Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/585

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XXVIII.

 

ALONG THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY.

 

WE made the journey down from Monterey to Laredo in a day so hot that the ironwork of the cars, and even of the reclining chairs, was hardly bearable to the touch. At eight o'clock of the morning succeeding I boarded a pay-car of the Pecos and Rio Grande Railroad, and ran north some thirty miles, to visit the coal-fields which that line had but recently entered. We reached the principal mine, San Tomas, at ten, and on the high bank of the Rio Grande, which is here about a gunshot across, found an excellent dump and veins of coal, alternating with seams of slate, two and three feet in thickness. The coal is semi-bituminous, burns freely, is easily mined, and the capacity of the company is not equal to the demand. The main drive at San Tomas is about a thousand feet, with an air-shaft five hundred feet from the entrance. Some twenty miles beyond is another deposit, and back along the line are several experimental shafts searching for seams of sufficient width—five feet—for profitable working. The great want of Mexico is coal, with which to supply the locomotives of the great international roads; and this discovery of veins on the Rio Grande, right at the Mexican portal, is likely to prove of great value and convenience.

Taking a "sleeper" on the "International and Great Northern Road," I departed from Laredo that night, and awoke next morning at San Antonio, which place I had left ten days previously, after a most delightful night of repose. If any place in the Southwest could tempt me to depart from my subject awhile and describe other sections than those pertaining to Mexico, it would be San Antonio, with its springs and parks, old mission build-