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ern seizes one, and makes him for a moment | The tanateros are most muscular and the best doubt the prudence of the adventure; but this proportioned of all those engaged in the mine. gradually wears away, and a feeling of curiosity Long practice has inured them to the labor, and succeeds.
a first-rate man will pack 200 pounds up the esWith a stout Mexican to act the part of torch- calaras without stopping to rest. This method bearer, we pass along a damp passage-way, of raising the ore is preferred to any machinery through the arched roof of which the water that has been suggested, as the men supply all trickles, and in the rainy months hangs in drops, that the works can distill, and the cost to the glittering like gems in the light of the candles. company is only in proportion to the amount We next pass down a perpendicular piece of ac- furnished. A large sack or pannier of hide, open commodation, known among the miners as an at the top, is slung to the back, and supported escalera, or ladder, which consists of a notched by a strap passing over the shoulders and around stick of timber some twelve feet in length, an- the forehead. The whole weight is thus supswering to the common “samson-post” in a ported by the muscles of the neck, a method in ship's lower hatchway. This leads to a small which Spanish Americans seem to have great landing-place, from which we gaze down into a faith. black pit, the darkness made visible by the un- Two hundred pounds being the average load, certain flicker of the candles. It is dainty it becomes a matter of pride to preserve the phystreading along the little shelf, where a misstep ical reputation. It is impossible to witness the would send you headlong into some unknown straining nerves and quivering muscles of the chasm, whose depth is indicated by the noises carriers, as they pass slowly up from the depths of the laborers far below, which ever and anon below, without feeling that the heavy breathing come faintly up. A short interval of groping, and painful expression of face is produced by with the peculiar uncertain feeling of not know- such labor as human beings can not long endure. ing whether the next step is likely to be upon Yet they seem cheerful, and as they deposit their solid ground or into emptiness, and we com- burdens into the cars, light their cigarros, and mence the descent of a flight of steps cut into the join in the laugh produced by the jokes of some wall of rock, which leads into a still deeper cave. Joe Miller of the gang. Their dress is confined Here, feeling our way cautiously among loose to a pair of pantaloons with the legs cut off above stones and along craggy sides of the cave, we the knees, and a calico shirt, which is generally follow the glimmering candles, now down a stowed away in some crevice until the day's slippery inclined plane, and again struggling up work is over. A pair of leathern sandals fastthe precipitous.base of some vein of cinnabar, ened at the ankle is sometimes added to the coswhich in its erratic course seems to have shot tume. Flight after flight up perpendicular steps through the solid heart of the mountain, in much these muscular fellows will ascend, winding the zigzag course that a drop of quicksilver would through deep caverns, or threading passages of describe in rolling about the surface of a plate. Egyptian darkness, or, as the openings often lead It is not until the lowest and inner excavations up in following the tortuous windings of the are reached that we realize the labyrinthine in- veins, they may be seen cautiously descending tricacies we have traversed. We are more than the notched logs toward the main entrance; yet 200 feet below the patio and 600 below the sum- it is affirmed that no accident has ever happened. mit of the mountain.
Their course is dimly lighted by the candles For many months after the working of the placed in the niches of the walls. A single mismine was commenced the proprietors labored step would dash the man and his load into the under every difficulty; or, rather, a parsimoni- dismal abyss below; but by constant practice ous spirit and ignorance of the true method to be they attain to a wonderful degree of precision, pursued prevented its development. The system and ascend and descend with all the certainty of adopted was so in accordance with the desultory mules scaling the rocky fastnesses of the South style used in the gold mines of the interior, that American sierras. An efficient tanatero will at one time the under-ground workings, as shown make from twenty to thirty trips a day. Gropby a map exhibiting the subterranean topography, ing about the mine, and following the glimmerhad assumed the appearance of a gigantic rab- ing light which barely illumines the way, we bit warren, extending in innumerable holes and happen upon little groups of the barateros hard crooked windings, like the streets of a city with at work with crow-bars and picks breaking down out system or economical order. A German over the sterile rock. These fellows are, if possible, seer, however, gradually put matters to rights. more scantily clad than their ore-carrying brethAbout 300 persons are employed in the mine. ren. Some may be seen following the serpenThe work was formerly given out to them by tine lead of a vein of cinnabar which has just empresarios or "bosses,” who took the job to de- been found to dip from the horizontal toward liver at the mouth of the mine a certain number the base of the mountain. They have dug themof tons of ore, and, of course, hired their work- selves out of sight, and their half-smothered men at the lowest possible wages. The laborers grunts and exclamations come curiously up from in the mine (barateros) are a distinct fraternity the cave whose length they are slowly extendfrom the ore-carriers (tanateros). Each have their ing. A feeble light glimmers out of the excavarespective calling, and are not willing nor are tion--a cave within a cave. A little farther, and they ever expected to assume each other's places. Iwe find a plank stretched across a narrow chasm upon which two or three swarthy broad-chested of mercury =202.863; or in 100 parts of 12.7 miners are standing, drilling their way into the sulphur and 87.3 mercury. It is the most prolific solid rock above them, where a rich lead has just ore of this metal, and is easily smelted by exbeen found.
posing a mixture of it with iron or lime to a red Long practice has taught them in running heat in retorts. these shafts to leave immense stanchions of the Blasting has been used with great success. ore and native rock as supports to the ceilings. It is found to facilitate the labor of the miners Sometimes in the larger chambers where several fifty per cent., and is attended with no dangergalleries come to a point, the workmen keep a none of the explosive gases which produced Sir fire burning which illumines all the mines in the Humphrey Davy's safety - lamp being known. vicinity, and throws a dull, ruddy glare upon ev- But few who have ever witnessed a heavy ery thing for many yards around. Then the roof “blast” will forget the effect, especially when reveals its millions of lustrous crystallizations, seen for the first time. After the charge is sparkling in ruddy rhomboids and glittering like placed every body retires and awaits the result some magician's cavern of fairy romance. The from behind the supporting pillars of ore, or from effect is heightened by the Cimmerian darkness some secure indentation in the cavern. For a of the neighboring passages deserted for newly- while all is silent, and nothing is heard but the discovered leads.
burning of the fuse. But immediately the cave The ore is the native red sulphuret of mercury, lightens up with a lurid flame, shedding an inwith a specific gravity varying from 6.7 to 8.2. tense glare upon the craggy walls. The moIt has a flat conchoidal fracture, is fine grained, tionless faces of the miners, the damp crystalopaque, and has generally a fine adamantine line sides of the mine, the distant and still darklustre, and a color varying from cochineal to ened excavations, into whose tortuous windings ruby red. There are also red oxyds of iron and the light has not fully penetrated, all appear and silica. The ore averages thirty-six per cent.; disappear in the twinkling of an eye, leaving the a yield which might be considered fabulous but place by contrast in inky blackness, while the for the constant proofs and the facilities which report reverberates and bellows along the pasany scientific person has for detecting an over- sages followed by a shower of stones; for the estimate. In the New Almaden mine the ore blast does not merely open a ledge as in blowing occurs in amorphous masses in pockets and ir- granite, but sends innumerable splinters of rock regular veins. Sometimes surrounded with a and ore far and near. Gradually the accustomed black clay, but oftener incased in a hard sterile light of the candles reveals the impression made, rock or chlorite slate, which it is generally nec- and the workmen return to their duties. No essary to blast to remove. The native cinnabar, accidents have yet resulted from the use of gun. or red sulphuret of mercury, as found in this as powder. well as in most other mines, consists of two When the smoke has ascended through the primes of sulphur = 32.240, combined with one main entrance the splintered fragments are col. lected, and, if too large to be placed in the pan. cars and leveled as it was deposited, has graduniers, or talegos, of the carriers, they are broken ally reached the extent of two acres. Upon into pieces with bars.
this are erected the superintendent's dwelling, It requires several hours to effect a complete mechanics' shops, and sheds for assorting the exploration of the mine. After a chat with one ore as it is dumped by the tanateros. or two of the most obliging of the workmen, and This space is surrounded by mountains exa complimentary obeisance to Our Lady of tending range upon range in every direction. Guadelupe, of whom we shall speak hereafter, Four hundred feet above is the old entrance, alwe ascend to the main shaft and emerge into ready referred to as the point where the abothe light of day.
rigines resorted for cinnabar. Here is another The large level space shown in the engraving, patio, but is now disused. A third entrance is upon which the buildings are erected, stands about to be made at a point much nearer the about a thousand feet above the lower works. base of the mountain in anticipation of required It is formed entirely of the refuse earth and drainage. rock from the mine which, brought out in the At the patio the principal part of the mcehan.
ical labor of the works is performed. Here may man in the Tower of London "puts you through" be seen actively employed blacksmiths, carpen- the curiosities. The constant inquiries made ters, bricklayers, weighers, sifters. The me- by visitors probably oblige those attached to the chanics, who are mostly Americans, receive full works to adopt a certain routine of answers to city wages—from five to seven and the laborers save time. from two to three dollars a day. These last are The space occupied by the hacienda is an fair specimens of the reckless, improvident Span- amphitheatre of some four acres, surrounded ish-American race. With them the only use for with successive ranges of hills rolling up in the money is to get rid of it as quickly as possible. distance into mountains, known as the Santa It is of little consequence how much or little Cruz Range, on the eastern slope of which the they receive. Monte and the other games of inclosure stands. Here is situated a hotel, newcards generally swallow up the week's carn- ly erected by the company for the accommodaings.
tion of visitors to the mine, and might be recomThe ore is prepared at the patio for the works mended but for the outrageous prices demanded. below. The process is expeditious and simple. Competition is out of the question, as, owning After being deposited by the tanateros in the the land for leagues around and refusing to sell, cars it is brought out on the railroad to the line no other can be built within some hours' ride of of sheds designated in the engraving. Here it the general object of interest. The spot seems is deposited in heaps, and attacked by a gang of adapted by nature for this purpose. From the assorters whose business it is to separate the fine porch a natural lawn, terminating at the base of from the coarse ore. The latter is broken in the surrounding hills, which in all directions pieces suitable to the furnace, and after being slope prettily away from the higher mountains cleared of all rock and earthy matter is to be beyond, all wearing the gay spring attire of carted below. The former, in the shape of sift- flowery California, and the ridges crested with ings, is converted into bricks or cakes, like the dark-green upland oak. Farther down apadobes, and after being thoroughly dried are de- pear groves of sycamore and buckeye, and in the posited in one of the store-houses at the lower lowest spots, where several spurs meeting have works. The less muscular of the workmen are formed natural reservoirs, the marshy soil supemployed in assorting and sifting the ore, which is ports tangled copses of wild wood and the bright broken with mallets and hammers, and weighed foliage of the willow. Here one may gather, in as it is received. In the mine there are day and half an hour's ramble, various specimens of wild night gangs constantly at work, though the un- floss, red and purple honey-suckles, creeping in broken darkness would never enable one to dis- endless vines among the rocks; the delicate pale tinguish when daylight ended or commenced. wild rose, which drops to pieces at the nicest atMore than seventy pounds of candles are burned tempt to pluck it; convolvuli, and a flower resemevery twenty-four hours. The operations at the bling the prince's feather,” to which no local patio thus require an additional number of work- name seems to have been assigned. Here, too, men during the day to keep pace with the night grows the sweet-scented laurel, whose leaves gang in the mine.
when crushed emit an odor resembling cinnaLeaving the patio we return by the road al- mon; and lastly, wild gooseberries, which may ready described to “hacienda," or lower works, be gathered in any quantity from the innumerwhere we find the obliging superintendent pre- able bushes forcing their way into light and air pared to answer our legion questions, and with from among the broken rocks. such unfailing alacrity and good-humor that one But our courteous conductor is now ready to suspects he has got the answers by heart, as the explain the operation of the hacienda, and we