Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/458

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TRAVELS IN MEXICO.

the sake of economy, taking out merely enough to meet current expenses. What remained was "pure black sulphurets, which exhumed globules of native silver when exposed to fire." One can trace the silver lode as it crops out above the surface, and runs diagonally across the hills.

The gross product of Santa Gertrudis in the first four years sums up $4,000,000, although yet new, and more than $2,000,000 has been divided in profits. The ores of this district vary from $20 to $300 per ton, with frequent deposits up to $500; $60 per ton is considered sufficient to put a mine in bonanza.

In Pachuca and the mining districts around it—Real del Monte to the northeast. El Chico to the north, and Santa Rosa to the west—are in all 267 mines, as follows: in Pachuca, 154; Real del Monte, 76; El Chico, 24; and in Santa Rosa, 13. The prevailing metal is sulphate of silver, though in some mines native silver is found mixed with the ore. The ores are "docile," and reduced by the barrel process, smelting-pan, amalgamation, and "patio" process. There are but two States that equal Hidalgo in yield of silver. Most of the mines are operated in the old Mexican fashion, the metal being brought up in bullock-skins, by means of long ropes of maguey fibre wound about a large drum, worked by horses or mules.

The accounts of the yields of some of these mines border upon the fabulous, yet it is more likely that they have been under rather than over estimated. Under the old Spanish laws, one fifth went to the king, and under the present laws one twenty-fifth belongs to the government, and by examining the books in which these accounts are kept, one may quickly ascertain the production of any mine. In the archives of Mexico you may find the musty volumes containing these records, some of them over three hundred years old. By them it appears that one hundred million dollars has been taken from a single mine, the Rosario, in thirty years, and the books show that there has been paid $500,000 per share in dividends.

On our way through the street leading to the gorge at the head of the valley where this mine is located, we passed thesmallrefs