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ouraers of Observation

ByT.A. Rickard

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of Ihe Mining and Scientific Press ; formerly Editor of the Engineering and Mining Journal; Associate of tfie Royal School of Mines; Member of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy; Member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers ; Stale Geologist of Colorado (1895-1901) ; Author of 'The Stamp-Milling of Gold Ores,' 'The Copper Mines of Lake Superior,' 'The Sampling and Estimation of Ore in a Mine,' 'Pyrile Smelling,' 'The Economics of Mining.'

SAN FRANCISCO

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"preface

This book records the observations made by a traveler who happened to be a mining engineer; it is supposed to belong to the type of voyages metallurgi- queSy such as were published in days before the globe had been over-run by tourists and its distant corners rendered commonplace by the exaggerations of the daily press. To the members of my profession the comment concerning the industrial conditions, geo- logical structure, mining methods, and metallurgical practice of southwestern Colorado and a progressive part of Mexico, will have the interest that comes from observations which reflect a point of view somewhat similar to their own, while to the layman the not too severely technical descriptions, aided by beautiful photographs, will afford information of a kind rarely obtainable except in periodicals devoted to tech- nology. It is hoped that this record of conditions in two representative mining regions may have a his- torical value in the days to come. Moreover, I have thought it well to publish this volume as an expres- sion of thanks to those who were kind enough to give me many valuable data and to make my travels pleasant by their courtesy and hospitality. I am indebted to many friends for the photographs, for only a few of them are my own. From the United States Geological Survey were obtained half a dozen of the best views of the San Juan; other acknowledg- ments appear in the text.

T. A. RICKARD.

San Francisco, September 15, 1907.

5lllne5 of Mlexlco

Being the record of a journey from New York to Mexico, together with a descrip- tion of the mining industry of £1 Oro, Pachuca, and Guanajuato, as observed in October, 1905. Reprinted by permission from the Mining and Scientific Press.

(Contents

Chapter Page

1. New York from the Harbor. A Farewell to Man-

hattan I

2. Havana. A Cigar Factory. The Spanish Conquest.

Hernando Cortez. The First Sight of Orizaba . 5

3. Vera Cruz. On the Mexican Railway. Tropical

Vegetation. Coffee Plantations. At Orizaba . 13

4. The Physiography of Mexico. Outlines of History.

At Esperanza. The Maguey and Pulque. A National Habit. Arrival at the City of Mexico . 18 5- Geology Along the Railroad. Precious Metals in the Volcanic Dust. Vein Formation. The Sulphur of Popocatepetl 25

6. The City of Mexico. First Impressions. The School

of Mines. Memories of Del Rio. The Meteor- ites. Cortez 29

7. El Oro. Rich Mines. The Geology of the District.

The Mexico Mine. The Structure of the Lodes. In the El Oro Mine. A Wide Lode-Channel. Faults 35

8. Geology of the Esperanza Mine. Interesting Struc-

ture. A Big Fault. Rich Orebody. Story of the Discovery. Character of the Ore ... 43

9. Development of the MilHng Practice at El Oro. Be-

ginning of Cyanidation. First Big Mill. Change of Method. Tube-Mills and Re-Grinding . . 54 10. Treatment of Slime. Use of Lead Acetate. Addi- tion of Lime. Its Double Function. Settlement of the Slime. The Tube-Mills. Their Lining. Successful Work 61

ix

CONTENTS

Giapter Page

11. Further Notes on El Oro Practice. The Stamp-Mill.

Mortars and Guides. Apparatus for Sizing. The Precipitation House. Filter-Presses. Record of Tests 69

12. The Mill of the Esperanza. Use of Huntington Mills.

Treatment of Sand. No Amalgamation. Extrac- tion 76

13. Mining Methods in the El Oro Mine. Diamond-

Drilling in the Esperanza. Timbering Bad Ground, Precautions Taken. Laying of Track. Excellent System 79

14. Taxes. The Dynamite Imposition. Electric Power.

Dos Estrellas. Its Discovery. The Humor of Cyaniding. How Boundary Marks Are Pre- served 93

15. Mine Labor. The Contract System. Native Improv-

idence and Skill. Difference of Locality. Poor Hammermen, but Willing Workers. Hot Mines loi

16. Pachuca. An Old Mining Centre. Ancient Methods.

The Discovery of the Patio Process. Revolu- tionary Days. The Invasion of the Moderns . . 109

17. Real Del Monte. Old Machinery. The Viscaiiia

Lode. Its Early Romance. La DiflScultad. An Electrical Pump. Lode Structure. Local Ge- ology. Scenery 117

18. The Reduction Works of Pachuca. The Hacienda de

Guadalupe. Treatment on the Patio. A Metal- lurgical Survival. Some Criticisms .... 129

19. The Chemistry of the Patio Process. Chemical

Equations. Observations of Humboldt. Loss of Mercury. Contrast of Policy 139

X

CONTENTS

Chapter Page

20. Other Metallurgical Processes. The Hacienda la

Union. Kroencke's Method. Tube-Mills. The Barrel Process. Francke's Process. Chilean Mills. Retorting the Amalgam. The Planilla . 148

21. First Glimpse of Guanajuato. The History of Local

Mining. The Veta Madre, and Its Bonanzas. Rich Mine-Owners. The Count of Valenciana. Story of the Church. Decadence of the District 160

22. Guanajuato at Its Height. Deep Mining. Visit of

Humboldt. Decadence. La Luz. The Revival. An American Invasion. The Story of Modem Progress 169

23. Visit to the Old Mines. A Cavalcade. The Bustos

Plant. Mechanical Devices Against Manual Labor. The Mother Lode. San Miguel de Rayas 176

24. A Grand View. Reminders of a Former Time. Eng-

lish Enterprise 184

25. The Great Shafts of the Veta Madre. The Rayas.

The Cata. The Tiro General. What Bryan Said of It. How It Was Unwatered. A Wonderful Spectacle 188

26. The Malacate and Its Operation. The Avio System.

Electric Power. A Curious Difficulty. How the Eagles Interrupt the Current. A Strike . . 196

2*]. The Peregrina Mine. Old Spanish Workings. Shrines Underground. Acetylene Lamps. Sam- pling a Dump 201'

28. The Dumps of Guanajuato. How to Sample. The Mexican Idea. Two True Stories. The Biter Bit 206

xi

CONTENTS

Chapter Page

29. The Geology of the Veta Madre. A Big Fault. Posi-

tion of the Orebodies. A Cross-Section. Hum- boldt's Description. What is a True Vein ? . .211

30. The Development of Metallurgical Practice at the

Sirena Mill. From Amalgamation to Cyanida- tion. Re-Grinding 229

31. Method of Treatment in the Bustos Mill. Conveying

the Tailing by Pipe. The Stamp-Mill. Cyanide Practice. Comparison with the Patio Process . 239

32. Old Methods. An Abandoned Arrastre. The Ha-

cienda de Rocha. Men and Mules .... 246

33. The Flood at Guanajuato. The Humor and the

Tragedy of It. Conclusion 252

xu

TClsl of "JUuslraUotts

The Gateway Frontispiece

Facing Page

Map of Mexico i

On the East River, New York 2

New York, as Seen from the Harbor 3

The Morro, Havana. Making Drawn- Work in Mexico . 4

Central Park and Albesu Theatre, Havana 5

The Harbor of Havana 6

Cabanas Castle, Opposite Havana 7

A Glimpse of Old Havana 10

The Prado, Havana 11

Orizaba 12

On the Railroad above Maltrata 13

Tropical Vegetation 14

A Coffee Plantation 15

A Maguey Plantation 20

The Patio of the Iturbide. The Plaza at Orizaba .... 21

The Palace of Chapultepec 22

The Church of Guadalupe 23

A Country House in Mexico 26

Popocatepetl 27

A Fruit Vendor 28

On the Presa at Guanajuato. A Glimpse of Chapultepec . . 29

The Casa Blanca, at El Oro 34

The Timber Camp of the El Oro Mining and Railway Co. . 35

Statue to the Last of the Aztec Kings 36

Sorting Ore. On the Outskirts of Guanajuato .... 45

Putting Timbers in Place 46

A Good Lode in the El Oro Mine 47

. .

xiu

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Facing Page

A Rich Stope in the Esperanza Mine 52

General View of El Oro 53

In the Market Place 60

Another Market Place 61

Cyanide Vats and Tailing- Wheel 68

Interior of the El Oro Stamp-Mill 69

Leaching- Vats of the El Oro Mill 76

Blaisdell Excavator and Sand- Vats yy

Timbering in the El Oro Mine. An Old Water-Carrier . 84

Electrical Traction Underground in the Esperanza Mine . 85

Timbering a Drift-Stope in the El Oro Mine 85

General View of El Oro - 92

The Esperanza Mine and Mill 93

The Water-Carrier or Botero 98

The Cross near the Somera Shaft 99

Pay-Day at the Casa Blanca, El Oro 99

General View of Pachuca no

The Plaza of Pachuca in

The Mines of Pachuca 118

The Mines of Pachuca 1 19

An Old Patio in Action 122

A Chilean Mill in Operation 123

El Camonero. Moving Slime onto the Patio 134

A Tube-Mill in the Hacienda La Union at Pachuca . -134

Two Views of the Patio Process 135

Three Stages in the Patio Process 138

Horses Treading the Charge. El Camonero 139

A Typical Patio 146

Mixing the Charge on the Patio 147

Furnace for Retorting Amalgam 158

Two Views of Men Operating the Planilla at Pachuca 159

The Flying Buttresses of San Miguel de Rayas .... 166

In the Courtyard of the Rayas Mine 167

Looking Down the Main Street of Guanajuato .... 170

xiv

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Facing Page The City of Guanajuato 171

Among Friends at Guanajuato 176

Steel Ore-Bins and Battery Foundations of the Bustos Mill . 177

The Gateway of the Rayas Mine 178

The Ruins of the San Miguel de Rayas Mine .... 179 The Great Shaft of the Valenciana, Looking Down . . . 190 Bridge over the Guanajuato River, near La Presa . . 191

Two Views of the Tiro General 192

The Tiro General or Valenciana Shaft 193

A Malacate or Horse- Whim 196

On the Road to the Mines 197

A Bit of Old Mexico 198

A Distant View of Guanajuato. The Villas of the Presa . 199

The Basket Store. By the Way 202

Shrine in the Peregrina Mine 203

Hacienda San Francisco de Pastita 203

A Big Stope in the Peregrina Mine 204

Sorting Ore at the Peregrina Mine 205

Guanajuato 212

A Typical Street in Guanajuato 213

A Bit of the Veta Madre 220

A Mexican Ox Wagon 221

The Tanateros. On the Street 228

Mexican Miners at Work 229

The Hacienda San Francisco de Pastita 236

A Glimpse of Guanajuato Through a Hedge of Organ Cactus 237 Pipe-Line for Conveying Tailing. Tube-Mill at Pachuca . 242

A Mexican Family 243

Water Wheel and Irrigation Method 246

An Old Arrastre 247

Hacienda de Rocha 250

Typical Hacienda de Beneficio or Reduction Works . .251

Scenes in Guanajuato After the Flood 254

Plazuela de San Pedro, Guanajuato 255

XV

TClsl of T)rawlns5

Figure Page

1. Cross-Section Through Shaft of the Mexico Mine . 37

2. Cross-Section of Vein in. the Mexico Mine ... 39

3. Diagram Showing the Series of Geological Events 45

4. Lode-Fault, San Rafael Vein 47

5. The Esperanza Fault. After J. E. Spurr .... 49

6. Plan of Second Level of Esperanza Mine .... 51

7. Diagram of Cyanide Treatment at Plant No. 2 . . 57

8. Diagram of Sizing Tests at Mill No. 2 .... 74

9. Drift Timbering 82

10. Timbering in Bad Ground 83

11. Use of Jack-Screw 83

12. Special Shaft Set; 14-in. Timbers 85

13. Square Set. 8-in. Timbers. Plan and Elevation . . 86

14. Square Set. 8-in. Timbers. Elevation and Details 87

15. Split Switch, for Electric Motor Underground . . 90

16. Fixed Switch in Track Underground 91

17. The Santa Inez Vein 125

18. Cross-Section of the Veta Madre 212

19. Cross-Fault of the Veta Madre 213

20. Plan and Sections of the Veta Madre 215

21. Typical Section of the Veta Madre 218

22. Arrangement of Classifiers 233

23. Old Stamp-Mill .248

24 and 25. Arrastre and Pans 249

26 and 27. Retorting the Amalgam 251

xvi

5Ulne5 of itlexlco

(Lfytipl^r \

NEW YORK FROM THE HARBOR - TO MANHATTAN.

A FAREWELL

HE tide was sweeping down the channel as the j Seguranfa left her berth at the Brooklyn wharf and swung into the East river. It was a clear sunny morn- ing early in October and the great harbor of New York looked its very best. To the sound of many whistles our steamship threaded her way among the ferry-boats and barges that congregate where, off Governor's island, the estuary separating Long island from Manhattan meets the waters of the Hudson. As we passed between Fort William and the statue of Liberty, the broken sky-line of New York City stood silhouetted against the sky. There

, AMONG THE MINES OF MEXICO

was jtrst enough smoke to soften the outlines of the , .'serrated pile of lofty buildings, which, like a Titan's •• -stronghold, guard the great waterway. Knowing the manifold activities that have created the island city, I felt the impressiveness, rather than the poetry, of the scene. Even such smoke as came from the tall towers of steel and stone, called, with grim humor, the 'sky-scrapers,' seemed, not the incense rising from a peaceful dwelling, but the murk of battle, the con- fused black fog of complex strife. Despite her higher mental activities and benevolent endeavors. New York, rising proudly by the waters that made her a great seaport, is the expression in stone of a relent- less materialism, a predatory finance, and a reckless luxury of life. Even the statue of Liberty, with her bronze oxidized to green and her guano-crowned head, has the air more of an old woman holding aloft a hot penny to incite a scramble among the awaiting small boys, than of the representative of a freedom long since changed to license.

As the Seguranga turned into mid-channel we could see the dark cafion of Broadway and the series of splendid structures that line its sunless depth. Trinity church is no longer to be seen, it is obscured by a 23-story sky-scraper where congregate daily a group of men capable of running a continent ^and they do their best. The financiers look down upon, and over, the spire of Trinity in more senses than one. When Huxley came to America, in 1876, he, like all visitors, was impressed with the scene pre-

•''■1

NEW YORK HARBOR 3

sented even by the undeveloped New York of that day, and seeing the yellow dome of the World build- ing, which for so long dominated the high roofs of the city, he exclaimed that in approaching the shores of other lands, the first thing to be seen was a church- steeple, but that here, emblematic of the unshackled thought of a new country, the first to catch the eye was the tower of a newspaper. If he had only known for what literary sewage that yellow dome stood sentry, he, though an agnostic, would have longed to see the old-fashioned landmark. Trinity steeple is dwarfed by the Empire building, but, in compensation, the dome of the World building is hidden by several recent monuments to the growth of our steel in- dustry.

As the city is left in our wake, growing dim amid its thin veil of smoke, the brutality of the crowds at Brooklyn bridge, the foul air of the Subway, the merciless sandbagging of Wall street, and the putrid politics of Tammany, are forgotten in the beauty of the harbor and the splendor of its life. Approaching The Narrows, between Staten island and Long island, the white hulls of the battleships at anchor off St. George, the swift passage of a handsome yacht, the slow procession of barges crossing to Brooklyn, the stately sailing ships preparing for a long voyage, and the majestic movement of a huge Atlantic liner coming to port, all emphasize the multiplicity of a throbbing life, the pulsations of which are felt the world over. And so, farewell, thou Empress City of

4 AMONG THE MINES OF MEXICO

the New World, thou hast the respect received by those that have power, and the admiration due to those that are magnificent; if thou dost not win the love awakened by kindly deeds and homely service, thou reckest not. Men may come and men may go, as long as steel is strong and gold is good !

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HAVANA— A CIGAR FACTORY— THE SPANISH CON- QUEST—HERNANDO CORTEZ— THE FIRST SIGHT OF ORIZABA.

I T was four days to Havana.

j The port is guarded by the Morro, a castellated fort stand- ing on a promontory to the left of the entrance. During the late Spanish-American war, Morro

* castle was often busy, but it did

1 no execution until the last day; in fact, after the armistice had been signed at Porto Rico. On that solitary occasion a shell went through the New Orleans, a cruiser, from stern to bow, between decks, killing no one, but playing sad havoc with the officers' quarters. Within the harbor, one is still reminded of the late unpleasantness by the remains of the sunken battleship Maine. The military mast and a portion of the 'strong-backs,' or iron super- structure, project above the water. To them I saw attached a metallic wreath on which was inscribed Memori Missouri, evidently placed there by the men of another battleship. The Maine was blown up on Feb- ruary 16, 1898, and I recollect the stir it made in dis- tant lands, for on that day I happened to be at Cairo, Egypt, where everyone in the Anglo-American col-

6 AMONG THE MINES OF MEXICO

ony confidently accepted the tragedy as the fore- runner of war. There have been many discussions as to the responsibility for the crime, but it is generally accepted among the well-informed that it rests upon the "j^artido revolucionario^ the revolutionary party in Cuba, whose object it was to embroil the United States in war with the Spanish Government. How well they succeeded, all the world knows.

I shall not try to give any account of Cuba, even at second hand, for is it not told, and told well, by Robert T. Hill, whose *Cuba and Porto Rico,' is a monument to his insight and industry. Cuba is a lovely island, about the size of New York State, covered by good soil and possessing a wonderful variety of eco- nomic resources. Only 10 per cent of the island is cultivated; in the valleys of the western hill-country is grown the tobacco that has done so much to soothe mankind, to express the courtesy of the civilized, and to promote the friendship of the thoughtful. Natu- rally, I went to a cigar factory and bought some real Havana cigars on the spot, fresh from the making. In a large room about a hundred men sat in rows before small tables, like school-boys' desks. They were wrapping the tobacco leaf into cigar form. As they worked, a man standing on a stool read to them from the daily paper; he read dramatically and well, the purpose being to keep the workers interested. The proprietors of such establishments encourage this practice, which is general, because the men do not talk while the reading proceeds. When a Span-

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SANITATION AT HAVANA 7

iard talks he uses his hands in gesture, hence he can not employ them in labor; therefore the reading en- courages efficiency. The men pay 10 cents per week from their wages ($3 per day) to the reader, who, in large establishments, makes as much as $125 per month.

Most travelers have spoken of the unhealthiness of Havana, of the dirt and filth that force their contrast with its beauty and color. Whatever criticism may be passed, by an unfriendly historian, on the Ameri- can interference with Cuban affairs, it is certain that the sanitary measures undertaken after the war have wrought wonderful improvement. Garcia, Palma, even Sampson and Schley, were great men, but gfreater than these were George Waring and Leon- ard Wood, who did more for civilization than the leaders of war. And theirs was a contest with dan- gers as g^eat as come to those on the battlefield, for Waring died, the victim of the yellow fever that he alnK)st eradicated.

But Havana interested me most as a link in the story of Spanish conquest. Hernando Cortez, after outfitting at Santiago, called at the port of Havana before starting upon his great quest, on February 10, 1519. His fleet consisted of eleven vessels, more than half of them open brigantines, and the biggest not to be rated at over 100 tons. Thence he went to the coast of Yucatan, making a halt at the island of Cozumel, before proceeding to the mainland of Mexico. He landed at Vera Cruz on April 21. We

8 AMONG THE MINES OF MEXICO

followed nearly in this course, for from Havana we went to Progreso, the port of Merida, which is the chief city of Yucatan, and from there we also went to Vera Cruz as did Cortez on our way to Mexico City. The parallel served to emphasize the differ- ence. Cortez and his buccaneers went through un- charted seas and to a land they knew only by rumor; to them the West was full of an unlocked mystery and the place of untold gold; to us there was keen interest and expectation also, but it was an interest toned by experience and an expectation limited by knowledge. However, even the conquist adores can have had no more discomfort or have used language more picturesque than the passengers of the Seguranfa when we lay off Progreso for three days at the mercy of a 'norther,' or north wind, which pre- vented the captain from unloading his cargo or com- ing to anchor. Progreso is an open roadstead, and when the north wind blows, the lighters that tranship the cargo of the larger steamers are afraid to leave the shelter of the wharf; hence wearisome delays such as ours. And when the sea calmed it was pain- ful to watch the unintelligent manner in which un- loading proceeded. Among other consignments there was one of 40,000 bricks ; the passengers, eager to see the steamer on her way, watching the wretched peones removing this cargo from the hold, suffered with an impatience only to be surpassed by the mor- tification of the consignee, who must have paid heavily for his bricks only to receive them in a badly

MINING IN CUBA 9

battered condition. Don*t ship brick from New York to Yucatan!

Between New York and Vera Cruz we saw no mines; nevertheless, it will be interesting to refer to certain facts of history. The first of these islands (afterward called the West Indies) to be colonized was Hispaniola, subsequently known as Hayti and Santo Domingo. The great admiral, Columbus, had discovered it in 1492 and it was he that named it 'Little Spain.' At Isabella and Santo Domingo were founded the first settlements made by Europeans in the New World. Hispaniola was rich in gold, for the early records make frequent mention of the mines; these were the Buena Ventura placers and other diggings in the Cibao region where the forced labor of natives was employed, often in a cruel man- ner, to wash the gravel. Spanish estimates of the production according to my friend, F. Lynwood Garrison range from $200,000 to a million dollars per annum during the first quarter of the sixteenth century. The chief mining towns were Cotui and La Vega ; as far as can be judged, the gold came chiefly from the erosion of small stringers in the diorite of the Cibao range.

It was the impoverishment of these mines that led to the colonization of Cuba. This island had been named Juana, and then Fernandina, but the Indian name has survived all the Spanish christenings. Cortez was a member of the expedition sent by Velasquez, the governor of Hispaniola, to conquer

10 AMONG THE MINES OF MEXICO

Cuba, in 1511. Subsequently, but before he invaded Mexico, he was one of those that secured an estate there, living on his plantation and introducing some of the first of the cattle that were brought to Cuba. It is interesting to note that Cortez settled at St. Jago, a name since corrupted to Santiago. He is said to have worked for gold within his domain, the deposits promising better than those of Hispaniola. But Cuba never produced much gold; it is true that the first Spaniards found the natives in possession of personal ornaments made of gold, but these repre- sented the metal gathered in small quantity and dur- ing a long period. The extermination of the aborigi- nes prevented their tyrants from learning anything about the source of the metal. Since that day Cuba has won a position as a mineral region, but this is due to her deposits of iron and manganese, together with those of copper, which occur within a few miles of Santiago, where Cortez was alcalde. Across the bay, in the mountains of Cobre, are the ancient mines whence the great conquistador derived both his gold and copper. The development of these deposits has been revived since the Spanish-American war and it is to be hoped that they will become the basis of steady industry.

At last, three days overdue, we arrived within sight of the Mexican mainland. It was a sunny morn- ing, with a breeze raising white caps on the sea and moving masses of cloud from off the dark bank on the western horizon that marked the land of the Aztecs.

FIRST SIGHT OF ORIZABA ii

Clouds obscured the view, mountains loomed to the northward, and among them the gleam of snow; straight ahead the sun shone on the white buildings of Vera Cruz, making a brilliant fringe along the shore. But there was no sight of Orizaba, the vol- canic mountain, 17,356 feet high, which rises from the flats behind Vera Cruz and forms a great land- mark in this part of Mexico. Borrowing a telescope, I could distinguish, over the dancing blue waves, the yellow strand of St. Juan de Ulua and behind it the towers, graceful as campaniles, of the town of Vera Cruz. The white wings of fishing boats came into the picture, and northward forest-clad mountains rose massively, some of their summits crested with snow. But there was no peak of Orizaba. Almost by accident, I shifted the telescope to a higher angle and then, suddenly, in startling beauty, above the clouds, almost in mid-sky, there stood the vision of a glorious mountain, the sun shining on the snow- fields and defining the ravines, a vivid picture, strangely silent, rising above the darkly wooded slopes that in their turn rose from white cumuli, be- low which level lines of heavy cloud served to accen- tuate the loftiness of the peak and also to divide the vision piercing the upper sky from the panorama of sea and shore. It was a delicious moment ; no one on the ship had caught sight of the mountain ; the unex- pectedness of the apparition and the vividness of it intensified the deep delight produced by one of the most glorious pictures that ever awakened an artist

13 AMONG THE MINES OF MEXICO

or inspired a poet. It seemed so high above all meaner things, rising sheer from the sea, the inter- vening flat layers of mist emphasizing the height, while the brilliant sunlight upon the snowfields made it appear closer than the lowlands at the base. In a way, it reminded me of my first view of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, as seen one morning on board ship coming from Tasmania, when the serrated peaks flanked by pine forests rose above the troublous dark green waves following in the wake of a storm. But in that picture there was a series of high crests; here, there was one in solitary grandeur and without a peer. Scenes such as these compensate for the dis- comforts of travel and afford a stock of impressions from which one can draw on dark days and in restful hours, when the memory harks back to the past, as to the refrain of some sweet song.

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VERA CRUZ ON THE MEXICAN RAILWAY TROPICAL VEGETATION— COFFEE PLANTATIONS— AT ORIZABA.

ERA CRUZ is not the dirty city it used to be; the streets are ! cleaner than formerly, and the erection of new wharves and I quays gives the incoming trav- eler an excellent impression. But the back streets and by-ways are not salubrious, nor does the ever present buzzard suggest pleasant imaginings. These hideous carrion birds are seen everywhere, flopping about in the streets, perched on roofs, even dominat- ing telegraph poles ; nay, their foul black shapes ob- scure the blue canopy and desecrate the majesty of Orizaba.

If you arrive in the morning on the way to Mexico City, you can leave Vera Cruz in the afternoon, so as to reach the town of Orizaba by dinner time. In this way, escaping from the coast and going to an altitude of 4,000 feet, the traveler avoids the risk of the calentura, the fever of the tropical lowlands. The journey on the Mexican Railway is one of the won- ders of the world, in respect of scenic beauty and variety of vegetation. At first the train winds

14 AMONG THE MINES OF MEXICO

through sandhills, partly hidden by abundant green, and then over marshy ground; but this is only for ten miles, when the ascent begins, over the lower plains. Sugar and corn appear; then comes a grass country interspersed with scrub and cactus, much like Natal, only the cactus here is in greater variety and instead of anthills the surface is dotted with boulders of dark lava.

The train threads its way through rank grass and past frequent hedges of organ cactus ; the scars made by the railroad, even the steepest banks, are entirely healed with verdure. When the locomotive stopped we heard the broken notes of the orache and there was further confirmation of the plentiful bird-life, already suggested by the nests hanging from trees and woven around the cross-bars of telegraph poles.

At thirty miles from Vera Cruz, near Soledad, the foothills are reached and in this well-watered tract the tropical vegetation is luxuriant in the extreme. The ridges of lava that mark the base of Orizaba are not at all like the Drakensberg, severely bare and drearily rugged, but they are absolutely smothered with rich verdure from foot to crest, and in the canadas or ravines now visible, as the train emerges from successive tunnels, there is a foliage of increas- ing gorgeousness. Between Camaron and Cordoba the botanical wealth of the tropics is lavishly dis- played; nature, stimulated by warmth and moisture, has clothed the earth with splendor. There are the scarlet hibiscus, purple bougainvillea, the lavender

TROPICAL VEGETATION 15

plumbago, crimson oleander, pink azaleas, the yellow and red flags of the coleus, even magnificent orchids, with creepers of every shade of green festooning the forest.

Soon the train passes coffee plantations. The wild undergrowth has been cleared, but the larger trees are left in place, so as to give shade to the coffee shrubs (five to six feet high), which are planted between them. The young coffee shrub is delicate and must be protected from the direct rays of the sun for at least two years; maturity is attained in the fourth year. The plants live 25 years and require compara- tively little care less than sugar, for instance. Speaking of these matters, it may be noted that chocolate is indigenous to Mexico and the word itself comes direct from the Aztec chocolatl^\ nevertheless, Mexico nowadays imports chocolate from Guatemala and Caracas. Shade is imperative for the young coffee plant; in many cases it is cultivated under the protection of banana palms. This is the practice also

'The Aztec language is still spoken by a million people, chiefly in the States of Puebla, Jalisco, and a part of Vera Cruz; it is a semi- flectional language like the Maya in Yucatan. The Otomie is absolutely different from the Aztec; it is monosyllabic and probably older; it is spoken by less than half a million people, chiefly in the States of Hidalgo, Queretaro, and Mexico. Otomie in structure resembles Chinese and, indeed, it has been claimed that the modem Chinese immigrant can make himself understood among the Otomie Indians, but this, so I was told by Don Carlos de Landero, is neither veto nor hen trovato. "It is a niere philolo^cal analogy." However, the peipetuation of these ancient tongues is an interesting fact. Occasionally it is a nuisance, be- cause of the difficulty of transmitting intelligence. At El Oro, for ex- ample, there are a number of men working underground that do not under- stand Spanish or its Mexican variation, and they have to be shown what to do 1^ signs.

i6 AMONG THE MINES OF MEXICO

in Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. It is said that the best coffee in the world comes from the famous Youngar valley, in Brazil, where it is grown in an old ceme- tery under bananas. The yield is only a few quintals per year, but this coffee fetches enormous prices. As a rule the small berries {caracolillo) are preferred, but the Youngar coffee is of large grain. Owing, how- ever, to rankness of verdure, many of the Mexican plantations looked so overgrown as, by reason also of the trees retained for sheltering the coffee, to seem like the bush primeval.

Soon we saw the yellow gleam of oranges and limes amid dark foliage; picturesque hamlets ap- peared, with red-tiled roofs and thatched houses, and white-clad peasants. At the railway stations there was always a crowd of fruit-sellers; bunches of roses and magnificent bouquets of gardenias were purchasable for a song. But the panorama of life and color suf- fered eclipse as the darkness of the tropical night came suddenly, without any intervening twilight. We lost the famous view of the Barranca de Metlac, but even in the dim starlight I made out the outlines of the curved steel bridge, as the train swung round it; there was the gleam of the torrent below, a feel- ing of space and dark void, with the lights of dwell- ings far away.

For the town of