Percy F. (Percy Falcke) Martin.

Mexico's treasure house (Guanajuato) an illustrated and descriptive account of the mines and their operations in 1906 online

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Online LibraryPercy F. (Percy Falcke) MartinMexico's treasure house (Guanajuato) an illustrated and descriptive account of the mines and their operations in 1906 → online text (page 1 of 18)
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A7i Illustrated and Descriptive Account of

The Mines and. Their Operations

in 1906



Author of "Through Five Republics (of South America) 1905"

* J AM not blind to the unison of opinion as
expressed by scientists and experts that
Mexico will one day furnish the gold, silver
and copper of the world; that from her
hidden vaults, her subterranean treasure
houses, will come the gold, silver, copper
and precious stones that will build the em-
pires of to-morrow and make future cities
of this world veritable New Jerusalems."
— The late Cecil Khodes.






Copyright 1906 by

Percy Folckk Martin

of 6 Gray's Inn Square, W. C

London, England



f /



Earl}^ Days in Guanajuato 15-32

The State of Guanajuato 33-50

The "Patio" Process 51-60

Labor, and Mexican Peons 61-71

The Consolidated jNIining & Milling Co 72-82

The Reduction & Mines Co 83-99

The Guanajuato Development Co. (I). . . . 100-111

The Guanajuato Development Co. (II)... 112-126

The Peregrina Mining & Milling Co. (I). 127-139

The Peregrina INIining & Milling Co. (II) 140-152

The Guanajuato Mineral Development Co. 153-162
The Guanajuato Amalgamated Gold Mines

Co 163-176

Some Mines with Promising Futures 177-200

Guanajuato Power & Electric Co 201-210

British Capital in Guanajuato 211-228

Prominent Men of Guanajuato 229-252




1. Panoramic view of the city of Guanajuato, 1906 Title


2. Mexico's output of silver from 1877-1905 13

3. His Excellency General Porfirio Diaz, President of the

Republic 21

4. A typical street in the peon quarter of the city 29

5. A peon standing at the door of his house 37

6. The State Prison, known as "The Carcel" 45

7. Market day in Guanajuato 51

8. Church architecture in Guanajuato District 57

9. The "Patio" process at Guanajuato 63

Preface .. .
Chapter I.





*The Photographs published in this VoKime have been principally taken for the work by
Mr. Percy S. Cox, of Indepeiidencia, Mexico City, and are now given for tha first time. They are
all Copyrighted. The Author is also much indebted to the courtesy of Mr. R. H. Burrows, of
Guanajuato, for several of the photographs used.


10. Old style of hoisting: The horse-whim 69

1 1. Quicksilver room in an old Patio mill 73

12. General view of The Consolidated Mining & Milling Co.

of Guanajuato 75

13. General view of the Cj-anide Plant belonging to The Con-

solidated Mining & Milling Co 77

14. Cyanide plant, office buildings and manager's residence

' of The Consolidated Mining & Milling Co 79

15. A rich portion of the vein at the fifth level 81

16. The vein showing a width of 163 feet from the fifth to

the second levels.

17. Table showing official gold output from 1824.-1891. ... 85

18. Boca Mina, at the Valenciana Mine (Reduction & Mines

Co.) 89

19. Precipitating plant (interior), Reduction & Mines Co.. . 93

20. Precipitating pl.nit (exterior). Reduction & Mines Co.. . 93

21. Offices and cyanide plant at Hacienda de Flores 97

22. General view of the cyanide plant, Hacienda de Flores. . 108

23. Entrance to the Pinguico Tunnel; belonging to The Gua-

najuato Development Co 107

'2i. General shaft of El Cedro Mine, belonging to the Gua-
najuato Develo2)ment Co Ill

25. Claims belonging to the Central Group of Klines; The

Guanajuato Development Co 115

26. General view of the Central Mine, belonging to the Gua-

najuato Development Co 119

27. The Nayal Custom Mill, adjoining the Central Mines;

property of Messrs. McElhiney & Bryant 123

28. Site of the new St. Matias Mill, owned by Mr. Frank G.

Peck 127

29. The Bryant Dam at the Peregrina Mine, wliieh is now

completed 131

SO. The Barrcno shaft of the Peregrina Mine 135

31. Peregrina iiO-stamp mill and foundation of 100-stamp

mill, the Peregrina Mining & Milling Co 139

82. House on the San Isidro Ranch, belonging to The Guana-
juato Development Co 145

33. Stream feeding the new reservoir during the dry season 149

84. American oak timber on the San Isidro Ranch 153

85. Basin to be submerged behind dam, San Isidro Ranch. . 157
S6. Shaft and electric hoist at the Nueva Luz Mine I6I

37. I. a Torre Mines, which, with the Nueva Luz, are the

property of tlie Mineral Development Co 165

38. JesTi.s Maria Mine. La Luz, property of the Amalgamated

Gold Mines Co 169


39. Dumps on the Jesus Maria Mine, La Luz 173

40. Map of the Guanajuato Mining District, showing the

system of veins 179

41. The San Cayetano Mine, property of The United Mex-

ican Mining Co 183

42. Panoramic view of the town La Luz, of the Guanajuato

District 189

43. Yard of the Refugio Mine, La Luz District, the property

of The Guanajuato Development Co 197

44. The El Cubo Mine, near Guanajuato 205

45. The Guanajuato Power & Electric Co., view of Com-

pany's substation at Guanajuato 209

46. The Guanajuato Power & Electric Co., interior of sub-

station 215

47. Mexico's output of gold, 1877-1905 223

48. Map of the Guanajuato Mining District, showing the

districts and areas 229

49- His Excellency the Governor of the Guanajuato State. . 236


"Know thy opportunity.''


WORKS UPON MEXICO, although not
numerous, have, of late years at least, been
readily procurable; but for the most part
they have dealt with the past history of the Republic,
relating to its early troubles and ignoring the present
and future greatness of this remarkable country.

In regard to Mexico's principal asset, viz : its mines, I
can but repeat the words of the poet Byron, that "the
best of prophets of the future, is the past"; and if only
what has been will be again the mineral wealth of all the
rest of the world will have to stand the test of keen
comparison, and must be prepared to meet with a shock
of surprise.

A temporary visit to the Guanajuato district, where
a great revival of interest among the mines has set in,
convinced me that were the investing public of the Uni-
ted States and Great Britain to know something more
than they do about this very remarkable mineral camp, it
must prove of infinite benefit to them and of material
advantage to Guanajuato itself.

Thus, in my travels through INIexico for the purpose
of collecting materials for a book on the whole of the
Republic — which is to be published towards the middle
of next year — I found it expedient to tarry awhile in

Page 7

Mexico's Treasure-House

Guanajuato, and there to study the conditions and
prospects of a district which I always beheved, and now
know, will one day not far distant rival the famous Rand
itself, and prove to be an important apartment in that
"treasure-house" from which will come the gold, silver,
copper and precious stones "that will build the empire
of to-morrow, and make future cities of this world veri-
table Jerusalcms." which were the words in which the
late Cecil Rhodes once described ^lexico.

"Civilizing by syndicate" is not a bad method to
adopt, provided the members of such "syndicate" are
men of honor as well as enterprise, and both remember
and observe the conditions under which this kind of
civilization should be conducted, — that is to say, so
as to benefit the country generalty as well as to enrich
themselves. The Anglo-Saxon races have already
"cornered," if I may adopt such a term, four-fifths of
the gold-producing mines of the world, and it is, there-
fore, eminently fit that the magnificent mineral interests
of Mexico should be likewise mainly in their hands. But
for British capital in the first instance and more from
America in the second, probably the mineral riches of
Mexico might have lain dormant or but imperfectly
developed for many years, neither the Spanish pioneers
nor the Mexican proprietors having had the means or
the scientific knowledge to work the mines beyond a cer-
tain j)()int. Forei/.;n capital and foreign brains have,
however, joined together to some purpose, and the con-
sequence of tills combination must be as beneficial to
Mexico and to the Mexicans as to the enterprising finan-
ciers who ha\e come forward at the psychological
nujment to helj) in the country's development.

Guanajuato's Future 9

The Guanajuato gold and silver mines differ from
most other mines of the world inasmuch as there is ab-
solutely nothing conjectural nor problematical about
them. For close upon four hundred years they have
been not only known but actively worked, and they have
from first to last contributed about three-fifths of the
total amount of the world's supply of silver. "Imag-
ination rules the world," as Napoleon once declared;
there is, however, no sort of imagination about this state-

In this unpretentious volume I have attempted, to
the best of my ability, to provide some description of an
exceptionally promising mining district, and before all
the good things in it have been- appropriated. It is not
unusual to proclaim the virtues of an individual after
his death, ignoring all his abilities and attributes while
he is still preserved among us. Much about the same
kind of policy is adopted with regard to profitable com-
mercial enterprises, which are not infrequently intro-
duced to public notice after the cream has been hcked
off by favored insiders.

Probably this might have been the case with the
Guanajuato gold and silver mines, but for the fortunate
circumstance which brought me here and which has en-
abled me to learn something of the district which is
destined shortly to astonish the investing world under
the new regime of improved treatment and scientific
development through which it is passing. I honestly
believe that Guanajuato is destined to take first rank
among the gold and silver camps of the world, and it is
because of this conviction that I desire Anglo-Saxon in-
vestors, who have followed my writings for some twenty

10 Mexico's Treasu re-House

years upon both sides of the Atlantic, to share in the gol-
den possihilities which are here unfolded.

In this treasure-house of ^Mexico — Guanajuato — are
vast riches whicli may still to-day be sharcd-in by those
who have earl\ knowledge of their opportunities and
who do not hesitate to avail themselves of them. The
time is not yet when everything in tlie shape of a sound
(ruanajuato property is ''up in the skies," as is the case
witli some other Mexican mines, such as the Dos Estrel-
las in Michoacan State, the shares, of $100 each, of
which are selling for $8,500 and have been sold at the
stu])endous figure of $9,500. When it is remembered
that in Mexico between the years 1887 and 1889 as much
as $14,401,048 (say £2,880,000) was produced by the
mines of Guanajuato alone, sufficient should have been
said to prove the great value of these mines and the ra-
tional probal)ility of their continuing to yield handsome
returns to their fortunate proprietors.

Those wlio ti()ul)le to read the following pages will
realize why it is that these mines are passing into the
hands of Anglo-Saxon capitalists one by one, and how
llie opjjortunities which exist to-day for participating in
this attractive enterprise may soon fade away.

I would desire to point out that in the subjoined
chaj)ters I have not availed myself of the privilege
claimed by so many writers, and assumed the mantle of
the i)r()})lRt. 1 have contented myself with speaking of
things as they actually are or have been, rather than as
tliey may be: ])crmitting my readers to draw their own
conclusions, which the data and descriptions afforded
should enable them readily to do.

From niy varied experiences, gathered upon nearly

One Billion Dollars! 11

every gold-field of the world and a quarter-of-a-cen-
tury's uninterrupted writings ujjon such forms of in-
vestment, I feel certain that no necessity exists for
"cramming facts down the throats" of the intelligent
reading public. I provide the material, collected and
sifted, if I may say so, with much care and no small
amount of trouble; it is for those who read them to
accept or reject the statements therein set forth.

I can only sslj, however, that those who enter now
into the but partially occupied field of industry which
the gold and silver mines of Guanajuato hold open, be-
fore the finest of these opportunities have been seized
upon and closed, should have but little cause to regret
their decision. The invaluable adjuncts of a stable
government, a settled country and the best class of
financial interests of the United States and Great Brit-
ain represented in the management at work, are all
here; these should form the best recommendations, next
to the unquestioned richness of the mines themselves,
for all who are desirous of participating in Mexico's

Those who have formed the impression that the Rand
in the Transvaal is the only wonderful producer in the
world, and who have heard of the celebrated West
Australian and British Columbian mines, have probably
but little knowledge of what the Mexican mines, and
especially those situated in the Guanajuato district,
have achieved. At Guanajuato the principal or
"mother vein" has jdelded the sum of $1,000,000,000
(one billion dollars), as sufficiently proved by the Mint
and Government records. The chief mines situated on
the mother vein (Veta Madre) include the famous

12 Mexico's Treasure-House

\'alenciana, the Rayas, the ^lellado, the Cata and the
Sirena, etc. Of these the Valenciana has been the
greatest silver prochicer, having to its credit the sub-
stantial sum of $300,000,000 and having been worked
down to a depth of 2,400 feet on the inchne. Taking
the ^^■hole of these mines together, covering as they do
an area of 10,000 feet on its strike, the output has been
over Ji^800,000,0()0, while the average depth worked with-
in that course has been something less than 1,.300 feet.

Perhaps no closer explanation of the output of silver
from Mexico during recent times could be offered than
by means of the diagram to be found elsewhere, for
A\hieh I ma\' say I am indebted to the courtesy of the
Editor of The Financial Neics (of London, England),
and for which great newspaper I have had the honor to
act as Special Foreign Correspondent for nearly a fifth
of a century.

It is only necessary to add that my illustration com-
prises seven main perpendicular divisions, each division
including four years' total silver output, commencing
witli the period 1877-81 and ending with the period of
four years 1902-5. At the margin on either side of the
design a scale of million dollars is seen, rising from zero,
by equal divisions of $25,000,000, to a total of $350,-
000,000 at the summit.

The total output for each period of four j^ears having
been computed from official figures, vertical black
cohimns. corresponding by their varying heights to the
amount i'ov each period, appear in each division, and in
juxtaposition with the scale in the margin. It will be
seen from the total figures given of the ])roduction of
sihcr during the four years 1877-81 on the diagram,



JSj:-'81\1SS2-S \]SSJ-(^\1800-5 \lSi)^'l\lS()8-'0l\lQ02-0S.




20G .

.qi .


f7£\/CO: EXPO.^r^ or .'KSTTALS \

Sc^ D .




/qC3 -otf


00^ S,^.'ii>6





^ L\£f>

. T2.4lC.e6S






- ii.nv"






. Xc6ii^S



^ Si.Sb!-8



SiLvCK cosAcc Of A/fix/CA^ Mints
sscs ADJ55T= 5S4^3q55npcLLM:S

F^ODUCT'ON or Afsx/CAW Af/zv/cj, .
i/A.C£ A D /62.'(caf<i}i/etr er Mexico) TO
PKCifi^r Tir^t zf6.ooc,oc<o.ooofi6ocicoc,ooc

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.. ZSO .

J2O,Z20.l?6.\ ^2S


276 -


_.. 225.

200 .



. 126 .


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JO .
- 25 .


Transformation in Progress 13

that, compared with that stated for the last four years
(1902-5), the output has increased by no less a sum
than $213,458,584 Mex. (approximately, £21,346,000,
or an increase of 200 per cent, in twenty-eight years.

The "inset" tabulation of the Mexican exports of
metals from 1900-1 to 1904-5 (shown in the chart)
would appear to explain itself. The following com-
pilation, however, of the percentages of increase and
decrease under the head of each metal for the two
periods 1900-1 and 1904-5 may be instructive: —


A ^ Percentage.

Metal. 1900-1901. 1904-1905. Inc. or Dec.

Gold . . . $8,955,536 . . $13,696,146 . . + 52.9

Silver* . 72,420,883 . . 65,523,646 . . - 9.5

Copper . 11,177,753 . . 29,803,420 . . +166.6

Lead . . . 5,066,645 . . 5,504,669 . . +8.6

Readers of these pages will be able to follow the
histories, many full of romance, of the several properties
and glean also some idea of what may yet become of
them; for the whole of the Guanajuato Camp is un-
dergoing a gradual transformation, and many of the
long neglected properties are finding new owners pos-
sessed of ample funds to put them once more upon a pro-
fit-earning basis, as well as importing into the manage-
ment all the enterprise, judgment and ability which
nowadays characterize the Anglo-Saxon mining profes-
sion. It is only fit and proper that a mining district pos-

* The exportation of silver dollars has practically ceased, silver
being now exported in the form of bullion at market value.

14 Mexico's TreasurC'-House

sessed of such a remarkable record as that of Guana-
juato, and providing-, as I believe it will, so line a field
for future developments, should have a volume — how-
ever modest be its pretensions — devoted entirely to its

The Author.

Guanajuato, Mexico, June. 1906.

Chapter I.

Early Days in Guanajuato. — First Workings and Discovery of the
Mother Lode. — Some Remarkable Prophecies. — Fortunes Re-
alised. — De La Borde, Antonio Obregon and Sardaneta. —
Guanajuato Described. — The Origin of Its Name. — "Hill of
the Frogs." — Hidalgo and Guanajuato. — The Carcel and Its
Inmates. — The Panteon. — Some Spanish Architecture. — Places
of Interest and Note. — A Town of Fine Residences. — ^Social
Life in Guanajuato. — The Inhabitants and Their Recreations.
— The Reservoir. — The Tramways. — Cost of Living. — Rail-
way Improvements.

GUANAJUATO, the capital of the state of the
^ same name, became a city in 1741, and even a I
that time possessed a population of some
80,000 souls. Long before then, however, the Span-
iards had commenced mining in the district, the first
shaft in the Mellado mine having been actually opened
by them on April 15, 1558, and that of the Rayas mine
on April 16, 1558. Previously to that, even, a silver dis-
cover}^ had been made at San Bernabe, at La Luz, but
it took a period of nine years for the early pioneers to
discover that there existed such a thing as a Mother Lode.
At the point where this discover}^ was made the ore was
mined to a width of 100 feet, while the sinking of the
Mellado shaft, above referred to, proved the continuity
of the vein northward and mining speedity spread along
both sides of the lode, the workings at about this period
being from Tepayac to Sirena.

The district has never lacked enthusiastic recommen-
dation, and probably no mining camp in the world has
ever more deserved it. Cortes sang its praises, even

Pape 15

16 Mejrico's Treasure-House

imperilling' his on\ii interests by so doing, since the
o-reedy King of Spain demanded his "tithe" upon every
dollar's worth of gold and silver extracted, and had a
nasty way of showing that he meant to have it. Hum-
boldt proclaimed its value from the housetops, and a
consequence of his eminent advocacy was that a stream
of men, entirely unfitted for or experienced in mining
in any country, and especially one like ^lexico in those
troublous days, came out from all parts of Europe and
succeeded in doing an injury both to themselves and to
the country which they afflicted. In later days promi-
nent mining experts like iMr. John Kays Hammond
have pronounced unhesitatingly in favor of Guanajuato
camp, this gentleman, with a world-wide experience to
guide him, having declared his belief that "the district
of Guanajuato is the most thoroughly mineralized zone
in the known world for gold and silver." Even from the
crrave comes additional testimonv to ^lexico's remark-
able richness, for on one memorable occasion now re-
called with interest — "for he who is dead yet speaketh"
— Cecil Rhodes expressed his firm conviction in the
future greatness of this richly endowed country. "It
is my opinion," said the distinguished Empire-Builder,
"that tlie richest mining countries in the world are ]Mex-
ico, Peru and Bolivia, especially Mexico. I am not
blind to the unison of opinion as expressed by scientists
and experts that Mexico will one day furnish the gold,
silver, copper of the world ; that from her hidden vaults,
her subterranean treasure-houses, will come the gold,
silver, copper and precious stones that will build the em-
pires of to-morrow and make future cities of this world
veritable New Jerusalems."

Some Lucky Mine-Owners 17

There are stories more or less common gossip to-day
among the Mexican peons of vast fortunes taken out of
some Mexican mines, one evidence of which is to be
found not alone in the magnificent residences which the
lucky owners built for themselves out of the proceeds,
but in the form of handsome churches and chapels which
they piously constructed and richly endowed as a thank-
offering. There was the colossally rich Joseph de la
Borde, a Frenchman who, in 1743, won $18,000,000 out
of the Canada mine, and again, in 1762, took $12,000,-
000 out of the Tasco mine. One Jose Sardaneta ex-
tracted $11,000,000 from the Rayas mine, and An-
tonio Obregon was half-owner of another property
which yielded to its fortunate proprietors a trifle of
$226,000,000! "What has been, may be again."

The City of Guanajuato is practically enclosed by the
high precipitous mountains which surround it, the prin-
cipal entrance being through the Canada de Marfil.
This cailada terminates southward in the lofty and steep
"Bufa," a mountain crowned with curious-looking
rocks, about 1,050 feet high, measured from the bot-
tom of the valley. On the loftiest of the northern
slopes are located the celebrated Valenciana, Mellado
and Rayas mines. Easterly and northeasterly, the Sire-
na Mountains rise about 1,200 feet, while southwesterly
between Guanajuato and Marfil, the mountains become
less rugged and considerably lower, sloping rapidly
towards the city. From this eminence one can look
down upon a portion of the town, but never at any time
can one obtain a complete view of the whole place, wind-
ing a little, as it does, and nestling deep down in the
shade of the cafion.

18 Mexico's Treasure-IIouse

The low hills afford from the southwest a splendid
perspective of the plains of Celaya and Salamanca. The
surrounding heights are practically bare of timber now,
although at one time it is believed they were well covered
with American oak, which grows well here. ^Slost of the
a^ ailable timber was cut down by both sides during the
War of Independence, while in the early days of the
Republic no steps were adopted to prevent further de-
struction, and no new trees were planted. The heights
to-day are only overgrown with low but thick scrub, and

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryPercy F. (Percy Falcke) MartinMexico's treasure house (Guanajuato) an illustrated and descriptive account of the mines and their operations in 1906 → online text (page 1 of 18)