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of this group, is as remarkable for its natural wealth as for the gigantic labours of man in the bowels of the mountains. To form a more ex. act idea of the position of these mines, we invite the reader to call to mind what we have already stated * in the particular description of the provinces, and to cast his eyes over the physical section of the central table land, in the atlas to this work.
In the centre of the intendancy of Guanax. uato on the ridge of the cordillera of Anahuac, rises a group of porphyritic summits known by the name of the Sierra de Santa Rosa. This group of mountains partly arid, and partly covered with strawberry-trees and evergreen oaks, is surrounded with fertile and well cultivated fields. To the north of the Sierra, the Llanos of San Felipe extend as far as the eye can reach; and to the South, the plains of Irapuato and Salamanca exhibit the delightful spectacle of a rich and populous country. The Cierro de los Llanitos, and the Puerto de Santa Rosa, are the most elevated summits of this
* Vol. ii. p. 204. I have drawn up a geographical map of the environs of the town of Guanaxuato, which will
appear in the historical account of my travels in the Equinoctial Regions of America. This map is partly taken from the perpendicular bases measured barometrically. See Vol. i. Introduction, p. xiii. and my Recueil d'Observations Astronomiques, Vol. i. p. 372.
group of mountains. Their absolute height is from 2,800 to 2,900 metres *, but as the neighbouring plains which are part of the great central table land of Mexico, are more than 1800 metres † above the level of the sea, these porphyritic summits appear but as inconsiderable hills to the eyes of a traveller accustomed to the striking appearance of the Cordilleras. The famous vein of Guanaxuato, which has alone, since the end of the sixteenth century, produced a mass of silver equal to fourteen hundred millions of francs t, crosses the southern slope of the Sierra de Santa Rosa.
In going from Salamanca to Burras and Temascntio, we perceive a chain of mountains, which bounding the plains, stretches from the South-east to the North-west. The crest of the vein follows this direction. At the foot of the Sierra, after passing the farm of Xalapita, we discover a narrow ravin dangerous to pass at the period of the great swells, called the Canada de Marfil, which leads to the town of Guanaxuato. The population of that town, as we have already observed, is more than 70,000 souls. One is astonished to see in this wild spot, large and
* From 8985 to 9313 feet. Trans.
beautiful edifices in the midst of miserable Indian huts. The house of Colonel Don Diego Rul, who is one of the proprietors of the Valenciana mine, would be an ornament to the finest streets of Paris and Naples. It is fronted with columns of the Ionic order, and the architecture is simple and remarkable for great purity of style. The erection of this edifice, which is almost uninhabited, cost more than 800,000 francs *, a considerable sum in a country where the price of labour and materials are very moderate.
The name of Guanaxuato is scarely known in Europe ; and yet the riches of the mines of this district are much superior to that of the metalliferous depository of Potosi. The latter was discovered in 1545 by Diego Hualca an Indian, and has produced, according to information | never yet made public, in the space of two hundred and thirty-three years, 788,258,512 double piastres, which reckoning eight piastres
* £33,000, Sterl. Trans.
† Extract from a book of accounts of the Royal Treasury of Potosi, made on the spol, by Mr. Frederic Mothes (Razon de los reales derechos que se han cobrado en las cazas reales, de la plata que ha producido el Cerro de Potosi). This manuscript memoir in my possession gives the produce of Potosi every year
from 1558 to 1789. The treasury books contain no information relative to the years anterior to 1556, although two miners of Porco, Juan de Villaroel and Diego Centeno, began to work this vein in the year 1545.
and a half to the marc, gives the sum of 92,736,294 marcs of silver *, viz.
Piastres. Marcs of silver.
1579 to 1736-611,399,451 – 71,929,347
During these three periods then, there has been extracted from the Cerro de Potosi annually at an average,
Marcs of silver. Piastres.
1579 to 1736 - 458,148 - 3,994,258
The produce of the vein of Guanaxuato, -however, is almost the double of that of the Cerro de Potosi. There is actually drawn from this vein (for it alone furnishes all the silver of the mines of the district of Guanaxuato) in average years from five to six hundred thousand marcs of silver, and from fifteen to sixteen hundred marcs of gold.
* 60,864,359 lb. Troy. Trans.
172,015 lb. Troy. Trans. $ 300,524 lb. Troy. Trans. $ 189,837 lb. Troy. Trans.