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Guarisamey, in the Intendancy of Durango. Sombrerete, in the Intendancy of Zacatecas. Tasco, in the Intendancy of Mexico. Batopilas, in the Intendancy of Durango. Zimapan, in the Intendancy of Mexico. Fresnillo, in the Intendancy of Zacatecas. Ramos, in the Intendency of San Luis Potosi. Parral, in the Intendancy of Durango.
We are absolutely in want of accurate materials for tracing the history of the mining operations of New Spain. It appears certain, that of all the veins, those of Tasco, Zultepeque, Tlapujahua and Pachuca, were first wrought by the Spaniards. Near Tasco, to the west of Tehuilotepec, in the Cerro de la Campana, Cortez cut a level across the micaceous slate, which is, as we have already stated, overlaid by alpine lime stone. This gallery, called el socabon del rey, was begun on such a large scale that one may go through it on horseback for a length of more than 90 metres * ; and it has been lately finished by the patriotic zeal of Don Vicente de Anza, a miner of Tasco, who was enabled to cut the principal vein at the distance of 530 metres from the mouth of the level. The working of the mines of Zacatecas followed very closely that of the mineral repositories of Tasco and Pachuca. The vein of San
* 295 feet. Trans.
Barnabè was begun in the year 1548, twentyeight years after the death of Montezuma, a circumstance which must appear so much the more remarkable, as the town Zacatecas is distant,in a straight line, more than 100 leagues from the valley of Tenochtitlan. It is said that the silver ores of the district of Zacatecas were discovered by the muleteers who travelled between Mexico and Zacatecas. In this district, near the basaltic hill of Cubilete, the mine of San Barnabè exhibits the most antient mining operations. The principal vein of Guanaxuato (la veta madre) was discovered somewhat later, on sinking the shafts of Mellado and Rayas. The first of these shafts was begun on the 15th, and the second on the 16th of April in the year 1558. The mines of Comanjas are undoubtedly still more antient than those of Guanaxuato.
As the total pro . duce of the mines of Mexico, till the beginning of the 18th century, has never been more than 600,000 marcs of gold and silver a year, we may conclude, that in the 16th century they did not labour with very great activity in the extraction of the ores. The veins of Tasco, Tlapujahua, Sultepeque, Moran, Pachuca, and Real del Monte, and those of Sombrerete, Bolaños, Batopilas, and Rosario, have afforded from time to time immense wealth ; but their produce has been less uniform than that of the mines of Guanaxuato, Zacatecas, and Catorce.
The silver extracted in the 37 mining districts into which the kingdom of New Spain is divided, is deposited in the Provincial Treasuries, established in the chief places of the Intendancies; and it is from the receipts of these caxas reales that we are to judge of the quantity of silver furnished by the different parts of the country. The following is an account of the receipts of 11 Provincial Treasuries :
From 1785 to, 1789, there was received in the Caxa's Reales of
Marcs of Silver. Guanazuato
2,469,000 San Luis Potosi (Catorce, Charcas, San Luis Potosi)
1,515,000 Zacatecas (Zacatecas, Fresnillo, Sierra de Pinos) 1,205,000 Mexico (Tasco, Zacualpa, Zultepeque)
1,055,000 Durango (Chihuahua, Parral, Guarisamey, Cosiguiriachi)
922,000 Rosario (Rosario, Cosala, Copala, Alamos)
668,000 Guadalarara :(Hostotipaquillo, Asientos de Ybarra)
509,000 Pachuca (Real del Monte, Moran)
320,000 Zimapan (Zimapan, Doctor)
Sum for five years, 9,730,000
That part of the Mexican mountains which at present contains the greatest quantity of silver, is contained between the parallels of 21 and 24į degrees. The celebrated mines of Guanaxuato are only distant, in a straight line,
from those of San Luis Potosi, 30 leagués : from San Luis Potosi to Zacatecas, the distance is 34 leagues; from Zacatecas to Catorce, 31, and from Catorce to Durango, 74 leagues. It is remarkable enough that this metallick wealth of Mexico and Peru should be placed at an almost equal distance in the two hemispheres from the equator.
In the vast extent which separates the mines of Potosi and la Paz from those of Mexico, there are no others which throw into circulation a great mass of the precious metals, but Pasco and Chota. Advancing from the Cerro de Gualgayoc northwards, we find only the gold stream works at Choco, and in the province of Antioquia, and the recently discovered silver veins of Vega de Supia. It is the same with the Cordillera of the Andes, as with all the mountains of Europe, in which metals are very unequally distributed. The province of Quito, and the Eastern part of the kingdom of New Granada, from the 3° of South latitude, to the 70 of North latitude ; the Isthmus of Panama, and the mountains of Guatimala, contain, for a length of 600 leagues, vast extents of ground, in which no vein has hitherto been wrought with any degree of success. It would not, however, be accurate to advance that these countries which have, in a degree, been convulsed with volcanos, are entirely destitute of gold and silver ore. Numerous metalliferous depositories may be concealed
by the super position of strata of basalt, amygdaloid, porphyry with greenstone base, and other rocks, comprehended by geologists under the general name of trapp-formation.
With respect to the Mexican mines in particular, they may be considered as forming eight
groups (Erz-refiere), which are almost all placed - either on the ridge or on the Western slope of
the Cordillera of Anahuac. The first of these groups is the most considerable in prodúce ; it includes the contiguous districts of Guanaxuato, San Luis Potosi, Charcas, Catorce, Zacatecas; Asientos de Ybarra, Fresnillo, and Sombrerete. The mines situated to the West of the town of Durango, as well as those of the province of Cinaloa, belong to the second ; for the mines of Guarisamey, Copala, Cosala, and Rosario are near enough to one another to be classed under the same geological division. The third group, the most northern of New Spain, is that of Parral, which comprehends the mines of Chihuahua and Cosiguiriachi. It extends from the 27° to the 29° of latitude. To the northnorth-east of Mexico, the Real del Monte or Pachuca, and those of Zimapan, or the Doctor, may be stiled the fourth and fifth groups. Bolaños (in the Intendancy of Guadalaxara), Tasco, and Oaxaca are the central points of the sixth, seventh, and eighth groupes of mines of New Spain. This general view is sufficient