Noble L. (Noble Lovely) Prentis.

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I enjoy in common with a vast number of my fellow-citizens who
pretend to know more. There is no subject on which more notes
of talk are issued on a small paid-up capital of knowledge than
this question of mining. As some of the most inveterate gam-
blers I have ever known were men who had no skill at cards
and never could acquire any, so these mountains and mesas are
full of men talking about carbonates and chlorides and sulphur-
ets, and spending their own money, but more frequently the
money of other people who have no practical knowledge of mines
or mining, and whose words and opinions are of no more value
than the gentle warblings of a burro. From such it is of course
useless to seek information, and yet they are the men who pre-
sume to instruct the "tender-foot," as they call the man who has
arrived in the country two weeks later than themselves.

At Albuquerque I was a-weary of the talk about prospects
and "good indications" and assays, and all that, and went to
Socorro to see a mine in active operation and sending ore to the
smelter or stamp mill.

The journey from Albuquerque to Socorro was made in the
night, and no note can be made of the scenery along the road.
Socorro was seen for the first time in the early light o/ the next




Socorro is a Spanish word, signifying "succor." It is said to
derive its name from the fact that the fugitives from Santa Fe,
driven out by the Indians in 1680, here received help from their
countrymen at El Paso. The story as told now is that the Span-
iards were shut up in a pueblo at or near the present site of
Socorro, and that a messenger jumped down a rock 200 feet high,
spreading out his coat tail and using it as a parachute, and so
reaching the ground in safety, made his way to El Paso and re-
turned with help. The story of the jump I do not believe by
several feet, nor do I believe it is of native origin. It sounds
like a story invented in front of the old Tefft House in Topeka,
and enlarged by the effects of the New-Mexican climate. Ho*w-
ever, whether the story of Socorro is true or not, the town is here;
a good-looking Mexican town to begin with, with a sort of double
plaza and an adobe church of great antiquity and extreme ugli-
ness. The American town is joined on to the Mexican town, and
will probably inclose it in time. I have not seen in the suburbs
of any other New-Mexican town so many pleasant homes. The
irrigating business is carried on extensively, as at old Albuquer-
que, and surrounding the town is the same maze of narrow lanes
with high adobe walls. Many cottonwoods and other trees flour-
ish along the banks of the acequias. One lane and one tree has
a history. Up this lane the vigilantes were accustomed to march
gentlemen who were no longer useful nor ornamental in society,
and on this gentle and unpretending cottonwood, with a limb
projecting over the dusty lane, they were hung, the top of the
garden wall serving as the platform of the scaffold. This severe
treatment was so efficacious that it is no longer needful, and the
last parties to a "hold-up" were only horse-whipped and com-
pelled to leave the town. These little episodes are unpleasant,
but they serve to decide whether a town shall be ruled by its
roughs or its better element.

It must not be understood, however, that courts and the judi-
cial ermine, and the scales of justice, do not exist in New Mexico.
I saw the United States court in session at old Albuquerque.
The hall of justice was in a low-ceiled room in an adobe building
near the pFaza. Two lawyers were enlightening the court on the


subject of deeds. The jury, composed of Mexicans, did not
understand a word of it all, and looked as stupid and miserable
as the average American jury. His Honor, a newly-arrived
New-Yorker, seemed to have a pained and apprehensive look;
perhaps, however, he was only trying to look judicial. There
was a crowd of lawyers. They were as thick as fiddlers in a
place formerly much talked about. It is needless to say that an
attorney from Larned, Kansas, sat in the midst. The whole
scene was as tiresome as a district court in the United States. It
is well; if people will have civilization and enlightenment, let
them take the consequences.

Socorro boasts one of the few stamp mills and smelters in this
part of New Mexico. From the multiplicity of mines and min-
ing companies one would suppose these structures would be as
common as school houses in Kansas. They are not, however.
A stamp mill is a mill whose ground grist is silver, with which
you can buy anything, except an interest in the kingdom of
heaven: A stamp mill, therefore, seen for the first time, is a
matter worthy of inspection.

The stamp mill at Socorro is an average structure of the kind,
I suppose. It cost more than it ought to, owing to a variety of
untoward circumstances. The gentleman who showed me over
it said that such a mill, under favorable conditions, could be built
for $45,000. A stamp mill is in appearance very much like a
coal breaker a high, raw-boned affair, with an inclined railway
up which the ore, which looks like red dust and broken sand-
stone, is hauled in little iron cars. Once at the top of the house,
the ore is fed from a hopper into a sort of iron jaw, which cracks
it, and then water is introduced and it goes down under the
stamps. These stamps are pillars, or rather pestles, of chilled
iron, which are lifted and dropped by a cam movement, which at
the same time gives them a rotary motion. Every Yankee boy
who has ever "pounded out corn" in a barrel can* understand the
operation. The pounding process is the most natural, and is su-
perior to any grinding machinery. The ore reduced to a powder
with water, drops down into various tanks and is subjected to the
action of salt and hot water, which effects chloridization, what-


ever that is, and finally the junction of the silver with quick-
silver is effected. This mass of silver and quicksilver is retorted,
i. e., it is heated in a retort; the quicksilver is vaporized and passes
over to be condensed and saved with very little waste, and the
silver remains. This is the amalgamation process which every-
body in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and California
knows all about, but of which thousands of people in Kansas
have no adequate conception. This process seems very compli-
cated and scientific, but it was practiced in this country by the
Spaniards centuries ago. With their rude machinery they did
not do as much in a given time as we do, but our processes are in
substance the same. Col. George Noble, formerly of the Kansas
Pacific, who has looked at many old Spanish mines, says no ore
is found in the waste. They dug out all the ore and carried it
"clear away." They evidently knew all about mining.

The smelter was not running, and so I can tell nothing of the
operations. When I get farther along in my education I will
describe it. There is a distinction between ores, some requiring
the amalgamation process; others the smelting. I am not "way
up" enough yet in the business to describe the difference. The
stamp mill at Socorro is employed exclusively on the ore from
the Torrence mine, of which more further on.

Back of Socorro, if a town can be said to have a back, and
three miles away, rises a high-shouldered eminence, not so sharp
and flinty as most New-Mexican mountains, called Socorro
Mountain, and from it comes silver and warm water. Through
the kindness of Mr. Walker, formerly of Holton, Kansas, we
were furnished a conveyance, and Dr. Lapham, of Socorro, as a
guide. We journeyed along over a plain covered with yellow
flowers, a sort of Mexican cross between a buttercup and a dan-
delion, and kept close to an acequia filled with warm water. This
stream, conveyed in troughs, turns the high, narrow overshot
wheels of no less than three little grist mills, which formerly
ground a good deal of wheat raised by the Mexicans in the Rio
Grande valley. A hot-water mill can count for a novelty. The
spring was reached at the foot of the mountain, or a low-lying
spur of it. The water comes out of a cleft in the rocks, and


forms a pool fifty feet long by twenty-five wide. The water is so
clear that the atmosphere forms the only comparison. The water
is not hot, but warm. A red crag rises perpendicularly from the
water. A visitor usually says : " I think this rock is volcanic in
its origin." In this case it is in order for some other visitor to
say: "You are quite mistaken; it is sedimentary." How impos-
ing are these discussions in which neither party knows anything
about the question.

Whether the heat of the spring is due to volcanic or chemical
action, it is a great blessing to Socorro. It has uncommon
cleansing properties, both for people and shirts ; it turns grist
mills, waters gardens, and is occasionally drunk with other sub-
stances, which in their effect confirm the volcanic theory.

Our guide proved most entertaining and instructive, and after
pointing out the beauty and usefulness of the spring, we went on
to the "front and center" of the mountain, to the Torrence mine.

The mouth of the mine is covered by a building a hundred
yards from the base. A silver mine is a clean mine; there is
nothing black about it. It is all white or red dust of unknown
depth, and piles of ore and waste. The first thing that strikes
the observer at the Torrence is the solid finish and apparent cost
of everything. The engine, the buildings, the wire cables, all
spoke of money spent.

Under the guidance of Mr. Newton, the superintendent, we
went down the slope into the mine. The entrance, like all the
rest of the mine, is planked on the sides and overhead. It was
like a long box. When we reached the bottom of the slope,
which was done by means of steps, we had descended 203 feet.

The ore in the Torrence lies in a stratum tipped up at an angle
of forty-five degrees. Consequently, galleries are run in at dif-
ferent levels, the main gallery being the lowest. Then the miner
follows the vein upward along the incline, and this is called
"stoping." Occasionally the vein "swells" that is, becomes
wider and sometimes it "pinches." But wherever it goes the
miner follows it as a ferret follows a rat. If it goes down, he
goes down, and if it goes up, he climbs the slopes. If he loses it,
he finds it again. Wherever that red-and-white streak goes,


there he goes. It seemed strange, that eager and toilsome bur-
rowing down in the depths of the earth after a few pounds of
shining metal which few of us can get hold of after all.

The mine was perfectly free from water or even dampness.
New Mexico must be dry clear to the bottom. The hill in which
the mine is situated seems a pile of loose rocks the walls broke
down easily before the pick. But this easy digging makes tim-
bering necessary, and a great amount of native lumber has been
used up.

There are now about one hundred men in the mine. Those
addressed were Americans and bright men, who spoke as if they
could own a mine if they wished. In fact, many of them are
prospectors who have gone below ground to raise a stake, and
when they have got another start will continue their quest for a
mine which shall make them rich in a minute.

But while we are talking about mines, all the stories pale be-
fore those told of the Lake Valley group stories of ore so fine
that a lighted candle will melt the lead and leave pure silver;
stories of offers of $50,000 for the ore one man could dig out in
six hours; stories of the Bridal Chamber, lined with silver and
lead so that a pick driven into the wall sticks as if driven into a
mass of putty. And they say these mines are owned by Quakers
in Philadelphia. So goes luck in this world : while hundreds of
miners, experts, gamblers, speculators, etc., are charging wildly
over the country, betting and losing, these sleek Quakers come in
for the fattest silver mine in creation. It is all so wonderful that
I shall make an effort to go to Lake Valley.

Dr. L., without making pretensions to being an antiquarian,
has visited many places of antiquity in New Mexico, and among
them a point sixty miles from Socorro known as Gran Quivira.
Here are the remains, now utterly deserted, of a very large
town. It is now fifteen miles from water, yet there are traces of
ditches. This town has a ruined church, and this was the Qui-
vira of Coronado. At the risk of being no longer allowed to
live in Kansas, I must say that nobody in New Mexico believes
that Coronado ever visited Kansas. This is humiliating, partic-
ularly since Major Inman has marched him directly to the bluff


of South Fourth street, Atchison, on which Senator Ingalls's
residence is at present located. The claim has been insisted on
because Coronado describes his meeting with the buffalo ; but those
beasts have, within the memory of living man, been seen within
twenty miles of Albuquerque. I am afraid Coronado as a Kan-
sas explorer is a myth. It is a consolation to know, however,
that if he failed to discover Kansas plenty of better men have
found it.


THE train leaving Socorro for the southwest at one o'clock in
the morning crosses the famous Jornada del Muerto before it is
daylight, consequently I did not see the desolate region made
familiar to Kansas readers by one of "DeaneMonahan's" strik-
ing sketches. But I may say here, that where I have had the
opportunity for observation, I have had occasion to testify to the
charming fidelity of our Kansas writer to every detail of New-
Mexican life and scenery.

Shortly after leaving the borders of the Jornada, we entered
upon what a fellow-passenger assured me was the "Garden of
New Mexico." He referred to the borders of the Rio Grande, in
which are located the vineyards and orchards of Las Cruces.
But for the railroad, it is evidently "over the garden wall," run-
ning through a laud devoted to rocks, soap-weed and cactus, the
most prominent of the hundred or so varieties of the latter being
what a friend calls the "broom-handle" species, which throws up
its leafless arms like a devil-fish, and at the end of each bears a
single brilliant scarlet flower.

Fort Selden, standing in a wilderness, I took for an abandoned
adobe, when several blue-coats made their appearance amid the
roofless walls. The post has been reoccupied by a portion of the
large force now concentrating in this region to chase a few score
Indians. The next military establishment passed was a neat
little post, Fort Bliss. Here was an immense pile of the roots
of the mesquite, used for fuel, for here, as an " old residenter "
remarks, you climb for water and dig for wood.

Here was El Paso, "The Pass," where the Rio Grande breaks
through a rocky barrier; where the Atchison, Topeka & Santa
Fe crowds by with it; and once through it you are at the north-
ern gate of Mexico. The Spaniards long ago recognized this



fact, and named their town El Paso del Norte the Pass of the
North. The Americans caught at the idea, and re-named an old
Texas town El Paso also. ^

This tawny town is the dividing line between two Nations.
That low shore beyond the swift yellow stream is Mexico, a for-
eign land. Mexico: the name was associated with some of my
earliest recollections. The " Mexican war," a great war until it
and all our other wars were lost in a mightier struggle, began with
the first link of the continuous chain of my memory. What
heroes they were Taylor and Scott, and Ringgold with his flying
artillery, and Capt. May with his dragoons. How Capt. May
used to "show up" in the pictures, riding over the Mexican guns
and the green-coated cannoneers; and how colossal we thought
the battles, Resaca de la Palma, and Palo Alto, and Molino del
Rey, and Buena Vista. We remember, now, only that certain
great generals were lieutenants in those battles. Notwithstand-
ing all that, the impressions of childhood are hard to overcome,
and Mexico has always been to me a land of interest, a land to
be visited sometime and here at last was Mexico.

The American town of El Paso, although a growing place, the
junction of the Southern Pacific, Texas Pacific, and Atchison,
Topeka & Santa Fe roads, failed for the time to interest me,
even though I found at the Grand Central rny old friend Col.
George Noble, who sat up with the Kansas Pacific in its infancy,
but has now retired from railroading and is devoted to town lots
and mines, with, the neighbors say, satisfactory financial results.
I crossed the river at the first opportunity, and stood on the soil
of Mexico. A young Mexican with a revolver and cartridge-
belt, who said "Bueno," as the carriage went off the ferry-boat,
was the only evidence of a foreign national sovereignty.

The American Consul in Paso del Norte is Mr. Richardson,
but the American official most visited by his fellow-countrymen
is Governor George T. Anthony, Superintendent of the Mexican
Central Railroad. He was found in his office, looking much the
same as when he transacted business in the southeast corner of
the capitol at Topeka, save perhaps a trifle older from passing
years and much hard work.


This at last was a genuine Mexican town, still sporting the
cactus and the eagle; no New Mexico affair, subjected to thirty-
six years of the rule of the "Estados Unidos del Norte" as I saw
it on a Mexican map. Well, hardly; for in going up the street
I saw the sign "The Little Church Around the Corner;" the
American rum mill had crossed the frontier. Still it was Mexi-
can. Dark faces, two-story huts with a piazza all around, and
women sitting flat on the narrow bulkheads, made of "cobbles,"
were the rule, and fair faces and a swinging gait the exception.
The streets were narrow, almost deserted by wheeled carriages,
with the interminable wall of adobe, white plastered houses
stretching away on either side, and fairly shining in the sun. It
was so still; so unlike the Texas town on the other side; so un-
like anything under the American heaven. Of course there was
the church, plastered to shining whiteness on the outside, much
more imposing than the churches in New Mexico, which stand
unadorned but not beautiful in their native mud color. Having
read " The Priest of El Paso," we went to see him. He was found
to be an old man, very seedily dressed in what soldiers call "citi-
zens" clothes; he put on a surplice and went to the church door
with his sacristan, a Mexican in jacket, and with the heaviest
and blackest hair I ever saw, and baptized the little baby of a
humble Mexican couple. There was a look of feeble melancholy
in the priest's face, which seemed to tell the truth that in Mexico
the church has fallen upon evil days. The laborer, however, is
worthy of his hire, and fortunately in this case the hire is fixed,
for I saw on the wall the printed permit of the Archbishop of
Obispo, giving the fees to be charged for clerical services ; for
baptism so much, for funerals so much, and so on to the end of
the chapter.

Near the church was a little half-ruined plaza. There was a
low, circular wall in the center, which had sometime perhaps in-
closed a fountain; there were stone seats all around, and two
rows of trees and little ditches, or grooves rather, to allow the
water to run over their roots and keep them green. I dare say
that under the tyrannical rule of the Spanish Viceroys the people,
young and old, gathered in the plaza of an evening and were


happy; but with freedom came eternal revolution, and the pleas-
ure ground fell into decay. Perhaps the Yankee will come and
worship his god, Politics, in this plaza, to the sound of trombones
and bass tubas, and clarionets and ward orators and other wind

On Thursday evening we rode in and around the town, and
Gov. Anthony pointed out the new depot of the Mexican Cen-
tral, which is to be a fine house, built of adobes with a placita,
with all the offices opening into it; and there was also a new
freight house, in the construction of which the lumber of half a
dozen States had been employed, California furnishing the red-
wood shingles. Then there were the big locomotives named for
the Mexican States, the " Zacatecas," the "Jalisco," and the

The common Mexican does not seem at home in towns, nor is
he a success as a town-builder, but give him a little plot of
ground and an acequeia, and he will give the American author
of "Ten Acres Enough" half a dozen points, and beat him.
How pleasant it all was : the gardens and the big pear trees, and
the vineyards, and the little squares of purple alfalfa, and all
the people out of doors and at work, for the water is let into the
little ditches at sunset. It was a picture of quiet and content-
ment, though boisterous happiness appears unknown in this
country. There is a subdued look about all animate creatures,
even to the plump, olive-skinned children, who look at you fix-
edly with unblinking round black eyes as you pass.

From this evening scene a feature of every Mexican landscape
should not be omitted, to wit, the goats, who come in a compact
mass, brown and yellow and spotted, down the dusty lane, at-
tended by their swarthy and ragged herdsman. Mexico would
not be Mexico without the burros, the curs of low degree, and
the goats. These are indispensable.

Returning to the Texas El Paso after the drive, we left it again
in the early light of the next (Friday) morning for Chihuahua
via the Central Mexican Railroad as far as Ojo-Laguna, the end of
the track, and thence by the company's ambulance to the objec-
tive point. We started from the "Santa Fe" depot, the track of


the A. T. & S. F. connecting with the Mexican Central in the
center of the bridge across the Rio Grande. The Mexican shore
reached, we sped along on our journey southwest. The road
runs almost in a straight line south, and has a maximum grade
of only thirty-five feet to the mile. The route seems designed
by nature for a railroad. It is, for the most part, a level plain ;
to the left what may be termed a range of high hills; to the right
a range of low mountains, the order being occasionally changed.
The ranges are broken into groups, bearing different names, the
most noticeable being the Candelarias, or Candle Mountains, so
called from the signal fires of the Indians, frequently seen flash-
ing upon the peaks at night. As the road proceeds southward
the country grows less sandy, till at the plains of Encinillas it
may be called a fair prairie. All the streams in Northern Chi-
huahua empty into lakes, or lagunas, which have no visible out-
let. At the largest one of these, Ojo-Laguna, we found the
boarding-train and the ambulance; the track is laid three or four
miles farther, and the grading is completed to Chihuahua.

At the boarding-train was found a large party, mostly Ameri-
cans, though a few slender Mexicans in serapes and sandals
served to form a contrast with the burly and bearded men of the
North. Dinner eaten, we started with our four-mule ambulance
to cover the sixty miles that lay between us and Chihuahua.

The road for the most part was an excellent one, but it trav-
erses a solitude for many miles. Over all the country has rested
the shadow of constant danger. For in the canons in the moun-
tains has lurked the merciless Apache, ready at some unexpected
moment to rush or steal out on his errand of plunder or murder.
Every mile was marked by some story of his cruelty. But his
hour has come; the Mexican, after a century of suffering, has at
last driven his enemy to bay, and hunts him to death in his moun-
tain fastnesses. Our own troops are powerless in face of the res-
ervation system, which offers murderers and robbers a safe asylum.
In Mexico there are no reservations.

The country we were traversing is a vast cattle range, occupied
by the herds of Governor Terassas, of Chihuahua, who claims an
immense region. The cattle could be seen far and near, and oc-


casionally a herd crossed the road ; a bull in the advance, whose
high head and long sharp horns recalled the pictures of Spanish
bull fights; then came the gaunt black-and-white, dun-and-yel-
low cows, with their calves by their sides. In thirty miles we
saw but three inhabited places; and one of them, the ranch of
Encinillas, with its little church, lay miles away under the
shadow of the mountain. We passed near the two others. They

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