgamation  con- 
tinued to  dwindle  and  when  cyanidation  was  re-com- 
menced, there  was  a  fear  lest  the  further  change  in 
the  ore  with  depth  might  affect  extraction  by 
cyanide  as  it  had  done  that  by  mercury.  In  1904, 
Bernard  MacDonald  was  engaged  to  investigate  the 
problem,  with  the  idea,  among  others,  that  the 
Hendryx  process  might  be  applied.  Complete  cya- 
nide tests  were  made  and  every  kind  of  ore  in  the  mine 
was  tried.  The  results  fully  confirmed  Hamilton's 
earlier  work,  even  on  the  ore  from  the  bottom  of  the 
Sirena  mine.  It  was  demonstrated  that  finer  grind- 
ing was  required  and  that  even  the  concentrate,  if 
ground  dry  to  pass  through  200  mesh,  would  yield 
94  to  96%  with  the  use  of  a  2.5%  cyanide  solution — a 
solution  unusually  strong,  but  based  upon  the  rela- 
tive proportion  of  silver  to  be  dissolved.  A  weaker 
solution  would  have  done  better,  as  was  proved 
later. 

In  these  tests,  a  fresh  solution  was  introduced 
each  24  hours  into  bottles  that  were  agitated  by 
being  attached  to  the  periphery  of  a  slowly  revolving 
wheel.  This  failed  to  reproduce  working  conditions, 
because  it  eliminated  a  drawback  inevitable  in  prac- 
tice— that  is,  foul  solutions.     For  this  reason  the 


232  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

results  were  higher  than  was  to  be  expected  in  the 
mill,  but  they  warranted  the  belief  that  a  plant  spe- 
cially designed  for  the  treatment  of  the  concentrate 
would  yield  larger  profits  than  the  sale  of  the  concen- 
trate to  the  smelters.  The  tests  demonstrated  also 
that  the  silver  sulphide  was  readily  attacked  by  cy- 
anide when  the  grinding  was  as  fine  as  200  mesh.  As 
yet,  no  plant  has  been  erected  to  treat  the  concentrate, 
but  it  is  likely  that  this  will  be  done. 

In  the  meanwhile — this  was  in  April,  1904 — it 
was  decided  to  erect  the  existing  cyanide  plant,  which 
started  to  work  in  May,  1905.  When  concentration 
was  made  to  precede  amalgamation,  the  grinding  in 
pans  was  discontinued,  it  being  found  that  amal- 
gamation was  more  effective  in  charges  than  as  a 
continuous  process.  In  erecting  the  cyanide  annex, 
the  only  change  required  was  to  divert  the  flow  from 
the  Wilfley  tables  to  cone-classifiers.  The  coarse 
sand  went  to  a  tube-mill  of  Allis-Chalmers  make,  5 
ft.  diam.  and  22  ft.  long.  It  was  lined  with  chilled 
iron,  which,  after  a  three  weeks'  run,  collapsed,  so 
that  the  use  of  the  tube  stopped  abruptly.  It  has 
not  been  employed  since.  Tests  proved  that  the 
benefit  of  the  re-grinding  in  the  tube  hardly  war- 
ranted the  extra  expense  of  repairs  and  power.  The 
first  cone-classifiers  were  discarded,  the  pulp  going 
from  the  Wilfleys  to  a  set  of  cone-classifiers  that 
separate  the  sand  from  the  slime.  The  arrangement 
is  shown  herewith,  in  Fig.  22.  ^  is  a  large  spitz- 
kasten,  8  ft.  wide  and  8  ft.  deep,  the  classification 


THE  PASTITA  MILL  233 

being  by  gravity.  The  sand,  plus  some  slime,  flows 
through  rubber  goose-necks  to  a  height  two  feet 
above  the  bottom  into  four  smaller  cones  or  spitz- 
lutten,  4  ft.  wide  and  4  ft.  deep,  equipped  with 
hydraulic  jets.     The  undersize  from  all  five  cones 


o 


0  00 


0 


Fig.  22.    Asrangement  of  Classifiers. 

unites  and  flows  to  eight  Callow  steel  settling-cones, 
8  ft.  diam.  and  8  ft.  deep,  where  it  is  de-watered. 
Thence  the  pulp  passes  to  three  masonry  vats,  where 
lime  is  added  to  effect  settling  previous  to  decanta- 
tion,  and  at  the  same  time  destroying  the  acidity  of 


234  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

the  slime  and  bringing  the  positive  alkalinity  up  to 
1^  pounds  of  lime  per  ton.  Then  this  slime  is 
pumped  to  the  treatment-vats,  the  sand  meanwhile 
going  to  collecting-vats,  from  which,  after  draining, 
it  is  taken  in  cars  to  the  treatment-vats. 

This  was  the  scheme  at  the  commencement  of 
cyanidation;  subsequently,  the  masonry  vats,  for- 
merly employed  in  de-watering  the  pulp  previous  to 
pan  amalgamation,  were  modified  so  as  to  serve  for 
holding  and  thickening  the  slime.  The  five  cone- 
classifiers  were  moved  into  the  stamp-mill,  in  order 
not  to  lose  grade,  and  in  this  new  position  they  de- 
livered direct  into  the  masonry  vats  behind  the  old 
amalgamation  pans,  the  vats  built  in  the  cyanide 
annex  being  used  for  the  same  purpose,  namely,  to 
de-water  the  slime.  Even  now  it  contains  70% 
water,  and  this  70%  is  just  so  much  liquid  that  has  to 
be  displaced  by  the  effective  cyanide  solution,  until 
perfect  diffusion  is  attained. 

The  ore  goes  from  the  Sirena  mine  to  the  mill 
in  cars  (Kilburn  &  Jacobs)  of  50  cu.  ft.  capacity, 
carrying  2.4  tons  each.  They  have  a  double  side- 
dump,  with  gable  bottom,  and  appear  to  work  easily. 
Waste  is  removed  by  sorting  in  the  big  courtyard  at 
the  entrance  of  the  main  adit.  A  sorting  belt  is  to 
be  used  at  the  new  Soledad  shaft,  the  waste  thus 
eliminated  being  returned  into  the  mine  as  filling. 
The  belt  is  to  be  50  feet  long,  giving  room  for  five 
men  on  each  side,  and  it  will  be  illuminated  by  shaded 
electric  lights  like  a  billiard  table.     Each  man  is  to 


HANDLING  OF  ORE  235 

sit  astride  a  wooden  horse,  which  is  high  enough  to 
give  freedom  of  reach  over  the  belt. 

Gold  can  be  seen  in  the  surface  ores  of  the  Sirena 
mine ;  it  accompanies  the  argentite.  Pyrite  does  not 
appear  to  be  indicative,  nor  is  it  a  close  associate  of 
the  precious  metals;  it  is  more  plentiful  in  the  un- 
digested country  rock.  In  the  ore  of  the  Peregrina 
mine  there  is  a  little  arsenical  pyrite  and  also  traces 
of  antimonial  silver  minerals.  At  Guanajuato  gen- 
erally, the  average  yield  of  concentrate  does  not  ex- 
ceed two  per  cent,  carrying  150  to  1,600  oz.  silver, 
and  from  1  to  30  oz.  gold  per  ton,  so  that  the  problem 
is  to  treat  a  small  quantity  of  high-grade  material  in 
competition  with  the  excessive  freight-charges  of  the 
railroads  and  the  heavy  treatment-rates  of  the 
smelters.  Further,  the  Government  tax  is  one  per 
cent  less  on  bullion  than  it  is  on  the  precious  metals 
when  in  the  form  of  concentrate. 

In  September,  1905,  the  mill  treated  3,887  tons  of 
ore,  containing  517  grams  of  silver  and  2.76  grams 
of  gold  per  ton.  On  leaving  the  concentrators  the 
pulp  assayed  302.5  gm.  silver  and  1.46  gm.  gold. 
The  concentrate  recovered  amounted  to  106  tons, 
averaging  948.06  gm.  silver  and  46.92  gm.  gold.  The 
cost  of  crushing  and  concentration  amounted  to  1.75 
pesos  per  ton.  The  extraction  by  concentration  was 
50.1%  of  the  silver  and  49.1%  of  the  gold. 

The  practice  is  still  in  course  of  development  and 
experiments  are  continually  being  made.  Re-grind- 
ing does  not  seem  required  by  the  Sirena  ore;  it  is 


236  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

stamped  through  a  diagonal  slot  screen  equivalent  to 
40  mesh;  a  chuck-block  is  used.  Of  the  resulting 
pulp,  80%  goes  through  100  mesh.  The  granular 
quartz,  when  crushed,  readily  liberates  the  silver 
sulphide,  but  the  chalcedonic  gangue  in  which  the 
silver  occurs  (in  a  cloudy  dissemination  like  moss- 
agate)  needs  fine  grinding — ^all  of  it — to  pass  at  least 
100  mesh.  The  concentrate  carries  30%  silica;  the 
portion  that  passes  through  200  mesh  represents 
15.5%  by  weight  and  as  it  is  worth  398  pesos  per  ton, 
it  contains  42%  of  the  assay-value  of  the  ore. 

In  watching  the  agitation  in  the  slime-vats,  it 
was  noticeable  how  the  circular  motion  becomes  ac- 
celerated until  the  moving  mass  of  pulp  and  solution 
advances  faster  than  the  paddles.  On  starting  the 
agitation,  one  can  see  the  sinuous  streaks  of  clear 
cyanide  solution  in  the  slime,  and  this  condition  of 
imperfect  dispersion  is  never  wholly  overcome;  it 
is  due  to  the  resistance  of  slime  to  diffusion.  I 
noticed  this  appearance  (or  phenomenon)  in  a  vat 
that  had  been  at  work  for  40  minutes.  Another  note; 
even  ten  minutes  after  the  agitator  is  stopped,  the 
movement  of  water  at  top  of  the  vat  continues  in  the 
direction  started  by  the  paddles.  Two  pounds  of 
lime  are  added  per  ton  of  solution  in  order  to  hasten 
settlement  of  the  slime.  The  effects  produced  have 
been  discussed  in  connection  with  milling  at  El  Oro. 

The  loss  of  sodium  cyanide  at  the  Sirena  mill  is 
4.12  pounds  per  ton  of  crude  ore,  while  the  consump- 
tion of  lime  is  at  the  rate  of  6  pounds,  worth  12  pesos 


TREATMENT  IN   THE  VATS  237 

per  metric  ton.  Sodium  cyanide  costs  lSjE4  cents 
per  pound  delivered  at  Marfil  station,  the  present 
terminus  of  the  Mexican  Central  railroad;  this  price 
is  on  the  basis  of  100%  cyanide,  but  as  sodium  cyanide 
contains  128  to  130%  cyanide,  the  cost  is  actually  a 
little  over  19  cents  per  pound;  to  this  must  be  added 
1.25  pesos,  or,  say,  60  cents  per  ton,  for  transport  to 
the  works,  making  the  total  cost  about  19^  cents  per 
pound. 

There  is  always  some  re-precipitation  when 
treating  silver  sulphide,  by  reason  of  the  formation 
of  potassium  sulphide,  but  this  is  diminished  by  the 
addition  of  lead  acetate,  which  forms  a  plumbous 
hydrate  that  removes  the  soluble  sulphides  by  form- 
ing a  lead  sulphide  and  the  potassium  or  sodium 
hydrate.  In  practice,  the  re-precipitation  of  silver  is 
surpassed  by  the  re-dissolving  of  it  in  the  cyanide 
solution. 

By  passing  through  cone-classifiers  the  product 
escaping  from  the  upper  mill  is  divided  into  'sand' 
and  'slime,'  which  are  treated  separately,  or  in  the 
cyanide  annex.  In  the  'sand'  department  there  were 
20  vats,  each  containing  an  average  charge  of  2,651.7 
cu.  ft.,  or  89.6  tons.  During  the  month  1,792  tons 
(dry)  of  sand  was  treated.  The  average  assay- value 
before  treatment  was  297.5  gm.  silver  and  1.37  gm. 
gold ;  after  treatment  the  contents  were  52  gm.  silver 
and  0.1  gm.  gold.  In  the  'slime'  department  there 
were  82  vats,  each  containing  3,851.8  cu.  ft.  of  wet 
slime,   equivalent   to   24.26   tons   dry.     During   the 


238  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

month,  1,989  tons  were  treated.  The  average  assay- 
value  before  treatment  was  275.5  gm.  silver  and  1.3 
gm.  gold.  After  treatment  the  assay  became  45.5 
gm.  silver  and  0.1  gm.  gold.  The  extraction  was 
85.1%  as  regards  the  silver  and  70%  of  the  gold  in 
the  pulp  treated  by  the  cyanide  annex,  the  total  re- 
covery by  cyanidation  being  41%  of  the  assay- value  of 
the  crude  ore,  so  that  the  combined  extraction  by 
cyanidation  and  concentration  was  91.2  per  cent.  The 
total  cost  of  cyanidation  was  $4.13,  and  the  consump- 
tion of  cyanide  1.9  kg.  per  ton. 

Note  should  be  made  of  the  fact  that  successful 
experiments  with  cyanide  on  silver  ore  had  been  made 
earlier  at  the  mines  in  Sinaloa,  but  the  results  had 
not  been  heralded  because  they  were  obtained  at 
private  properties,  and  even  in  these  cases  the  official 
tests  of  the  cyanide  company  at  Mexico  City  had 
discouraged  hope.  The  trouble  was  due  to  the  use 
of  too  weak  a  solution — a  swing  of  the  pendulum  in 
cyanide  practice,  for  in  its  early  days  the  main  fault 
was  the  employment  of  a  needlessly  strong  solution. 
Another  factor  that  prevented  success  with  these 
silver  ores,  was  the  insufficient  time  given  for 
chemical  action.  The  element  of  time  is  especially 
important  in  the  case  of  concentrate,  that  is,  iron 
pyrite  carrying  gold  free  and  silver  as  argentite ;  the 
millman  can  afford  to  give  the  time  required  because 
of  the  small  quantity  of  this  product  and  its  richness. 


(TtKHpter  31 


METHOD  OF  TREATMENT  IN  THE  BUSTOS  MILI^ 
CONVEYING  THE  TAILING  BY  PIPE— THE  STAMP- 
MILL— CYANIDE  PRACTICE  — COMPARISON  WITH 
THE  PATIO  PROCESS. 

EFERENCE  has  been  made  to 
the  milling  practice  of  the 
Guanajuato  Reduction  &  Mines 
Company  in  speaking  of  the 
Bustos  plant.  It  deserves 
further  consideration.  Although 
the  property  was  acquired  in 
January,  1904,  it  was  not  until 
February,  1905,  that  it  was  decided  to  build  80 
stamps,  rushing  the  erection  of  five  of  them  so  as  to 
afford  experimental  data  during  the  construction 
period.  Many  tests,  on  a  large  as  well  as  a  small 
scale,  had  already  demonstrated  that  a  high  extraction 
of  both  silver  and  gold  could  be  obtained  from  the 
ore  by  cyanidation,  and  the  experimental  plant  be- 
came of  great  service  in  testing  ores  from  different 
parts  of  the  company's  properties,  as  well  as  to  sug- 
gest the  detail  manipulation  best  adapted  to  the  main 
plant,  then  under  construction.  The  mines  are  a 
mile  from  Guanajuato,  and  there  are  no  streams 
available  for  disposing  of  the  tailing;  nor  is  there  the 
space  necessary  for  accumulating  residue  on  a  large 


240  AMONG   THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

scale.  It  became  necessary  to  discharge  the  tailing 
into  the  main  stream  of  the  district  one  mile  from  the 
mines,  and  this  meant  the  transport  of  all  ores 
through  the  heart  of  the  City  over  an  expensive  rail- 
road system,  or  the  complete  separation  of  the  stamp- 
mill  from  the  cyanide  plant,  the  latter  to  be  placed 
upon  the  main  stream. 

The  Homestake  system,  of  conveying  the  tailing 
in  a  cast-iron  sewer-pipe,  was  adopted;  it  is  an  8-in. 
water-pipe  of  bell  and  spigot  type,  asphalted,  laid  for 
its  first  few  hundred  feet  at  a  grade  of  3%,  then  flat- 
tening to  254%.  As  it  was  desirable  to  settle  and 
return  for  re-use  as  much  of  the  water  coming  from 
the  concentrators  as  possible,  allowing  the  thick  pulp 
only  to  pass  through  the  pipe,  and  to  determine  to 
what  point  such  thickening  was  possible,  several  hun- 
dred feet  of  the  pipe  to  be  employed  in  this  work  were 
put  together  and  laid  out  upon  the  actual  grade. 
Arrangements  were  made  to  circulate  any  given 
quantity  of  sand  (crushed  in  the  stamps  of  the  experi- 
mental plant  already  installed)  through  this  pipe-line 
at  any  desired  degree  of  dilution.  Pulp  was  first 
tried  at  a  normal  dilution  of  8  of  water  to  1  of  sand, 
just  as  it  came  from  the  tail  of  the  concentrator 
tables;  the  water  was  then  decanted  by  successive 
steps,  thickening  the  pulp,  and  several  runs  were 
made  under  these  varying  conditions.  It  was  de- 
sired to  remove  a  maximum  of  one-half  of  the  original 
water,  and  in  the  experiments  the  8  to  1  pulp  was  re- 
duced to  2.5  to  1;  and  so  successfully  that  not  only 


CONVEYING  TAIUNG  THROUGH  PIPE        241 

was  the  pipe  not  clogged  with  sand,  but  the  pulp  at 
that  thickness  had  such  rapidity  of  flow  that  it  readily 
carried  cast-iron  nuts  and  other  heavy  objects  with- 
out interrupting  the  stream.  Tests  made  by  Mr. 
Carlos  Van  Law  prove  that  pulp  which  has  passed 
through  a  30-mesh  screen,  with  water  in  the  propor- 
tion of  7j54  to  1,  will  flow  through  a  launder  of  square 
cross-section,  made  of  rough  boards,  set  on  a  grade 
of  ljS^%.  With  a  V-shaped  wooden  launder,  such 
pulp  will  flow  at  less  grade  and  with  less  water.  The 
area  of  the  wet  perimeter  is  the  chief  factor. 

This  problem  settled,  the  process  was  outlined  as 
follows :  The  ore  is  transported  over  a  railroad  from 
the  mines  in  hopper-bottom  cars,  which  discharge 
into  a  large  bin  at  the  crusher  plant.  It  is  then  re- 
duced by  a  No.  5  D.  Gates  crusher  to  2-in.  size,  dis- 
charging over  a  picking-belt  for  removal  of  waste, 
then  re-crushed  by  a  short-head  No.  4  Gates  crusher 
to  1-in.  ring,  then  removed  by  conveyor-belts  to  the 
mill-bins,  where  it  is  distributed  by  cars,  this  (owing 
to  cheap  labor)  proving  more  economical  than  the 
use  of  a  system  of  conveyor-belts  over  the  top  of  a 
bin  with  automatic  trippers.  The  mill-bin  has  a 
capacity  for  five  days,  which,  together  with  the  large 
bin  at  the  crusher  plant,  affords  sufficient  storage  of 
ore. 

The  ore  is  then  crushed  under  eighty  l,OSO-lb. 
stamps  of  AUis-Chalmers  make.  The  mortars  are  set 
on  a  concrete  foundation,  the  anvil-block  being  cast 
as  an  integral  part  of  the  mortar.     The  latter  has  a 


242  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

steel  liner,  two  inches  thick,  but  there  is  13.5  inches 
of  metal  below  the  liner.  Between  the  anvil-block 
and  the  concrete  a  quarter-inch  sheet  of  rubber  is 
spread.  The  mortar  has  a  broad  base — 36  inches 
wide — provided  with  strong  ribs  at  the  sides. 

The  30-mesh  pulp  resulting  from  the  stamping  is 
concentrated  over  Wilfley  tables,  a  considerable 
amount  of  middling  produced  being  removed  for  re- 
g^nding  in  an  Abbe  tube-mill  and  subsequent  treat- 
ment over  separate  concentrator  tables.  The  tailing 
from  all  the  machines  drops  into  concrete  launders 
and  passes  to  the  cones,  where  about  half  of  the  water 
is  removed  for  use  in  the  mill.  The  thickened  tailing 
then  enters  an  8-inch  cast-iron  pipe,  laid  with  the 
g^dient  above  mentioned,  and  goes  to  the  classifiers 
in  the  Hacienda  Flores,  situated  upon  the  main  chan- 
nel of  the  Guanajuato  river.  The  classifiers  are  all  of 
the  Homestake  type,  two  sets  of  cones  being  used,  the 
lower  one  taking  the  bottom  product  of  the  upper. 
The  overflow  from  both  sets  of  cones  goes  to  the  slime 
plant,  the  lower  cone  having  an  ascending  current  of 
water. 

The  sand  coming  from  the  bottom  of  the  lower 
cones  is  distributed,  by  the  Butters  &  Mein  device, 
into  either  of  two  receiving-vats,  each  of  350  tons 
capacity.  These  were  planned  to  serve  an  ultimate 
capacity  of  500  tons  daily,  with  the  slime  separated. 

The  receiving-vats  are  alternately  filled  and 
drained,  the  discharge  being  made  through  bottom 
gates  onto  ascending  conveyor-belts,  which  pass  over 


S.r :.-  ■  • .; 


t^ 


Ji 


PiPE-LiNE    fOR    CONVEVCNG    TaI 


Tube-Mill  at  Pachuca 


THE  HAQENDA   FLORES  243 

the  centre  of  the  line  of  eight  leaching-vats,  each  of 
the  same  size  as  the  receiving- vats.  In  these  a  14-day 
treatment  is  given  with  0.5%  cyanide  solution,  the 
sand  being  then  washed  and  ultimately  discharged 
on  conveyor-belts  (running  under  the  vats),  which 
deliver  either  into  the  river  during  the  rainy  season, 
or  to  elevated  storage-piles  during  the  dry  season,  to 
be  sluiced  during  the  succeeding  rainy  season. 

The  slime  from  the  classifying  cones  is  treated 
by  agitation  with  mechanical  stirring  and  large  cen- 
trifugal pumps,  which  draw  from  the  bottoms  of  the 
vats  and  discharge  over  the  tops,  the  total  time  of 
treatment  being  four  days.  After  the  final  wash  the 
slime  is  pumped  into  settling-vats  30  feet  high,  where 
a  further  decantation  occurs  before  the  slime  is  dis- 
charged, with  a  very  small  percentage  of  moisture, 
into  the  river. 

The  entire  plant,  both  the  stamp-mill  and  cya- 
nide annex,  is  designed  so  that  it  can  be  doubled,  when 
the  stamp-mill  will  take  a  back-to-back  form,  80 
stamps  with  their  concentrators  being  on  either  side 
of  the  bins.  The  classifying-cones  and  the  receiving- 
vats  of  the  cyanide  annex  are  of  sufficient  size  already 
for  a  500-ton  plant,  it  being  necessary  only  to  add 
another  line  of  eight  leaching-vats  and  the  corre- 
sponding slime-vats  to  bring  the  cyanide  plant  to  the 
larger  capacity  mentioned. 

For  roofing,  corrugated  galvanized  iron  on  a 
steel  frame  is  preferred.  As  there  is  no  load  of  snow 
to  fear,  it  is  possible  to  use  a  light  roof-truss.    The 


244  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

native  tile  is  cheaper,  but  it  requires  a  heavier  con- 
struction, and  does  not  afford  as  complete  protection. 
The  Northerner  will  remark  the  lavishness  of  the 
masonry  about  the  mines  and  mills  in  Mexico.  It  is 
the  cheapest  kind  of  construction  and  the  native  wood 
is  usually  poor;  it  will  twist  and  untwist  as  the  dry 
and  wet  seasons  succeed  each  other,  making  it  an 
unsatisfactory  structural  material. 

At  the  time  of  my  visit  there  were  120  stamps  in 
operation  in  the  Guanajuato  district,  and  there  were 
205  tons  being  treated  daily  by  cyanidation  and  25 
to  30  tons  by  the  Patio  process.  Thus  does  the  new 
drive  out  the  old.  In  1887  there  were  34  patios  at 
work;  now  there  are  only  two. 

In  regard  to  cost  in  the  Patio  process,  I  have  the 
following  data  from  the  Hacienda  de  San  Julio  at 
Pachuca : 

Pesos. 

Crushing,  to  pass  60-mesh  in  Chilean  mills,  with  overflow  discharge..  3.60 

Maintenance    0.50 

Salt,    5%,  or  SO  kg.  per  ton 1.75 

Copper  sulphate.    Loss,  0.5%  1.25 

Mercury.    Loss,  1^  kg.  for  each  kilogram  of  silver 4.38 

Transport  from  the  mine  , 1.08 

Total    1Z56 

The  ore  is  bought  on  the  dump,  therefore  the  cost 
of  transport  is  included.  Salt  costs  35  pesos  per  ton ; 
copper  sulphate,  250  pesos  per  ton ;  and  mercury,  3.41 
pesos  per  kilogram.  The  average  losses  for  the  year 
were  1.18  to  1.50  kg.  per  kilogram  of  silver  extracted; 
the  loss  of  silver  being  6.13  to  10.92%  on  the  clean  ore, 
and  15.83  to  29.13%  on  the  galena  ore.    The  Patio 


THE  COST  OF  THE  PATIO  PROCESS         245 

process  waits  on  the  completion  of  the  chemical  re- 
actions, and  it  is  therefore  continued  until  extraction 
ceases.  Time  is  not  considered;  in  winter  it  requires 
20%  longer  by  reason  of  the  lower  temperature  of  the 
air. 

At  Parral,  in  Chihuahua,  with  the  Russell 
process,  using  hyposulphite,  the  cost  of  lixiviation  and 
roasting  is  1 1  pesos,  but  the  recovery  is  not  as  high  as 
it  is  with  amalgamation  on  the  patio^  where  the  cost 
is  11  to  14  pesos,  varying  according  to  the  manganese 
content  of  the  ore. 

At  Pachuca,  by  Mexican  methods,  the  cost  of 
mining  and  sorting  ore  amounts  to  15  pesos  per  ton; 
the  transport  to  the  patio  and  the  treatment  there 
add  a  further  expense  of  14  pesos,  not  including  losses 
or  the  expense  of  marketing  the  product.  By  stamp- 
milling,  pan  amalgamation,  and  concentration,  the 
cost  at  Guanajuato  was  8  pesos ;  and  now  by  stamp- 
milling  and  cyanidation  the  cost  is  5.85  pesos.  That 
of  mining  and  development  is  3.50  to  4.50  pesos,  so 
that  the  total  present  cost  is  about  10  pesos,  or  $5 
per  ton. 

At  the  time  of  my  visit  there  were  about  200  men, 
women,  and  children  in  the  Anglo-American  colony 
at  Guanajuato,  the  American  element  predominat- 
ing. Of  the  125  men  employed,  75  to  80  were  techni- 
cal men,  of  good  training.  This  made  a  strong  piece 
of  mental  machinery  for  industrial  development. 


C^Ur  32 


OLD  METHODS— AN  ABANDONED  ARRASTRE— THE 
HACIENDA  DE  ROCHA— MEN   AND  MULES. 


XAMPLES  of  old  methods  of 
engineering,  now  becoming  dis- 
placed by  the  aggressive  inroads 
!  of  technical  science,  are  afforded 
by  two  photographs  that  are  re- 
produced on  the  accompanying 
pages.  One  shows  a  Mexican 
drawing  water  by  the  aid  of  a 
mule  operating  a  lantern-gear  wheel.  In  the  fore- 
ground is  a  channel,  made  of  cement,  along  which 
the  water  is  directed  for  purposes  of  irrigation.  The 
adobe  walls  and  pepper  tree  (perul)  are  typical  of 
Mexico.  In  front  of  the  well  there  are  two  women, 
one  of  whom  is  washing  and  the  other  gossiping.  It 
was  ever  thus. 

On  another  page  there  is  a  photograph  of  some 
old  machinery  at  San  Francisco,  in  the  State  of 
Michoacan,  and  about  seven  miles  from  El  Oro.  In 
the  foreground  is  the  pit  of  an  arrastre;  the  cords  that 
attached  the  mullers  or  grinding  stones  to  the  re- 
volving arms  of  the  machine  are  easily  distinguish- 
able. The  cord  or  riata  is  made  of  grass  fibre, 
although  for  this  purpose  leather  thongs  are  more 
usual.  Motive  power  was  obtained  through  the 
wooden  spur-gear  operated  by  a  water-wheel  within 


An  Old  Abk. 


AN  OLD  PATIO  247 

the  building,  the  wall  of  which  forms  the  background. 
The  water-wheel  is  20  feet  in  diameter  and  carries  a 
pinion  that  gears  with  the  crown-wheel  on  the  ver- 
tical shaft  of  the  arrastre.  One  of  the  discarded  (be- 
cause worn  out)  grinding  stones  lies  in  the  sunlit 
foreground. 

As  the  Patio  process  is  surely  destined  to  become 
obsolete  with  the  introduction  of  more  rapid  (and 
therefore  cheaper)  methods  of  metallurgical  treat- 
ment, it  is  worth  while  to  preserve  an  accurate  record 
of  this  old  method  of  extracting  silver  from  the  ore. 
By  courtesy  of  Mr.  Bernard  MacDonald,  I  am  able 
to  reproduce  the  plates  accompanying  a  report  made 
in  1866  by  E.  Tillmann,  the  Royal  Commissioner  of 
Mines.  This  Prussian  officer  had  visited  Guanajuato 
in  1865  at  the  instance  of  his  own  government  to  ex- 
amine the  mining  practice  then  obtaining  in  the  most 
progressive  parts  of  Mexico. 

The  plate  opposite  page  250  gives  a  photographic 
view  of  the  Hacienda  de  Rocha  and  a  plan  of  the  es- 
tablishment, the  various  departments  of  which  are 
indicated  by  letters,  with  an  explanation  in  Spanish 
on  the  margin.  This  is  a  good  example  of  an  old 
hacienda  de  beneficio^  the  mechanical  details  being  illus- 
trated in  five  spirited  drawings,  all  of  which  are  here 
reproduced.  Fig.  23  shows  the  stamp-mill,  with 
wooden  stems  (^,  b)  shod  with  iron  {c,  c),  resembling 
those  generally  used  in  Mexico  until  recently.  The 
motive  power  is  obtained  from  four  mules  harnessed 


348  AMONG  THE  MINES   OF   MEXICO 


2SO  AMONG  THE   MINES   OF   MEXICO 

to  the  long  arm  (k)  of  a  whim  or  malacate.    The  teeth 
of  the  interlocking  wheels  are  made  of  wood. 

After  being  crushed  under  the  stamps,  the  ore  is 
passed  to  the  arrastre  exhibited  in  Fig.  24.  Here  the 
fine  grinding  was  done.  The  mules  are  again  in  evi- 
dence. The  bed  of  the  arrastre  consists  of  stones 
placed  on  end  and  the  muUer  or  upper  grindstone  (/) 
is  hung  by  chains  (^)  or  leather  thongs  from  the 
radial  arm  (^)  extending  from  the  pivotal  axis  (^). 
When  it  had  been  reduced  to  a  fine  pulp  by  the  arrastre^ 
the  ore  was  allowed  to  settle  and  thicken  before  being 
taken  to  the  open  yard  or  patio  where  it  was  mixed 
with  magistral^  salt,  and  quicksilver,  as  we  have  seen 
at  Pachuca.  After  being  exposed  to  the  air  and  thor- 
oughly mixed  by  the  tread  of  squads  of  mules,  it  was 
conveyed  to  the  settling-vats  shown  in  Fig.  25,  where 
it  was  thinned  with  water,  so  as  to  allow  the  amalgam 
to  separate  and  accumulate  on  the  bottom.  Then  the 
amalgam  was  distilled  in  an  iron  retort  of  the  shape 
indicated  by  Fig.  26.  This  resembles  the  one  seen  in 
the  Hacienda  La  Union,  at  Pachuca,  and  described 
on  a  preceding  page.  Finally,  in  the  last  drawing 
(Fig.  27)  there  is  an  excellent  representation  of  the 
manner  in  which  the  cast-iron  hood  was  raised  when 
the  distillation  of  the  mercury  was  completed,  dis- 
closing the  sponge  of  silver  that  remained  in  the  re- 
tort.   This  silver  was  melted  into  bars. 

"By  the  wayside  of  progress  lie  the  broken  images 
of  the  past." 


RETORTING  THE  AMALGAM  asi 


r 


f ^^J^te 


Cfyxptzt  33 


THE  FLOOD  AT  GUANAJUATO— THE  HUMOR  AND 
THE  TRAGEDY  OF  IT— CONCLUSION. 

;  UANAJUATO  had  a  flood,  and 
j  like  that  of  Noah,  it  serves  as  a 
new  starting  point  in  local  his- 
tory; things  happened  B.  F.  or 
I  A.  F.  The  catastrophe  occurred 
'  on  the  first  and  second  days  of 
1  July,  1905,  so  that  the  recollec- 
[  tions  of  it  were  still  vivid  at  the 
time  of  my  visit.  Unusual  tropical  showers  poured 
upon  the  neighboring  country,  and  the  waters  con- 
verged from  a  steep  watershed  into  a  narrow  ravine 
choked  by  bridges  and  crowded  with  dwellings. 
Never  wide,  the  bed  of  the  Guanajuato  river  had 
been  elbowed  by  roads,  houses,  and  debris,  so  that  in 
places  there  was  left  a  channel  only  two  metres  deep 
and  four  metres  wide.  Furthermore,  it  was  ex- 
tremely tortuous,  the  original  course  of  the  river 
having  been  repeatedly  diverted  to  secure  space  for 
buildings.  On  the  first  day,  the  water  rose  to  a  level 
which  just  exceeded  that  of  the  flood  of  1873 — about 
four  feet  above  the  street.  On  the  second  day  the 
volume  of  water  doubled,  it  rose  15  to  17  feet 
above  the  pavement,  and  made  terrific  havoc  among 
the  soft  masonry  and  mud  walls  of  the  old  town, 
which  melted  like  salt  before  the  onrush.     A  few 


THE  FLOOD  253 

minutes  sufficed  to  cause  the  collapse  of  many  build- 
ings, and  to  create  fearful  confusion.  At  that  time  a 
sewer  was  being  constructed  at  the  upper  end  of  the 
town,  near  the  Presa,  and  the  timbers  of  this  were 
torn  out,  to  be  carried  forward  so  as  to  form  a  batter- 
ing ram,  demolishing  the  adobe  walls  and  choking 
the  confined  channel  of  the  torrent.  Officially  it  is 
stated  that  54  were  killed,  but  7Z  were  carried  to  the 
morgue,  and  it  is  probable  that  fully  100  people  per- 
ished. Many  Mexicans  from  the  outside  country 
happened  to  be  visiting  the  town,  it  being  the  time  of 
a  fiesta^  and  of  these  a  number  were  never  accounted 
for.    No  Europeans  or  Americans  were  drowned. 

At  the  time,  there  was  nothing  humorous  about 
the  disaster,  but,  with  that  happy  instinct  of  hu- 
manity, as  the  horror  was  forgotten,  some  of  the  ab- 
surdities were  remembered.  To  the  natives  it  was  an 
opportunity  for  spoil;  looting  was  general.  "jBj  un 
regalito  de  Dios  a  nosotros  que  no  sabemos  trabajar^^ — "it 
is  a  little  gift  from  God  to  those  of  us  who  don't  know 
how  to  work,"  so  they  said  to  themselves.  Some  of 
the  peones  laid  their  hands  on  a  shoe-store  that  had 
been  devastated,  and  to  this  day  they  can  be  seen 
wearing  a  tan  shoe  on  one  foot  and  black  leather  on 
the  other.  The  pink  and  green  steamer-trunks  of 
an  American  lady  glorified  the  torrent  for  a  while; 
they  bobbed  under  the  arch  of  a  picturesque  bridge, 
and  landed  in  the  second  story  of  a  needy  native.  A 
mule  was  borne  by  the  flood  into  another  second 
story,  and  in  his  terror  he  bit  into  a  box  of  Ivory  soap, 


254  AMONG   THE   MINES    OF   MEXICO 

and  it  was  this  that  buoyed  him  across  the  waters. 
Billiard  tables,  with  their  slate  tops  cruelly  exposed, 
were  engulfed  in  the  whirling  debris.  Seventeen 
pianos  and  two  cannons  meandered  down  stream  to 
the  sound  of  many  waters  and  their  own  spontaneous 
accompaniment.  An  azure  splendor  suffused  the 
scene  as  a  box  of  bluing  from  a  laundry  made  its 
vivid  passage;  whereupon  the  pianos  played  a  fa- 
miliar waltz  of  Strauss.  Bolts  of  silk  appeared  among 
late  mules  and  defunct  pigs,  street-cars  were  seen 
with  men  balancing  on  their  unsteady  decks  until  the 
upper  windows  of  a  church  offered  shelter.  The 
Teatro  de  Juarez  received  a  complement  of  burros, 
and  the  compliment  of  their  lamentations,  which 
simulated  grand  opera,  just  as  the  sequel  imitated 
Noah's  Ark,  for  when  the  waters  subsided,  they  made 
their  timid  descent  down  the  grand  staircase  with  all 
the  dignity  befitting  a  momentous  occasion.  But 
worse  things  than  these  happened ;  a  case  of  Saratoga 
whisky  floated  onto  the  desk  of  a  total  abstainer — and 
the  owner  of  the  whisky  never  saw  it  again. 

With  the  downpour  of  rain  came  darkness,  the 
natives  lit  candles,  and  the  women  came  out  on  the 
balconies  with  lights,  wherewith  they  made  the  sign 
of  the  cross,  the  church  bells  were  rung,  and  to  the 
natural  horror  of  the  scene  was  added  a  touch  of 
solemnity.  This  was  on  the  first  day;  when  the  sec- 
ond flood  came  in  the  late  afternoon  of  the  second 
day,  with  its  repetition  of  an  uncanny  darkness,  the 
people    crowded    to    the    adjoining   hilltops,   which 


CONCLUSION  255 

were  brilliantly  illuminated  with  moving  candles, 
while  the  air  vibrated  to  a  thousand  bells.  To  them 
it  was  the  end  of  the  world,  and  we,  of  San  Francisco, 
who  saw  a  greater  devastation,  can  well  imagine  that 
to  their  simple  minds  it  seemed  a  horror  beyond 
explanation. 

And  so  I  come  to  the  end  of  the  notes  that  record 
my  recent  travels  in  Mexico.  To  speak  in  the  lan- 
guage of  photography:  I  brought  some  films  from 
Mexico;  most  of  them  were  only  snapshots,  there  be- 
ing no  opportunity  to  get  time  exposures;  therefore 
the  images  that  I  have  delineated,  and  the  impres- 
sions that  I  have  tried  to  convey,  may  lack  definition. 
But  beyond  the  mental  imprints  which  it  has  been  my 
endeavor  to  transfer  to  the  pages  devoted  to  this 
account  of  a  journey  in  the  southern  land,  I  brought 
other  memories  and  experiences,  which  were  never 
developed ;  they  remain  blurred,  and  to  none  but  my- 
self have  they  a  meaning.  I  have  recollections  of 
multi-colored  facades,  of  sunlit  walls,  and  cool  patios^ 
the  sound  of  bells,  and  the  cracking  of  whips,  cries  of 
cerveza  and  frijoles^  conical  hats  and  hooded  women, 
a  stream  of  chocolate-colored  humanity,  a  politeness 
that  gave  dignity  to  the  commonplace,  a  squalor  that 
soiled  romance,  and  a  sunshine  that  glorified  every- 
thing; and  then,  like  the  refrain  of  a  song  that  we 
love,  the  kindness  of  the  men  of  my  own  race,  and  the 
hospitality  of  women  who  make  every  abiding  place 
a  home.    And  so,  Vayan  con  Dios  mis  amigos. 


'Thctoss  t^e 

San3uan  Mtountains 


Being  the  account  of  a  ride  over  the  mountainous 
mining  regions  of  Southwestern  Colorado,  in 
September,  1902.  Reprinted  by  permission  from 
The     Engineering    and     Mining    Journal. 


(ToitUnts 


Chapter  Page 

1.  The  Start  from  Ouray.    Visit  to  the  American  Nettie 

Mine.    Qastic  Dikes.    A  Picturesque  Tramway      i 

2.  The  Bachelor  Mine.     Trail  Horses  and  Mountain 

Transport.  Miners'  Coffee.  A  Strange  Dike. 
The  Theory  of  Its  Formation.  Description  of 
the  Bachelor  Lode 7 

3.  Across  the  Range  to  Telluride.     Mountain  Roads. 

The  Camp  Bird  Mill.  Treatment  of  the  Ore. 
The  Local  Geology.    Electrical  Power     ...     20 

4.  The  Camp  Bird  Mine.     Story  of  Its  Discovery  by 

Thomas  F.  Walsh.  On  the  Top  of  the  Range. 
Arrival  at  Telluride 28 

Mills  and  Tramways  of  Telluride.    Operations  at  a 

High  Altitude.    Snowslides  and  Their  Effects  .     32 

Destruction  of  the  Camp  Bird  Mill.  The  Assassina- 
tion of  Arthur  Collins.    Labor  Riots  ....     38 

The  Smuggler-Union  Mine.    Structure  of  the  Lode. 

Geological  Conditions.    Variety  of  Minerals     .     44 
8.    The  Contention  Mine.    An  Aerial  Voyage.    Good 

Mine  Management 51 

On  the  Way  to  Silverton.  The  Bridal  Veil  Falls. 
Fine  Geological  Section.  Ophir.  The  Red 
Mountains 55 

10.  Silverton  and  Its  Early  History.  The  First  Smelters 
in  Colorado.  Pioneers  of  Industry.  Rapidity  of 
Development 60 

11.  The  North  Star  and  Silver  Lake  Tramways.  Some 
Qever  Engineering.  Comparisons.  Double  and 
Single  Ropeways.    Eureka.    Veteran  Miners.     .     66 

•  •  • 

•  m 


CONTENTS 

Chapter  Page 

12.  The    Cinnamon    Pass.     Electrical    Transmission    of 

Power.     The  Tabasco  Mill.     Burroughs  Park, 
The  Secondary  Enrichment  of  Copper  Veins.     .     75 

13.  The  Golden  Fleece.    A  Bonanza  and  Its  Vicissitudes. 

Geological  Features.    Theories  of  Lode  Forma- 
tion.   The  Treatment  of  the  Ore 80 

14.  SlumguUion  Gulch.    Landslides.    The  Cannibal  Pla- 

teau.   A  Grim  Tale.    Rock  Disintegration.     A 
Natural  Cathedral 87 

15.  The  CeboUa  Hot  Springs.    Thermal  Activity  in  the 

Rocky  Mountains.    Its  Relation  to  Ore  Deposits. 
The  Gunnison  Plateau 92 

16.  Vulcan.     The  Good  Hope  Mine.     Geology  of  the 

Vein.     Native   Sulphur  and   Tellurium.     Acid 
Waters.    Theories  of  Origin.    Rare  Minerals     .     95 

17.  Gunnison.    The  Derelict  of  a  Boom.    Crested  Butte. 

The  Irwin  District.     Silver  Vein  in  Sandstone. 
Anthracite.    The  Smith  Mine 105 

18.  The  Coal   Mine  at  Floresta.     How  Anthracite   Is 

Formed.     Methods  of  Mining.     The   Breaker. 

A  Panoramic  View 112 

19.  Over   the   Ohio   Pass.    At   Gunnison   Again.  Fishy 

Yams.     Gate  View.    Poetry  and  Geology     .      .119 

20.  Lake  City.     The  Ute  and  Ulay  Mines.     Concentrat- 

ing Mill.     Electrical  Drills.     New  Mills     .      .   123 

21.  Rose's  Cabin.     Climbing  the  Range.     A  Snowstorm. 

Bear  Creek.    After  the  Storm.     A  Glorious  Pic- 
ture.    Arrival  at  Ouray 127 


IV 


TClsl  of  'JUttslratlORs 


Facing  Page 

The  Amphitheatre  of  Ouray 4 

The  American  Nettie  Mine,  near  Ouray 5 

Pack-Train  at  the  American  Nettie  Mine 6 

Mules  Laden  with  Lumber  for  the  Mines 7 

Pieces  of  the  Qastic  Dike  in  the  Bachelor  Mine  ....  10 

A  Prospector  and  His  Burros 11 

Sunshine  and  Shadow  on  Snow.    The  Silver  King  Mine     .  12 

The  Camp  Bird  Mine 13 

In  the  Heart  of  the  Mountains 18 

Mt.  Potosi 19 

Mt.  Abram,  near  Ouray.    A  Bit  of  Geology  on  the  Road-Side  24 

Hauling  Concentrate  from  the  Camp  Bird  Mill  ....  24 

The  Revenue  Mills,  near  Ouray 25 

The  Crest  of  the  Range  and  the  Upper  Workings  of  the 

Virginius  Mine 25 

Mt.  Wilson  and  the  Valley  of  the  San  Miguel 30 

Savage  Basin 31 

The  Liberty  Bell  Mine 36 

The  Bullion  Adit  of  the  Smuggler-Union  Mine     .  .      .37 

Looking  down  Canyon  Creek 38 

Camp  Bird  Mill  Burning 39 

Destruction  of  the  Camp  Bird  Mill  by  Snowslide  and  Fire    .  42 

After  the  Fire  at  the  Camp  Bird  Mill 43 

The  Smuggler-Union  Mills  at  Pandora 44 

The  Smuggler-Union  Mill  at  Pandora 45 

Smuggler-Union  Tramway.    A  Load  of  Lumber  ....  52 

Marshall  Basin 53 

Looking  Backward  from  the  Bridal  Veil  Trail  ....  54 

Telluride  and  Its  Geological  Section 55 

V 


LIST  OF   ILLUSTRATIONS 

Facing  Page 

Timber-Line.    At  ii,(xx>  ft.  above  Sea-Level 58 

The  Ophir  Loop.     The  Village  of  Ophir  in  the  Valley 

Beyond 59 

Silverton 60 

The  Mines  of  Red  Mountain 61 

Breaking  Trail  Through  the  Snow.    'Man  in  the  Bucket.' 

An  Easier  Mode  of  Travel 68 

Rope  Tramways 69 

A  Pack-Train  on  the  Way  to  the  Old  Hundred  Mine,  in 

Cunningham  Gulch,  near  Silverton 76 

The  First  Snow.     Silver  Lake  Trail ^^ 

The  Toll  Road  between  Ouray  and  Silverton 82 

The  Valley  of  the  Uncompahgre 83 

Yellow  Mountain.    Early  Snow 94 

Vulcan.     Burroughs  Park 95 

Diorite  Contact  on  Silver  Mountain,  near  Ophir  ....  102 
Looking  Down  the  Valley  below  Red  Mountain  ....   103 

Mt.  Teocalli.    A  Highland  Meadow 106 

After  Riding  400  Miles 107 

The  Portals  of  the  River 112 

Mt.  Sneffels 113 

After  the  Storm.    On  the  Crest  of  the  Range 128 

Ouray 129 


VI 


TClsl  of  T)rawln^ 


Figure  Page 

Map  of  Southwestern  Colorado 3 

1.  Pockets  of  Ore 4 

2.  The  Bachelor  Dike 11 

3.  A  Cross-Section 13 

4.  A  Disappearing  Fault 15 

Section  of  American  Nettie  Orebodies 18 

Dike  of  Gilsonite 19 

5.  Section  Along  Uncompahgre  Creek 25 

Map  of  Telluride  District,  Colorado 27 

6.  The  Smuggler  Vein 46 

7.  Another  Section  of  the  Smuggler  Vein     ....  47 

Cross-Section  of  the  Contention  Lode 50 

A  Fault- Vein  Faulted 54 

8.  Section  Along  the  Golden  Fleece  Lode      ....  82 
A  Lode  in  Quartz-Schist.    New  Zealand  ....  94 

9.  The  Good  Hope  Vein 97 

10  and  II.     Examples  of  Vein  Structure 99 

12.  The  Ruby  Chief  Vein 109 

Upturned   Strata   of   the   West   Slope   of   the   Elk 

Mountains iii 

13.  Porphyrite  Dike  in  Sandstone 115 

Geological  Map  of  the  Anthracite  Region  .  .116 

The  Laccolith  of  Mt.  Marcellina 118 

Gothic    Mountain.      A    Trachytic    Mass    Overlying 

Cretaceous  Rocks 122 


vu 


'Across  l\)t 

San3uan  2^ountalns 


(LfyxfUx  t 


THE  START  FROM  OtJRAY— VISIT  TO  THE  AMERI- 
CAN NETTIE  MINE— CLASTIC  DIKES— A  PICTUR- 
ESQUE TRAMWAY. 

N  a  superb  morning  in 
September,  that  month  of 
many  colors,  four  of  us* 
started  on  a  ride  among 
the  mining  districts  of  the 
San  Juan  in  southwestern 
Colorado.  The  starting 
point  was  Ouray,  the  pic- 
turesque little  town  named 
after  the  old  chief,  an  In- 
dian of  renown,  the  friend  of  the  white  men  that  first 
explored  the  mountain  fastnesses  of  the  Uncom- 
pahgre.  From  Ouray  we  rode  across  the  ranges  to 
Telluride,  Silverton,  Lake  City,  Gunnison,  and  thence 
to  Crested  Butte  and  back,  following  a  course  which, 


2  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

on  the  map,  looks  like  a  figure  8,  with  Ouray  at  the 
base  of  the  lower  loop  and  Crested  Butte  at  the  top. 
See  map.  The  distance  was  slightly  over  400  miles; 
the  country  traversed  is  beautiful  to  the  traveler  and 
interesting  to  the  mining  engineer,  so  that  the  experi- 
ence was  sufficiently  rich  in  incidents  and  information 
to  warrant  the  account  which  it  is  my  purpose  to 
present. 

We  left  Ouray  early  on  the  5th  of  September, 
1902,  with  the  intention  of  visiting  two  mines  in  the 
vicinity — the  American  Nettie  and  the  Bachelor.  A 
mile  below  the  town  the  trail  ascends  the  precipitous 
sides  of  Gold  hill,  and  as  our  sure-footed  mountain 
horses  followed  the  zig-zag  through  the  pines  we 
found  that  each  turn  of  the  trail  brought  a  steadily 
expanding  vista  until,  halting  on  a  projecting  rock, 
we  could  see  far  out  toward  the  north  to  the  table- 
lands behind  Montrose,  across  the  near  valley  to  the 
terraced  dip-slopes  of  Triassic  sandstone,  down  upon 
Ouray  itself,  cradled  amid  red  rocks  and  golden 
aspens,  and  up  beyond  the  town  to  the  sentinel  peak 
of  Mt.  Abram,  which  guards  the  sources  of  the 
swiftly  flowing  Uncompahgre. 

On  arrival  at  the  American  Nettie  mine,  the 
superintendent,  Mr.  Kunz,  permitted  us  to  visit  the 
underground  workings.  These  have  an  aggregate 
length  of  12  miles,  and  consist  of  a  series  of  adits  and 
drifts  penetrating  the  top  layers  of  the  Dakota  sand- 
stone where  it  comes  in  contact  with  the  overlying 
black  shale  of  the  Colorado  series.     Both  formations 


MAP  OF  SOUTHWESTERN   COLORADO  3 


4  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

are  members  of  the  Cretaceous,  the  Dakota  being  the 
basal  member  of  that  division.  The  ore  is  found  in 
irregular  masses  occupying  chambers  in  the  sand- 
stone and  impregnating  the  rock  along  stringers  or 
small  veins,  which  serve  as  a  g^ide  in  prospecting. 
In  the  cavities  the  ore  consists  chiefly  of  a  sintery 
mass  of  oxidized  material,  earthy  and  red,  but  when 
the  ore  is  found  impregnating  the  body  of  the  sand- 
stone it  appears  in  the  form  of  sulphides — iron  and 
copper  pyrites,  blende,  galena,  and  gray  copper.    The 


•   •     • 


r.S.w. 


<fr4L« 


t?j  gA<»JT»HC     IsJ.^K'tf'L.     0  ORft  Fl«kl. 


best  ore  seems  to  hug  the  contact  with  the  overlying 
shale,  in  the  manner  illustrated  in  Fig.  1,  where  A  and 
B  are  'pockets'  of  ore  reaching  downward  from  the 
shale-sandstone  parting  and  connected  by  a  seam 
X  J*,  which  follows  the  line  of  division  between  the 
two  rock  formations.  The  pockets  are  full  of  crumbly 
oxidized  ore  intermixed  with  a  little  gypsum,  while 
X  T  also  carries  some  gypsum  and  a  thin  layer  of 
black  crumbly  lime-shale,  which  suggests  that  it 
originated  from  the  dissolution  of  an  impure  gypsum. 
The  bedding  is  flat,  with  a  slight  dip  to  the  northeast. 


r> 


AMERICAN   NETTIE   MINE  S 

and  the  formation  is  crossed  by  almost  vertical  dikes 
which  have  evidently  been  the  immediate  cause  of 
such  fracturing  of  the  sandstone  as  was  favorable  to 
subsequent  ore  deposition.  In  prospecting,  it  is  found 
best  to  follow  stringers  of  pyrite  or  even  mere  'walls' 
(slight  fractures  devoid  of  ore)  that  are  parallel  to 
the  course  of  the  dikes. 

These  dikes  are  peculiar;  they  are  not  made  up  of 
volcanic  rock;  on  the  contrary,  they  consist  of  clastic* 
material,  that  is,  fragments  of  sedimentary  rock;  in 
the  American  Nettie  mine  the  fragments  were  recog- 
nizable as  pieces  of  sandstone,  probably  derived  from 
beds  not  far  away.  The  dikes  that  we  saw  were  2  to  4 
feet  wide,  and  were  well  defined  by  their  distinct 
walls;  the  country  near  them  was  fractured  and 
sheeted,  a  condition  probably  due  to  the  disturbance 
brought  about  by  the  intrusions  of  volcanic  rock, 
which  are  known  to  occur  in  certain  parts  of  Gold 
hill.  Not  that  the  clastic  dikes  are  of  direct  volcanic 
origin — quite  the  contrary ;  they  are  built  up  entirely 
of  sedimentary  rock  material,  which  has  been  packed 
together  and  cemented  by  the  water  that  has  found 
its  way  into  them;  they  occupy  fractures  that  may 
have  been,  and  probably  were,  the  indirect  result  of 
an  intrusion,  through  the  neighboring  formation,  of 
true  eruptive  matter,  such  as  has  been  referred  to  as 
actually  occurring  near-by.  On  the  high  ridge  above 
the  American  Nettie  mine  there  is  a  coarsely  porphy- 

'From  the  Greek,  khstos,  broken.     It  is  employed  to  describe 
rocks  made  up  of  fragments,  as  distinguished  from  the  crystalline. 


6  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

ritic  diorite,  which  suggests  an  agency  capable  of 
having  brought  about  the  fracturing  that  led,  first, 
to  the  formation  of  the  clastic  dikes  and,  subse* 
quently,  to  the  circulation  of  the  ore-depositing 
waters. 

The  American  Nettie  has  a  new  tramway,  whose 
catenary  curve  sweeps  from  the  high  cliffs  of  Gold 
hill,  and,  with  undeviating  line,  bridges  the  abyss  of 
the  valley.  It  is  a  picturesque  bit  of  engineering.  A 
descent  of  1,820  feet  is  made  in  4,200  feet.  The  span 
that  crosses  the  valley  is  2,100  feet  long,  and  in  that 
distance  the  drop  is  915  feet.  The  engineers  of 
the  Leschen  Company  built  it  and,  owing  to  the 
abrupt  contour  of  the  ground,  they  had  to  make 
especial  provision  for  safety.  The  descending  side 
has  a  cable  1^-inch  diameter,  while  the  cable 
upon  which  the  empties  return  is  one  inch  in 
diameter.  The  traction  rope  is  ^  inch.  To  the 
latter,  button-shaped  clips  are  permanently  attached, 
with  intervening  spaces,  the  length  of  which  is  regfu- 
lated  by  the  number  of  buckets  in  use.  The  buckets 
are  automatically  detached  and  attached  to  the  rope, 
at  the  loading  and  terminal  stations;  at  both  terminals 
the  buckets  receive  a  retarding  and  accelerating 
movement,  as  they  arrive  and  depart,  respectively,  in 
order  to  diminish  the  vibration  attendant  on  the  re- 
moval of  the  load  from  the  line,  and  the  return  of  it 
into  service. 


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»^     ... 

(TlKtpter  2 


THE  BACHELOR  MINE— TRAIL  HORSES  AND  MOUN- 
TAIN TRANSPORT— MINERS'  COFFEE^A  STRANGE 
DIKE— THE  THEORY  OF  ITS  FORMATION— DESCRIP- 
TION   OF   THE   LODE. 

FTER  leaving  the  American 
Nettie  mine  we  followed  the 
trail  that  took  us  around  the 
northern  ramparts  of  Gold  hill, 
down  into  the  valley,  whence  a 
road  led  to  the  Bachelor  mine  in 
Red  canon.  Two  members  of  the 
;  party,  who  were  unused  to  the 
mountain  horse,  marveled  at  his  sure-footedness  as 
we  scrambled  down  talus  slopes  and  threaded  our  way 
among  loose  blocks  of  fallen  rock.  It  is  my  experi- 
ence that  a  good  'trail  horse'  will  go  almost  anywhere 
that  a  man  can  go  without  using  his  hands,  while  the 
patient  burro  (donkey)  will  walk  safely  over  ledges 
which  bring  a  tremor  to  the  hearts  of  those  who  are 
not  mountaineers.  All  the  exploratory  work  of  the 
Rocky  Mountain  regions  was  done  by  'packing,'  that 
is,  by  the  transport  of  supplies  and  machinery  on  the 
backs  of  animals.  Both  mules  and  donkeys  are  used 
in  this  service.  When  the  former  are  employed  they 
are  strung  out  in  a  line  and  connected  by  rope.  A 
man  rides  the  leading  mule  and  guides  the  whole 


i  ACROSS  THE  SAX  JUAX  MOCXTADfS 

aralcaAc  Anotlier  maa  usasIlT  walks  or  rides  in 
tke^  rear.  When  iums  i  ihe  word  "doakcj"  betii|^ 
rkttlj  heard  in  the  mfnfng  regions »  are  engaged  in 
packing  they  are  not  tied  together,  bet  each  goes 
loos^  and  the  owner  drrres  them  Eke  a  flock  of  sheep, 
though  differing  from  the  latter  in  that  they  have 
learned^  from  the  narrowness  of  the  trails,  to  walk  in 
stngie  file  when  that  is  reqnircd  for  safety.  A  nmle 
win  carry  250  potmds  up  grade  and  350  pounds  down, 
while  a  Intrro  can  manage  to  carry  an  average  of  200 
pounds.  The  mnle  requires  to  be  fed,  but  the  hnro 
can  eke  ont  a  precariotxs  existence  on  the  scant  grass 
of  the  mountain  slopes,  and  for  this  reason  he  has 
been  most  serviceable  to  the  pioneer  and  the  pros- 
pector; if  the  camel  be  named  *the  ship  of  the  desert,' 
the  patient  long-eared  friend  of  the  miner  mig^t  well 
be  christened  'the  porter  of  the  hills/ 

When  we  reached  the  Bachelor  mine  the  noon-day 
meal  was  ready,  so  we  accepted  the  invitation  of  Mr. 
George  Hurlbut,  the  principal  owner  of  the  property, 
to  take  luncheon  before  going  underground.  It  will 
not  be  out  of  place  to  refer  to  the  food  that  miners 
get  in  localities  like  these ;  it  is  surprisingly  good,  as 
a  rule,  even  at  mines  which  are  a  couple  of  miles 
above  sea-level  and  a  corresponding  distance  from 
the  main  distributing  points  for  provisions.  The 
companies  usually  charge  one  dollar  per  day  for 
board  and  lodging,  where  standard  wages  are  $3  per 
shift.  The  fare  which  the  miner  gets  three  times  a 
day  is  superior  to  that  of  the  second-class  hotel  of 


MINER'S   FARE  9 

the  neighboring  mining  towns  and  far  better  than 
that  which  is  the  daily  portion  of  workmen  in  other 
countries.  There  is  always  one  weak  spot — the 
coflfee ;  partly  because  it  is  not  prepared  immediately 
before  being  served  and  partly  because  it  is  made 
from  adulterated  mixtures,  and  largely  because  the 
average  mine  cook  does  not  know  the  taste  of  real 
coflfee — ^at  all  events,  it  is  a  concoction  out  of  keeping 
with  the  excellence  of  the  remainder  of  the  miner's 
fare  and  much  better  adapted  for  staining  floors  or 
removing  boiler-scale. 

The  Bachelor  lode  is  closely  associated  with  a 
clastic  dike  of  peculiar  character;  the  same  lode  fol- 
lows the  dike  through  the  mine  to  the  east,  the  Khed- 
ive, and  to  the  west,  the  Wedge.  Light-colored 
sandstone  and  shale,  belonging  to  the  upper  sub- 
division of  the  Triassic,  constitute  the  prevailing 
formation;  their  dip  is  slightly  southeastward  and 
they  are  crossed  almost  at  right  angles  by  a  dike, 
which  inclines  a  little  to  the  north  and  follows  a  fault- 
fissure  of  small  displacement.  In  the  Khedive  the 
sedimentaries  form  a  low  monoclinal  fold  broken  by 
the  dike-fissure,  with  an  amount  of  dislocation  so 
slight  as  to  be  diflftcult  of  measurement.  The  zinc- 
lead-silver  lode  of  the  mine  traverses  both  dike  and 
country.  When  small  it  usually  follows  one  or  other 
of  the  walls  of  the  dike,  and  when  enlarged  it  spreads 
out  into  both  dike  and  country.  The  lode  has  a 
northing  of  45  feet  in  480  feet,  but  this  is  due  not  so 
much  to  the  angle  of  the  dip  itself  as  it  is  the 


10  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

result  of  frequent  offsets  caused  by  slips  along  the 
bedding-planes  of  the  country.  These  do  not  fault 
the  ore,  because  they  antedate  it,  but  they  cause  the 
vein  to  diverge  to  one  side  in  accordance  with  the 
course  of  the  fracture  along  which  the  dike  first,  and 
the  lode-forming  solutions  afterward,  found  a  pas- 
sage. The  ore  frequently  spreads  out  between  the 
bedding-planes  of  the  sandstone  and  shale;  it  is  also 
found  in  seams  following  fractures  in  the  outer 
country  that  appear  to  be  sympathetic  to  the  main 
fissure  occupied  by  the  dike  and  the  lode  proper.  The 
dike  is  usually  about  two  feet  wide. 

The  dike,  as  seen  in  the  Bachelor  workings,  is 
called  by  the  miners,  of  course,  'porphyry,'  but  it  con- 
sists of  fragments  of  quartz,  from  sub-angular  pieces 
as  large  as  a  thumb-nail  to  grains  of  sand,  and  of  flat 
pieces  of  black  shale;  the  latter  are  prominent,  and 
give  the  dike-rock  a  distinctly  mottled  appearance, 
as  the  accompanying  photographs'  show.  They  vary 
in  size  from  microscopic  fragments  to  bits  several 
inches  long.  Besides  these  the  dike  contains  pieces 
of  sandstone,  often  micaceous  by  reason  of  sericite. 
A  characteristic  of  the  dike-rock  is  the  arrangement 
of  the  shale  fragments  with  their  longer  axes  parallel 
to  the  walls  of  the  dike;  this  is  more  marked  in  some 
parts  of  the  mine  than  in  others,  and  it  is  usually 
most  pronounced  close  to  the  walls.  (See  Fig.  2 
and  3.)     The  latter  form  a  distinct  parting  from  the 

•These  photographs  I  owe  to  the  courtesy  of  Mr.  Ransome  and  the 
U.  S.  Geological  Survey. 


THE  BACHEU3R  DIKE 


■; 'ofe:'..^  mm 


^ _  toT- 

Fig.  1 


12  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

outer  country,  and  sometimes  are  also  accompanied 
by  a  selvage. 

This,  like  the  one  we  saw  at  the  American  Nettie 
mine,  is  a  clastic  dike  and  the  origin  of  it  affords 
good  material  for  speculation.  F.  L.  Ransome,  of 
the  United  States  Geological  Survey,  has  contributed 
an  interesting  paper*  on  the  origin  of  this  very  dike, 
and  he  explains  it  thus: 

"A  fissure  was  formed,  accompanied  by  some 
faulting,  and  was  filled,  chiefly  from  above,  by  frag- 
ments of  the  soft  fissife  black  shale,  which  does  not 
occur  in  the  stratigraphically  lower  beds  exposed  in 
the  immediate  vicinity,  and  partly  by  material  from 
the  lower  light-colored  beds  forming  the  present 
walls/' 

That  this  pseudo-dike  is  built  up  of  fragmentary 
sedimentary  rock,  that  it  occupies  a  fissure,  and  that 
it  contains  no  lava  or  other  volcanic  matter  as  a 
cementing  material — these  facts  seem  to  be  assured. 
The  nice  point  about  the  problem  is  the  mode  of 
formation.  Was  it  from  above  or  below?  Mr.  Ran- 
some accepts  the  first  alternative,  and  in  support  of 
this  view  he  is  enabled  to  instance  the  sandstone  dikes 
that  Whitman  Cross  found  in  the  granite  near 
Divide,  in  Colorado,  that,  elsewhere,  Darwin, 
Ussing,  Irving,  and  others  have  described,  and  as- 
cribed to  a  filling  from  above.  Hugh  Miller  found  a 
pseudo-dike  in  Cromarty  (Scotland)  in  which  a  mass 

*'A  Peculiar  Clastic  Dike  near  Ouray,  Colorado,  and  its  Associated 
Deposit  of  Silver  Ore,'  by  F.  L.  Ransome.  Transactions  American  Insti- 
tute of  Mining  Engineers,  Vol.  XXX.,  pp.  227-236. 


I     'MP     ^^^  / 


A  CROSS-SECTION 


^{Zj  Hiwmne  tut  iiflu   {f^  clastic  oiKt 


14  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

of  sandstone  working  in  from  above  (probably)  con- 
tained fossils.  Diller  wrote  a  memoir*^  on  the  sand- 
stone dikes  of  California  and  concluded  that  they 
were  injected  from  below. 

In  the  Lipari  islands  there  occur  masses  of  vol- 
canic tuff,  hard  enough  to  be  fractured,  which  exhibit 
cracks  filled  in  with  fallen  dust  and  scoria.*  But  this 
is  an  entirely  different  kind  of  occurrence,  as  also  is 
that  observed  at  Pontgibaud  (France),  where  a  silver- 
lead  vein  occurring  in  granulite  is  shattered,  together 
with  its  encasing  rock,  and,  for  a  length  of  10  metres, 
at  a  depth  of  50  metres,  contains  boulders  of  scoria- 
ceous  lava  evidently  derived  from  the  alluvium  that 
once  covered  the  outcrop  of  the  vein.^  It  is  obvious 
that  occurrences  of  this  kind,  at  surface  or  near  it,  are 
quite  different  in  their  origin  from  a  clean-cut  frac- 
ture many  hundred  feet  underground,  of  great  length 
and  depth  and  persistent  width.  It  is,  however, 
worth  while  to  emphasize  the  distinction. 

As  between  filling  from  above  by  gravitation 
and  filling  from  below  through  pressure,  I  am  de- 
cidedly inclined  to  choose  the  latter.  In  the  first  place, 
no  mining  engineer  familiar  with  the  shifting  of  wall- 
rock  would  grant  the  idea  of  the  maintenance  under- 
ground of  an  open  fissure,  both  large  and  crooked,  in 
rocks  so  soft  as  these  shales  and  sandstones,  for  a 


*  Bulletin  Geological  Society  of  America,  Vol.  I.,  pp.  411-442. 

•  My  authority  is  my  friend,  Professor  John  W.  Judd,  author  of  'Vol- 
canoes' and  Dean  of  the  Royal  School  of  Mines,  London. 

'  Engineering  and  Mining  Journal,  p.  151,  August  18,  1894.    'The  Lodes 
of  Pontgibaud/  by  T.  A.  Rickard. 


A   DISAPPEARING  FAULT 


'1— ~— -^--2~$?^\'i^~^3.::;d 


i6  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

period  long  enough  to  permit  of  the  complete  filling 
up  of  the  supposititious  crevasse.  The  sandstones  and 
their  alternations  of  shale  exhibit  movement  along 
the  sloping  bedding-planes,  as  might  be  expected,  and 
in  the  mine  care  has  to  be  exercised  to  prevent  injury 
from  the  rock  that  breaks  off  along  these  partings. 
Next,  the  internal  evidence  of  structure  appears  to 
be  against  such  a  view.  Fig.  3  illustrates  a  note- 
worthy characteristic  of  the  Bachelor  dike,  namely, 
the  frequent  tendency  to  bulges  and  to  vein-like  pro- 
trusions, which  extend  from  the  body  of  the  dike 
upward  into  the  surrounding  country.  No  downward 
filling  would,  so  it  seems  to  me,  explain  this  condition 
of  affairs. 

The  fragments  of  black  shale  are  traced  by  Mr. 
Ransome  to  an  overlying  bed  through  which  the  dike 
does  not  penetrate.  Because  it  does  not  pass  through 
this  shale  bed  it  is  inferred  that  the  latter  was  the 
source  of  much  of  the  shale  scattered  through  the 
dike.  But  why  should  not  a  simpler  explanation 
suffice?  Namely,  that  the  fissure  occupied  by  the 
dike  broke  through  the  harder  sandstone  series  and 
died  out  when  it  met  the  tenacious,  shifting,  and  more 
flexible  layers  of  shale,  much  in  the  manner  observed 
in  the  Enterprise  mine.  (See  Fig.  4.*)  Finally, 
it  is  said  that  the  black  shale  does  not  occur  in  the 
lower  beds  observable  in  the  vicinity  of  the  mine 


•Taken  from  Transactions  American  Institute  of  Mining  Engineers, 
Vol.  XXVI.,  p.  944.  The  Enterprise  Mine,  Rico,  Colorado,*  by  T.  A. 
Rickard,  pp.  906-980. 


THEORIES   OF   ORE   FORMATION  17 

workings.  I  thought  so  too,  until,  on  the  occasion 
of  my  second  visit,  I  noticed  an  exposure  of  black 
shale  near  the  roadside  at  a  point  a  short  distance 
below  the  Bachelor  mill,  and,  presumably,  not  much 
deeper  than  the  present  workings  of  the  mine.  This 
points  to  the  probability  of  there  being  other  layers 
of  black  shale  within  the  sandstone  series  traversed 
by  the  dike  and  renders  it  unnecessary  to  go  far  afield 
for  a  possible  source  of  the  black  slivers  so  charac- 
teristic of  the  clastic  rock.  May  it  not  have  hap- 
pened, therefore,  that  the  dike  was  formed  by  the 
crushing  of  sandstone  and  black  shale  along  the  line 
of  a  fissure  which  was  filled  with  this  material  as  the 
fissure  was  slowly  formed,  much  as  water  rises  into  a 
crack  through  the  overlying  ice  ?  The  close  packing  of 
the  material  within  the  dike,  as  is  indicated  by  the 
arrangement  of  fragments  of  shale  parallel  to  the 
walls,  is  indicative  of  subsequent  pressure,  and  it  is 
not  without  a  further  suggestion  that  greater  pres- 
sure, but  from  below,  may  have  originally  pushed  the 
clastic  material  upward  into  the  fissure  as  it  was 
formed.  Water  may  have  been  present  to  give  addi- 
tional mobility  to  the  broken  matter,  such  water 
subsequently  having  been  largely  expelled  by  the 
squeezing  in  of  the  fissure-walls.  Professor  J.  W. 
Judd  examined  some  specimens  of  the  Bachelor  dike 
which  I  sent  to  him,  and  he  concluded  that  the  con- 
solidation of  the  fragments  was  due  largely,  if  not 
entirely,  to  the  later  chemical  action  of  percolating 
solutions.    To  this  suggestion  there  is  the  evidence 


i8  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

afforded  by  the  subsequent  deposition  of  ore  along 
the  course  of  the  dike. 

In  Fig.  2  and  3  the  Bachelor  dike  is  illustrated. 
Fig.  2  exhibits  the  relation  of  the  vein  to  the  dike. 
J  B  is  quartz  carrying  streaks  of  galena  and  gray 


Section  of  Auekicak-Nettie  Obebodies. 
After  J,  D,  Irving,  U,  S.  Geological  Survqr. 

copper  (tetrahedrite).  There  is  also  some  blende 
present.  Inclusions  of  country  (sandstone)  give  the 
vein  a  mottled  look  along  its  outer  edge,  between  D 
and  jE.  The  clastic  dike  B  C  contains  several  lai^ 
pieces  of  shale,  and  a  few  signs  of  ore.  The  fractures 
alongside  the  dike  at  X  appear  as  dark  threads  of 
sulphides.  In  Fig.  3,  taken  at  the  east  breast  of  the 
main  drift  in  the  adjoining  Khedive  mine,  the  clastic 
material  is  17  inches  wide,  and  exhibits  one  of  those 
vein-like  branches  or  off-shoots  that  are  not  uncom- 
mon. In  this  regard  the  clastic  material  behaves  just 
like  a  lava.    The  set-off  at  the  top  of  the  section  is 


GILSONITE  DIKES  19 

also  a  common  feature.  Sympathetic  fractures  occur 
in  the  encasing  rock.  In  this  instance  the  vein  had 
merged  into  the  dike  and  could  only  be  seen  vaguely 
in  the  form  of  patches  of  ore  within  the  body  of  the 
dike. 


Dike  of  Gilsonite. 
After  G.  H.  Eldridge,  U.  S.  Geological  Survey. 

The  whole  occurrence  is  one  of  great  interest. 
If  these  clastic  dikes  are  studied  with  reference  to 
true  lava  dikes  on  the  one  hand  and  veins  of 
asphaltum  or  gilsonite  on  the  other  hand,  it  should 
be  possible  to  arrive  at  a  clearer  idea  concerning 
the  manner  in  which  rocks  undergo  the  fracturing 
that  precedes  ore  deposition. 


chapter  3 


ACROSS  THE  RANGE  TO  TELLURIDE— MOUNTAIN 
ROADS— THE  CAMP  BIRD  MILI^TREATMENT  OF 
THE  ORE  — THE  LOCAL  GEOLOGY— ELECTRICAL 
POWER. 


;  HE  next  day,  September  6,  our 
j  cavalcade  clattered  up  the  main 
]  street  of  Ouray  on  our  way  to 
1  Telluride  over  the  Mt.  Sneffels 
I  range.  Cloudless  weather,  not 
'  unusual  after  the  rains  of  late 
I  August,  made  the  ride  up 
t  Canyon  creek  to  the  Camp  Bird 
mill  a  stimulating  pleasure.  Much  of  this  road  is 
cut  out  of  the  solid  rock,  in  many  respects  it  is  a  fine 
example  of  mountain  engineering,  and  it  is  kept  in 
good  order  because  it  serves  as  the  avenue  of  traffic 
for  two  of  the  largest  mines  in  Colorado — the  Reve- 
nue and  the  Camp  Bird.  This  part  of  Colorado  owes 
much  to  an  energetic  little  man  who  began  by  being 
an  Indian  interpreter,  became  a  road-builder,  and 
finally  developed  into  a  successful  railroad  organizer. 
Otto  Mears  is  called  the  Pathfinder  of  the  San  Juan; 
he  has  left  a  monument  as  enduring  as  Thorwaldsen's 
lion  of  Lucerne,  which  lies  sculptured  in  the  rock 
above  the  Swiss  lake;  and  much  more  useful,  for 
the  roads  that  Otto  Mears  built  into  the  sides  of  the 
cliffs  overlooking  the  Uncompahgre  and  its  tribu- 


MOUNTAIN   ROADS  21 

taries  have  contributed  in  a  large  degree  to  the  suc- 
cessful development  of  some  of  the  best  mines  in 
North  America. 

Mountain  roads  for  heavy  traffic  should  have  a 
grade  not  to  exceed  12  per  cent  and  a  width  of  about 
15  feet.  On  the  typical  American  high-road  of  to- 
day the  cost  of  freighting  by  wagon  averages  25  cents 
per  ton  per  mile;*  this  rate  is  always  exceeded  when 
the  grade  is  above  12  per  cent;  in  the  mountains  the 
rate  is  often  ten  times  as  much,  because  the  loads 
pulled  up  the  weary  zig-zags  are  small  compared  to 
the  horse-power  employed.  Thus,  with  four  animals, 
averaging  1,250  pounds  apiece,  a  load  of  6,000  pounds, 
distributed  between  the  wagon  and  its  contents,  can 
be  handled  along  an  average  mountain  road  at  the 
rate  of  1^4  miles  per  hour.  When  the  gradient  ex- 
ceeds 12  per  cent  it  is  more  economical  to  pack,  that 
is,  to  transport  material  by  loading  it  upon  mules  or 
burros.  The  average  cost  of  this  method  of  transport 
is  from  75  cents  to  $1  per  ton-mile  when  there  is  no 
return  load. 

We  overtook  a  train  of  burros  with  a  miscellane- 
ous freight  of  planks,  groceries,  and  boxes  of 
dynamite  destined  for  a  small  mine  on  Mt.  Potosi; 
these,  with  bulky  packages  that  hid  their  ears  and  left 
only  a  view  of  active  extremities,  looked  at  a  distance 
for  all  the  world  like  a  migrating  colony  of  Brob- 
dingnagian  ants. 


*Mr.  James  W.  Abbott  tells  me  that  on  European  roads  the  cost 
ranges  from  6  to  13c  per  ton-mile,  with  an  average  of  about  10  cents. 


22  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

Advancing  carefully  along  the  inside  of  the  road, 
the  outer  parapet  of  which  stood  sheer  over  a  pre- 
cipitous cliff,  we  hurried  our  horses  past  the  burro 
train  and  soon  covered  the  six  miles  between  Ouray 
and  the  Camp  Bird  mill,  where  Mr.  W.  J.  Cox,  the  man- 
ager, gave  us  every  facility  for  inspection.  The  mill 
contains  60  stamps,  weighing  850  pounds,  with  a  drop 
of  6  to  8  inches,  made  100  times  per  minute,  and  a 
resulting  crushing  capacity  of  180  to  190  tons  per  day. 
The  pulp  passes  through  cloth  screens  of  26  mesh  and 
No.  29  wire.  It  is  then  discharged  upon  silver-plated 
copper  tables,  which  are  the  full  width  of  the  mortar, 
54  inches,  and  have  a  length  of  16  feet.  The  pulp 
then  proceeds  through  classifiers,  which  distribute  it 
among  the  concentrators,  namely,  Wilfley  tables  and 
Frue  vanners.  The  coarse  material  goes  to  vanners 
that  have  corrugated  belts,  the  finer  pulp  goes  to  the 
plain  belted  vanners,  and  the  slime  passes  on  to  the 
Wilfley  tables.  Experiments  were  being  made  in 
the  use  of  a  5-ft.  Huntington  mill  for  re-grinding 
the  coarser  sand.  This  is  likely  to  prove  suggestive. 
The  tailing  is  delivered  to  the  cyanide  plant,  and  is 
pumped  into  vats  having  a  capacity  of  275  tons  apiece, 
where  it  undergoes  solution  for  nine  days.  Tests 
were  being  made  by  Mr.  Godfrey  Doveton,  who  had 
charge  of  the  cyanidation,  with  a  view  to  determining 
whether  the  Johnson  filter-press  cannot  be  advan- 
tageously employed  in  the  treatment  of  the  slime  that 
overflows  from  the  vats ;  at  present  the  press  is  only 
used  in  connection  with  the  precipitate  from  the  zinc- 


THE  CAMP  BIRD  MILL  23 

boxes.  In  Western  Australia  the  large  filter-presses 
have  a  capacity  up  to  six  tons  apiece,  with  a  tendency 
to  increase.  They  were  found  to  expedite  the  treat- 
ment of  slime  and  to  economize  water.  All  experi- 
ments made  in  this  direction  should  be  useful  because 
they  point  to  a  great  economy  of  time  and  labor. 

The  Camp  Bird  ore  is  one  of  the  most  docile. 
The  total  extraction  of  gold  is  fully,  sometimes  more 
than,  90  per  cent  of  the  assay-returns  from  the  crude 
ore.  The  latter  carried  about  two  ounces  of  gold  per 
ton  at  the  time  of  our  visit;  the  concentrate  represents 
about  10  per  cent  in  weight  and  20  per  cent  of  the 
value  of  the  original  ore,  it  contains  9  to  12% 
lead,  12  to  15%  zinc,  14  to  16%  iron,  and 
20  to  22%  silica  (as  quartz).  It  also  carries 
from  2^  to  4  oz.  gold  and  from  11  to  15  oz.  silver  per 
ton.  This  product  is  sacked  and  sent  on  mule-back 
to  Ouray,  the  charge  for  transport  being  $2.50  per 
ton,  for  the  six  miles  of  down  grade.  Coal  is  brought 
up  as  return  freight  at  a  cost  of  $4  per  ton.  The  con- 
centrate is  then  sent  over  the  range  by  way  of  the 
Marshall  Pass,  to  the  Denver  smelters,  388  miles  dis- 
tant, at  a  cost  for  transport,  of  $7.50  per  ton  and  a 
charge,  for  treatment,  of  $7  to  $8  per  ton.  The  bul- 
lion, resulting  from  amalgamation  and  cyanidation, 
is  sent  under  escort  every  day  to  Ouray,  whence  it  is 
forwarded  through  an  express  company  to  the  mint 
at  Denver.^® 


*•  Since  the  date  referred  to,  an  excellent  account  of  the  Camp  Bird 
mill  and  mine  has  been  prepared  by  Messrs.  Purington,  Doveton,  and 
Woods.    See  Transactions  American  Institute  of  Mining  Engineers,  19Q2. 


24  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

After   partaking   of   Mr.    Cox's   hospitality   we 
mounted  again  and  began  the  ascent  to  the  Camp 
Bird  mine  in  Imogene  basin.    As  we  surmounted  the 
first  rise  we  found  ourselves  in  a  wide  amphitheatre 
of  serrated  ridges  with  a  broad  gap  in  the  direction 
whence   we   had    come.     Looking   backward   down 
Canyon  creek,  one  could  not  fail  to  observe  the  fact 
of  a  succession  of  geological  formations,  on  account 
of  the  variations  in  the  color  of  the  rocks.     The  road 
from  Ouray  first  cuts  through  a  gray  ridge  of  Silurian 
limestone,  then  passes  over  reddish  beds  of  Upper 
Carboniferous  lime  and  shale,  which,  in  turn,  are  un- 
conformably  overlain  by  the  nearly  horizontal  beds  of 
a  Tertiary   conglomerate   that   has   a  wide   extent 
throughout  the  adjoining  mining  district  of  Telluride. 
This  conglomerate,  known  as  the  Telluride  formation, 
has   a   particular    interest    because   it   lies   at    the 
base  of  a  great  series  of  frag^ental  volcanic  rocks 
(chiefly  andesite-breccia)  and  lava-flows  that  enclose 
the  majority  of  the  important  mines  of  the  region. 
This  is  called  the  San  Juan   formation.      The   road 
intersects  the  base  of  the  series  a  short  distance  below 
the  Camp  Bird  mill  at  about  9,100  feet  above  sea-level, 
as  is  shown  by  the  accompanying  photograph,  where 
A  B  marks  the  line  of  separation  between  the   two 
formations  (the  San  Juan  and  the  Telluride).     Our 
trail  continued  to  pass  over  successive  layers  of  the 
breccia  and  its  intercalated  flows  of  lava  until  we 
reached  the  summit  of  the  range,  at  13,800  feet.  When 
a  mine  is  situated  in  this  country  of  andesitic  breccia 


Mt. 

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The  Revenue  Mills,  near  Ourav 


A   GEOLOGICAL  SECTION 


25 


the  distance  separating  the  deepest  workings  from 
the  sedimentary  rocks  at  the  base  of  the  San  Juan 
formation  becomes  a  matter  of  practical  importance, 
because  experience  warrants  the  expectation  that  an 
impoverishment  will  be  encountered  when  the  vein 
passes  out  of  the  volcanic  series.  The  Camp  Bird 
lower  adit,  for  example,  is  about  2,100  feet  above  the 


I 
t 

I 
! 


MCTiON    ALONG     UNCOn  PAHORC      CRCCK 


> 
« 
O 


-MUATH 


Fig.  5. 


Telluride  formation,  so  that  there  is  plenty  of  room 
for  further  downward  development.  A  generalized 
section  of  the  geology  and  topography  is  given  in  the 
accompanying  sketch,  which  I  have  borrowed  from 
Mr.  H.  A.  Titcomb's  article  in  the  Columbia  School 
of  Mines  Quarterly,  of  November,  1902.  In  this 
sketch  the  name  *San  Miguel  conglomerate'  appears, 


26  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

for  it  was  the  term  originally  given  by  Whitman 
Cross  to  the  *Telluride  formation/  The  old  name  was 
surrendered  because  of  prior  use  by  Texas  geologists. 
So  the  name  of  the  town  replaced  that  of  the  county. 
The  Virginius,  a  neighboring  mine,  has  an  adit 
— the  Revenue  tunnel — ^which  strikes  the  vein  at  a 
point  2,400  feet  below  the  outcrop  and  10,800  feet 
above  sea-level.  The  conglomerate  is  supposed  to  be 
about  1,000  feet  deeper.  A  shaft  has  proved  the  vein 
for  900  feet  below  the  adit,  so  that  the  total  explora- 
tion on  the  vein  extends  for  a  vertical  height  of  3,300 
feet,  which  is  the  deepest  development  attained  by 
any  mine  in  Colorado.  The  Virginius  vein  is  remark- 
able in  other  respects  also.  It  has  been  worked  for 
more  than  twenty  years.  For  the  first  400  feet  in 
depth  the  vein  was  stoped  continuously,  although  its 
width  only  ranged  between  a  finger  and  a  hand's 
breadth.  The  ore  was  chiefly  gray  copper  (argenti- 
ferous fahlerz)  and  averaged  400  to  600  ounces  of 
silver  per  ton.  At  about  1,200  feet  from  the  surface, 
the  shaft,  which  followed  the  vein,  entered  a  poor 
zone  that  extended  for  300  feet  further.  At  the 
level  of  the  Revenue  adit"  another  poor  zone,  about 
150  feet  thick,  was  encountered.  The  new  vertical 
shaft,  sunk  from  the  adit,  has  found  good  ore,  30 
inches  wide,  at  550  feet.    The  Virginius,  by  the  way. 


"It  is  a  pity  that  the  word  'tunnel*  is  so  often  misapplied.  In  the 
above  case,  and  ordinarily  in  mining,  the  word  'adit*  should  be  used.  A 
tunnel  is  a  gallery  or  working  that  reaches  from  daylight  to  daylight, 
like  a  railroad  tunnel.  A  main  cross-cut  or  level  that  connects  a  mine 
with  daylight  is  an  'adit.* 


THE  VIRGINIUS  MINE 


27 


has  a  large  electrical  equipment,  which  operates  both 
mine  and  mill.  The  motor  cars  used  for  underground 
traction  are  remarkable  in  taking  the  high  pressure 
of  800  to  900  volts  from  a  bare  wire  placed  about  the 
height  of  a  man's  head.  The  power  is  generated 
from  a  succession  of  Pelton  wheels,  which  use  the 
water  of  Canyon  creek.  They  present  an  interesting 
feature  in  the  fact  that  the  nozzles  are  worn  out  in 
ten  days  by  the  action  of  sand  at  high  velocity,  which 
is  the  consequence  of  using  a  stream  charged  with 
tailing  from  a  mill. 


1.    Rbyolilc  ipd  Andeailc.       2.    San  Jumn  BrMcia. 
3.    Teltncidc  Conalomerite.     4.    Sbile  and  Sandalone. 

Map  of  Telluridb  District,  Colokado. 
After  U.  S.  Geological  Survey. 


<ri)apUr  4 


THE  CAMP  BIRD  MINE— STORY  OF  ITS  DISCOVERY 
BY  THOMAS  F.  WALSH  — ON  THE  TOP  OF  THE 
RANGE. 


PON  arrival  at  the  Camp  Bird, 
I  the  superintendent,  Mr.  Wilham 
I  Beaton,  piloted  our  party 
through  a  portion  of  the  work- 
ings. Both  F.  L.  Ransome  and 
C.  W.  Purington  have  recently 
f  described  this  lode  in  detail." 
!  A  production,  up  to  date,  of 
about  $7,500,000  places  the  Camp  Bird  among  the 
great  mines  of  Colorado.  It  is  also  interesting  as 
having  been  until  lately  the  property  of  the  man 
who  opened  it  up,  namely,  Thomas  F.  Walsh. 

The  history  of  the  discovery  of  this  celebrated 
mine  is  curious.  The  only  outcrop  of  the  vein  for 
several  thousand  feet  is  in  a  small  gully  right  at  the 
head  of  Imogene  basin.  A  claim  was  located  on 
this  outcrop  in  1877,  but  nothing  further  was  done 
because  no  ore  of  any  value  was  exposed  at  this 
point.  William  Weston  and  George  Barber,  who 
were  the  owners,  made  a  proposal  to  H.  W.  Reed  and 
Caleb  Reed  that  if  they  would  run  a  cross-cut  into 
the  mountain,  so  as  to  cut  the  vein  at  about  a  depth 

"BulUtiH  No.  1S2.  United  States  Geological  Survey,  pp.  89-90  and 
200-204,  and  Transactions  American  Institute  of  MintnE  Engineers,  May, 
1902. 


HOW  THE   CAMP   BIRD   WAS   FOUND  29 

of  150  feet,  they  could  have  the  option  of  locating 
a  new  claim  on  whichever  side  of  the  cross-cut  they 
chose.  The  cross-cut  was  run,  and  in  due  course 
intersected  the  vein.  The  Reed  brothers  drove  50 
feet  to  the  west  and  took  up  a  claim  on  that  side. 
This  was  then  patented  under  the  name  of  the  Una 
claim.  On  the  eastern  side  the  Gertrude  claim  was 
pegged  out  by  Weston  and  Barber,  who,  later  on, 
sold  it  to  the  Allied  Mines  Company.  This  was  in 
1878.  Subsequently  the  company  extended  a  drift 
for  40  feet  into  the  Gertrude  ground,  but  found  no 
ore  of  any  value;  later  still,  another  10  feet  was 
driven,  so  as  to  make  the  distance  50  feet,  and  thus 
qualify  for  patent.  This  was  in  1884.  The  ore  in 
the  last  10  feet  was  not  assayed  because  the  work 
was  only  done  to  fulfill  legal  requirements  and  the 
first  40  feet  of  the  drift  had  yielded  no  pay-ore.  But 
as  a  matter  of  fact  the  drift  had,  in  the  last  two  or 
three  feet,  broken  into  rich  ore;  it  remained  there 
undetected  until  1896,  when  Walsh  broke  some  sam- 
ples and  had  them  assayed,  thereby  taking  the  de- 
cisive step  toward  becoming  a  millionaire.  Moral: 
Never  fail  to  test  the  ore  of  a  drift  that  is  penetrating 
into  new  ground,  and  never  assume  that  ore  is  poor 
because  it  looks  like  ore  you  know  to  be  poor. 

The  rest  of  the  story  is  well  known.  Walsh  was 
an  experienced  miner  who  had  met  with  some  success 
both  at  Leadville  and  Rico.  In  1896  he  was  manager 
of  the  smelter  erected  at  Silverton  for  the  treatment 
of  the  ores  sent  down  from  Red  Mountain  by  the 


30  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

Yankee  Girl  and  Guston  mines.  Walsh  had,  in  1894, 
organized  the  company  that  put  up  this  plant.  In  the 
search  for  silicious  ores  he  investigated  the  mines  of 
the  surrounding  country,  not  only  those  in  operation, 
but  also  the  abandoned  prospects.  He  acquired  the 
Hidden  Treasure  mine,  in  Imogene  basin;  this  was 
a  low-grade  silver-lead  property,  which  has  never 
done  much.  In  July,  1896,  he  went  to  see  how  work 
was  going  on  at  the  Hidden  Treasure,  and  incident- 
ally he  noticed  some  pieces  of  pink  spar  amid  the 
rock-fragments  scattered  at  the  foot  of  the  cliffs 
that  form  the  upper  limits  of  Imogene  basin.  This 
pink  spar  he  took  to  be  fluorite,  and  because  it  re- 
minded him  of  Cripple  Creek,  where  also  he  had 
mined  with  some  success,  he  made  a  mental  note  of 
the  occurrence.  In  the  following  September  he  re- 
visited the  locality  and  climbed  up  into  the  old  Ger- 
trude adit,  from  which  he  inferred  the  pink  spar  to 
have  come.  It  was  rhodochrosite;  but  no  matter. 
It  led  him  to  take  samples  at  the  breast  of  the  east 
drift.  They  were  sent  at  once  to  Ouray  to  be  as- 
sayed. The  returns  gave  several  ounces  of  gold  per 
ton.  More  samples  were  taken  and  sent  to  Leadville 
for  assay.  These  results  were  confirmatory,  so  he 
went  to  work  quietly  and  began  the  steady  consolida- 
tion of  the  adjoining  property.  Mr.  Walsh's  success 
was  the  reward  following  many  years  of  most  ener- 
getic search,  a  search  backed  by  unusual  experience 
in  mining  and  extending  over  a  large  area  that 
contained  a  great  number  of  deserted  old  workings 


^"^'IM 

H 

-Ifl^Hd  *  a^S^fl 

9H 

^^^K^> 

fefl 

ON  THE  SUMMIT  31 

likely  to  prove  remunerative  under  new  economic 
conditions. 

The  main  level  of  the  Camp  Bird  is  now  over  a 
mile  in  length,  so  that  when  we  emerged  from  under- 
ground it  became  necessary  to  make  haste  in  order 
to  cross  the  range  before  dark.  Ouray  is  7,806  feet 
above  sea-level,  the  No.  2  level  of  the  Camp  Bird  is 
at  11,510  feet,  and  the  place  where  the  trail  crosses 
the  divide  is  at  an  altitude  of  about  13,800  feet.  The 
trail  is  a  good  one  in  summer,  so  that  we  did  not  re- 
quire to  lead  our  horses  save  in  the  steepest  portions 
of  the  rise  and  in  the  abrupt  descent  on  the  other  side. 

When  we  attained  the  summit  a  halt  was  called 
while  we  surveyed  the  splendid  panorama  of  moun- 
tains that  lay  outspread  on  either  hand.  Looking 
back  over  the  course  we  had  traveled  we  could  see 
the  shadows  hastening  to  cover  the  valley  of  Canyon 
creek  and  the  sheltered  corner  among  the  hills  where 
Ouray  lay  concealed;  in  the  far  northeast  the  dark 
mass  of  the  Uncompahgre  plateau  loomed  purple  in 
the  fading  light.  Looking  the  other  way,  the  grim 
desolation  of  time-worn  summits  and  crumbling 
crags  reached  down  into  the  gloomy  gorge  of  the 
San  Migfuel,  which  suddenly  broadened  into  the  sun- 
lit valley  of  Telluride,  checkered  with  cultivation  and 
bright  with  the  gleam  of  blue  water.  Beyond  were 
green  foothills,  out  of  which  arose  the  sculptured 
mass  of  Mt.  Wilson,  silhouetted  against  the  setting 
sun,  and  further  still,  northwestward,  rim  upon  rim 
of  far-off  hills  fading  into  the  bourne  of  distant  Utah. 


chapter  5 


MILLS  AND  TRAMWAYS  OF  TELLURIDE-OPERA- 
TIONS  AT  A  HIGH  ALTITUDE— SNOWSLIDES  AND 
THEIR  TRAGEDIES. 

HE  descent  to  Telluride  was 
tedious,  for  it  meant  leading  our 
I  horses  most  of  the  way;  and 
some  horses  are  particularly 
I  slow  to  be  led,  however  willing 
to  be  ridden;  besides,  the  drop 
from  the  top  of  the  range  to  the 
,  valley  is  just  five  thousand  feet 
in  the  course  of  five  miles.  All  the  way  down  we 
passed  mines  and  mills ;  of  the  latter,  the  new  Tom- 
boy mill  in  Savage  basin  loomed  conspicuous  through 
the  dusk. 

At  first  sight  it  seems  curious  to  build  a  large  mill 
at  an  altitude  of  nearly  12,000  feet,  instead  of  choos- 
ing a  site  in  the  valley  and  transporting  the  product 
of  the  mine  over  an  aerial  tramway.  This  is  a  much- 
mooted  question.  As  a  rule  the  valley  site  is  prefer- 
able, by  reason  of  the  availability  of  a  water  supply, 
the  greater  cheapness  of  fuel  for  power  and  heating 
purposes,  the  nearness  to  a  base  of  supplies,  the  facil- 
ity that  the  tramway  itself  gives  for  transmitting 
materials  up  to  the  mine,  the  more  kindly  conditions 
of  living  for  workmen,  etc.     If  water  can  be  secured 


TRAMWAYS   AT   HIGH   ALTITUDES  33 

the  erection  of  a  mill  close  to  the  mine  itself  will  save 
the  cost  of  a  tramway,  that  is,  an  amount  ranging,  say, 
from  $20,000  to  $50,000;  but  the  water-supply  of  the 
high  altitudes  is  so  closely  dependent  upon  melting 
snows  as  to  be  uncertain,  unless  a  reservoir  or  natural 
lake  affords  a  chance  for  storage.  Of  course,  if  the 
mill  is  at  the  mine,  the  concentrate  has  to  meet  the 
cost  of  carriage  to  the  valley  and  this  can  be,  in  part, 
set  off  as  against  the  expense  of  tramming  the  ore 
itself  to  the  mill,  if  situated  at  a  lower  level.  The 
Tomboy  pays  $2.75  per  ton  for  packing  concentrate 
from  the  mill  to  the  head  of  the  valley,  at  Pandora, 
and  as  the  ore  yields  from  8  to  12  per  cent  of  concen- 
trate this  cost  represents  about  25  cents  per  ton  of 
crude  ore.  The  item  of  fuel  for  motive  power  is  elim- 
inated by  the  electrical  transmission  of  power.  Black- 
smith coal  is  carried  by  the  pack-train  to  the  Tomboy 
at  a  cost  of  $8  per  ton,  an  amount  one-half  of  which 
represents  the  expense  of  transport.  The  mill  and 
other  buildings  are  heated  by  steam;  in  some  cases 
by  low-pressure  boilers,  in  others  by  high-pressure 
boilers  with  reducing  valves.  In  summer  40  tons  of 
coal  are  consumed  per  month;  in  winter,  200  tons 
are  consumed  per  month.  Coal  costs  an  average  of 
$10  per  ton,  delivered  at  the  mine.  Water  for  milling 
purposes  is  obtained  from  Lake  Ptarmigan  by  a  pipe- 
line one  and  three-quarter  miles  long."    The  lake  is 

"The  line  starts  with  a  S-in.  pipe,  which  is  reduced  to  4  inches  at 
the  summit ;  from  the  summit  to  the  mill  it  is  reduced,  gradually,  to  2^ 
inches.  For  these  and  other  data  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  John  Herron,  the 
manager  of  the  Tomboy  mine. 


34  ACROSS  THE  SAX  JUAX  MOUNTAINS 

just  over  the  range  and  only  350  feet  below  the  crest, 
so  that  light  pomps  senre  the  purpose.  These  are 
operated  by  electricity,  which  is  bought  from  a  large 
power  company  in  the  valley,  at  the  rate  of  $80  per 
horse-power  per  annum.  The  Smuggler  Union  mine, 
which  has  its  own  generating  plant,  pays  only  $35  to 
$40  per  h.  p.  per  annum,  but  as  against  this,  of  course, 
are  o£Fset  the  interest  and  redemption  of  the  capital 
used  for  an  expensive  installation. 

On  the  whole,  therefore,  it  may  be  said  that  the 
comparison  of  conditions  affecting  the  operation  of 
a  mill  in  the  valley  and  that  of  a  mill  at  the  mine  is 
without  decisive  result  and  depends  entirely  upon 
local  factors.  One  of  these  is  the  ability  to  secure  a 
good  mill-site  at  a  reasonable  price.  Another  pos- 
sible factor  is  the  snowslide.  To  a  stranger  the  inter- 
ruption and  damage  from  this  source  would  seem  to 
present  a  very  serious  obstacle  to  the  use  of  a  tram- 
way. It  does,  but  to  the  same  extent  it  affects  all  the 
operations  in  a  precipitous  snowy  mountain  region. 
Last  spring^*  the  Smuggler-Union  tramway  was 
stopped  for  several  weeks  in  consequence  of  the  dam- 
age done  by  a  slide,  and  during  the  same  season  the 
Liberty  Bell  mine-buildings  were  swept  away,  so  that 
the  mill  was  idle  for  four  months.  In  the  latter  case 
18  lives  were  lost,  and  the  majority  of  these  belonged 
to  rescue  parties  that  set  out  to  the  aid  of  those  who 
were  caught  by  the  first  slide.  Successive  rushes  of 
snow  entombed  the  rescuers. 

"That  is,  in  1902. 


n 


SNOWSLIDES   AND  THEIR  EFFECTS  35 

The  snowsHdes  that  bring  devastation  to  the 
mines  of  southwestern  Colorado  represent  a  recur- 
rent peril,  for  they  are  at  work  each  spring  with 
variable  intensity.  Of  all  evidences  of  Nature's 
power  there  is  none  so  feared  by  the  miner  as  this, 
*the  thunderbolt  of  snow/  After  the  winter  snows 
have  fallen  and  by  successive  thaws  and  frosts  have 
become  packed,  there  comes,  during  the  period  mark- 
ing the  end  of  winter,  a  heavy  snowfall,  which,  set- 
tling and  accumulating  upon  the  hardened  surface 
of  the  earlier  precipitation,  is  ready  to  be  launched 
down  the  steep  slopes  of  the  mountains  with  all  the 
suddenness  of  a  thunderbolt  and  all  the  confusing  ter- 
rors of  a  whirlwind.  A  slight  movement  may  disturb 
the  uneasy  equilibrium;  even  a  mountaineer's  foot- 
fall may  cause  a  huge  mass  of  snow  to  become  de- 
tached. In  southwestern  Colorado,  where  the  moun- 
tain slopes  are  steep  and  but  poorly  protected  by 
forests,  there  are  more  people  killed  each  year  from 
snowslides  than  in  Switzerland,  although  the  man  of 
leisure  who  risks  his  life  climbing  the  Swiss  heights 
usually  receives  more  mention  in  the  daily  press  than 
the  miners  and  other  humble  individuals  that  lose 
their  lives  in  the  San  Juan  while  going  to  and  from 
their  labor. 

The  destructiveness  of  a  snowslide  must  be  seen 
to  be  appreciated;  buildings  and  tramways  are  as 
toys  before  its  fierce  oncoming  and  men  in  the  path 
of  its  descent  are  as  straws  in  a  whirlwind.  In  fact, 
much  of  the  damage  is  due  to  the  vacuum  caused  by 


36  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

the  rapid  motion  of  a  mass  of  snow  and  the  cyclonic 
disturbance  that  follows  in  its  wake.  I  have  often 
watched  a  snowslide  descending  a  neighboring  ravine, 
when  myself  out  of  all  danger.  The  thunder  of  its 
tempestuous  descent  first  attracts  attention,  and 
then  one  sees  the  mass  of  snow  gathering  underlying 
rocks,  uprooting  trees,  amid  a  quickly  gathering  mist 
of  snow  particles  drawn  fiercely  by  the  whirlwind  in 
the  rear.  The  rushing  mass  will  not  stop  at  the  bot- 
tom of  the  slope,  but  its  momentum  will  carry  it  some 
distance  up  the  opposite  declivity,  while  all  the  forest 
trembles  and  the  air  is  darkened  with  a  snow  mist. 

Ouray,  Silverton,  Telluride,  and  Creede — ^all  in  the 
region  formerly  known  as  'the  silvery  San  Juan,'  but 
now  identified  chiefly  with  profitable  gold  mining — 
are  localities  where  snowslides  are  of  yearly  occur- 
rence. One  of  the  worst  seasons  in  this  regard  was 
the  spring  of  1884,  when  a  series  of  slides  came  down 
into  the  canon  of  the  Animas,  below  Silverton,  so 
as  to  blockade  the  Rio  Grande  railroad  to  Durango. 
In  90  days  only  two  provision  trains  managed  to  get 
through;  for  this  was  in  the  days  before  the  rotary 
plough.  Nowadays  such  prolonged  interruption  to 
traffic  is  unknown.  In  March,  1902,  as  already 
related,  18  men  were  killed  at  the  Liberty  Bell  mine, 
above  Telluride;  the  mill  buildings  were  swept  away 
and  the  tramway  was  severely  injured.  Since  then 
the  management  of  the  Liberty  Bell  has  built  a  V- 
shaped  crib-work  of  solid  timbers,  filled  with  rock, 
in  the  path  of  the  slide  that  did  this  damage.    Their 


Mj^W 

^!^1 

-   ^'^ 

mm 

ft  ^ 

;^|B 

V     IHlU?^ 

■ 

i^ 

i4 

L 

'  U^'.'^ 

■UEI^' 

^ 

I  -  w 

y^ 

■HKil 

3 
J 


SNOWSLIDES  37 

foresight  was  rewarded  during  the  spring  of  1906, 
for  the  snow  broke  away  as  before,  but  the  slide  was 
divided  by  this  obstacle  and  did  comparatively  little 
harm.  The  slide  that  smashed  the  Camp  Bird  mill 
is  called  the  United  States,  because  it  annually  de- 
scends in  a  ravine  past  an  old  mine  of  that  name. 
Snowslides  usually  follow  a  line  of  destruction 
marked  out  by  them  in  previous  years;  this  path  is 
indicated  by  the  removal  of  trees,  forming  a  lane 
through  the  forest ;  it  is  also  marked  by  the  accumu- 
lation of  debris,  and  by  piles  of  snow  that  survive 
successive  summers.  The  United  States  slide  comes 
down  a  steep  slope,  it  crosses  the  road  to  the  mine, 
and  descends  into  the  valley  traversed  by  the  tram- 
way, the  towers  of  which  are  protected  by  a  timber 
cribbing.  The  Camp  Bird  mill  is  a  little  over  half  a 
mile  away  and  had  never  been  visited  by  this  slide. 
Above  the  mill  are  steep  hillsides  covered  with  pine, 
which  were  considered  to  indicate  immunity  from 
such  danger.  In  1906  the  mass  of  snow  and  the  ve- 
locity of  it  were  such  as  to  carry  the  slide  down  the 
valley  and  over  the  edge  of  the  hollow  in  which  the 
mill  stands,  so  that  the  vast  body  of  snow  dashed 
dovsm  the  precipice  and  broke  the  mill-building  like 
an  egg-shell.  It  was  a  similar  supposed  immunity 
from  danger  that  caused  the  Liberty  Bell  catastrophe ; 
for,  of  course,  the  buildings  were  erected  at  a  spot 
confidently  believed  to  be  beyond  the  range  of  any 
slide. 


C^ter  6 


DESTRUCTION  OF  THE  CAMP  BIRD  MILL  — THE 
ASSASSINATION  OF  ARTHUR  COLLINS  —  LABOR 
RIOTS. 

:  ANYON  CREEK  is  illustrated 
I  on  the  page  opposite  as  it  ap- 
pears in  summer  looking'  from 
the  Camp  Bird  mill  toward 
Ouray;  the  photograph  was 
taken  soon  after  our  visit  and 
before  the  events  of  March  17, 
;  1906.  On  that  date  a  snowsHde, 
followed  by  a  fire  in  the  ruins,  completely  de- 
stroyed the  big  mill  shown  in  the  right  foreground 
of  the  illustration  just  mentioned.  The  next  three 
pictures  exhibit  a  scene  of  desolate  grandeur;  they 
are  reproduced  from  unusually  fine  photographs 
given  to  the  author  by  Mr.  B.  Kehoe.  In  the  first,  the 
track  of  the  snowslide  is  seen  through  the  smoke  and 
steam  ascending  from  the  burning  ruins;  the  nearly 
horizontal  layers  of  andesite  breccia  form  tiers  rend- 
ered distinct  by  benches  of  snow  and  the  serried  ranks 
of  pine.  In  the  distance  a  tall  peak,  rising  from  snow- 
fields,  pierces  a  troubled  sky.  It  is  a  scene  of  im- 
pressive desolation  and  amid  such  a  theatre  of  nat- 
ural destructiveness  the  surviving  mill-buildings  look 
insignificant  indeed.    In  the  second  there  is  a  nearer 


^M 

i 

vM 

im^ 

THE  CAMP  BIRD  DISASTER  39 

view  of  the  burning  mill;  the  heaped  snow  to  the 
right  represents  the  end  of  the  slide;  the  towers  of 
the  tramway  are  silhouetted  against  the  sunlit  sur- 
face; a  few  men  and  horses  can  be  discerned  indis- 
tinctly. In  the  third  illustration  the  brilliant  sun- 
shine throws  strong  shadows  from  the  pines,  so  that 
the  left  hillslope  suggests  a  reflection  in  water;  the 
fire  in  the  ruins  has  almost  burnt  itself  out,  the  steam 
does  not  obscure  the  view  and  the  great  peaks  of  the 
range  at  the  head  of  Imogene  basin  are  in  plain  sight. 
Nature,  having  destroyed,  is  smiling.  In  this  scene 
no  human  beings  are  discernible ;  man's  insignificance 
is  emphasized. 

The  snowslide  that  demolished  the  Camp  Bird 
mill  was  typical  of  this  form  of  natural  destructive- 
ness.  The  facts  are  these:  For  a  number  of  days 
the  snow  had  fallen,  so  that  a  thick  covering  of  new 
snow  lay  on  the  smooth  frozen  surface  of  the  winter. 
Starting  high  on  Mt.  Hayden,  the  slide  first  upset 
thirteen  towers  of  the  tramway  and  then,  leaping  over 
a  high  cliff,  it  wrecked  several  warehouses  and  coal- 
sheds  before  it  struck  the  mill  itself.  Before  coming 
to  rest,  it  crushed  the  lower  story  of  a  bunk-house, 
devoted  to  a  reading  room,  endangering  the  lives  of 
seven  men,  who  were  rescued  comparatively  unhurt. 
As  earlier  slides  on  the  same  day  had  broken  the 
wires  that  transmitted  electric  power,  the  mill  hap- 
pened to  be  idle  and  only  three  men  were  in  it.  One 
was  unhurt,  though  entangled  in  the  wreckage;  a 


40  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

second  was  dug  out  from  under  three  feet  of  snow 
and  timbers,  also  only  slightly  bruised ;  the  third  was 
killed.  The  avalanche  made  no  noise  save  when  the 
timbers  of  the  mill  cracked,  but  the  air  was  quickly 
laden  with  a  mist  of  snow.  The  particular  slide  that 
did  the  damage  was  known,  that  is,  its  path  in  previ- 
ous springs  was  marked  by  a  lane  in  the  forest  above 
the  mill,  but  it  had  never  been  known  to  run  so  far 
or  to  be  so  violent;  otherwise,  of  course,  a  different 
mill-site  would  have  been  selected. 

All  of  this  happened  on  a  Saturday  evening;  on 
Tuesday  morning  a  fire  was  detected  in  the  upper 
part  of  the  boiler-house  and  this  spread  fast,  so  that 
all  that  was  left  of  the  mill  was  soon  consumed.  As 
the  storage-tanks  had  been  destroyed,  there  was  no 
chance  to  fight  the  fire.  According  to  Mr.  Stephen 
L.  Goodale,  the  odor  of  quicksilver  was  apparent  for 
several  days  after  the  event.  "The  amalgam  on  the 
battery  plates  was  pretty  thoroughly  parted  and  the 
'quick'  driven  off,  leaving  a  gold  plate  on  the  copper. 
In  the  clean-up  pans  most  of  the  amalgam  had  been 
parted,  and  the  gold  was  left  as  a  well-retorted  dirty 
sponge;  but  a  little  amalgam  and  quicksilver  were 
also  left."  * 

There  is  only  one  way  to  avoid  this  danger;  for 
buildings,  not  to  erect  them  at  the  foot  of  snowclad 
slopes;  and  for  men,  not  to  go  abroad  on  the  moun- 
tains just  after  a  fresh  snowfall,  especially  when  it 

*  Mining  and  Scientific  Press,  April  14,  1906. 


POLITICS  AND  LABOR  41 

comes  on  top  of  a  hardened  surface.  But  even  the 
greatest  care  is  insufficient,  as  we  have  seen,  and  so 
long  as  the  mountains  raise  their  proud  heads  to 
heaven  they  will  occasionally  shed  their  white  man- 
tles of  snow,  imperiling  those  who  invade  them  in 
quest  of  gold. 

The  stretch  of  country  covered  by  Marshall  and 
Savage  basins,  and  thence  to  the  valley  at  Pandora, 
has  seen  many  a  snowslide.  A  long  tale  of  woeful 
fatalities  and  romantic  heroism  could  be  told  con- 
cerning these  three  or  four  miles  of  mountain  land. 
In  the  cemetery  at  Telluride  there  are  many  large 
graves  enclosing  the  remains  of  groups  of  unfortunate 
miners  who  were  swept  into  eternity  by  'the  awful 
avalanche/  Their  resting  places  are  unadorned  by 
showy  tombstone  or  grandiose  epitaph,  but  close-by 
a  new  white  marble  monument  attracts  the  spectator 
to  read  the  inscription  upon  its  face.  It  tells  a  start- 
ling story  to  those  who  can  read  between  the  lines. 
In  July,  1901,  the  management  of  the  Smuggler 
Union  mine  introduced  the  system  of  working  by 
contract,  a  system  that  results  in  paying  a  workman 
according  to  his  work,  and  which,  therefore,  is 
directly  opposed  to  the  underlying  principle  of  union- 
ism, which  demands  an  equal  wage  for  the  idle  and 
the  energetic,  the  capable  and  the  incapable.  There 
was  a  strike,  the  members  of  the  union,  for  the  most 
part,  refused  to  work,  while  a  large  proportion  of 
experienced  miners  accepted  the  contract  system  and 
remained  at  the  mine.    On  the  3rd  of  July,  the  eve 


42  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

of  the  Declaration  of  Independence,  a  body  of  strik- 
ers attacked  the  mine,  shot  indiscriminately  into  the 
bunkhouses,  offices,  and  other  buildings,  succeeding 
in  killing  eight  non-union  men  and  in  driving  the  re- 
mainder over  the  range.  In  this  cowardly  assault  one 
striker  was  shot.  It  is  his  tombstone  that  so  con- 
spicuously adorns  the  Telluride  cemetery;  upon  it 
there  is  this  inscription:  "Erected  by  the  16-to-l 
Miners'  Union  in  memory  of  (then  follows  the  man's 
name).  Born  in  Koojoki  Wora,  Finland.  Died  at 
Smuggler,  Colo.,  July  3,  1901,  aged  27  years."  Then 
follow  these  noble  lines  of  Longfellow: 

"In  the  world's  broad  field  of  battle. 

In  the  bivouac  of  life, 
Be  not  like  dumb  driven  cattle — 

Be  a  hero  in  the  strife." 

This — this  is  the  prostitution  of  poetry!  Re- 
member, too,  that  no  one  has  ever  been  punished  for 
the  murder  of  the  eight  miners  killed  on  that  same 
day,  while  the  one  murderer,  killed  in  the  act,  is  com- 
memorated in  marble  and  in  poem ! 

This  intolerable  outrage  emphasizes  the  condi- 
tions of  affairs  in  the  Telluride  district.  There  has 
been  a  manly  effort  made  by  three  or  four  of  the  mine 
managers  to  protect  the  rights  of  property  and  good 
citizenship,  but  it  has  been  handicapped  by  the  inter- 
ference of  political  considerations.  Arthur  L.  Col- 
lins, the  manager  of  the  Smuggler  Union  mine,  told 
me  of  the  receipt  by  him,  from  the  secretary  of  the 
union,  of  a  list  of  'scabs,'  namely,  men  who  refused 
to  accept  the  edicts  of  the  union — 16-to-l  union,  if 


otitNanQ  Til}']  tniig  jkv^ 


punoiSsjoj  OL)i  ui  s8uip[.iiu   [ii[^   pjig   rliue^  3i|x 


S33(I3    HOXtiVJ    X.WOIl    nNIM(K)'I 

^^'  ■  '    ^^te^.  ' 

'^^    -^^BB^pk' 

'■'sssir        -•(^■'-t-imi^'^ 

'^'-^^^^   A    ^    "^^'^^  -^i   ^" 

•^-^^^^: 

^  -  *>'j>-  "^-' 

^g^^ML 

^-••■^^ 

FRONTIER  LAWLESSNESS  43 

you  please!  This  list  was  interesting  because  the 
names  upon  it  could  be  pronounced! — that  is,  they 
belonged  to  men  of  American  and  English  descent, 
as  against  the  bulk  of  the  miners  in  the  district,  who 
are  Austrians,  Italians,  Slavs,  etc.  Mr.  Collins  in- 
serted a  paid  advertisement  in  each  of  the  local  papers 
promising  work  at  the  mines  under  his  charge  to  any 
man  on  that  list. 

The  above  lines  had  just  been  written,  on  No- 
vember 19,  1902,  when  the  news  of  the  assassination 
of  Arthur  Collins  shocked  the  whole  profession 
of  which  he  was  so  honorable  a  member.  I  have 
elsewhere"  expressed  my  feeling  concerning  this 
tragedy.  It  is  a  bitter  price  to  pay  for  frontier  law- 
lessness and  that  political  expediency  which  holds 
the  law  bound  in  its  slimy  coils. 

^The  editorial  on  the  Tragedy  at  Telluride'  in  the  Engineering  and 
Mining  Journal  of  November  29,  1902. 


chapter  7 


THE  SMUGGLER-UNION  MINE— STRUCTURE  OF 
THE  LODE  — GEOLOGICAL  CONDITIONS  —  VARIETY 
OF  MINERALS. 


;  HE  mine  that  was  the  scene  of 
j  these  unhappy  doings  is  one  of 
the  largest  in  Colorado;  it  was 
discovered  in  1875,  when  one  of 
the  claims,  the  Sheridan,  was 
first  located.  A  stray  occurrence 
I  of  the  mineral  sylvanite,  the  tel- 
t  luride  of  gold  and  silver,  was 
the  cause  of  the  naming  of  the  mining  camp.  The 
lode  proved  remarkably  persistent  in  richness 
through  the  Mendota,  Sheridan,  Smuggler,  and 
Union  claims,  and  beyond  them  into  other  mines; 
it  has  been  traced  for  over  four  miles  on  its  strike 
and  it  has  been  continuously  sloped  along  one  por- 
tion for  a  length  of  5,000  feet.  The  Smuggler  lode 
has  yielded  altogether  about  $12,000,000.  It  cuts 
through  the  crest  of  the  range  at  13,200  feet,  where 
it  is  encased  in  rhyolite;  at  12,450  feet  it  passes  into 
a  sheet  of  augite-andesite,  which  is  550  feet  thick, 
and  below  this  it  goes  through  the  great  series  of 
andesitic  breccias  that  reach  down  to  the  Telluride 
formation,  at  an  altitude  of  10,000  feet.  The  varia- 
tion in  geological  environment  has  not  been  without 


'Mil'' 

f' 

r 

' 

'j 

•Sipv, 

r'/^H^ ;;-— 7-  ^ 

THE  SMUGGLER  VEIN  45 

its  effect  upon  the  character  of  the  vein.  Mr.  Collins 
informed  me  that  the  payable  part  of  the  vein  reaches 
up  to  the  rhyolite  cap,  the  limit  of  productiveness 
coinciding  to  a  remarkable  degree  with  the  base  of 
the  rhyolite,  where  the  vein  is  pinched,  becom- 
ing merely  a  persistent  parting,  easily  discernible 
even  at  a  distance  on  account  of  the  discoloration  of 
the  encasing  rock.  In  the  rhyolite,  the  vein  is  ac- 
companied by  a  little  mud  or  selvage  and  some  silver 
ore,  in  patches,"  but  no  cellular  quartz  such  as  can 
be  seen  lower  down.  This  bit  of  evidence  does  not 
favor  the  idea  of  a  secondary  enrichment  of  the  lower 
orebodies  by  means  of  the  removal  of  the  precious 
metals  in  the  uppermost  portions  of  the  vein.  In  the 
augite-andesite  the  bonanza  orebodies  occur,  the 
richest  masses  of  silver  ore  coinciding  roughly  in 
their  distribution  with  certain  harder,  almost  hori- 
zontal, layers  of  this  andesite.  Similarly,  in  the  un- 
derlying breccia,  which  is  fine-grained,  the  pinches 
in  the  vein  occur  along  nearly  level  lines  coinciding 
with  the  bedding-planes  of  the  country.  Good  ore 
makes  in  zones,  but  oxidation  reaches  downward  ir- 
regularly, and  does  not  coincide  with  enrichment. 

The  Smuggler  vein,  as  the  drawings  will  show, 
is  notably  banded;  the  hanging  wall  is  usually  well 
defined  and  carries  a  casing,  immediately  underneath 
which  a  persistent  quartz  leader  is  generally  to  be 


^Mr.  John  B.  Parish  has  since  informed  me  that  in  the  adjoining 
l^nnd,  of  the  Humboldt  mine,  he  found  that  these  patches  of  ore  in  the 
rhyolite  indicated  orebodies  in  the  underlying  andesite. 


46         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

Fig.  6. 


THE   SMUGGLER   VEIN 


iS  .•...•..-...  El- 


48  AC310SS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

seen.  This  leader  is  the  first  part  of  the  vein  to  show 
oxidation.  The  footwall  is  'frozen*  with  quartz 
stringers,  which  merge  into  the  country.  The  gen- 
eral structure  of  the  vein  suggests  multiple  fracturing 
with  but  slight  actual  displacement,  and  a  shattering 
of  the  rock  without  much  actual  crushing.  Vugs,  or 
cavities  lined  with  crystals,  are  frequent ;  they  are  due 
to  crustification,  or  crystalline  growth,  around  the 
sides  of  spaces  separating  pieces  of  broken  rock. 

The  accompanying  drawings  were  made  under- 
ground during  a  visit  in  1901 ;  Fig.  6  represents  the 
back  of  a  stope  at  the  ninth  level.  On  the  hanging 
there  is  a  quartz  seam,  A  A.  This  is  usually  the  rich 
streak;  if  any  free  gold  is  to  be  found  in  the  lode,  it 
will  be  found  there.  The  quartz  is  white  and  rather 
massive,  with  crystalline  vugs.  The  next  band,  B  B, 
is  a  strip  of  hard  country,  included  in  the  vein;  the 
part  £  to  D  is  also  breccia,  with  some  quartz;  the 
foot-wall  country,  D  F,  is  full  of  quartz  stringers  that 
drop  into  the  vein;  the  outer  country  contains  vugs 
and  some  quartz.  On  the  hanging  there  is  a  soft 
shaly  band,  about  three  feet  wide,  which  is  used  by 
the  miners  as  a  'shooting  course,'  that  is,  it  is  rec- 
ognized as  an  easy  line  of  fracture  and  separation  be- 
tween the  ore  and  the  rock. 

Fig.  7,  obtained  in  a  neighboring  stope,  suggests 
the  arrangement  of  ore  in  relation  to  the  bedding  of 
the  breccia.  The  hanging-wall  leader  is  represented 
by  the  stringer  BE.  A  B  is  a,  casing  of  soft  shaly 
country  corresponding  to  the  'shooting  course,*  as 


THE  SMUGGLER  VEIN  49 

described  in  connection  with  Fig.  6.  D  D  are  seams 
of  white  quartz  carrying  iron-stained  vugs.  £  £  is 
a  quartzose  band.  The  included  country  in  the  mid- 
dle of  the  vein,  from  B  to  £,  is  mottled  by  brecciation 
and  does  not  contain  as  much  quartz  as  is  usual.  The 
foot-wall  is  hard. 

The  lode  yields  a  wonderful  array  of  fine  crystals 
of  quartz,  siderite,  calcite,  argentite,  rhodochrosite, 
gold,  and  silver.  The  transparency  of  most  of  these, 
especially  the  quartz  and  the  siderite,  suggests  an  ex- 
tremely slow  process  of  crystallization.  Siderite, 
the  carbonate  of  iron,  occurs  in  handsome  yellow 
crystals  encrusting  both  quartz  and  calcite.  Calcite 
was  the  last  mineral  to  be  precipitated,  and  it  is 
found  lying  upon  the  quartz  that  lines  the  geodes  or 
vugs.  Rhodonite,  the  silicate  of  manganese,  occurs 
in  irregular  bands,  usually  on  the  foot-wall  or  else 
in  the  main  body  of  the  pay-ore.  Rhodochrosite, 
the  carbonate  of  manganese,  is  occasionally  seen  in 
rose-red  crystals.  Gold  is  found  in  crystalline  ag- 
gregates forming  specimens  of  great  beauty.  Wire 
gold  also  occurs.  Both  the  wire  and  the  crystalline 
gold  have  the  composition  of  the  true  alloy,  Au  Ag." 
In  the  upper  workings,  the  native  gold  is  purer. 

While  the  lodes  of  the  vicinity,  as  a  rule,  have  the 
general  structure  of  sheeted  bands  of  country  rather 
than  that  of  large  fault-fractures,  it  is  noteworthy  that 
several  of  the  poorer  veins  follow  pronounced  lines 


"  A  fact  determined  by  the  late  Arthur  L.  Collins,  who  gave  me  many 
of  the  data  contained  in  this  description  of  the  Smuggler-Union  lode. 


50 


ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


of  faulting.  I  measured  the  vertical  dislocations  that 
coincide  with  the  Contention  and  the  Allegheny 
veins ;  in  the  first  case  the  displacement  is  58  feet  and 
in  the  second  it  is  21  feet.    The  Pandora  faults  the 


Ckoss-Section  of  The  Contentiom  Lode. 

Smuggler  about  50  feet."  The  Virginius  vein  is 
faulted  twenty  feet  by  a  cross-vein.'*  In  these  cases 
it  is  the  poor  vein  that  follows  the  fault. 


"John  A.  Porter.  The  Smuggler-Union  Mines,  Tellnride,  Cotondo.* 
TraiuactuHU  American  Institute  of  Mining  Engineers.  VoL  XXVL, 
p.  452 

"C.  W.  Purington.     'Preliminanr  Report  on  the  Mining  Ifidastnes 

'"■■■■"■      ■    "  ■     •  ;  iTs.  r  •   ■  •  -  ~~ 


of  the  Teilnride  Quadrangle,  Cotoiado,' 


1.  Geologial  Sorvey,  p.  107. 


/^ 


(Tlyaf  ter  S 


THE  CONTENTION   MINE  — AN  AERIAL  VOYAGED 
GOOD  MINE  MANAGEMENT. 


E  spent  a  couple  of  days  at 
;  Telluride,  visiting  the  mines  in 
I  the  vicinity.  Two  of  our  party 
went  up  to  the  Contention  mine, 
1  and  avoided  a  long  ride  over 
road  and  trail  by  getting  into 
■  one  of  the  buckets  of  the  tram- 
;  way,  which  makes  a  bee-line  up 
the  mountain  side.  The  aerial  voyage  was  made 
speedily  and  safely,  if  not  very  comfortably.  In 
winter  the  managers  of  many  of  the  properties  find  it 
expedient  to  make  their  trips  to  the  mines  over  the 
tramway,  and  in  spring,  when  the  deadly  snowslide 
may  launch  itself  down  the  mountain  at  any  time,  it 
is  mkch  safer  to  travel  in  the  air,  not  because  the  tram 
is  always  immune  from  this  peril,  but  because  of  the 
shorter  time  to  which  one  is  exposed  to  danger  in 
making  the  journey  in  a  bucket,  as  compared  to 
floundering  painfully  on  horseback  or  toiling  patiently 
uphill  on  snowshoes. 

The  Contention  is  an  interesting  lode  because  it 
is  productive  of  gold  ore  in  a  Tertiary  conglomerate, 
not  in  the  form  of  a  bed  of  conglomerate  impreg- 


52  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

nated  with  gold,***  but  a  nearly  vertical  vein-fracture 
cutting  through  a  nearly  horizontal  formation  and 
passing  above  this  conglomerate  into  the  andesite- 
breccia  series  and  below  the  conglomerate  into  sand- 
stones of  the  Jurassic.  This  is  an  example  of  the 
great  diversity  of  geological  environment  that  dis- 
tinguishes the  Telluride  district ;  within  a  small  area 
productive  gold  and  silver  veins  have  been  worked 
not  only  in  the  Tertiary  volcanics  and  the  Tertiary 
conglomerate  underneath  them,  but  also  in  Jurassic 
limestone  (the  Sawpit  mines)  and  in  Triassic  sand- 
stone (the  Allegheny).  This,  however,  is  a  subject 
too  wide  for  more  than  incidental  reference. 

The  photograph  of  the  Smuggler-Union  tram- 
way illustrates  the  usefulness  of  this  form  of  trans- 
port for  sending  supplies  of  all  sorts  to  the  mines  at 
high  altitudes.  Timbers,  lumber,  coal,  food,  and 
tools  are  put  into  the  buckets  and,  when  necessary, 
a  couple  of  buckets  are  spaced  so  as  to  carry  the  long 
timbers  or  pieces  of  lumber.  But  besides  this  con- 
structive engineering,  the  photograph  referred  to  also 
affords  a  natural  geological  section.  On  the  face  of 
the  cliffs  overlooking  Pandora  it  is  possible  to  trace 
several  successive  geological  formations.  Thus  A  A 
represents  the  base  of  the  series  of  bedded  tuffs  and 
breccias  called  the  San  Juan  formation;  then  (down 
to  C  C)  comes  the  Telluride  conglomerate,  and  under 
it  are  the  two  layers  of  white  sandstone  separated  by 
a  dark  band  of  limestone,  constituting  the  La  Plata 

*  Such  as  the  conglomerate  beds  of  the  Witwatersrand,  for  exan^le. 


(M 


Marshall  Basin 
The   Slieridan.   Mendola,  and  Union   Mines 


GOOD  MANAGEMENT  53 

formation;  still  lower,  along  B  B,  the  red  grits  and 
sandstones  of  the  Dolores  formation  can  be  followed 
along  the  face  of  the  cliff.  Between  the  Telluride 
conglomerate  and  the  underlying  succession  of  sedi- 
ments there  is  an  unconformity,  which  can  be  seen 
by  an  observer  standing  on  the  trail  that  ascends  the 
opposite  slope. 

The  big  mines  of  the  Telluride  district  afford 
examples  of  good  management  and  the  close  econ- 
omy that  goes  with  such  management.  During  the 
past  fiscal  year  the  Tomboy  treated  85,726  tons  of  ore, 
the  average  yield  of  which  was  $9.98  and  the  aver- 
age cost  per  ton,  $5.85.  With  the  help  of  the  new 
mill,  the  costs  are  expected  to  be  brought  down  to 
$5.50.  The  Liberty  Bell  mine,  for  the  year  ending 
September  30,  1902,  despite  snowslides  and  other  un- 
foreseen delays,  handled  67,439  tons  for  a  yield  of 
$7.15  per  ton,  at  a  total  working  cost  of  $5.53  per  ton; 
while  the  Smuggler-Union,  on  a  larger  tonnage,  has 
brought  the  total  expenses  to  just  under  $4  per  ton. 
In  1902  the  average  mining  costs  were  $2.90  and  mill- 
ing expenses  $0.90  for  92,917  tons.  Summer  costs 
were  better  than  those  in  winter;  for  instance  in 
April,  1902,  the  mining  cost  was  $2.81  and  the  milling 
$0.74,  for  12,979  tons.  The  figures  for  mining  include 
expenses  up  to  delivery  oi  ore  at  the  dump. 

In  referring  to  good  management,  it  will  not  be 
out  of  place  to  mention  the  action  of  the  manager  of 
the  Tomboy  mine,  who,  when  the  old  mine  had  evi- 
dently become  exhausted,  was  enterprising  enough 


S4  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

to  secure  options  on  adjoining  ground,  at  that  time 
giving  promise  of  a  good  thing.  Mr.  Herron  bought 
the  Argentine  for  his  company  and  thereby  put  the 
Tomboy  on  its  feet  again.  In  his  negotiations  he 
was  supported  by  his  directors,  and  the  result  is  the 
possession  of  a  mine  that  has  made  the  shares  of  the 
company  more  valuable  than  they  were  at  the  time 
of  its  organization.  Mr.  Herron  acted  for  the  direc- 
tors, the  directors  acted  for  the  shareholders,  and 
although  the  transaction  was  a  large  one  the  share- 
holders were  debited  only  with  a  bonus  of  $10,000, 
which  was  given  by  the  company  to  the  mine  man- 
ager in  recognition  of  his  services.  It  is  an  incident 
worthy  of  record  and  does  honor  to  all  concerned. 
If  managers  and  directors  of  mining  companies  al- 
ways took  such  a  proper  view  of  their  duties,  the 
industry  of  mining  would  gain  thereby. 


A  Fault-Vein  Fadlted. 


^K^ 

^^^^L 

1 

.3 
1.1 


-> 


CbofUr  9 


ON  THE  WAY  TO  SILVERTON  —  THE  BRIDAL  VEIL 
FALLS  — FINE  GEOLOGICAL  SECTION  — OPHIR  — 
THE  RED  MOUNTAINS. 

N  the  8th  of  September  we 
started  for  Silverton.  We  took 
I  the  recurrent  zig-zag  of  the 
Bridal  Veil  trail,  and  in  an  hour 
reached  the  top  of  the  waterfall, 
whose  filmy  traceries  had  origi- 
nated the  name.  The  beauty  of 
the  waterfall  is  gone,  a  sacrifice 
to  utilitarian  engineering,  which  has  taken  the  water 
to  supply  power  to  the  Smuggler-Union  mill.  The 
pipe-line  climbs  to  the  place  where  once  the  rivulet 
flung  itself  into  space,  and  the  penstock  stands  where 
it  paused  for  breath  before  its  leap  into  the  sunlit 
ravine.  As  we  halted  at  the  head  of  the  trail,  the  San 
Miguel  valley  lay  outspread  with  panoramic  spa- 
ciousness. 

Nearly  horizontal  lines  of  differently  colored 
rocks  in  ordered  succession  gave  the  suggestion  of 
long-continued  natural  forces  building  up  the  super- 
structure out  of  which  the  sculpturing  hand  of  Time 
had  chiseled  the  great  array  of  mountain  peaks  that 
rose  against  the  cloudless  skies.  Emerson  has  said 
somewhere  that  we  ought  to  respect  "the  naturlang- 
samkeit  which  hardens  the  ruby  in  a  million  years,  and 


S6  AC310SS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

works  in  durations  in  which  Alps  and  Andes  come 
and  go  as  rainbows/*  It  is  restful  to  contemplate 
this  patient  operation  of  natural  forces  in  contrast 
to  the  unresting  eagerness  of  man — ^a  nervous  energy 
nowhere  more  marked  than  among  the  mines  and 
mills  which  lie  under  the  shadows  of  these  very  moun- 
tains. Such  contemplation  should  conduce  to  equa- 
nimity. I  think  it  does.  The  records  of  the  geologi- 
cal societies  show  that  geologists,  as  a  rule,  live  long. 
Above  the  valley  rise  the  short  slopes  of  red 
sandstones  of  the  Trias,  surmounted  by  the  white  line 
of  the  La  Plata  sandstone  at  the  base  of  the  Jurassic, 
and  above  this  distinct  stratum,  marked  by  a  medial 
layer  of  dark  limestone,  there  succeed  the  variegated 
shales  and  sandstones  of  the  McElmo  formation  at 
the  top  of  the  Jurassic ;  these,  being  fairly  soft,  have  a 
gentle  slope,  partly  covered  by  vegetation,  and  are 
topped  with  the  gray  band  of  the  Dakota  sandstone, 
at  the  base  of  the  Cretaceous.  All  these  rocks  dip 
down  the  valley  westward,  so  that  the  horizontal 
bedding  of  the  overlying  Telluride  conglomerate 
brings  out  the  unconformity  distinctly.  This  Terti- 
ary conglomerate  has  a  dark  red  color,  as  seen  from 
a  distance,  and  it  belts  the  base  of  the  steep  cliffs 
above  the  valley  conspicuously.  It  is  about  400  feet 
thick  just  below  Pandora,  and  is  covered  by  the  vast 
succession  of  volcanic  ejectamenta,  which  rise  tier 
upon  tier  for  a  height  of  3,500  feet,  culminating  in 
serrated  peaks  that  soar  far  above  the  uppermost 
limits  of  vegetation. 


A  GEOLOGICAL  PANORAMA  57 

In  leaving  this  wonderful  geological  section  it 
will  not  be  unfitting  to  suggest  that  instructors  of 
geology  in  our  schools  of  mines  will  find  nowhere  on 
the  globe  a  better  locality  wherein  to  bring  home  to 
the  student  the  relation  between  geology  and  mining, 
nor  will  they  find,  with  convenience,  a  district  that 
illustrates  so  well  the  working  and  the  results  of  nat- 
ural erosion,  the  operation  of  which  Hutton  and  Lyell 
emphasized  as  fundamental  among  the  processes  of 
nature. 

When  we  resumed  our  ride,  we  found  ourselves 
on  a  trail  threading  a  pine  forest.  In  sheltered  spots 
the  wild  flowers  of  summer  still  lingered,  and  the 
trail  crossed  busy  rivulets,  whose  voice  was  the  only 
sound  disturbing  the  quiet  of  regions  strangely  de- 
void of  life.  Emerging  from  the  pines,  we  found  our- 
selves on  the  treeless  waste  above  'timber  line,*  and 
followed  an  easy  ascent  along  the  bare  rounded 
slopes  at  the  head  of  an  amphitheatre  of  ridges.  It 
was  a  lifeless  desolation,  bleak  and  still,  until  sud- 
denly a  series  of  salutes  rang  out,  to  be  echoed 
grandly  from  peak  to  peak.  These  were  the  blasts 
from  mine-workings  which  w^e  had  not  seen;  they 
marked  the  noon  hour.  It  was  time  for  'croust'  (lit- 
erally crust),  as  the  Cornish  miners  call  the  meal  that 
divides  their  working  time;  so  we  off-saddled  beside 
the  first  stream  and  ate  our  luncheon,  while  the 
horses  nibbled  the  scant  dry  grass.  It  seemed  good 
to  be  there  under  that  serenely  blue  sky  and  amid  an 
air  that  made  "the  world  seem  young  and  life  an 


58  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

epic."  Those  who  do  not  know  the  exhilaration  of 
these  high  altitudes  have  not  realized  what  perfect 
vitality  means. 

On  resuming  the  ascent,  we  were  soon  amid  loose 
slopes  of  debris,  over  which  the  horses  went  with  no 
more  difficulty  than  ourselves,  although  the  increased 
rarity  of  the  air  told  on  them  very  obviously.  The 
trail  was  lost,  and  on  choosing  the  lowest  ridge  to 
the  south,  we  found  ourselves  eventually  where  we 
did  not  expect  to  be,  that  is,  overlooking  the  little 
mining  town  of  Ophir,  which  I  knew  to  be  out  of  our 
course  to  Silverton.  We  looked  from  a  razorback 
ridge  far  down  a  precipitously  steep  slope  into  a  dis- 
tant little  green  valley ;  a  white  road  threaded  the  cen- 
tre of  it,  and  a  cluster  of  dwellings,  like  match-boxes, 
seen  so  far,  marked  the  settlement  of  Ophir.  This  is 
not  Solomon's  treasure-house,  but  as  the  slanting 
sunlight  touched  the  clusters  of  yellow  aspen  upon 
the  lower  slopes  of  the  valley  we  found  reason  enough 
for  the  name. 

Retracing  our  steps  into  the  basin  from  which 
the  ridge  arose,  we  crossed  to  the  eastern  side,  and 
finding  a  trail,  ascended  a  crumbling  ridge,  from 
which  we  could  see  the  whole  complex  of  ranges 
stretching  from  Red  Mountain  to  Silverton,  and  far 
beyond.  We  were  13,200  feet  above  sea-level.  It 
did  not  take  long  to  regain  our  wind,  and  shortly 
the  four  of  us  were  picking  a  way  down  the  farther 
side,  winding  in  and  out  of  those  semi-circular  basins 
which  are  so  characteristic  of  the  high  country  just 


■^^^^^^^^Br            ^^BQ 

<-> 


A  GLIMPSE  OF  OPHIR  59 

above  the  timber-line.  It  was  wearisome  pulling 
unwilling  horses  over  talus  slopes,  so  we  soon  halted 
for  a  breathing  space  and  took  in  the  view.  An 
amphitheatre  of  rugged  peaks  formed  our  back- 
ground; tiers  built  up  of  successive  extrusions  of 
andesite  looked  out  upon  a  vast  lifeless  desolation  of 
gjay  summits  and  dun-colored  ranges,  from  which 
rose  three  flaming  peaks,  red  as  torches  to  anarchy. 
These,  the  Red  mountains,  are  a  landmark  through- 
out the  region.  Their  color  is  due  to  the  solfataric 
action  of  thermal  waters  upon  the  iron  sulphides 
disseminated  through  andesitic  rock."  At  the  foot 
of  these  iron-stained  ridges  are  situated  the  famous 
Guston  and  Yankee  Girl  mines,  which  were  so  pro- 
ductive about  fifteen  years  ago.  The  origin  of  the  lodes 
is  connected  with  that  of  the  peculiar  red  summits, 
in  that  both  are  traceable  to  the  activity  of  acid 
waters,  which  have  precipitated  rich  silver  minerals 
on  the  one  hand,  and,  on  the  other  hand,  have  re- 
moved the  more  soluble  portions  of  the  andesite, 
depositing  additional  silica,  so  that  the  resulting 
quartzose  country  has  withstood  erosion  sufficiently 
to  survive  in  the  form  of  red  summits,  which  now 
serve  as  beacons  to  the  prospector." 
We  reached  Silverton  before  dark. 

"'Notes  on  Some  Colorado  Ore-Deposits/  by  S.  F.  Emmons.  Pro^ 
eeedings  Colondo  Scientific  Society,  Vol.  II.,  pp.  93-99. 

"This  matter  has  been  much  discussed.  See  Theodore  B.  G>mstock, 
The  Geology  and  Vein-Structure  of  Southwestern  Colorado.*  Trans- 
actions American  Institute  of  Mining  Engineers,  Vol.  XV.,  pp.  252-264. 
Also  S.  F.  Emmons,  Vol.  XVI.,  p.  809,  and  T,  B.  Comstock,  Vol.  XVII., 
pp.  261-2S4. 


€\)<xpUx  10 


SILVERTON  AND  ITS  EARLY  HISTORY  — THE  FIRST 
SMELTERS  IN  COLORADO  —  PIONEERS  OF  INDUS- 
TRY—SOME WELL  KNOWN  NAMES  — RAPIDITY 
OF  DEVELOPMENT. 


;  ILVERTON  exhibited  a  condi- 
;  tion  of  bustling  activity;  the 
I  country  tributary  to  it,  up  and 
[  down  the  Animas  and  along  its 
tributary  streams,  has  recently 
undergone  a  good  deal  of  that 
f  new  development  which  is  es- 
I  sential  to  the  maintenance  of 
production  in  a  mining  district.  In  fact,  by  reason 
of  the  energetic-  development,  particularly  of  gold 
mines,  which  has  been  going  on  ever  since  the  fall  in 
the  price  of  silver  in  1893,  the  surrounding  region  is 
today  one  of  the  most  prosperous  mining  tracts 
within  the  Rocky  Mountain  area. 

The  mountains  around  Silverton  were  first  in- 
vaded by  the  pioneers  in  1871,  when  the  Little  Giant 
vein  was  discovered  by  Miles  T.  Johnson.  In  1872 
an  arras/re  was  put  up,  not  far  from  the  present  site 
of  the  large  modern  plant  of  the  Silver  Lake  mine. 
At  that  time  the  nearest  trading  station  was  at 
Conejos,  in  the  San  Luis  valley.     Until   1873  the 


EARLY  SMELTING  ENTERPRISES  6i 

Indians  had  legal  control  over  the  region,  but  this 
was  ended  peaceably  by  the  Brunot  treaty. 

Early  on  the  morning  of  September  9  our  party 
of  four  rode  down  the  wide  main  street  on  the  way 
to  the  Golden  Fleece  mine,  near  Lake  City,  about  40 
miles  distant.  Just  outside  the  town  the  road  passes 
the  entrance  to  Cement  creek.  Here  there  is  a  new 
pyritic  smelter,  which  is  close  to  the  site  of  the  old 
Green  smelter,  erected  by  Judge  Green,  of  Cedar 
Rapids,  Iowa,  in  1874.  The  machinery  for  that  early 
metallurgical  establishment  came  on  mule-back  from 
Colorado  Springs,  over  300  miles;  Colorado  Springs 
being  at  that  time  the  terminus  of  the  railway.  The 
first  furnace  was  made  of  sandstone  without  any 
lining,  and  Mr.  John  A.  Porter  has  told  me  of  the 
advantages  and  disadvantages  of  this  method  of  con- 
struction. It  had  one  advantage:  when  the  silicious 
portion  of  the  charge  was  insufficient  for  a  good 
mixture,  the  side  of  the  furnace  contributed  the 
silica  that  was  wanting!  In  1876  the  first  water- 
jacket  used  in  Colorado  was  put  into  service  at  the 
Green  smelter;  it  was  a  round  jacket  three  feet  in 
diameter  and  was  made  by  Fraser  &  Chalmers,  at 
Chicago.  The  year  before,  in  1875,  Mr.  Porter  had 
put  in  a  siphon-tap,  suggested  by  his  experience  at 
Eureka,  Nevada,  from  which  place  he  had  come  to 
Silverton.  This  was  the  second  siphon-tap  employed 
in  Colorado;  the  first  was  applied  at  the  Swansea 
works,  near  Denver,  by  Ahrents.  Nothing  remains 
of  the  old  Green  smelter  save  a  cabin  with  a  brick 


62  AC310SS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

chimney,  which  used  to  be  the  assay-office  of  the 
establishment.  This  plant  was  the  parent  of  the  San 
Juan  smelting  works  at  Durango,  erected  in  1880, 
and  contributed  an  important  share  to  the  early 
development  of  the  surrounding  region. 

Local  smelters  such  as  these  have  helped  the 
exploration  of  the  mountains.  In  riding  across 
country,  as  we  were  doing,  one  would  occasionally 
see,  in  contrast  to  the  bright  coloring  of  the  aspens, 
a  black  patch  of  ground,  suggestive  of  the  gloomy 
gulf  down  which  Pluto  snatched  the  fair  Persephone. 
These  dark  patches  are  old  slag-dumps,  which  have 
crumbled  to  dust,  and  serve  as  reminders  of  the  little 
smelters  that  preceded  the  large  centralized  estab- 
lishments erected  in  later  years  at  Pueblo  and  Denver. 
The  memory  of  these  early  efforts  has  crumbled 
away,  like  their  slags,  but  they  are  interesting  not 
only  as  small  beginnings  of  a  great  industry  but  on 
account  of  their  human  associations.  They  served 
to  train  many  of  our  best  men.  John  A.  Porter  has 
been  mentioned  in  connection  with  the  Green  smelter; 
at  the  Rico  works,  first  built  under  the  name  of  the 
Grand  View  smelter,  in  1879,  such  men  as  F.  M. 
Endlich,  Hofman,  and  Arnold  successively  got  ex- 
perience and,  in  much  later  years,  W.  C.  Brace,  E.  J. 
Wilson,  and  L.  D.  Godshall.  The  early  seventies  in 
Colorado  saw  the  beginning  of  many  reputations  that 
are  now  well  established.  Dr.  Edward  D.  Peters  is 
said  to  have  been  a  great  champion  of  the  reverbera- 
tory  in  those  days;  he  built  a  smelter  at  Dudley,  at 


METALLURGICAL  PIONEERS  63 

the  foot  of  Mt.  Bross,  in  1872.  The  ores  were  rich 
in  silver  and  copper,  but  loaded  with  heavy  spar,  so 
that  although  he  began  with  only  a  calcining  and 
stone  blast-furnace,  36  by  42  inches  in  section,  with 
water-cooled  tuyeres,  he  subsequently  added  a  re- 
verberatory  furnace,  having  a  9^  by  15-foot  hearth, 
which  was  fired  with  spruce  wood.  The  ores  were 
unfit  for  smelting  by  themselves,  but  the  smelter  was 
operated  with  moderate  success  for  two  years.  At 
that  time  West  was  in  difficulties  with  a  matte  blast- 
furnace at  Black  Hawk,  and  Collom  was  bucking 
against  the  impossible  zinc-silver  ores  of  Georgetown 
at  a  little  smelter  just  below  Empire,  near  the  forks 
of  Clear  creek. 

Colonel  William  L.  Chandler  was  at  Saints  John, 
in  Summit  county,  just  over  the  continental  divide, 
where  the  ore  from  a  mine  at  Keystone  was  made 
into  a  silicate  of  lead  in  the  fusion-hearth  of  a  roasting 
reverberatory  furnace.  This  was  called  'matte*  and 
was  treated  in  a  low  shaft-furnace;  the  height  from 
the  tuyeres  to  the  charging  door  being  five  feet. 
This  stuff  was  sent  to  Empire,  where  John  Collom 
was  running  the  small  shaft-furnace  already  men- 
tioned. The  treatment  was  a  failure  until  H.  A. 
Vezin  took  charge  of  the  works  and  produced  good 
silver-lead.  This  was  early  in  1872  and  was  the  first 
lead  produced  on  a  commercial  scale  on  the  Atlantic 
slope  of  Colorado.  In  1875  Anton  Eilers  took  charge 
at  Saints  John,  but  left  in  a  short  time  in  order  to 
join  Billings  at  the  Germania  works  at  Sandy,  near 


64  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

Salt  Lake  City.  He  was  succeeded  at  Saints  John 
by  Franz  Fohr,  who,  in  later  years,  was  manager  of 
the  Harrison  Reduction  Works  at  Leadville. 

In  1874  Mather  &  Geist  started  their  smelter 
at  Pueblo  with  two  furnaces.  This  was  the  begin- 
ning of  the  Pueblo  Smelting  &  Refining  Company. 
A  certain  Professor  Cheney  at  Animas  Forks  and  a 
Professor  Durier  at  Animas  City  erected  smelting 
furnaces  in  localities  as  ill  situated  for  fuel  as  for 
ore — doomed,  therefore,  to  point  a  moral  and  adorn 
a  melancholy  tale. 

Richard  Pearce  had  his  first  experience  in 
Colorado  in  1873,  at  an  unsuccessful  smelter  erected 
near  Empire,  on  the  site  of  CoUom's  old  works.  At 
the  end  of  1873  this  ill-fated  establishment  closed  and 
Mr.  Pearce  moved  to  Black  Hawk,  where  Professor 
N.  P.  Hill,  not  long  arrived  from  Brown  University, 
was  in  trouble  with  the  pyritic  ores  of  Gilpin  county. 
Pearce  and  Hill  joined  forces  and,  under  the  advice  of 
the  former,  an  addition  was  made  to  the  plant,  where- 
by it  became  possible  to  treat  the  matte,  which  up  to 
that  time  had  been  shipped  to  Vivian  &  Sons,  at 
Swansea,  Wales.  This  change  of  method  made  the 
Black  Hawk  smelter  a  financial  success,  and  led, 
finally,  in  1878,  to  the  erection  of  the  large  plant  at 
Argo,  near  Denver,  where,  under  the  name  of  the 
Boston  &  Colorado  Smelting  Company,  it  has  since 
become  so  well  known. 

James  B.  Grant  had  been  recently  graduated  from 
Freiberg  when,  in  1878,  he  built  a  small  one-stack 


FIRST  SMELTERS  AT  LEADVILLE  65 

smelter  at  Leadville.  Within  a  year  this  was  in- 
creased to  eight  stacks;  and  in  1880  Edward  Eddy 
and  W.  H.  James,  who  owned  sampling  works  at 
Leadville,  joined  Mr.  Grant  in  his  smelting  venture. 
That  pioneer  establishment  is  gone,  but  it  was  the 
parent  of  the  Omaha  &  Grant  Smelting  &  Refining 
Company.  Anton  Eilers  has  been  referred  to 
already.  He  was  at  the  Germania  plant  from  1876 
to  1879;  in  the  spring  of  1879  he  started  grading  for 
the  Arkansas  Valley  smelter,  which  was  blown  in  on 
May  20  of  that  year. 

In  these  early  efforts  there  is  a  personal  equa- 
tion and  a  human  interest  lacking  in  the  larger  under- 
takings of  later  days,  because  they  represented  the 
skill,  hopefulness,  and  energy  of  individual  young 
men,  many  of  whom  have  proved  to  be  masters  of 
the  metallurgical  art.  While  it  must  be  amusing  to 
those  who  are  accustomed  to  the  more  patient  prog- 
ress of  older  countries  to  read  of  a  period  within  the 
memory  of  active  men  as  being  'historical,'  yet,  as 
time  is  measured  in  a  rapidly  progressive  mining 
region  like  Colorado,  it  does  indeed  seem  long  ago. 
"In  a  remote  period  of  Western  history,  that  is  to 
say,  30  years  ago,"  is  a  sentence  not  without  a  touch 
of  humorous  exaggeration  to  a  European,  but  the 
rapid  achievement  of  a  new  country  outsteps  the  slow 
beat  of  the  pendulum. 


CfyxjpXat  U 


THE  NORTH  STAR  AND  SILVER  LAKE  TRAMWAYS  — 
SOME  CLEVER  ENGINEERING  —  COMPARISONS — 
DOUBLE  AND  SINGLE  ROPEWAYS  —  EUREKA — 
VETERAN  MINERS. 


;  S  we  rode  along  the  right  bank 

j  of  the  Animas,  we  passed  the 

I  North  Star  mill,  where  John  J. 

Crooke  employed  the  old  Au- 

gustin   process,  roasting  silver 

ore  with  salt  and  leaching  the 

'  resulting     chloride     with     hot 

1  water,  finally  precipitating  the 

silver  on  copper  in  the  approved  way. 

Farther  up  we  came  upon  the  Stoiber  residence, 
'Waldheim,'  a  30-room  house,  with  all  modern  ap- 
pointments, built  by  the  former  owners  of  the 
Silver  Lake  mine.  Just  beyond,  in  Arastra  basin, 
we  could  see  the  Silver  Lake  mill  and  the  tramway, 
which  extends  in  swinging  lines  to  the  mine  beside 
the  lake  at  12,250  feet  above  sea-level.  One  of  the 
spans  of  this  Bleichert  tram  clears  a  distance  of  2,200 
feet.  In  a  total  length  of  8,400  feet,  the  upper 
division  of  the  tram  descends  2,100  feet,  and  has  only 
19  supporting  towers.  The  lower  portion — from  the 
old  mill  to  the  new  mill — is  6,200  feet  long,  with  a 


AERIAL  ROPEWAYS  67 

fall  of  659  feet.  The  tram  from  the  Iowa  mine  climbs 
the  neighboring  bluffs,  and  a  little  further  up  the 
Animas  the  North  Star  tram  reaches  the  river  from 
near  the  top  of  Sultan  Mtn.,  a  height  of  nearly  13,000 
feet,  making  a  descent  of  over  3,200  feet.  Silverton 
itself  is  situated  at  9,300  feet  above  sea-level. 

The  North  Star  tram  is  two  miles  long,  and  con- 
nects the  mill  on  the  right  bank  of  the  Animas  with 
a  loading  station  at  the  entrance  of  an  adit  at  12,900 
feet  above  sea-level.  A  two-bucket  tramway,  having 
a  single  span  of  1,950  feet,  carries  the  ore  to  two 
large  storage  bins  situated  in  a  gulch  604  feet  lower 
down.  Each  of  the  two  buckets  carries  1,300  pounds 
of  ore,  the  empty  one  being  pulled  up  by  the  descend- 
ing loaded  bucket.  The  cable  descending  is  Ij^  inch 
in  diameter,  while  the  rope  that  carries  the  empties  is 
1  inch. 

The  ore-bins,  just  described,  serve  as  the  terminal 
of  a  Dusedau  aerial  tramway,  which  goes  to  the  mill, 
two  miles  down  the  mountain,  making  a  vertical 
descent  of  2,600  feet.  At  an  altitude  of  12,300  feet 
the  tram  crosses  a  mountain  lake  with  a  span  1,340 
feet  long,  and  lower  down  there  are  other  spans  of 
1,050  feet  and  1,030  feet,  respectively.  At  the  lower 
end,  connecting  with  the  mill,  the  final  span  is  900 
feet  long,  with  a  fall  of  380  feet,  crossing  the  Animas 
river  at  a  height  of  150  feet  above  the  water.  The 
tension  station  is  midway  between  the  mill  and  the 
upper  terminal.  It  is  said  that  the  gradient  of  the 
installation  is  such  that  30  horse-power  is  developed ; 
but  this  power  is  not  utilized. 


68  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

The  buckets  or  cars  are  40  in  number,  and  each 
carries  600  pounds;  they  are  placed  at  intervals  of 
600  feet,  and  travel  at  a  speed  of  six  feet  per  second. 
Fifty  towers  are  stationed  along  the  line,  the  highest 
being  71  feet.  Two  miles  of  steel  ropes  are  used  for 
this  system,  the  total  weight  of  them  being  over  30 
tons. 

These  numerous  aerial  ropes,  spanning  the  inter- 
mountain  spaces  like  great  spiders'  webs,  are  an 
important  feature  of  mining  in  the  San  Juan  regpion. 
We  had  already,  on  the  previous  days  of  our  trip,  seen 
the  trams  of  the  American  Nettie,  Bright  Diamond, 
Grand  View,  Camp  Bird,  Smuggler  Union, 
Columbia,  and  Liberty  Bell  mines,  beside  others,  the 
names  of  which  we  did  not  know,  so  that  with  the 
group  of  three  just  referred  to,  near  Silverton,  we 
had,  in  the  aggregate,  observed  a  good  many  ex- 
amples of  this  kind  of  mountain  engineering.  Most 
of  the  recent  installations  belong  to  the  Bleichert  and 
Otto  systems,  in  which  the  bucket  is  drawn  over  a 
thick  stationary  cable  by  means  of  a  smaller  traveling 
rope.  The  traction  rope  is  usually  from  J4  to  5^  inch 
in  diameter,  while  the  fixed  cable  is  from  1  to  1J4 
inches.  The  older  Huson  and  Hallidie  systems,  with 
a  single  traveling  rope,  to  which  the  small  buckets  are 
attached,  are  nearly  obsolete  except  for  short  dis- 
tances and  over  easy  contours.  The  need  for  fre- 
quent supports,  the  consequent  less  substantial  con- 
struction, and  their  smaller  capacity  have  rendered 
them  less  desirable  as  a  means  of  transporting  ore 


DETAILS  OF  CONSTRUCTION  69 

over  a  rugged  country.  Experience  now  favors  the 
double-ropeway  system  in  spite  of  a  cost  of  installa- 
tion that  is  30  to  50  per  cent  greater  than  the  single- 
rope  type,  because  this  difference  of  initial  expense 
is  soon  wiped  out  by  the  cost  of  maintenance,  which 
with  the  Hallidie  type  is  nearly  double  that  demanded 
by  the  Bleichert;  moreover,  in  the  matter  of  capacity, 
it  may  be  said  that  the  former  is  limited  to,  say,  75 
tons  per  day  of  10  hours,  while  the  substantial  con- 
struction and  larger  scale  of  the  latter  permit  of  a 
capacity  that  ordinarily  reaches  from  250  to  400  tons 
per  day  of  10  hours. 

On  the  other  hand,  it  is  claimed^^  that  in  a  tram- 
way using  the  friction  or  compression  grip,  the  rope 
will  stretch  after  it  is  in  use,  and  when  this  occurs  the 
rope  is  reduced  in  diameter,  so  that  the  grip-jaws  do 
not  hold  the  bucket  tightly,  with  the  result  that  they 
slip  and  accidents  ensue.  This  feature  is  avoided  in 
the  Leschen  tramway,  which  uses  from  two  to  four 
bands  that  encircle  the  rope  and  take  care  of  this  dif- 
ference in  diameter  within  reasonable  limits,  for,  by 
tightening  the  bands  they  become  as  snug  as  the 
original  arrangement.  When  a  bucket  is  attached 
to  the  cable  by  a  friction  grip,  it  is  done  suddenly, 
and  gives  the  rope  and  the  entire  equipment  a  jerk  or 
jar.  The  operation  consists  in  first  moving  the 
bucket  to  the  desired  attaching  point,  and  the  rope, 
running  through  the  grip-jaws,  wears  them  away, 

"In  correspondence  received  by  the  author  from  A.  Leschen  &  Sons 
Rope  Company  of  St  Louis. 


TO  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

and  then,  when  the  grip  is  closed,  it  receives  the 
sudden  jar  referred  to. 

The  particular  objection  to  a  tramway  using  a 
friction  grip  is  that  the  traction  rope  is  supported  on 
rollers,  the  latter  being  placed  below  the  bucket,  so 
that  when  a  bucket  passes  over  a  support,  it  clears 
it.  The  bucket,  however,  in  passing  raises  the  trac- 
tion rope  about  four  feet.  The  cable  then  gradually 
lowers  after  the  bucket  leaves  the  tower.  The  result 
of  this  is  not  so  apparent  on  a  level  tramway,  but 
where  there  is  grade,  and  especially  where  there  is  a 
cliff  or  a  long  span,  the  strain  produced  in  the  buckets 
in  order  to  raise  the  traction  rope  to  the  proper  height 
is  excessive,  and  will  not  only  injure  the  traction 
rope,  but  it  also  affects  the  fixed  cable  immediately 
above.  In  the  tramways  employing  a  clip,  such  as 
the  Leschen  type,  the  traction  rope  is  supported  on 
sheave-wheels  placed  at  the  same  relative  distance 
as  that  of  the  bucket  to  the  cable.  In  other  words, 
the  traction  rope  remains  in  the  same  vertical  posi- 
tion at  all  times,  and  the  clip  or  lug  is  so  constructed 
that  it  passes  over  the  sheave. 

Owing  to  the  fact  that  in  a  tramway  provided 
with  the  friction  grip  a  bucket  cannot  operate  around 
the  terminal  stations  while  being  attached  to  the 
rope,  it  becomes  necessary  (upon  detaching  the 
bucket  at  the  terminal)  to  move  the  bucket  around 
each  terminal  by  hand.  The  labor  required  to  do 
this  depends  upon  the  capacity  of  the  tramway.  In 
the  Leschen  tramway,  the  buckets  remain  attached 


COST  OF  TRAMWAYS  71 

to  the  traction  rope  when  traveling  around  the  termi- 
nals. Only  one  man  is  required,  and  he  is  placed  at 
the  loading  terminal  to  handle  the  brakes  and  to  con- 
trol the  flow  of  ore  into  the  buckets.  An  argument 
in  favor  of  the  friction-grip  tram  is  that,  by  having 
no  lug  on  the  rope,  there  is  no  bending  of  the  cable 
at  the  lug,  so  that  the  rope  will  last  longer.  This  is 
denied,  however,  it  being  claimed  that  there  is  less 
wear  on  the  rope  near  the  button  than  there  is  at 
any  other  place  along  the  line ;  in  fact,  the  clip  is  said 
to  protect  the  cable.  The  effect  that  the  clip  has 
on  the  rope  is  said  to  be  less  than  that  produced  by  a 
friction  grip.  The  various  kinds  of  clip  or  button  in 
use  are  so  arranged  that  they  can  easily  be  moved 
from  one  position  to  the  other  on  the  cable  in  case  this 
is  desired,  and  provision  is  made  for  turning  the  rope 
so  as  to  distribute  the  wear  evenly. 

The  first  cost  of  a  tramway  of  this  kind  depends 
upon  the  contour  of  the  country  traversed,  and  the 
distance  from  the  manufacturer  who  supplies  the 
material.  In  the  high  altitudes  of  the  San  Juan,  say, 
10,000  feet  or  over,  the  cost  of  material  for  an  in- 
stallation having  a  capacity  of  200  tons  per  day  of  10 
hours  would  be  about  $2.10  per  foot  of  tram-line,  and 
the  cost  of  freight,  plus  erection,  would  be  about 
$1.15  more,  so  that  the  total  cost  would  be  about  $3.25 
per  foot.  A  tramway,  one  mile  long,  having  the 
capacity  mentioned,  would  entail  an  expenditure  of 
about  $20,000.  Actual  expenditure  for  tramways 
in  this  district  has  ranged  between  $2.50  and  $8  per 


72  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

foot;  as  a  rule  the  cheap  one  proves  the  most  expei 
sive  on  account  of  the  greater  cost  of  maintenance  an 
repairs.  The  Camp  Bird  tramway  is  8,550  feet  lonj 
with  an  angle  station;  the  fall,  in  the  length  mei 
tioned,  is  1,840  feet,  and  the  cost,  all  told,  was  $55,09' 
It  is  a  thorough  piece  of  engineering  work.  At  th 
present  time  it  is  worked  on  two  8-hour  shifts,  with 
duty  of  210  tons  per  diem.  The  operating  cost  is  17. 
cents  and  the  maintenance  Ij/z  cents  per  ton.  j 
large  amount  of  material  is  sent  to  the  mine,  as 
back  load,  and  the  cost  of  handling  this  also  is  ii 
eluded  in  the  figures  just  quoted. 

The  spacing  of  the  supporting  towers  is  of  courj 
governed  by  the  contour  of  the  ground.  In  this  n 
gard  the  double-ropeway  systems,  with  their  indi 
pendent  fixed  cable  for  bucket-track,  permit  of 
comparatively  more  direct  path  and  more  unifon 
movement  of  buckets,  because  the  cable  can  t 
stretched  to  a  high  tension,  diminishing  the  deflectio 
in  the  swing  of  the  cable.  In  the  case  of  the  sing! 
ropeways,  which  both  carry  and  propel  the  bucket,  a 
a  high  tension  leads  to  overstraining  of  the  rope,  it 
avoided,  so  that  there  is  greater  dip  in  the  cab' 
and  need  for  a  larger  number  of  supports.  Th 
is  a  decided  drawback  in  a  rugged  mountain  countr 

The  automatic  feature  of  tramways  is  apt  to  I 
exaggerated.  For  instance,  it  is  the  opinion  of  cei 
tain  capable  managers  that  it  is  a  mistake  to  depen 
too  much  upon  gravitation,  and  that  auxiliary  stean 
power  will  permit  of  the  exercise  of  better  control  ovt 


AUTOMATIC  FEATURES  73 

the  operation  of  the  tram  and  the  possibility,  in  con- 
sequence, of  running  it  at  greater  speed.  There  is  no 
doubt  that  an  engine  acts  as  a  useful  governor;  on  the 
other  hand,  the  attempts  to  harness  a  rock-breaker 
to  a  tramway  marked  by  excessive  gravitation  have 
failed,  because  a  rock-breaker  in  operation  is  essen- 
tially a  variable  machine  in  its  consumption  of  power. 
On  the  other  hand  an  air-compressor  has  not  this  bad 
feature,  and  if  a  tram  worked  against  an  air-receiver 
it  would  have  a  self-adjusting  governor  of  a  useful 
kind.  Most  of  the  breakages,  and  much  of  the  hard 
wear  and  tear,  are  due  to  variations  in  speed  and  bad 
control  of  tramways  that  have  a  difficult  contour. 

In  this  connection  it  is  well  to  point  out  that  the 
modern  tram  owes  much  to  the  better  modes  of  at- 
taching the  bucket  to  the  rope.  The  use  of  clips  or 
lugs  permanently  fixed  to  the  rope  and  employed  as 
attachments  for  the  bucket  was  found  to  develop  un- 
even wear  in  the  cable,  and  this  method  had  the 
further  drawback  of  hindering  a  change  in  the  spacing 
of  the  buckets  whenever  wanted.  The  modem  at- 
tachment grips  the  rope  wherever  desired,  so  that  the 
bucket  is  hung  at  the  will  of  the  loader,  and  never 
exactly  at  the  same  spot. 

We  continued  on  our  way  up  the  valley  of  the 
Animas  and  soon  passed  through  Howardsville, 
which  figures  largely  in  the  early  reports  made  by 
R.  W.  Raymond,  F.  M.  Endlich,  and  other  Govern- 
ment officials  during  the  'seventies.  It  is  now  chiefly 
populated  by  Mr.  Tom  Trippe.  In  Cunningham  gulch. 


74  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

which  is  close  by,  the  andesite-breccia  of  the  San 
Juan  formation  comes  down  to  the  Algonkian  schists. 
Several  mines,  such  as  the  Highland  Mary,  Ureteba, 
and  Green  Mountain,  exhibit  this  contact  between 
Tertiary  and  pre-Cambrian  terrains.  The  best  ore 
obtained  from  the  lodes,  which  penetrate  both  forma- 
tions, is  said  to  have  come  from  the  schist  just  below 
the  breccia;  this  was  especially  the  case  with  the 
Green  Mountain  vein,  which  had  a  large  orebody  im- 
m<i(Jiately  under  the  volcanics.  The  next  tributary 
valley  is  Maggie  gulch,  where  there  are  several  young 
mines,  one  of  which,  the  Ridgeway,  is  of  importance. 
The  Animas  valley  swings  around  to  the  north, 
and  the  road  brings  the  traveler  into  the  main  street 
of  Eureka,  the  distributing  point  for  the  Sunnyside, 
Mastodon,  Silver  Wing,  and  other  mines  that  have 
proved  productive.  Just  as  Tom  Trippe  occupies 
Howardsville,  so  Rasmus  Hansen  represents  Eureka. 
These  are  among  the  very  few  of  the  pioneers  who 
are  still  actively  at  work — strong  brave  men,  who 
have  crowded  the  romance  and  vicissitudes  of  mining 
into  their  own  lives;  men  with  an  indomitable  pluck 
and  a  tireless  activity,  like  that  of  the  torrent  of  the 
Animas,  which  rushes  by  their  cabin  doors,  sweeping 
past  with  a  vagrant  energy  that  heeds  neither  the 
gladness  of  the  radiant  valley  nor  the  gloom  of  the 
savage  gorge  until,  after  many  wanderings,  it  abates 
its  speed  and  hushes  its  voice  in  the  still  waters  of  the 
darkly  flowing  San  Juan. 


<£l>a|> Ur  \2 


THE  CINNAMON  PASS  —  ELECTRICAL  TRANSMIS- 
SION OF  POWER  — THE  TABASCO  MILL  — BUR- 
ROUGHS PARK  — THE  SECONDARY  ENRICHMENT 
OF  COPPER  VEINS. 


'  EYOND  Eureka  we  passed  the 
^  Silver  Wing  and  the  Tom  Moore 
1  mines,  and  just  below  Animas 
I  Forks  we  turned  eastward  and 
I  started  the  ascent  of  Cinnamon 
/  pass.  This  is  at  an  altitude  of 
1 12,600  feet,  and  separates  the 
I  watershed  of  the  Animas  from 
that  of  the  Lake  Fork  of  the  Gunnison  river.  On 
the  divide  is  the  Isolde  mine,  in  the  andesite-breccia, 
also  the  Bon  Homme,  in  granite,  and  lower  down  we 
passed  the  tramway  being  constructed  for  the  Ta- 
basco mine.  The  bright  glint  of  a  thick  copper  wire 
bespoke  a  line  of  electrical  transmission  connecting 
the  mine  and  mill  with  a  power  station  situated  on 
the  farther  edge  of  Burroughs  Park.  As  the  copper 
wire  caught  the  sunlight  I  was  reminded  of  the  aid 
given  by  one  metal  to  the  other;  the  electrical  trans- 
mission of  the  energy  of  water  has  done  much  for 
gold  mining  at  high  altitudes,  where  fuel  for  steam- 
power  generation  entails  a  cost  that  is  almost  pro- 
hibitive.    Several  successful  installations  have  been 


76  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

made  in  the  Silverton  district.  The  application  of 
this  form  of  engineering  was  limited  until  recent 
years.  As  long  as  the  direct  current  only  was  avail- 
able the  transmission  of  power  by  electricity  had 
severe  restrictions,  because  under  that  system  the 
practical  limit  was  700  volts,"  and  it  was  not  possible 
to  augment  this  by  the  use  of  transformers.  Since 
the  introduction  of  the  alternating  current  these 
limitations  have  been  swept  away,  and  the  voltage 
can  be  raised  to  a  degree  the  practical  limit  of  which 
is  dependent  upon  the  insulation  of  the  transformers. 
In  practice,  the  voltage  is  usually  raised  so  that  the 
power  can  be  transmitted  over  a  wire  not  smaller 
than  No.  5,  because  that  size  gives  the  lowest  invest- 
ment in  copper.  The  old  and  the  new  systems  of 
electrical  transmission  can  be  compared  by  stating 
that  an  alternating  current  at  2,000  volts  would  re- 
quire only  one-sixteenth  of  the  copper  that  would  be 
required  by  the  same  current  at  a  pressure  of  500 
volts  transmitted  by  a  direct  current,  per  horse- 
power, per  given  distance,  and  at  a  given  loss.  The 
cost  of  power,  as  sold  by  the  large  generating  com- 
panies in  the  mountains,  to  the  mines  at  timber-line 
or  near  it,  averages  about  $8  per  horse-power  per 
month. 

The    advantage    of    electrical    transmission    of 
power  in  place  of  the  painful  transport  of  fuel  to  the 

"  Although  the  Virginius  mine  uses  900  volts.  This  plant  was  erected 
before  the  introduction  of  the  multiphase  alternating  current,  and  the  high 
cost  for  copper  wire  over  a  four-mile  line  prompted  the  adoption  of  tUs 
unusually  high  pressure  for  a  direct  current 


A  Pack-Train  on  the  Way  to  the  Old  Hunpred  Mine 
IN  Cunningham  Gulch,  near  Silverton 


.^K   ' 

^Ew.^1 

Sfer- 

^^■^BE 

Kv%<«  ■' 

' .  _ -^^^^^^^^^H 

i«yk^  '^' 

c^  "  '^~  ^V^^^^^" 

•^^5g»^}. 

%^^c*v^SjSk 

l^Y*?V;';^ 

j^^^^^gi 

The  First  Snow 


Sllvek  Lake  Trail 


ELECTRICAL  TRANSMISSION   OF  POWER       ^^ 

mines  above  timber-line  can  be  gauged  by  a  look  at 
the  trails,  whi(!h  frequently  afford  the  only  means  of 
communication  between  the  valleys  and  the  mines. 
This  is  well  illustrated  in  the  accompanying  photo- 
graph** of  a  trail  to  one  of  the  Silver  Lake  group  of 
mines. 

The  Silver  Lake  installation  was  the  first  multi- 
phase plant  in  the  San  Juan  region.  It  was  erected 
eight  years  ago,  and  operates  a  great  variety  of  ma- 
chinery, such  as  drills,  pumps,  hoists,  blowers, 
machine-shop,  etc.  The  line  is  three  miles  long.  A 
compound  condensing  engine  has  replaced  water- 
power  because  the  generating  station  is  on  the  rail- 
road, so  that  coal  can  be  delivered  cheaply  (it  comes 
from  near  Durango),  while  the  water-power  available 
was  both  insufficient  and  precarious  on  account  of 
the  damage  to  the  long  flume,  brought  about  by  rock- 
slides,  snowslides,  and  the  other  difficulties  of  a  high 
altitude  subjected  to  violent  extremes  of  heat  and 
cold. 

Below  the  Tabasco  mill  we  met  a  wagon  heavily 
laden  with  bed-plates  for  an  engine,  bearing  the 
name  of  the  Colorado  Iron  Works;  and  soon  after- 
ward, riding  through  a  belt  of  pines,  we  found  our- 
selves in  the  open  valley  of  Burroughs  Park.  This 
district  has  been,  during  the  past  two  years,  the  scene 
of  active  prospecting  and  some  mining.  We  dis- 
mounted and  partook  of  hospitalities  tendered  by 


**  Transactions  American  Institute  of  Mining  Engineers.,  Vol.  XXVI., 
p.  423. 


78  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

Mr.  George  Peirce,  who  subsequently  piloted  us  to 
the  Cleveland  group  of  veins.  These  are  not  as  yet 
of  economic  importance,  but  they  have  characteristics 
that  are  interesting  from  a  scientific  point  of  view. 
They  penetrate  granite ;  the  Monticello  vein,  which  I 
saw,  was  about  one  foot  thick;  for  the  first  15  feet 
in  depth  the  vein  consisted  of  cellular  quartz  marked 
by  copper  stains,  but  otherwise  it  was  said  to  be 
barren;  lower  down  it  became  metal-bearing,  and  at 
about  45  feet  deep  I  found  a  piece  of  copper  pyrite 
coated  with  a  gray  film  of  chalcocite,  suggestive  of 
secondary  enrichment  and  reminding  me  of  certain 
experiments  made  by  Mr.  H.  V.  Winchell  at  Butte, 
in  the  course  of  which  the  copper  of  a  slightly  acid 
solution  of  copper  sulphate,  containing  also  some 
free  sulphurous  anhydride  (SO2),  was  found  after  a 
time  to  have  precipitated  a  film  of  gray  copper  sul- 
phide upon  the  bright  facets  of  crystals  of  copper 
pyrite." 

In  the  afternoon  we  left  this  locality  and  rode 
down  Burroughs  Park  and  along  the  Lake  Fork  of 
the  Gunnison  until,  in  the  evening,  we  pulled  up  at 
the  Golden  Fleece  mine,  beside  lake  San  Cristobal. 
The  road  at  first  goes  over  granite  covered  with  an 
occasional  patch  of  andesite-breccia,  such  as  the  one 
in  which  the  Champion  mine  is  situated.  Then  it 
cuts  into  the  Algonkian  schist  and  quartzite.     Just 


"These  experiments  have  been  described  in  detail  lately.  The 
Synthesis  of  Chalcocite/  by  H.  V.  Winchell,  Engineering  and  Mining  Jour- 
nal,  May  23,  1903. 


LAKE  SAN  CRISTOBAL 


79 


before  reaching  the  lake  the  road  and  stream  approach 
close  to  the  contact  between  upturned  schist  and  the 
overlying  andesite-breccia.  Near  the  lake,  decom- 
posed andesite-breccia  becomes  the  prevailing  forma- 
tion. The  road  follows  the  contour  line  of  the  lake 
shore  and  afforded  us  a  glorious  canter  in  and  out 
among  scattered  young  pines;  there  came  glimpses  of 
placid  water  reflecting  the  resplendent  coloring  of  the 
aspens  that  clustered  upon  the  encircling  hillslopes, 
and  the  bright  warm  tints  of  clouds  that  caught  the 
sunset  glow.  Suddenly,  in  turning  a  corner,  the  road 
ran  among  a  group  of  cabins  and  other  buildings,  the 
busy  aspect  of  which  told  us  we  were  at  our  destina- 
tion, the  Golden  Fleece  mine. 


dfyxpXtiT  13 


THE  GOLDEN  FLEECE  — A  BONANZA  AND  IT 
VICISSITUDES  —  GEOLOGICAL  FEATURES  —  THEC 
RIES  OF  LODE  FORMATION  —  THE  TREATMEN 
OF  THE  ORE. 


'  N  the  summer  of  1896  th 
;  Golden  Fleece  mine  shippe 
nine  carloads  of  ore,  weighin; 
about  ten  tons  each,  the  poores 
of  which  netted  $33,000  and  th 
richest  $49,500.  In  a  fei 
'  months  the  bonanza  yielde 
i  $1,600,000.  This  rich  ore  wa 
characterized  by  petzite  (Au,  25%;  Ag,  41%;  T( 
34%)  and  ruby  silver  (proustite)  scattered  througl 
a  dark  chalcedonic  quartz  or  hornstone. 

The  story  of  this  mine  exemplifies  the  uncer 
tainties  of  digging  for  gold.  In  1874  Capt.  Enos  1 
Hotchkiss,  connected  with  a  government  surveyin] 
party  that  was  laying  out  a  toll-road  from  Saguach 
to  Lake  City,  caught  sight  of  the  outcrop,  standin] 
conspicuously  above  the  hillside,  and  examined  i1 
He  located  it  as  the  'Hotchkiss'  mine,  and  had  som 
assessment  work  done  while  he  was  engaged  in  hi 
survey-work  in  the  vicinity.  As  far  as  is  known,  hi 
found  no  ore.  A  year  later,  when  Hotchkiss  ha< 
abandoned  his  claim,  it  was  re-located  by  Georg 


FINDING  ORE  8i 

Wilson  and  Chris  Johnson,  under  the  name  of  the 
'Golden  Fleece/  They  began  what  is  now  known  as 
the  No.  1  tunnel,  but  finding  only  little  stringers  of 
rich  ore  they  ceased  work.  Others  did  similar  desul- 
tory prospecting.  O.  P.  Posey  found  a  rich  patch 
of  ore  in  the  croppings  above  the  No.  1  tunnel  and 
took  out  several  hundred  pounds,  which  were  packed 
to  Del  Norte  and  sent  thence  to  the  Pueblo  smelter. 
Then  John  J.  Crooke  took  a  lease  and  bond;  he  also 
extracted  about  $30,000  from  the  outcrop  above  No. 
1  tunnel,  which  had  been  extended  a  little  farther, 
without  result.  This  was  between  1876  and  1878. 
In  1889  Charles  Davis  took  a  lease  and  bond;  he  did 
a  good  deal  of  work  along  the  high  croppings,  and 
finally  sank  a  shaft  30  feet  deep,  which  struck  a  body 
of  ore  yielding  $40,000  in  a  short  time.  Late  in  that 
year,  1889,  George  W.  Peirce  bought  the  mine  for 
$50,000,  and  commenced  vigorous  exploration.  He 
found  out  very  soon,  indeed,  that  Davis  had  extracted 
all  the  ore  in  sight,  and  the  outlook  was  not  cheerful. 
All  the  work  up  to  this  time  had  been  to  the  north,  on 
the  supposition  that  the  vein  had  been  faulted  in  that 
direction.  The  new  owners  cross-cut  south  at  the 
No.  2  tunnel,  which  had  been  previously  extended  a 
little  way,  but  had  found  nothing.  The  vein  was 
picked  up,  but  not  much  ore  was  encountered  at  first. 
They  persisted,  however,  and  within  a  year  rich  ore 
was  cut  on  No.  2,  and  it  was  traced  upward  until  it 
became  easy  to  intercept  the  same  body  at  No.  1.  It 
was  discovered  that  the   former   owners   had   been 


8=  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


riiE  Uncompahi 

ilif  Montrose  Nfesas  Beyond. 


THE  GOLDEN  FLEECE  83 

within  ten  feet  of  the  main  orebody  of  the  mine,  which 
from  that  time,  and  until  1897,  was  highly  profitable. 
The  Golden  Fleece  vein  strikes  east  and  west,  ap- 
proximately; it  dips  southward  at  the  rate  of  33  feet 
in  380  feet.  In  depth  it  flattens,  so  that  the  hade  for 
the  lower  workings  becomes  150  feet  in  1,120  feet.  In 
the  accompanying  drawing.  Fig.  8,  the  upper  work- 
ings and  the  geological  conditions  are  both  repre- 
sented. The  vein  penetrates  fine-grained  breccia  and 
tuffs,  of  the  San  Juan  formation,  until  it  runs  abruptly 
into  a  coarse  breccia,  where  it  scatters  and  ends.  The 
coarse  breccia  lies  on  the  top  of  the  finer  series  at  an 
angle  of  28^;  the  difference  in  the  rate  of 
erosion  renders  the  change  of  rock  easy  to  recognize 
at  surface,  even  if  the  abrupt  cessation  of  the  con- 
spicuous outcrop  did  not  incite  close  observation.  The 
outcrop  makes  a  comb,  as  much  as  fifty  feet  in  height, 
of  hard  sintery  quartz,  which,  on  examination,  is 
readily  seen  to  be  a  decomposed  and  silicified  brec- 
cia, exhibiting  various  degrees  of  silicification  from 
the  vein  itself,  which  is  almost  entirely  quartz,  to 
the  outer  country,  in  which  the  original  structure  is 
but  slightly  obscured.  In  this  outcrop  there  have 
been — ^and  still  are— found  irregular  patches  of  ex- 
tremely rich  ore.  In  the  underground  workings  it  can 
be  seen  that  the  vein  itself  follows  a  line  of  fracture 
and  brecciation;  the  twice  brecciated  country  has 
been  re-cemented  with  silicious  waters,  so  as  to  form 
a  'vuggy'  or  cellular  veinstone.  Pieces  of  country  are 
to  be  seen  enclosed  within  a  coating  of  quartz.    The 


84 


ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


sheeting  of  the  rock  explains  the  multiplicity  of  w: 
and  ore-seams  that  confused  those  who  have  at  v; 
ous  times  exploited  this  vein. 

The  outcrop  ceases  when  the  vein  encounters 
coarse  breccia ;  so,  also,  in  the  underground  workii 
the  vein  itself  comes  to  an  end  with  a  suddenness  t 
is,  however,  only  comparative.  The  contact  {A 
has  been  considered  a  fault;  a  good  deal  has  been  s 
concerning  its  regularity  and  clean-cut  charad 
This,  however,  does  not,  I  believe,  accord  with 
facts.  The  so-called  'fault'  is  not  a  break  or  dislo 
tion  in  the  rocks ;  it  merely  marks  the  division  betwi 
the  layers  of  fine-grained  breccia  and  an  overly 
formation  of  coarse  breccia;  there  is  no  smooth  pi; 
or  wall  or  defined  parting  between  these  two  fori 
tions,  but  only  a  sudden  transition  which  at  a  distai 
is  more  marked  than  near-by. 

The  orebody  of  the  mine  was  found  in  a 
angular  block  of  ground  bounded  on  the  one  side 
this  'contact,'  J  B,  on  the  other  by  the  hillside,  B 
and  along  the  base  by  the  No.  3  tunnel,  A  D.  1 
outcrop  was  patchy  and  impoverished  by  leachi: 
the  evidence  of  which  is  marked.  This  robbing 
the  croppings  probably  enriched  the  vein  a  little  lo\ 
down.  A  branch  vein,  called  the  lima,  which  cor 
in  from  the  northeast,  appears  to  have  played  a  p 
in  determining  the  eastern  or  outer  limits  of  the  o 
body. 

Speculation  concerning  the  causes  that  det 
mined  this  occurrence  of  rich  ore  is  not  hampei 


THEORY  OF  ORE  DEPOSITION  85 

by  too  many  facts.  A  correct  explanation  suffers 
from  the  lack  of  them.  The  contact  existed  before 
the  vein  was  formed.  The  fracture,  followed  by  the 
ore,  passed  easily  through  the  finer-grained  rock,  but 
ceased  abruptly  when  it  met  the  beds  of  coarse  brec- 
cia, because  the  force  of  fracturing  was  not  only  in- 
sufficient to  overcome  the  resistance  of  the  harder 
fragments  contained  in  the  latter,  but  it  must  have 
been  dissipated  by  the  encounter  with  a  loose-tex- 
tured body  of  rock,  much  in  the  way  that  the  power 
of  a  diamond-drill  becomes  wasted  in  passing  into  a 
shifting  mass  of  loose  conglomerate.  As  a  conse- 
quence, the  energy  of  shattering  was  diverted  along 
the  contact,  the  vein-fracture  ceased,  and  the  later  ore- 
depositing  waters  were  barred  from  farther  advance 
into  the  coarse  breccia,  save  as  a  scattering  confined 
to  the  neighborhood  of  the  contact.  At  the  third 
level,  the  orebody,  which  here  is  in  the  fine-grained 
country,  was  notably  wider  immediately  at  the  'con- 
tact,' and  in  examining  the  outcrop  of  the  vein  I 
noticed  that  it  was  difficult  to  decide  upon  the  exact 
line  of  separation  between  the  two  formations,  be- 
cause the  mineralization  extended  from  the  fine  into 
the  coarse  breccia  so  as  to  obscure  the  divisional 
plane. 

The  deeper  levels  have  found  some  small  bodies 
of  ore,  and  a  good  deal  of  money  has  been  obtained 
from  isolated  pockets  all  the  way  down  to  the  main 
tunnel  or  adit,  about  700  feet  below  the  third  level. 
Several  larger  bodies  of  low-grade  ore  have  also  been 


86  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

encountered  in  the  deeper  workings.  Exploratoi 
work  is  still  going  on,  especially  near  the  contac 
where  the  chances  for  finding  more  ore  seem  to  1 
reasonably  good. 

Most  of  the  rich  ore  of  the  Golden  Fleece  mir 
was  shipped  to  the  smelters,  but  the  low-grade  mil 
stuflf  was  treated  on  the  spot.  As  the  valuable  meta 
were  chiefly  contained  in  telluride  minerals  (prii 
cipally  petzite,  but  also  some  hessite)  the  treatment- 
by  concentration — presents  features  of  interest.  Tl 
mill  was  of  latest  design,  erected  by  Stearns,  Rogi 
&  Co.  It  consisted  of  rolls  for  crushing,  Huntingto 
mills  for  re-grinding,  Wilfley  tables  for  concentratio: 
and  a  canvas  plant  for  the  treatment  of  slime.  ^ 
use  was  made  of  amalgamation.  The  Hunting^oi 
■were  provided  with  screens  of  30mesh,andexperien( 
showed  later  that  20  mesh  would  have  been  bette 
In  treating  18,000  tons  having  an  average  assay-vah 
of  $10.25,  half  of  which  was  in  gold  and  half  in  silve 
the  extraction  averaged  between  45  and  60% ;  63' 
was  the  best  result.  The  concentrate  contained  55  to  t 
oz.  silver,  1  to  3  oz.  gold  and  12  to  18%  lead,  in  tt 
form  of  galena.  The  concentration  was  in  the  ratio  < 
12  to  1.  It  may  be  said  that  the  experience  with  th 
ore  indicated  conclusively  that  a  simple  mill,"  wit 
Wilfley  tables  and  an  extended  canvas  plant  as  tf 
principal  features,  would  have  been  adequate. 

■  The  mill  was  really  designed  for  an  ore  containing  galena  and  in 

Eyrite,  both  of  which  proved  unimportant  ingredients  when  the  nu 
ecame  further  developed. 


C^ter  14 


SLUMGULUON  GULCH  — LANDSLIDES  — THE  CAN- 
NIBAL PLATEAU  — A  GRIM  TALE— ROCK  DISIN- 
TEGRATION—ACTION  OF  FROST. 


E  remained  for  two  whole  days 
with  Mr.  Peirce,  and  early  on 
the  12th  of  September  our  jour- 
ney was  resumed.  In  crossing 
the  valley  of  the  Lake  Fork  of 
the  Gunnison  one  cannot  help 
noting  the  peculiarities  of  the 
,  surface.  The  eastern  range, 
opposite  the  mine,  is  marked  by  a  depression  known 
as  Slumgullion  gulch.  As  seen  from  No.  3  tunnel  it 
looks  like  a  big  landslide,  the  steep  slopes  of  which 
have  been  obscured  by  weathering.  However  caused, 
it  has  reached  down  to  the  valley  and  dammed  the 
stream  so  as  to  form  lake  San  Cristobal.  It  is  said, 
by  those  living  on  the  lake  shore,  to  be  still  in  mo- 
tion and  to  be  extending  farther  across  the  valley. 

Slumgullion  is  commonly  imputed  to  glacial  ac- 
tion, but  the  observed  facts  do  not  require  us  to  go 
so  far  afield.  Landslides,  some  of  them  of  great  ex- 
tent, dating  back  to  early  Pleistocene  time,  have  been 
recognized  and  carefully  studied  in  the  Telluride  and 
Rico  regions.  They  are  attributed  to  the  penetration 
of  water  along  bedding-planes  and  other  lines  of  part- 


ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


ing.  In  the  case  of  Slumgullion  the  porosity  of  the 
coarse  layers  of  breccia  permitted  the  entrance  ol 
water,  which  would  reach  down  until  a  less  porous 
stratum  was  encountered  and  then,  if  the  dip-slope 
were  toward  the  valley,  the  conditions  would  be  ripe 
for  a  landslide.  The  geological  conditions  observed 
in  the  Golden  Fleece  mine  would  favor  such  move- 
ment if  the  bedding-planes  dipped  with  the  hillside; 
they  dip  right  into  the  hill,  however,  and  as  a  conse- 
quence the  surface  slopes  steeply,  at  30°  and  over. 
The  same  geological  structure  if  carried  across  to  the 
other  side  of  the  valley  would  explain  the  landslide  of 
Slumgullion.  In  the  earlier  history  of  these  moun- 
tains they  were  bolder  than  they  are  now,  and  when, 
at  the  close  of  volcanic  activity,  earthquakes  super- 
vened, then  the  landslides  occurred  on  a  colossal  scale 
and  were  accompanied  by  a  shattering  of  the  rocks, 
covering  areas  extending  over  many  square  miles. 

The  ascent  of  Slumgullion  was  easier  than  it 
sounds,  and  as  we  filed  along  we  were  reminded  by 
the  mention  of  the  Cannibal  plateau,  rising  in  bleak 
ruggedness  to  our  left,  of  a  tragedy  the  details  of 
which  no  human  witness  has  truthfully  told.  In  1873 
a  party  of  prospectors,  intending  to  go  to  Fort  Gar- 
land, in  the  San  Luis  valley,  found  their  way  up  the 
river  which  we  had  left.  It  was  a  very  severe  winter, 
so  that  game  was  scarce ;  they  were  verging  on  starva- 
tion, and  on  their  last  legs.  Out  of  the  five  men,  one, 
named  Parker,  survived;  he  claimed  that  he  went  out 
into  the  woods  hunting  and  on  his  return  one  of  his 


SLUMGULLION  89 

comrades,  rendered  mad  by  hunger,  attacked  him 
with  an  axe,  so  that  he  had  to  shoot  him  in  self- 
defense.  Then  the  other  three  set  on  him,  so  that  he 
had  to  kill  them  also.  It  is  generally  believed  that 
Parker  killed  them  to  get  the  money  they  are  under- 
stood to  have  carried.  Game  was  not  as  scarce  as  he 
represented ;  at  all  events  he  managed  to  support  him- 
self until  he  worked  his  way  out,  and  finally  reached 
Durango,  where  he  was  subsequently  arrested,  con- 
victed, and  sentenced  to  imprisonment  for  life.  Two 
years  ago  he  was  liberated  by  the  then  Governor  of 
the  State.  In  his  gruesome  story  he  confessed  to  hav- 
ing been  compelled  by  hunger  to  eat  portions  of  his 
victims;  hence  the  ominous  name,  which,  like  the 
gloomy  brow  of  the  Cannibal  plateau  itself,  over- 
shadows the  fair  valley  of  San  Cristobal. 

At  the  top  of  SlumguUion  gulch  the  road  turns 
eastward  to  Creede;  we  turned  northward  and,  pick- 
ing up  a  trail  that  plunged  into  a  pine  forest,  we 
eventually  found  ourselves  at  the  headwaters  of  the 
Cebolla  and  followed  it  down.  We  were  soon  on  a 
well-beaten  path — the  old  Ute  trail,  used  by  the  Indi- 
ans in  their  migrations  across  the  Gunnison  country. 
They  are  gone  from  these  hills  and  are  now  huddled 
on  the  reservation;  so  also  the  game  which  they 
hunted ;  that  too  has  been  driven  away  by  the  restless 
prospector.  As  we  rode  along  in  single  file  there  was 
no  sign  of  living  thing  for  hours  of  travel ;  we  followed 
the  Cebolla,  fringed  with  willows  and  threading  nar- 
row valleys  overshadowed  by  cliffs  of  architectural 


90  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

aspect,  battlemented  masses  and  monumental  pillar 
like  Egyptian  pilons,  among  which  a  babbling  trou 
stream  took  its  quiet  way.  The  mountain  flanks  a] 
peared  to  be  built  of  rhyolite  and  rhyolite  breed 
Occasional  fragments  of  obsidian  were  found.  Lat< 
we  were  in  a  granite  country. 

While  picking  our  way  over  the  talus  at  the  fo( 
of  high  cliffs  and  noting  the  general  air  of  destructic 
that  had  characterized  much  of  the  rock  structui 
seen  during  this  particular  morning's  ride,  it  was  in 
pressed  upon  the  observer  that  frost  action  was  tl 
chief  agent  of  disintegration.  To  most  people  wh 
travel  among  mountains,  and  even  to  those  who  lii 
at  their  feet,  it  is  often  a  wonder  how  the  rocks  ai 
broken,  and  when.  Anyone  who  sleeps  outdoors  wi 
note  the  fall  of  rock-fragments  during  the  night,  an 
to  this  fact,  I  think,  is  due  the  general  immunity  froi 
such  danger.  The  patient  leverage  of  the  frost  is  ti 
chief  agent  in  disintegrating  the  rocks,  for,  the  ma: 
imum  density  of  water  being  at  4°  C.  or  39°  P 
one  of  the  most  powerful  of  nature's  silent  foro 
is  set  to  work  upon  the  water,  which,  having  sougl 
out  the  cracks  and  crannies  of  the  rocks,  is  in  the  a< 
of  expanding.  By  day  the  temperature  in  the  hig 
mountain  country  is  raised  by  reason  of  the  penetr 
tion  of  sunlight  through  the  clear  atmosphere,  bi 
at  the  approach  of  night  there  is  a  sudden  cold,  whi( 
is  succeeded  next  day  by  another  relaxation.  Du 
ing  these  variations  of  temperature  the  moisture  i 
the  rock-cleavages  undergoes  an  alternation  of  coi 


CATHEDRAL  91 

traction  and  expansion,  which  serves  as  an  intensely 
powerful  agent  of  disintegration. 

At  noon  we  pulled  up  at  a  spot  marked  in  large 
letters  on  the  map  as  'Cathedral'  and  found  a  solitary 
log  cabin  with  a  hospitable  woman  in  command,  who 
gave  us  dinner.  Subsequently,  when  smoking  a 
soothing  pipe,  we  could  appreciate  the  simple  gran- 
deur of  the  granite  forms,  sculptured  by  Time  and 
chiseled  by  the  heat  of  day  and  the  frost  of  night  into 
buttresses  and  pinnacles  simulating  all  the  stem 
magnificence  of  a  Gothic  ruin — of  a  cathedral  not 
made  with  hands,  domed  by  the  sky,  and  aisled  with 
the  green  of  the  peaceful  valley. 


€\)apl<u  15 


THE  CEBOLLA  HOT  SPRINGS— THERMAL  ACTIVITY 
IN  THE  ROCKY  MOUNTAINS  —  ITS  RELATION  TC 
ORE  DEPOSITS  — THE  GUNNISON  PLATEAU. 


LL  of  the  succeeding  aftemoot 
was  spent  in  a  comfortable  rid< 
I  down  the  expanding  valley  ol 
the  CeboUa,  which  now  began 
I  to  exhibit  cultivation,  until, 
with  a  long  gallop  through  the 
cool  air  of  the  twilight,  w« 
reached  the  Hot  Springs.  Here 
we  put  up  over  night.  From  a  distance  the  patches 
of  white  incrustation  and  clouds  of  steam  told  us  of 
our  approach  to  this  scene  of  thermal  activity.  The 
links  between  vein-formation  and  hot  springs  which 
are  to  be  seen  throughout  this  region  are  not  lacking 
in  suggestion.  The  mining  districts  of  the  Rocky 
Mountains  are  rich  in  hot  springs.  In  Colorado  there 
are  Hot  Sulphur,  Idaho  Springs,  Manitou,  Canyon 
City,  Glenwood,  Poncha,  Wagon  Wheel  Gap,  Pagosa, 
Trimble  Springs,  Ouray,  and  others  of  less  im- 
portance. Similar  conditions  obtain  in  the  States  of 
Idaho,  Montana,  and  Utah.  The  occurrence  of  these 
thermal  springs,  rich  in  alkaline  and  other  salts,  in 
the  midst  of  a  productive  mineral  region,  is  not  with- 
out significance.    Apart  from  their  scientific  aspect, 


THE  GUNNISON  PLATEAU  93 

the  hot  springs  play  a  useful  part  in  the  economy  of 
man.  They  are  the  resort  of  people  troubled  with 
ailments  requiring  rest  and  change  of  food;  to  the 
miners,  who  come  to  them  with  rheumatism,  indiges- 
tion, alcoholism,  and  similar  troubles,  they  are  ben- 
eficial, chiefly  by  reason  of  the  opportunities  for 
cleanliness,  abstinence,  and  a  simple  diet — the  last, 
to  my  mind,  the  especial  boon  of  the  thermal  spring 
resort,  because  the  miner  lives  in  a  world  of  sin  and 
canned  vegetables  from  which  'ranch  food'  and  early 
hours  of  sleep  will  rescue  him,  bringing  his  inner  man 
to  a  condition  of  normal  healthiness. 

Next  morning,  September  13,  we  turned  east- 
ward from  the  Cebolla  valley  and  struck  across  coun- 
try for  Vulcan.  At  the  foot  of  a  high  ridge  we  passed 
the  Old  Lot  mine,  cheerfully  active.  The  dump  in- 
dicated a  vein  carrying  two  or  three  feet  of  dark 
quartz  streaked  with  galena.  Close  to  the  latter  oc- 
casional specks  of  native  gold  could  be  seen — a  hand- 
some-looking ore.  On  the  top  of  the  ridge  there  was 
afforded  an  extensive  view  of  the  Gunnison  plateau, 
bounded  to  the  north  by  the  deep  gorge  through 
which  the  swift  Gunnison  rushes,  and  to  the  south  by 
the  bold  outlines  of  the  San  Juan  mountains.  Look- 
ing eastward  the  outlying  summits  of  the  Cochetopa 
hills  broke  the  sky-line,  but  westward  the  sage-clad 
ridges  stretched  in  sober  gray  until  they  faded  into 
the  blue  of  farthest  distance.  Though  tame  as  com- 
pared to  the  grandly  picturesque  mountain-land  from 
which  we  had  just  emerged,  this  plateau  yielded  a 


94  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


pleasure  of  its  own  in  the  glorious  spaciousness  of  a 
boundless  horizon. 

This  billowy  succession  of  rounded  hills  is  built 
up  of  Archean  granite  and  Algonkian  schist.  We  saw 
several  outcrops  of  the  latter,  especially  in  the  Vulcan 
district.  Flows  of  Tertiary  lava  and  layers  of  breccia 
form  occasional  flat-topped  ridges  with  broken  edges 
and  tumbled  slopes  of.debrts.  The  occurrence  of  an 
area  of  schist  is  an  interesting  feature,  for  although 
there  are  other  stretches  of  these  rocks,  represented 
by  the  actinolite  schist  of  the  Arkansas  valley  and  the 
hornblende  schist  of  the  western  slope  of  the  Sangre 
de  Cristo,  this  particular  rock  is  unusual  in  the  min- 
ing regions  of  Colorado,  and  is  not  regarded  as  a 
favorable  terrain  for  precious-metal  mining,  a  fact 
which  is  in  striking  contrast  to  California,  South 
Dakota,  and  other  productive  regions. 


Schist.    New  Zealand. 


C^ter  16 


VULCAN  — THE  GOOD  HOPE  MINE  — GEOLOGY  OF 
THE  VEIN  — NATIVE  SULPHUR  AND  TELLURIUM  — 
ACID  WATERS  — THEORIES  OF  ORIGIN— RARE 
MINERALS. 

;  N  arrival  at  Vulcan  we  pro- 
I  ceeded  at  once  to  the  Good 
Hope  mine,  owned  by  Dr.  Loui 
I  Weiss  and  others,  who  invited 
I  us  most  cordially  to  see  the 
'  workings.  This  we  did  very 
I  gladly  because  the  mine  was 
i  well  known  as  having  been  the 
source  of  the  handsome  specimens  of  native  tellurium, 
which  are  to  be  found  in  many  mineral  collections; 
furthermore,  I  had  heard  of  several  peculiarities  of 
lode-structure  that  aroused  curiosity. 

The  Good  Hope  vein  penetrates  a  greenish-gray 
sericite  or  hydrous  mica  schist,  which  has  the  greasy 
feel  and  fine  texture  characteristic  of  that  rock.  It 
forms  part  of  the  Algonkian  series  of  crystalline 
schists  that  overlie  the  Archean  granite  of  the  Gunni- 
son plateau.  The  vein  has  an  approximately  east  and 
west  strike;  it  dips  northward,  the  hade  being  40  feet 
in  500  feet.  At  surface  the  vein  has  an  outcrop  of 
heavy  iron  sinter,  which  eventually  gives  place  under- 
ground to  a  band  of  country  thickly  impregnated 


96  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

with  iron  pyrite.  The  walls  of  the  vein  are  smool 
and  soft,  both  features  being  due  to  a  parallelism  wit 
the  schistosity  of  the  enclosing  country.  No  selvag 
or  casing  was  noticed,  but  the  lode-matter  breal 
rather  readily  away  from  the  country  on  account  of 
blocky  jointing,  which,  added  to  the  fissile  charactt 
of  the  rock  itself,  makes  mining  operations  dange 
ous  unless  the  timbering  is  well  attended  to.  Tl: 
rich  ore  is  associated  with  streaks  and  lenses  of  iroi 
stained  schist  traversed  by  stringers  of  quart 
Native  tellurium  is  frequently  present,  but  the  mii 
eral  that  carries  the  gold  has  not  been  detected  wit 
certainty.  I  found  some  spots  of  petzite,  and  it 
likely  that  this  is  one  of  the  enriching  minerals. 

The  accompanying  sketch  (Fig.  9)  of  the  lod 
as  seen  at  the  fifth  level,  will  illustrate  its  structur 
From  ^  to  B  is  the  main  pay-streak.  On  the  hanj 
ing  wall  there  are  3  to  5  inches  of  quartz,  usual! 
iron-stained;  then  comes  a  bleached  decompose 
schist  carrying  a  little  quartz  throughout.  It  is  th 
white  silky  schist  that  usually  carries  the  telluric 
minerals.  The  band  JB  is  soft  white  schist,  C  is  thr< 
feet  wide  and  consists  of  massive  granular-crysta 
line  iron  pyrite  in  finely  shaded  bands  that  reproduc 
the  lamination  of  the  schist.  D  is  another  band  ( 
bleached  schist.  E  is  similar  to  C,  but  not  so  soli" 
The  enclosing  country  also  carries  a  scattering  < 
pyrite. 

In  the  upper  levels  there  is  evidence  concemin 
the  origin  of  the  vein  and  its  contents.    The  occu: 


THE  GOOD  HOPE  VEIN 


97 


rence  of  a  body  of  native  sulphur  has  been  empha- 
sized, practically,  by  its  combustion  to  an  extent  that 
endangered  the  mine.  The  adjoining  ground  in  the 
Chimney  and  Vulcan  claims  was  abandoned  on  ac- 


count of  the  burning  of  a  similar  body  of  sulphur. 
In  the  Good  Hope  there  is  a  body  of  it  105  feet  deep,  4 
to  6  feet  wide,  and  of  a  length  which  the  owners 
thought  it  unwise  to  determine  by  further  driving. 
The  top  of  the  sulphur  nearly  coincided  with  the  first 
level,  90  feet  from  the  surface.  This  substance,  which 


98  ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

occurs  as  a  grayish-yellow  loosely  coherent  powi 
was  shipped  in  car-load  lots  to  the  Western  Chem 
Company,  at  Denver.  It  averaged  80  per  cent  sulp 
and  also  3  to  20  dwt.  of  gold  per  ton.  The  watei 
the  mines  on  this  vein  is  very  acid  and  green  in  co 
It  carries  over  1  %  copper  and  1.5  %  sulphuric  ; 
sulphurous  acids. 

On  inquiry  I  was  given  the  analysts  of  the  wj 
from  the  shaft  on  August  15,  1901 :  craii 

perga 

Sodium  chloride i  .83 

Sodium  sulphate   3.39 

Calcium   sulphate    4.35 

Calcium  carbonate   4.61 

Magnesium  carbonate 6.52 

Silica 0.23 

Organic  and  volatile  matter 3.67 

The  water  contained  no  free  sulphuric  acid,  o 
most  a  trace;  there  was  only  a  trace  of  copper.  I 
the  opinion  of  Dr.  Weiss  that  the  sulphuric  acid  ; 
copper  now  found  in  the  water  of  the  mine  come  fi 
the  adjoining  Vulcan  ground  and  are  traceable  to 
effects  of  the  burning  of  the  native  sulphur,  wt 
lasted  for  two  weeks  in  the  Vulcan  and  Mammc 
Chimney  workings.  There  was  no  acid  nor  coppe 
the  water  from  the  Good  Hope  shaft  until  after 
fire,  and  it  is  probable  that  surface  waters  have  si 
then  percolated  through  the  Vulcan  workings  ; 
thence  downward  to  the  fifth  level  of  the  Good  H( 
which  is  100  feet  deeper  than  the  Vulcan  shaft.  Aj 
from  this  fact,  it  is  worth  noting  that  the  coppei 


EXAMPLES  OF  VEIN  STRUCTURE 

■.■I;'//';'' 

•'■■ill  h 

Fig.  10. 


'<i:m?--rji" 


Fig.  11. 


100         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS. 

the  Good  Hope  ore  is  increasing  in  amount  t 
depth,  specimens  of  the  native  metal  having  I 
found  in  the  quartz  from  the  lowest  level. 

At  the  first  level  there  is  evidence  that  the 
was  shattered  and  that  a  certain  part  of  it,  at  U 
served  as  the  vent  for  a  thermal  spring  of  comp 
tively  recent  date.  Fig.  10  and  11  were  taken, 
first  within  100  feet  of  the  shaft  and  the  other  far 
eastward.  They  exhibit  the  shattering  of  a  veil 
opalescent  quartz  and  the  filling  of  the  vein-frac 
with  geyserite,  for  a  width  of  four  or  five  feet, 
substance  that  is  here  termed  'geyserite'  ha 
specific  gravity  Of  1.96  to  2.  It  is  porous,  with  s 
tered  bits  of  opal  within  a  mass  of  grayish-w 
crumbly  hard  non-crystalline  silica.  On  compa: 
it  with  a  piece  of  geyserite  from  the  Yellowstone, 
identity  was  apparent.  The  banded  opalescent  qua 
so  abundant  in  the  upper  part  of  the  vein,  has  all 
characteristics  of  such  a  substance  when  depos 
from  thermal  waters,  and  it  occurs  in  the  Good  H 
vein  in  various  stages  of  hardness  and  texture.  I 
opal  is  to  be  seen  in  occasional  brilliant  specks, 
many  varieties  of  dark  jasperoid  quartz  are  foi 
beautifully  banded. 

The  gradation  from  geyserite  to  white  seri 
schist  indicates  that  the  latter  contributed  part  of 
material  now  occupying  the  vein-fracture,  and  the 
currence  amid  the  silicious  sinter  of  occasit 
patches  of  a  smooth  unctuous  white  powder  sugg 


THERMAL  WATERS  loi 

remnants  of  the  mica  that  characterizes  the  enclosing 
country. 

These  facts  point  irresistibly  to  the  activity  of 
thermal  waters,  that  is,  waters  having  a  temperature 
higher  than  the  mean  annual  temperature  at  the  sur- 
face. Geyser  action  has,  so  Dr.  Weiss  tells  me,  been 
quoted  in  this  connection  by  other  visitors  to  the 
mine,  but  a  geyser  is  a  thermal  spring  that  gushes" 
at  the  surface,  and  in  this  case  we  have  no  reason  to 
suppose  that  such  action  occurred.  Geysers  are  apt 
to  be  the  last  resort  of  a  perplexed  geologist.  The 
supposition  of  thermal  activity  is  based  on  the  occur- 
rence, in  the  vein,  of  substances  that  are  actually 
deposited  from  the  hot  springs  in  the  Yellowstone 
and  other  places. 

In  connection  with  this  occurrence  it  is  well  to 
refer  to  the  evidence  of  vein  formation  at  hot  springs, 
such  as  Walter  H.  Weed  observed  at  Boulder,  in 
Montana.***  At  that  hydropathic  establishment  there 
are  two  groups  of  hot  springs,  issuing  from  fractures 
in  the  granite  and  having  a  temperature  ranging 
from  120'*  to  164^.  These  waters  do  not  form 
a  surface  deposit  of  sinter,  but  the  fissures  from  which 
they  issue  are  found  to  contain  a  mineral  deposit. 
Many  of  the  fissures  have  been  sealed  with  this  de- 
posit so  as  to  form  veins,  the  outcrops  of  which  enable 


*  Geyser  is  an  Icelandic  word,  meaning  literally  a  'gusher.' 
"'Mineral  Vein  Formation  at  Boulder  Hot  Springs,  Montana,'  by 
Walter  Harvey  Weed,  United  States  Geological  Survey,  1900.. 


loa         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


one  to  trace  their  course  across  the  country.  T 
vein-filling  consists  of  a  white  or  dark-g^ay  materi 
which  is  mainly  a  mixture  of  chalcedony  and  stilbi 
but  also  contains  patches  and  bands  of  jasper,  as  w 
as  included  fragments  of  the  granitic  country.  T 
illustrations  given  by  Weed  resemble  the  structu 
to  be  seen  on  the  first  level  of  the  Good  Hope  mil 
Opaline  silica,  in  bands  and  curly  layers,  is  se 
throughout  the  mass.  When  freshly  fractured  it 
usually  dark-gray  and  very  hard.  The  surroundi; 
surface  shows  scattered  fragments  of  jasper,  ch; 
cedony,  and  other  substances  evidently  derived  frc 
these  deposits.  On  analysis  they  were  found  to  cc 
tain  an  appreciable  amount  of  gold,  as  much  as  0. 
oz.,  and  silver,  as  much  as  0.4  oz.,  so  that  the  conn* 
tion  between  ore  formation  and  thermal  activity 
manifest.  It  is  interesting  to  note  that  the  auth 
does  not  impute  the  source  of  the  heat  to  'unkno\ 
depths,'  but  to  meteoric  origin  as  "a  part  of  the  iw 
mal  underground  circulating  water  of  the  regfic 
heated  by  physical  conditions  giving  it  access  to  t 
still  hot  rocks  underneath."*' 

It  would  seem"  that  the  Good  Hope  vein  exist 
as  a  pyritic  band  in  the  schist,  formed  by  the  action 
feebly  active  underground  waters  such  as,  with  « 


■  op.  cit,  p.  250. 

"The  reader  is  reminded  that  these  data  were  gathered  daring  a  » 
of  a  couple  of  hours  while  on  a  horseback  reconnaissance  across  the  co 
try,  so  that  the  writer's  explanation  of  the  origin  of  the  vein  is  on): 
suggestion,  prompted  by  the  interesting  features  that  have  been  bri 


DioBiTE  Contact  on  Silver  Mountain,  near  Ophir 
\ulo  Cnbin  in  Riglit  Lower  Corner 


GEOLOGIC  ACTIVITY  103 

treme  patience  and  slowness,  are  supposed  to  form 
similar  lodes.  Long  duration  of  time  for  action  and 
immense  volume  of  solution  compensate  for  feeble 
chemical  activity  and  extreme  dilution.  The  forma- 
tion of  the  fracture  occupied  by  the  vein  and  the  cir- 
culation of  underground  waters,  which  supervened, 
may  both  have  come  in  the  wake  of  dying  volcanic 
energies,  such  as  were  manifested  in  the  adjoining 
region  of  the  San  Juan  mountains. 

At  a  later  date,  after  the  Good  Hope  vein  had 
been  formed,  it  underwent  a  repetition  of  fracturing 
along  which  more  intense  thermal  activity  had  play. 
A  part  of  the  vein  served  as  a  vent  for  a  hot  spring. 
This  shattered  the  pre-existing  vein  and  led  to  the  de- 
composition of  the  pyrite,  with  the  elimination  of  sul- 
phuric acid,  the  formation  of  an  iron  sinter,  and  the 
accumulation  of  a  large  mass  of  native  sulphur.  It 
is  also  probable  that  the  liberation  of  iron  salts,  such 
as  the  proto-sulphate,  afforded  solvents  for  the  gold, 
which  was  re-deposited  in  the  lower  parts  of  the  vein 
so  as  to  make  valuable  ore. 

The  Good  Hope  vein  is  rich  in  uncommon  miner- 
als. Tellurium  occurs  native,  as  a  tin-white  mineral 
with  a  metallic  lustre.  Occasional  specimens  exhibit 
rhombohedral  prisms.  It  is  associated  with  petzite, 
the  telluride  of  gold  and  silver,  and  a  new  mineral, 
the  telluride  of  copper."      A  greenish-brown  mica- 


■• 'Rickardite,  A  New  Mineral/  by  W.  E.  Ford.  American  Journal  of 
Science,  Vol.  XV.,  January,  1903.  This  contains  40.51%  copper,  59.49% 
telluriuni.    The  composition  corresponds  to  the  formula  CmTe^ 


104         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

ceous  substance  suggests  roscoelite,  a  vanadium  mica, 
which  occurs  in  association  with  telluride  gold  ores  in 
Boulder  county,  and  at  Cripple  Creek,  Colorado, 
as  well  as  at  Kalgoorlie,  Western  Australia. 
One  specimen,  secured  on  the  occasion  of  our 
visit  to  the  mine,  contained  fine  needles  of 
berthierite,  a  sulph-antimonite  of  iron,  which  bears 
some  resemblance  to  stibnite.  The  opal  of  the  upper 
levels  is  said  to  have  been  rich,  especially  in  the 
purple-tinted  spots;  this  may  have  been  due  to  a  tel- 
luride salt.  The  distribution  of  the  tellurides,  to- 
gether with  the  native  element  itself,  is  another  sug- 
gestion of  the  instability  of  these  compounds  in 
nature.  As  far  as  is  known  they  are  not  characteristic 
of  deep  mining,  but  are  more  especially  distinctive  of 
that  bonanza  zone  of  gold  lodes  which  is  measurable 
from  the  surface  and  appears  to  be  connected  in 
origin  with  the  conditions  obtaining  at  the  ground- 
water level.  Of  course,  'deep'  is  a  relative  term,  and 
in  this  connection  it  refers  rather  to  the  vertical  dis- 
tance from  the  lower  limit  of  oxidation  than  to  the 
position  relative  to  the  surface. 


(Tbqpter  17 


GUNNISON  — THE  DERELICT  OF  A  BOOM  — 
CRESTED  BUTTE  — THE  IRWIN  DISTRICT  AND  THE 
FOREST  QUEEN  MINE  — SILVER  VEIN  IN  SAND- 
STONE—ANTHRACITE COAL. 


;  ROM  Vulcan  our  trail  took  us 
j  over  the  eroded  stumps  of 
granite  hills  and  across  the  river 
into  the  level  stretch  of  country 
over  which  the  town  of  Gunni- 
son spreads  itself  drearily  and 
wearily.  Gunnison  was  a  boom 
t  town,  and  when  the  wind  goes 
out  of  a  boom  the  wreckage  is  not  enlivening.  Be- 
tween 1880  and  1885  there  were  three  smelters  at 
work.  The  combination,  in  the  neighboring  moun- 
tains, of  iron,  coal,  and  precious-metal  deposits  won 
for  Gunnison  the  splendid  title  of  'a  new  Pittsburg.' 
The  town  attempts  to  cover  an  area  of  two  miles 
square,  so  that  when  you  think  you  are  in  Gunnison 
you  are  out  on  the  prairie,  and  when  you  imagine  you 
are  out  in  the  country  you  are  on  a  main  street.  In 
spite  of  it  all,  Gunnison  wears  an  aspect  of  resigna- 
tion, as  if  to  say  'it  is  better  to  have  boomed  and  bust, 
than  never  to  have  boomed  at  all.' 

The  next  day,  September    14,  we   started   for 
Crested  Butte,  the  centre  of  an  important  coal  region. 


io6         AC310SS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

The  road  follows  the  main  branch  of  the  Gunnisoi 
a  famous  trout-stream  known  to  every  follower  c 
Izaak  Walton;  the  valley  broadens  at  times  into 
goodly  expanse  of  farm-land,  dotted  with  cheerfi 
homesteads.  A  few  miles  below  Crested  Butte  th 
river  is  flanked  by  mountains,  among  which  the  rh] 
olite  cone  of  Round  mountain  and  the  basalt-cappe 
mass  of  Mt.  Wilkinson  are  conspicuous.  Finally  th 
traveler  reaches  the  confluence  of  several  streams  an 
a  wide  basin,  on  the  western  edge  of  which  the  tbw 
of  Crested  Butte  has  been  built.  A  noble  mountaii 
buttressed  with  steep  cliffs  and  massive  as  an  anchoi 
age  for  an  aerial  tramway  to  Mars,  overlooks  th 
town  from  the  east,  and  has  given  it  the  name  < 
Crested  Butte.  It  is  a  big  stock  of  porphyrite.**  O 
the  west  and  south  the  gentler  slopes  of  Mt.  Wheal 
stone,  fringed  with  pines,  merge  with  the  valley,  an 
to  the  north  a  perspective  of  successive  peaks  ii 
dicates  the  Ruby  range.  These  gain  height  and  myj 
tery  as  seen  through  the  smoke  from  the  coke-oven 
of  Crested  Butte,  lying  huddled  under  the  long  sha< 
ows  of  evening.  In  the  centre  of  the  town  we  foun 
a  barrack-looking  building,  which  turned  out  to  b 
a  clean  and  comfortable  hostelry.  Next  day,  th 
15th,  saw  us  on  the  Coal  Creek  road,  on  our  way  t 
Irwin  and  Floresta.  On  both  sides  of  the  cation  th 
hillslopes  were  a  desolation  of  burnt  timber,  a  glimps 
of  that  destruction,  through  careless  fires,  which  i 


Mt.  Tkocauj.    a  Hli^hiasd  Mi 


THE   IRWIN   DISTRICT  107 

gradually  causing  the  deforestation  of  Colorado.  The 
actual  burning  of  good  trees  is  bad  enough,  but  the 
effect  of  such  fires  on  the  young  growth  does  the 
more  serious  injury  to  the  possibilities  of  a  future 
supply  of  timber  from  these  devastated  tracts  of 
mountain-land. 

As  the  higher  altitude  was  gained,  the  scenery 
improved  and  became  bolder.  We  were  passing 
through  a  porphyrite  country,  and  the  large  frag- 
ments that  had  rolled  to  the  roadside  showed  hand- 
some  crystals  of  feldspar.  A  winding  trail  took  us 
northward  from  the  westbound  road  and  brought  us 
to  the  deserted  hamlet  of  Irwin.  The  Irwin  mining 
district  was  active  in  1880  and  succeeding  years.  The 
Forest  Queen  mine  is  credited  with  a  production  of 
over  a  million  dollars.  In  1893  the  fall  in  the  price  of 
silver  flattened  out  the  life  of  the  camp,  and  until 
lately  it  has  remained  practically  deserted.  Quite 
recently  a  consolidation  of  a  group  of  mines  has  been 
effected,  and  there  is  now  promise  of  some  activity. 
We  visited  the  Ruby  Chief  mine,  under  the  kind  guid- 
ance of  Mr.  P.  F.  Ropell. 

The  Ruby  Chief  vein  traverses  a  bedded  series  of 
coarse  sandstone  and  shale  belonging  to  the  Ruby 
formation  of  the  Upper  Cretaceous.  The  vein  oc- 
cupies a  fault-fracture,  as  was  indicated  by  a  break  in 
the  continuity  of  a  layer  of  shale  seen  underground. 
The  strike  is  northeast-southwest,  while  the  dip, 
northwestward,  departs  only  slightly  from  the  ver- 
tical.     The  accompanying  sketch.  Fig.  12,  gives  a 


io8         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


typical  section  of  the  lode.  In  the  foot-wal!  there  i: 
a  band  of  shale.  From  ^f  to  B  is  a  laminated  casinj 
of  sandstone  seamed  with  veinlets  of  quartz,  whici 
exhibits  comb  structure.  B  C  is  a  6  to  8-inch  vein  o 
white  quartz,  streaked  with  arsenical  pyrite,  or  mis 
pickel.  This  is  the  best  ore.  It  usually  carries  rub^ 
silver  (proustite)  and  brittle  silver  (stephanite) 
Selected  ore  contains  65  to  100  oz.  silver,  and  fron 
10  dwt.  to  one  ounce  of  gold,  per  ton.  This  vein  o: 
'leader,'  B  C,  is  usually  characterized  by  a  define( 
streak  of  pyrite,  accompanied  by  zinc-blende,  whicl 
speckles  the  quartz  in  lines  parallel  to  the  walls  of  th* 
vein.  C  to  D  is  mottled,  obscurely  brecciated  coun 
try,  with  quartz  surrounding  the  fragments  of  sand 
stone,  and  impregnated  with  arsenical  pyrite.  D  to  1 
is  an  outer  band  of  obviously  brecciated  sandstoni 
containing  but  little  evidence  of  mineralization.  Th* 
crystalline  quartz,  lining  cavities  or  'vugs,'  is  : 
marked  feature  of  the  lode,  and  especially  of  the  inde 
pendent  quartz-veins  that  occur  in  the  outer  country 
alongside  of  the  main  vein.  The  quartz  incrustinj 
the  brecciated  sandstone  within  the  lode,  appeari 
banded,  due  to  the  contrast  between  layers  of  quart: 
and  mispickel.  Rhodochrosite  was  seen  in  a  fev 
specimens.  Mr.  Ropell  informed  me  that  the  best  on 
had  been  obtained  from  the  vein  at  the  horizon  when 
it  traversed  the  conglomerate  beds,  which  form  at 
integral  portion  of  the  Ruby  formation.  To  thesi 
notes  may  be  added  the  fact  that  porphyrite  occur 
in  the  vicinity.    Mr.  S.  F.  Emmons  has  noted  that  thi 


THE  RUBY   CHIEF  VEIN 


mmm 


■■.''.'■\'-/'/^'M?j;>f:,i'»--'  -iV'! k^f'lilitsi 


iPiii 

Fig.  12 


no         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


porphyrite  occurs  apparently  as  an  intrusive  sheet  fc 
lowing  the  bedding  of  these  sedimentary  rocks,  a 
though  the  compound  fracturing  associated  with  tl 
vein-structure  "often  gives  it  the  appearance  of  a  dil 
within  the  mineralized  zone."" 

Leaving  Irwin,  we  retraced  our  steps  for  a  mi 
and  crossed  the  shoulder  of  Ohio  peak  at  Kebler  pas 
named  after  the  president  of  the  Colorado  Fuel 
Iron  Company.  The  winding  road  was  follow* 
through  a  pine  forest  until,  on  the  northwestern  slo] 
of  the  ridge,  it  descended  abruptly  into  a  narro 
ravine.  To  ride  over  a  deserted  mountain  road  ar 
then  to  come  suddenly  into  full  view  of  a  compai 
little  mining  settlement  is  a  sensation  which  do< 
much  to  break  the  monotony  of  cross-country  ridin: 
This  was  Floresta,  boasting  the  only  anthracite  mir 
west  of  Pennsylvania.  The  old  anthracite  min 
known  as  Smith's,  near  Crested  Butte,  has  bet 
worked  out,  and  the  new  anthracite  region,  tributai 
to  Paonia,  now  being  prospected  between  the  Gui 
nison  river  and  the  Anthracite  range,  is  yet  in  z 
immature  stage  of  development. 

A  note  on  the  Smith  anthracite  mine  will  1 
proper  here.  It  was  located  21  years  ago,  and  opem 
in  1882  by  George  Holt,  now  of  Chicago,  Howard  1 
Smith,  now  of  Elkhart,  Indiana,  and  Dr.  William  i 
Bell,  of  Colorado  Springs.  They  erected  a  breake 
installed  the  requisite  machinery  and  operated  it  f( 


ANTHRAQTE  MINES  iii 

several  years,  until  it  was  acquired  by  the  White 
Breast  Fuel  Company,  in  which  Messrs.  J.  A.  and  J. 
T.  Kebler  were  interested.  Shortly  afterward  it  was 
acquired  by  the  Colorado  Fuel  &  Iron  Company, 
which  has  since  held  and  steadily  worked  the  mine 
until  April,  1903,  when  it  was  finally  abandoned  as 
worked  out. 

The  vein  averaged  from  three  to  four  feet  in 
thickness,  and  the  coal  was  of  excellent  quality.  An 
approximate  production  of  5,000  tons  per  month  was 
maintained.  A  spur  of  the  Denver  &  Rio  Grande 
Railroad  from  Crested  Butte  connected  with  the 
breaker.  The  incline  from  the  mine  to  the  breaker  is 
1,800  feet  long,  with  a  pitch  of  45°;  it  is  the  longest 
and  steepest  in  the  State.  The  gravity  system  was 
employed. 


Upturned  Strata  or  the  West  Slope  of  the  Elk  Mountains. 

The  light- shaded  stratum,  Jura-Trtas;  that  lo  the  right  of  it,  Carboa- 

iferotis;  to  the  left,  Cretaceous.    From  Hayden's  Report  of  1874. 


€fyxpltv  \S 


THE  COAL  MINE  AT  FLORESTA  — HOW  ANTHI 
CITE  IS  FORMED  — METHODS  OF  MINING  — T 
BREAKER  — A  PANORAMIC  VIEW. 


[  HE  coal  seam  at  Floresta 
',  three  feet  thick,  and  dips  noi 
at  an  angle  of  about  20°.  It  1 
with  the  hillslope,  the  rav 
having  cut  into  the  seam  so 
to  give  a  line  of  outcrop  on  be 
I  sides.  The  agency  that  w 
I  chiefly  instrumental  in  the  i 
velopment  of  anthracite  from  bituminous  coal 
indicated  by  the  porphyrite,  which  appears  in  t 
form  of  dikes  in  the  railroad  cutting  and  is  clearly 
be  seen  capping  the  hillside.  The  coal  now  bei 
exploited  occurs  at  a  geological  horizon  which  is  1 
feet  above  the  base  of  the  Laramie  formation,  belor 
ing  to  the  Cretaceous.  There  is  also  another,  pooi 
seam,  one  hundred  feet  higher.  These  coal-measui 
are  covered  by  a  sheet  of  porphyrite,  which  exten 
for  more  than  a  mile  along  the  north  slope  of  t 
Anthracite  range,  the  name  of  the  much  serrat 
ridge  behind  the  mine.  The  metamorphic  effect 
the  porphyrite  on  the  coal  is  readily  apparent;  whe 
the  metamorphism  of  the  sedJmentaries  is  least,  nc 
coking  bituminous  coals  are  found;  where  the  mei 


j^ 


I  I: 

if 
i 


■    { 


THE  FLORESTA  MINE  113 

morphism  has  been  present,  but  not  severe,  the  coking 
coals  occur;  and  in  regions  of  intense  local  meta- 
morphism  the  coal  has  been  changed  to  anthracite. 
It  has  also  been  observed"  that  a  dike  cutting  across 
a  coal  seam  affects  its  chemical  and  physical  com- 
position for  a  short  distance  only,  but  an  intrusive 
sheet  will  affect  it  for  a  greater  distance  and  over  an 
area  commensurate  with  the  extent  of  the  eruptive 
itself. 

The  output  of  the  mine  at  the  time  of  our  visit 
was  100  to  125  tons  per  day.  The  manager,  Mr. 
Thomas  McLaughlin,  to  whom  we  were  indebted  for 
many  courtesies,  informed  me  that  there  is  much 
difficulty  in  keeping  miners  at  Floresta,  because  the 
mine  is  not  in  operation,  on  account  of  snow,  for  more 
than  half  the  year,  which  prevents  men  with  families 
from  going  there.  Moreover,  the  narrowness  of  the 
seam  and  the  conditions  of  working  are  such  that 
only  the  most  experienced  miners  can  earn  a  good 
living.  The  work  is  much  more  arduous  than  that 
of  ordinary  lode-mining,  because  of  the  cramped 
space  and  the  subsequent  disposal  of  the  output. 
Owing  to  the  slight  dip  of  the  seam,  it  is  difficult  to 
handle  the  coal  underground;  the  chutes  that  carry 
the  product  of  the  face  to  the  entry  are  made  of  No. 
16  steel  sheets,  3  feet  wide,  laid  on  the  foot-wall,  and 
nailed  onto  sides  made  of  2  by  6-inch  scantling.  When 
in  constant  use  the  angle  of  inclination  is  sufficient 

"  George  H.  Eldridge,  Anthracite-Crested  Butte  Folio.    United  States 
Geological  Survey. 


tt 


114        ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

to  keep  the  chute  clear,  but  if  the  steel  lining  beco: 
at  all  rusty,  the  slope  proves  inadequate  for  the  ai 
matic  descent  of  the  coal,  and  the  miner  jumps  i 
the  chute  and  toboggans  down  the  incline,  pusV 
the  coal  before  him  with  his  feet.  The  men  gel 
cents  for  2,600  pounds,  of  which  it  is  estimated  1 
2,000  pounds  is  clean  coal,  the  balance  going  t 
the  culm  heap.  Wages,  as  I  got  them  from  a  scnii 
of  the  pay-rolls,  averaged  $4.25  per  day,  with  at 
30  men  at  work.  The  men  are  largely  Austri; 
scarcely  one-half  of  the  miners  speak  English. 

In  the  mine  we  found  that  pillars  to  support 
roof  were  left  15  feet  wide,  while  the  rooms  or  stc 
were  25  feet  across.  The  drilling  is  done  with 
chine-augers,  the  hole  being  begun  with  a  2jI/^-i 
bit,  and  finished  with  a  IJ^-inch.  Holes  are  m 
from  4  to  6  feet  deep.  Coarse  black  powder  is  u: 
it  costs  the  miners  $3  per  keg  of  25  pounds, 
product  of  the  mine  is  sent  to  the  breaker,  which 
a  capacity  of  600  tons  per  day.  Five  sizes  are  m. 
The  coal  from  the  tipple  goes  over  two  sets  of  scr 
bars,  the  fine  passing  direct  to  the  picking-tables 
the  lump  to  the  breaking-rolls.  These  are  tool 
rolls  of  the  usual  type.  Then  follow  revoli 
screens.  The  culm  is  hand-picked  as  it  runs  di 
the  chutes.  These  chutes  for  slate-picking 
double.  Each  picker  (boys  and  old  or  cripi 
miners)  draws  past  him  just  as  much  coal  as  he 
thoroughly  clean,  so  that  the  coal  is  handled  < 
only. 


THE  FLORESTA  MINE 


"5 


The  upper  landing  is  10,175  feet  above  sea-level. 
This  makes  Floresta  the  highest  coal  mine  in  the 
United  States,  if  not,  indeed,  the  highest  in  operation 


Fig.  13. 

anjrwhere.    An  average  analysis  of  the  anthracite 
shows:  Percent. 

Fixed  carbon 87.51 

Volatile  combustible 7,62 

Moisture   0.72 

Ash 4.15 

The  roof  of  the  seam  is  a  30-foot  bed  of  sand- 
stone; the  floor  is  in  shale.    Along  the  railroad  grade 


Il6         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


Ii5  '  I 


A  MAGNIFICENT  VIEW  117 

there  are  afforded  several  good  sections  of  the  sedi- 
mentary rocks  enclosing  the  coal,  where  they  are 
intruded  by  porphyrite.  A  typical  section  (Fig.  13) 
exhibits  a  dike,  evidently  a  porphyrite  containing 
large  distinct  crystals  of  feldspar.  The  bed  of  shale 
traversed  by  the  dike  is  hardened  near  the  por- 
phyrite, and  otherwise  altered  into  a  dark  massive 
rock.  Fragments  of  shale  are  included  within  the 
dike.  The  joints  in  the  sedimentaries  cross  the  dike 
clearly,  and  are,  therefore,  later  than  the  intrusion  of 
the  latter.  There  is  no  distinct  parting  or  wall  be- 
tween the  sedimentaries  and  the  eruptive. 

On  the  railroad  grade,  and  about  a  mile  from 
Floresta  itself,  a  promontory  of  rock  gives  a  mag- 
nificent view  of  the  Anthracite  and  Ruby  ranges.  To 
the  left  are  dark  pine  woods  sloping  from  Ohio  peak 
with  an  inclination  that  reproduces  the  dip  of  the 
porphyrite  flow  and  the  coal-beds  underneath ;  in  the 
middle  distance,  and  contrasting  with  the  dark  array 
of  pines,  are  brilliantly  tinted  foothills  whose  rounded 
contour  indicates  the  softer  sandstones  of  the  Cre- 
taceous. Beyond  these  rises  the  abrupt  mass  of  Mt. 
Beckwith,  built  of  porphyrite.  Above  the  northern 
horizon  is  Gothic  Mountain;  to  the  right,  and  com- 
ing down  to  meet  the  other  half  of  the  picture, 
is  the  red  Ruby  range  with  its  serrated  comb  of  dikes, 
which  can  be  seen  extending  in  jagged  line  down  to 
the  valley  itself,  through  which  a  trout-stream  winds 
in  and  out  until  it  is  hidden  by  the  precipitous  face  of 


Il8        ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

Mt.  Marcellina,  a  dome-shaped  laccolith**  of  por- 
phyritic  diorite.  Far  off,  palpitating  amid  the  haze 
of  forest  fires,  are  ranks  of  distant  hills  whose  purple 


The  Laccolith  of  Mt.  Mabceluna. 
After  Whitman  Cross. 

forms  are  faintly  silhouetted  against  the  flawless  blue 
of  a  Colorado  sky. 


"  A  laccolith*  is  a  bo<ly  of  intrusive  lava.    It  does  not  spread  in  dikes 
or  sheets,  but  gathers  into  a  mass  or  core,  which  lifts  the  overlying  strata. 


€fyu[fUr  19 


OVER  THE  OHIO  PASS  — AT  GUNNISON  AGAIN  — 
FISHY  YARNS-THE  RIVER  PORTALS— POETRY  AND 
GEOLOGY. 


HAVING  Floresta  the  next 
morning,  September  16,  we 
crossed  the  Ohio  pass,  on  our  re- 
turn to  Gunnison,  by  a  road  dif- 
ferent to  that  of  our  previous 
journey,  which  had  now  taken 
us  around  a  group  of  three 
mountain  peaks,  Mt.  Wheat- 
stone,  Mt.  Axtell,  and  Mt.  Carbon,  and  from  the 
watershed  of  the  Slate  river  to  that  of  Ohio 
creek,  both  tributaries  of  the  Gunnison,  into 
which  they  merge  a  little  to  the  north  of  the 
town  itself.  Ohio  pass,  10,033  feet  above  sea- 
level,  is  similar  to  other  mountain  crossings;  there 
is  a  defunct  sawmill  with  an  untidy  heap  of  saw- 
dust; an  abandoned  railroad  grade,  as  though  en- 
gineering skill  had  failed  of  breath;  a  scattering  of 
pines,  the  straggling  procession  representing  the  sur- 
vivors of  those  serried  ranks  that  came  up  the  moun- 
tain-side in  proud  array  until  they  encountered  an 
invisible  bar  to  further  advance — the  'timber  line' 
which,  like  the  shore  of  an  ancient  sea,  belts  all  the 
mountains  and  marks  the  upward  limit  of  the  condi- 
tions favorable  to  forest  growth. 


I20         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


We  passed  Carbon  and  Castleton,  two  cc 
camps,  with  all  the  hideousness  that  belongs  to  su 
settlements;  then  a  short  stay,  pleasant  for  man  ai 
horse  alike,  at  a  roadside  ranch,  prepared  us  for  a  loi 
canter  over  the  wide  dusty  road,  which  finally,  b 
we  could  never  tell  when,  brought  us  into  the  u 
limited  city  of  Gunnison. 

That  night  at  Gunnison  we  heard  the  fishermei 
tales.  It  is  a  great  resort  for  the  manipulators 
rod  and  line.  It  is  also  a  mining  centre  for  the  si 
rounding  hill-country,  so  that  there  is  no  lack 
fishy  yarns.  The  unwary  will  hear  of  mountains 
iron  and  acres  of  gold  ore ;  but  behind  the  exaggei 
tion  there  is  the  fact  that  the  Gunnison  country,  wi 
the  Elk  mountains  to  the  north  and  the  granite  fo< 
hills  that  lead  to  the  San  Juan  ranges,  to  the  soul 
is  extremely  rich  in  a  variety  of  mineral  wealth 
coal,  iron,  gold,  and  silver — which  would  have  und< 
gone  more  substantial  exploitation  if  the  wim 
breath  of  a  premature  boom  had  not  blighted  it  in  t 
infancy  of  its  development. 

On  September  17  we  rode  from  Gunnison 
Gate  View.  The  road  follows  the  Gunnison  until 
crosses  the  river  at  lola,  the  shipping  point  of  t 
Vulcan  district.  Taking  a  cross-country  trail,  ^ 
filed  through  the  sage-brush  covering  monotono 
low  hills,  the  remnants  of  granite  mountains  th 
had  yielded  to  the  leveling  hand  of  Time.  Spenc 
and  Dubois,  two  mining  camps,  were  found  almc 
deserted.     Then,  surmounting  a  ridge,  we  saw  aga 


GATE  VIEW  121 

the  splendor  of  the  San  Juan  ranges  and  the  pleasant 
valley  of  the  Lake  Fork.  After  weary  miles  of  sage- 
brush hillocks  it  was  singularly  refreshing  to  look 
upon  a  landscape  through  the  diversified  beauty  of 
which  the  modifying  influence  of  geological  structure 
could  be  plainly  discerned.  At  Gate  View  we  passed 
a  night.  The  name  is  given  to  a  ranch  and  railroad 
section-house  near  the  natural  gateway  of  the  Lake 
Fork,  which  flows  through  a  gap  cut  in  the  andesite. 
A  tongue  of  this  eruptive  crosses  the  broad  valley; 
the  river  has  cut  its  way  through;  high,  nearly  ver- 
tical, cliffs  arise  on  either  side;  then  steep  debris 
slopes,  making  a  broad  V,  at  the  bottom  of  which  the 
road,  the  railroad,  and  the  river  jostle  each  other  for 
passage;  this  framed  a  view  of  hills  rich  in  the  gold 
and  russet  of  the  aspens,  surmounted  by  the  high 
peaks  of  the  San  Juan  mountains. 

Looking  through  the  portals  of  the  river,  one  is 
reminded  of  Ruskin's  question  concerning  a  similar 
natural  structure :  "When  did  the  great  spirit  of  the 
river  first  knock  at  those  adamantine  gates?  When 
did  the  porter  open  to  it  and  cast  his  keys  away  for- 
ever, lapped  in  whirling  sand?"  It  is  a  fine  simili- 
tude; but  geology,  with  less  poetic  diction,  says  that 
the  rock  is  not  adamant  to  the  instrument  of  erosion 
as  used  by  the  running  stream  with  patient  persistence 
through  long  time,  and  that  no  porter  was  needed  to 
open  the  gate;  the  river  found  a  way  by  obeying  the 
laws  of  its  being — ^gravity,  which  impelled  it  to  seek 
the    lowest   channel   and    to    deepen    that   channel 


133        ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

continually,  for  fear  the  onlooking  hills  should  fill 
up  too  fast  with  their  discarded  debris. 

The  road,  farther  on,  alternately  crosses  £ 
stretches  of  partially  cultivated  land  and  descen 
into  the  bed  of  the  stream  amid  narrow  gorges  c 
into  andesite-breccia  and  tu£Fs,  until  at  the  confluen 
of  Henson  creek  we  rode,  under  a  sharp  downpour 
cold  rain,  into  the  town  of  Lake  City. 


Gothic  Mountaim,    A  TaAcnync  Mass  Oveblying  Cbetactous  Roc 
After  James  D.  Dana. 


iLfyupUx  20 


LAKE  OTY  — THE  UTE  &  ULAY  MINES  —  CONCEN- 
TRATING  MILL  —  ELECTRICAL  DRILLS  —  ROUGH 
HANDLING— NEW  MILLS. 


*  E  reached  Lake  City  at  noon 
k  amid  a  rainstorm  which  was  re- 
I  markable  for  the  reason  that  it 
I  was  the  first  bit  of  bad  weather 
encountered  during  twelve  days. 
'  It  cleared  in  the  afternoon, 
I  so,  leaving  our  horses  to  rest,  we 
[  walked  the  seven  miles  up  Hen- 
son  creek  to  the  Ute  &  Ulay  mines.  These  have  been 
the  mainstay  of  Lake  City  through  all  the  vicissitudes 
of  the  past  twenty  years.  The  two  veins  have  been 
worked  at  various  times  both  jointly  and  separately. 
When  I  was  last  there  the  Ulay  lode  was  the  chief 
source  of  production;  on  the  present  occasion  we 
found  that  the  Ute  vein  was  affording  the  principal 
stoping  ground.  This  was  above  the  main  adit. 
The  vein  is  from  four  to  five  feet  wide;  it  is  a  simple 
quartz  vein  containing  argentiferous  galena.  Iron 
pyrite  and  zinc-blende  are  present  in  relatively  small 
quantity.  The  lode  is  essentially  an  impregnation 
following  a  sheeted  band  in  the  andesitic  breccia  of 
the  San  Juan  formation  and  has  the  characteristics 
already  noted  at  the  Camp  Bird,  Smuggler  Union, 


12+         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 

and  other  mines  in  the  same  region.  Slopes  exten 
nearly  continuously,  for  half  a  mile.  The  Ute  di] 
westward  at  63"  and  is  worked  in  the  adjacent  Cal 
fomia  mine.  The  Ulay  has  been  worked  700  fe 
below  Henson  creek  through  old  workings,  whi( 
were  in  bad  repair;  a  new  vertical  shaft  had  just  be< 
started  to  open  up  the  lower  ground  on  this  lode. 

The  mill  reminded  me,  in  its  method  of  trea 
ment,  of  the  old  Foxdale  mine,  in  the  Isle  of  Ma 
where,  however,  raff-wheels  are  used  instead  of  el 
vators  and  the  plant  is  spread  over  a  much  larg 
area.  The  treatment  is  simple  and  well  adapted  i 
the  character  of  the  ore.  The  mill  has  a  capacil 
of  90  to  100  tons  per  day.  The  ore  goes  first  to 
rock-breaker  (Blake,  9  by  15  in.)  and  then  to  thn 
sets  of  rolls  (AUis-Chalmers,  16  by  30  in.),  tht 
through  four  successive  trommels,  36  in.  diam.  at 
7  ft.  long,  which  size  the  crushed  ore  to  8,  6,  4,  ar 
2y2  millimetres.  The  coarse,  which  passes  throuj 
the  trommels,  goes  to  the  jigs,  a  double-compartmei 
jig  for  each  trommel.  The  fine,  which  escapes  fro 
the  last  trommel,  passes  into  two  hydraulic  sizers,  tl 
coarse  being  sent  to  jigs,  while  the  fine  goes  into 
third  sizer.  The  coarse  from  this  last  sizer  goes  ■ 
a  jig  and  the  fine  runs  to  the  buddies.  There  are  tv 
plain  buddies,  16  ft.  diam.,  and  four  double-deck  bu 
dies,  24  ft.  diam.,  the  tailing  from  which  passes  in 
settling-vats,  where  the  slime  is  arrested. 

The  concentrate  is  dried  and  mixed  by  passir 
through  a  heated  revolving  cylinder.    About  Ij/^  p 


i 


ALONG  HENSON  CREEK  125 

cent  of  moisture  is  left  in  the  concentrate,  in  order  to 
lessen  the  leakage  arising  from  the  bad  flooring  of 
the  railroad  cars,  which  would  be  a  greater  source 
of  loss  if  the  concentrate  were  dry  enough  to  run 
readily.  The  concentrate  contains  58  to  61%  lead, 
13  to  15  oz.  silver  and  0.05  to  0.06  oz.  gold  per  ton; 
this  represents  about  16%  in  weight  of  the  original 
ore  and  an  extraction  of  about  80%  of  the  lead  and 
65%  of  the  silver. 

Next  day,  September  18,  saw  us  started  on  our 
final  stage,  from  Lake  City  to  Ouray.  The  road  took 
us  again  past  the  Ute  &  Ulay,  where  we  stopped  to 
get  some  further  data  from  the  millman.  As  we  rode 
up  Henson  creek  it  was  pleasant  to  notice  a  good 
deal  of  mining  activity ;  we  passed  under  the  Bleichert 
tramway  of  the  Hidden  Treasure,  past  the  Moro  mill, 
with  a  Leschen  tram  connecting  it  to  an  unseen  mine 
on  the  pine-clad  mountain-side,  and  then,  just  below 
Rose's  Cabin,  the  Bonanza  tunnel,  with  a  new  mill  in 
course  of  construction.  Mr.  Philip  Newitt,  superin- 
tendent of  the  Henson  Creek  Lead  Mines  Company, 
as  it  is  officially  styled,  was  kind  enough  to  take  us 
underground.  The  lode  is  the  usual  sheeted  band  of 
andesite-breccia,  carrying  four  to  five  feet  of  quartz, 
in  which  gold,  silver,  copper,  and  lead  are  carried  by 
copper  pyrite,  galena,  and  other  less  conspicuous 
minerals. 

This  mine  afforded  an  example  of  the  use  of 
electric  drills;  the  Gardner  and  Durkee  were  both  in 
use  and  the  superintendent  expressed  himself  as  dis- 


ia6         ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


appointed  with  them;  in  each  case  the  motor  is  carri< 
on  a  truck  and  power  is  transmitted  through  a  flexit 
shaft.  The  practical  efficiency  of  the  electric  dril 
is  a  subject  too  large  for  passing  comment,  though 
is  fair  to  the  inventors  to  say  that  the  machines  sufF 
from  their  unpopularity  among  miners  and  the  fr 
quent  lack  of  technical  skill  on  the  part  of  tl 
operator.  As  a  rule  the  first  drill  tested  in  a  mine 
handled  by  an  expert  provided  by  the  company  th 
sells  the  drill;  then,  results  being  deemed  good  by 
manager  or  director,  others  are  ordered.  The  dr 
company's  man  and  his  skilled  assistants  depai 
leaving  a  delicate  piece  of  electrical  machinery  to  tl 
tender  mercies  of  a  muscular  workman,  who  star 
with  a  prejudice  against  anything  new  and  unfamilia 
and  is  apt  to  be  confirmed  in  his  prejudice  by  his  ov 
inexpert  handling  of  the  machine.  This,  of  courE 
is,  in  a  way,  the  drawback  to  all  electrical  machine: 
— it  requires  workmen  who  know  something  aboi 
it — ^but  it  is  an  obstacle  that  the  increasing  applic 
tion  of  electricity  will  overcome,  surely.  In  tl 
meantime  I  unite  with  others  in  the  hope  that  tl 
electric  drill  will  be  further  improved,  because  it  ci 
facilitate  and  cheapen  mountain  mining  to  an  extr 
ordinary  degree. 


(TlKif  ter  2t 


ROSE'S  CABIN  — CLIMBING  THE  RANGE  — A  SNOW- 
STORM  — BEAR  CREEK  — AFTER  THE  STORM  — A 
GLORIOUS  PICTURE  — ARRIVAL  AT  OURAY  — THE 
END. 

;  OSE'S  CABIN,  at  10,850  feet, 
j  just  above  the  Bonanza  mine- 
buildings,  is  a  landmark.  It  was 
a  stopping  place  in  the  old  days 
of  transmontaine  travel  when 
long  lines  of  pack-mules  and 
i  horsemen  were  wont  to  file  up 
.  Henson  creek  on  their  way  to 
Silverton,  Rico,  and  Ouray.  We  took  the  right-hand 
trail,  past  the  Palmetto  mill  and  along  the  old  grade 
to  the  Frank  Hough  mine. 

As  we  climbed  the  range,  the  snow-mists  gath- 
ered, and  when  we  finally  reached  the  crest,  at  12,850 
feet,  the  mountains  were  robed  in  all  the  magnificence 
of  the  storm.  The  cold  blast  from  the  caiion  below 
swept  up  to  the  summit  of  the  range,  driving  a  chilly 
mist,  which  flung  itself  fiercely  around  every  crag  and 
threw  great  shadows  that  stalked  swiftly  across  the 
darkening  slopes.  Here  and  there  amid  the  gloom 
a  lonely  peak  caught  the  light,  a  Titan  head  above  the 
sea  of  cloud.  Thus  we  saw  old  Uncompahgre  and 
the   Wetterhorn,   besides    many   another    unnamed 


138 


ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


crest.  While  we  waited,  the  hail  and  snow  can 
fast,  and  so,  without  further  delay,  we  began  the  sk 
descent  of  the  other  side,  leading  and  pulling  o 
shivering  horses  down  the  tedious  talus  slopes. 

Soon  we  reached  the  warmer  air  of  Bear  ere 
basin,  a  spacious  amphitheatre  near  the  timber-lit 
from  which  a  well-marked  trail  took  us  into  Be 
creek  canon,  a  narrow  gorge,  lined  by  the  mo 
astounding  precipices  and  picturesque  to  a  degr 
that  was  astonishing  even  after  two  weeks  of  mou 
tain  scenery.  The  andesite-breccia,  in  nearly  le\ 
layers,  forms  cliffs  that  sweep  from  an  eerie  height 
a  thousand  feet,  and  more,  down  into  the  hidden  b< 
of  a  torrent.  The  sheeted  structure,  due  to  paralU 
ism  of  nearly  vertical  fractures,  is  noticeable,  and  tl 
sympathetic  structure  of  the  veins  is  apparent  ev< 
at  a  distance,  for  their  outcrops  are  clearly  visibl 
ribbing  the  rock  faces  with  broken  lines  of  quartz. 

We  passed  the  Yellow  Jacket  and  the  Grizz 
Bear  mines,  huddled  under  the  beetling  brows  ' 
breccia  cliffs,  where,  here  and  there,  a  cluster  < 
courageous  pines  clung  hungrily  for  life,  or  a  solita: 
cabin  looked  calmly  over  the  abyss,  or  faint  trails 
unexpected  tracery  of  line  wound  in  and  out  of  dai 
ravines  with  the  veritable  unconscious  air  of  gentl 
men  without  visible  means  of  support. 

Our  progress,  over  a  trail  which  was  a  narrow 
albeit  quite  safe,  ledge  between  rock  and  torrent,  w; 
necessarily,  with  horses,  a  slow  business.  At  lengt 
after  hours  of  a  continuous  descent,  which  seem< 


]i- 


STORM   ON   THE  RANGE  129 

interminable  and  gave  us  a  singular  feeling  of  going 
right  into  the  depths  of  the  earth,  we  emerged  sud- 
denly into  full  view  of  the  Uncompahgre  valley.  It  is 
no  exaggeration  to  say  that  all  four  of  us,  some  of 
whom  had  made  the  voyage  round  the  world  more 
than  once,  were  amazed  at  the  grandeur  of  the  great 
picture  before  us.  Scattered  already  to  the  four 
winds,  as  becomes  mining  engineers,*®  we  shall,  I 
believe,  always  remember  that  "polychrome  of  splen- 
dor, an  exultation  to  recall."  Ruskin  would  have 
rhapsodized  over  it  and  Clarence  King  could  have 
described  it.*® 

The  storm  had  swept  northward,  the  sky  was 
still  partly  overcast  with  flying  cloud,  a  luminous 
atmosphere,  pure  as  interplanetary  space,  filled  the 
cafion  depths,  and  from  the  west  the  sunlight  pierced 
the  lingering  mists  with  mellow  light.  We  stood  on 
a  narrow  promontory.  Across  the  cafion  the  ter- 
raced slopes  descended  in  parklike  gradation,  re- 
splendent with  the  livery  of  autumn,  and  above  their 
aspen  gold  the  bastions  of  blue-gray  andesite  rose 
tier  after  tier  in  Gothic  severity  of  line  until  belted 
with  the  rising  mists.  Up  the  valley  to  the  left  the 
winding  thread  of  the  river  led  to  the  pyramid  of 
Mt.  Abram,  his  sentinel  head  aglow  with  sunlight, 
while  farther  south  rose  the  Red  mountains,  shrouded 


•"One  is  in  Western  Australia,  another  in  California,  the  third  is  in 
Mexico,  and  the  fourth  in  New  York  City. 

"This  gives  me  the  opportunity  of  recommending  to  my  friends  that 
most  delightful  book  of  Clarence  King,  'Mountaineering  in  the  Sierra 
Nevada/ 


130        ACROSS  THE  SAN  JUAN  MOUNTAINS 


in   cold   vapor   that   dimmed   their   volcanic    ti 
Straight  in  front  and  northward,  overtopping  tl 
swiftly  changing  visions  of  rich  coloring  and  sc 
tured  line,  there  gleamed  the  Mt.  Sneflfels  ran 
freshly  ennobled  by  a  coronet  of  snow,  with  a  g 
passion  of  light  glowing  about  their  lordly  sumri 
while  in  the  darkening  east  there  trailed  away 
gray-winged  form,  the  ghost  of  wind  and  rain/' 
It  will  seem  something  of  an  anti-climax 
state  that  the  trail  subsequently  led  us  to  an  inter 
ing   geological   section,   where   the   breccia    of 
Eocene  period  was  found  resting  upon  the  uptur 
edges  of  pre-Cambrian  slates  and  quartzite,  with  c 
a  thin  layer  of  conglomerate,  possibly  a  represei 
tive  of  the  Telluride  formation,  between  them, 
reached  Ouray  before  dark,  having  completed  a 
of  fully  400  miles. 


"For  what  high  end  is  all  this  daily  boon, 
Unseen  of  man,  in  sightless  silence  spent? 
Doth  lavish  Nature  vainly  importune 
The  unconscious  witness  of  the  firmament? 

"Or,  is  it  that  the  influent  God,  whose  breath 

Informs  with  glory  sea,  and  shore,  and  hill. 
His  infinite  lone  rejoicing  nourisheth 
Upon  the  bounteous  outcome  of  His  will? 

— Brunton  Stevens. 


■ItANNBl^Altm  iOENCES 


^ 


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