The largest specimen of these substances which has ever been described, has escaped the notice of all the philosophers who have written upon the subject.
Walckcnaer in a note to Azara's Travels, upon the mass of iron and nickel found in the Chaco, says that two other such masses have been discovered; one which Pallas has described, and one which was dug up at Aken near Magdebourg. Gaspar de Villagra, in his Historia de la Nueva Mexico, mentions a fourth, evidently of the same nature as these, and considerably larger than the largest of them. The tradition of the natives concerning it supports the most probable theory of it's origin. A demon in the form of an old woman, appeared to two brothers, who were leading a horde or swarm of the ancient Mexicans, in search of a new country; she told them to separate, and threw down this block of iron which she carried on her head to be the boundary between them.
Villagra describes it as something like the back of a tortoise in shape, and in weight about eight hundred quintales; He calls it massy iron, "hierro bien mazizo y amasado;" it was smooth without the slightest rust, and there was neither mine near it, nor vein of metal, nor any kind of stone any way resembling it.
Y como quien de vista es buen testigo,
Digo que es un metal tan puro y liso,
Y tan limpio de orin como si fuera,
Una refina plata de Capella.
Y lo que mas admira nuestra caso,
Es que no vemos genero de veta,
Horrumbra, quemazon, o alguna piedra.
Con cuia fuerça muestre y nos paresca
Averse el gran mojon alli criado.
Canto 2. ff. 10.
The latitude where this was found is 27 N. The history of the expedition which Villagra accompanied, furnishes some clue for seeking the spot, and it might probably be discovered with little expence of time or labour, by a party travelling from Mexico to Monterrey.
- The quintal is 132lb. English. This estimate is of course given by guess; its size however is in some degree proved by this circumstance, that the priest who attended the army, consecrated it as an altar, and performed service upon it. The Chaco mass contains at present 624 cubic palms, of nine Spanish inches, but large pieces had been broken off before it was measured. The Siberian one 1680 Russian lbs. that in Germany from 15 to 17 milliers.