Message #344: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: New Mexico's Hard-Rock Mines Date: Sun, 14 Sep 1997 10:11:07 -0700 From: Neal Ackerly Dos Rios Consultants, Inc., with funding provided by the National Park Service and administered by the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, has completed a state-wide overview of New Mexico's hard-rock mines. The report goals were twofold. First, the report provides researchers and land managers with a broad historic context suitable for assessing the historic significance of mining properties across the state. Second, the report identifies types of mining properties based on analyses of about 3,000 known mines, and contains priorities and guidelines for managing historic hard-rock mining properties. Mining, ranching, and agriculture are the triad supporting New Mexico's economy. It is perhaps surprising, then, that mining on a large scale appears so late in the state's history. Although Native Americans mined turquoise prior to European contact, Spanish accounts suggest rather desultory mining through most of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. This lack of development was due to Indian hostilities and a simple lack of the technology needed to profitably exploit the region's ores. Gold and silver strikes in the 1860s and '70s brought the territory more notoriety, but the boom rapidly became a bust with passage in 1873 of the "Coinage Act" which excluded the minting of silver dollars. The Panic of 1893, caused in part by the demonitization of silver, effectively closed most of the territory's silver mines, although some hung on for decades hoping that silver would once again become important. By 1900, most mining had shifted away from precious metals and toward commodity metals such as copper, lead, zinc, and iron. The demand for these metals waxed and waned with national and international events. Demand increased with the outbreak of World War I, collapsed during the Depression years, rebounded again with the outbreak of World War II, and diminished during the immediate post-war years. As a result, New Mexico's backcountry is littered with the remains of mines whose ores played out and mining camps whose stone foundations and sprung floorboards echo dreams that never were. The earliest of these mines date to the period immediately after the Reconquest (1692) and the latest contain tattered remnants of black-bordered newspapers announcing Kennedy's assasination. By far, however, the majority date to the period between 1880 and 1930. The report consists of five chapters and is limited to a consideration of the role of hard-rock mines in New Mexico. These chapters focus on the advent and character of mining in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century (Chapter 2), regional, national and international factors causing delays in the appearance of mines, as well as fluctuations in the production of precious and commodity metals (Chapter 3), the appearance and impact of technological innovations in the mining industry (Chapter 4), and county-specific summaries of the development of mining across the state (Chapter 5). This latter chapter emphasizes dates when mines were first established, the early and subsequent character of mining operations over time, and the occurrence of various mining-related features at individual properties. This narrative is augmented by large numbers of period photographs, most obtained from the files of the United States Geological Survey. The final chapter (Chapter 6) presents strategies for identifying and managing historically significant hard-rock mining properties across the state. Copies of the report are available from the Historic Preservation Division, 228 E. Palace Ave., Santa Fe, NM 87501 or by calling Dr. Glenna Dean at (505) 827-3989. Enclose a check made out to the Historic Preservation Division in the amount of $45.55 to cover the costs of xerography, binding, and mailing.