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.