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equal to what some display for gaming, M. Obregon preferred submitting to every sort of privation to the abandoning his undertaking. In the year 1767 he entered into partnership with a petty merchant of Rayas, of the name of Otero. Could he then hope that in the space of a few years, he and his friend would become the richest individuals in Mexico, perhaps in the whole world ? In 1768 they began to extract a very considerable quantity of silver minerals from the mine of Valenciana. In proportion as the shafts grew deeper, they approached that region which we have already described as the depository of the great metallic wealth of Guanaxuato. In 1771 they drew from the pertinencia de Dolores enormous masses of sulphuret of silver, mixed with native and red silver. From that period till 1804, when I quitted New Spain, the mine of Valenciana has continually yielded an annual produce of more than 14 millions of livres tournois. * There have been years so productive, that the net profit of the two proprietors of the mine has amounted to the sum of six millions of francs. t
M. Obregon, better known by the name of Count de la Valenciana, preserved in the midst
* 583,3801. sterling. Trans.
of immense wealth, the same simplicity of manners, and the same frankness of character, for which he was distinguished previous to his
When he began to work the vein of Guanaxuato, above the rayin of San Xavier, goats were feeding on the very hill which ten years afterwards was covered with a town of seven or eight thousand inhabitants. Since the death of the old Count, and his friend Don Pedro Luciano Otero, the property of the mine has been divided among several families. * I knew at Guanaxuato two younger sons of M. Otero, each of whom possessed in ready money, a capital of six millions and a halft, without including the actual revenue from the mine, which amounted to more than 400,000 francs. I
The constancy and equality of the produce of the mine of Valenciana, is so much the more surprising, as the abundance of the rich mines has considerably diminished, and the expences of working have increased in an alarming proportion, when the works have reached a perpendicular depth of 500 metres. S The piercing
* The property of Valenciana is divided into twenty-eight shares, called barres, of which ten belong to the descendants of the Count de la Valenciana, twelve to the family of Otero, and two to that of Santana.
† 271,835l. Sterling. Trans.
and walling of the three old draught-pits cost the Count de Valenciana nearly six millions of francs, viz.
The square shaft of San Antonio or tiro viejo, 227 metres of perpendicular depth, and four baritels a chevaux
The square shaft of Santo Christo de Burgos, 150 metres in depth, and two baritels a chevaux
The hexagonal shaft of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (tiro nuevo) 345 metres in perpendicular depth, and six baritels a chevaux
Expence of the three shafts
Within these twelve years they have begun to dig in the solid rock, in the roof of the vein, a new draught-pit (tiro general), which will have the enormous perpendicular depth of 514 metres *, terminating at the actual bottom of the
* 1685 feet. Trans.
I reduce the varas mexicanas on the principle that a vara is equal to Om 839, or a toi:e = 2. 332 varas mexicanas. (See Vol. ii. p. 165.). In that country they consider the inines of Valenciana the deepest ever dug by man. At the period when I measured the planes of San Bernardo, the mine of Beschert Glück, at Freiberg in Saxony, had reached 447 metres of perpendicular depth. (1465 feet, Trans.) It is believed that
mine, or at the planes of San Bernardo. This shaft which will be in the centre of the works, will considerably diminish the number of the 980 miners (tenateros) employed as beasts of burden to carry the minerals to the upper places of assemblage. The tiro general, which will cost more than a million of piastres *, is octagonal, and contains 26m, 8 of circumference. t Its
. walling is most beautiful. It is believed that they will reach the vein in 1815, although in the month of September 1803 the depth was not yet more than 184 metres. I The piercing of this shaft is one of the greatest and boldest undertakings to be found in the history of mines. It
may be questioned, however, whether for the sake of diminishing the expences of carriage and draught, it was expedient to recur to a remedy which is at once slow, expensive, and uncertain.
The expences of working the mine of Valenciana have been on an average annually :
Piastres. From 1787 to 1791
410,000 $ From 1794 to 1802
in the sixteenth century the works of the Saxon mines on the
+ 87 feet. Trans.
|| 194,7081. Sterling.
Although the expences are doubled, the profits of the share-holders have remained nearly
The following table contains an exact state * of the mine for the last nine
* Estado que manifiesta el valor de los frutos que ha producido la mina de Valenciana, costa de sus memorias y liquido producto, a favor de sus duenos; lo presento Don Joseph Antonio del Maso, al Excellentissimo Señor Virey de Nueva España Don Joseph de Yturigarray, el 3 de Julio 1803. (M.S.)