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the untold treasures beneath; two beautiful little lakes, only divided by a wide causeway at the southern extremity of the crater, and another embedded among the hills to the westward; hills, (on one of which he stands,) of five hundred feet in height, with bold white heads of rock, surrounding these; and the magnificent Cordillera from the right and left overlooking the whole.
These are the objects that strike the eye of the traveller at his first view. As he rides down the hill, he sees the earth open everywhere with the mouths of mines now abandoned; he is astonished at their number, and feels a sense of insecurity as if the whole might cave in at once and bury him quick, He rides into the narrow, ill-paved streets of the city, and, if he can divert his attention for a moment from the watching of his horse's footsteps, he will observe the motliest population to be met with anywhere out of the dominions of the Sultan. I believe that he may see, in a single ride through the city, men of all nations, and of almost every condition; and if he don't see plenty of drunken people, it will be a marvel.
I was delighted when we turned into the patio of the house of the sub-prefect of the province, Don Jose Mier y Teran, and escaped the rude stare and drunken impertinence of the Indians, thronging the streets, and doors of the grog-shops. This gentleman, whose kindness we had experienced at Tarma, gave us quarters in his house, and pressed us to make ourselves at home, to which his blunt, abrupt, and evidently sincere manners particularly invited.
After a wash, to which the coldness of the weather and the water by no means invited, I put on my uniform in honor of the day, and went
I out to see Mr. Jump, director of the machinery, and Mr. Fletcher, an employé of the Gremio, (Board of Miners,) to whom I brought letters of introduction from Lima. These gentlemen received me with great cordiality. Mr. Jump offered me a room in his house, and Mr. Fletcher handed me a number of letters from friends at home, at Lima, and at Santiago. These letters were cordial medicines to me; I had arrived cold, sick, and dispirited, and but for them should have passed the first night of mental and physical suffering that I had been called upon to endure since leaving Lima.
July 6.—Rain nearly all night; I was cold and sick, and sat by the fire all day, trying to keep myself warm. The houses in Cerro Pasco are generally built of stones and mud, and covered in with tiles or straw; most of them have grates, with mud chimneys, and are plentifully supplied with good coal, both bituminous and hard. Mier says that if the
place owes nothing else to the Pasco Peruvian Company, it owes it (at least) a debt of gratitude for the introduction of the grates. I found, however, very
little comfort in them; for the houses are so open about the doors and windows, that while my toes were burning, my back was freezing ; and one has to be constantly twisting round, like a roasting turkey, to get anythitty of their benefit. My companion, Ijurra, whose fathers were rich miners and powerful men in these parts, had many visitors. The talk of the company was of nothing but the mines, and incessant was the complaining (which I have heard elsewhere) of the miseries and uncertainties of the miner's life. All seem to agree that it is a sort of gambling, in which most lose; but there is the same sort of feverish infatuation in it that there is in gaming with cards, and the unlucky player cannot but persevere, in the hope that the luck will change, and that the boya, (striking the rich vein,) like "the bullets and bragger oldest,” will come at last.
I went out with Mr. Jump to look at the town. It is a most curious looking place, entirely honey-combed, and having the mouths of mines (some two or three yards in diameter) gaping everywhere. From the top of the hill called Sta. Catalina, the best view is obtained of the whole. Vast pits, called “ Tajos," surround this hill, from which many millions of silver have been taken; and the miners are still burrowing, like so many rabbits, in their bottoms and sides. I estimate that the tajo of Sta. Rosa is six hundred yards long, by four hundred broad and sixty deep; those of the “Descubridora” and are about half as large. The hill of Sta. Catalina is penetrated in every direction; and I should not be surprised if it were to cave in any day, and bury many in its ruins. The falling in of mines is of frequent occurrence; that of “Mata-gente” (kill people) caved in years ago, and buried three hundred persons; and four days ago a mine fell in and buried five; four have been recovered, bnt one is still incarcerated, and the people are now hard at work for him. We visited a machine-shop, and the hacienda for grinding ores by steam, that Mr. Jump is erecting near the city. I should think the hacienda would be a good speculation; for the ores, which have now to be transported on the backs of mules and llamas for a distance of four, five, or six miles to the haciendas, may be taken to this by a railroad in a few minutes; and Mr. Jump believes that he shall have water enough for his boilers all the year; whereas the other haciendas cannot grind for more than three parts of the year. The cost of the machinery, which is cast in England, in parts equal to a mule-load, and transported from Lima on the backs of these animals; the pay of machine and
engine drivers; the digging of ditches for the supply of water; fuel; and all such expenses to which the other haciendas are not subject, I could not well calculate.
Mr. Fletcher, who has lived a long time in Cerro Pasco, says that a purchaser of the ores (making sure of his "guias” or experiments on the yield of the ore) can count his gains as easily and certainly as he can the dollars in his pocket; that those men who lose are either the lazy and the careless, or the speculators and lookers after rich ores, to make a fortune at once. The most common and easily obtained ores here are called “cascajos." They do not require roasting, as do the ores at Párac; but otherwise the silver is got out in the same manner as I have described it to be at that place. Instead, however, of the ground ore being placed in small piles, and, after being mixed with salt and mercury, trodden with the feet, and worked with hoes as it is at Párac, a large quantity is placed in a circular enclosure, with a stone floor and mud wall, and it is trodden with horses (as we used in old times to “tread wheat” in Virginia) until the amalgamation is completed. The general yield of the cascajos is six marks to the caxon. Their cost, according to the hardness of the rock in which they are enclosed, or their distance from the surface, is from six to sixteen dollars. Here is a calculation to show that, even at their highest price, of sixteen dollars, (being assured by the guia that the caxon will yield six marks,) their working, or benificiation, as it is called here, will pay. The complete amalgamation in the “circo," or circle, requires from forty to fifty days. Dr. Circo of six caxones, a $16 caxon
$96 00 150 mule loads, (transportation to the hacienda,) a 25
cents Grinding, a $10
60 00 Magistral, (calcined iron pyrites,) 1 arroba
1 00 40 arrobas of salt, a 50 cents
20 00 5 tramplings by horses, a $5
25 00 Working and washing the amalgam
11 50 Loss of 35 lbs. quicksilver, a $1
Cr. 6 caxones, at 6 marks caxon, 36 marks. (Mark is worth
in Cerro Pasco $8 50)
I had this statement from Mr. Jump. I did not examine it at the time, but I observed afterwards that there is no charge for driving off the mercury of the amalgam, and leaving the pure silver, which is worth eight dollars and fifty cents the mark. This would amount to six dollars more, leaving the profit to the purchaser, for the two months that he has been engaged in getting his silver, but fourteen dollars. This, of course, is but a poor business; for, though any quantity of the ore may be purchased, there are not haciendas enough to grind, or circos to amalgamate, a sufficient quantity to make the speculation good; and thus many millions of this ore are left unworked. The ore, however, rarely costs sixteen dollars, and will frequently give seven or eight marks to the caxon.
Statement showing the cost of a mark of silver placed on board ship for exportation : Cost of a mark of piña in the Cerro
- $8 50 Im post for steam machines for pumping water from the mines. (This has been 124 cents, and soon will be 50 cents)
25 Socabon (or great drain) duty
124 Public works
61 Government or export duty
50 Mineral tribunal duty
12} Loss in running the piña into bars
121 Carriage to Lima, and other petty expenses
61 Profit of the purchaser in the Cerro
Twelve dwts. is the standard of pure silver in the mint at Lima. All the bars that go from this place are marked 11.22. They are assayed in Lima. If they come up to that standard they are worth $8.6746 the mark. For every grain under this 11.22 there is a deduction in the price of .0303 of a dollar.
To-day there was a meeting of the gremio, to take into consideration a question that had arisen whether the contractors for putting up the steam machinery for draining the mines had fulfilled their part of the contract. A short history of the draining of these mines may not be uninteresting, and will at all events put persons on their guard how they make contracts with miners.
The mines of Cerro Pasco were discovered in 1630, by an Indian making a fire on some stones and observing melted silver. They were worked, with little or no drainage, and with great success, up to the to pump
year 1780, when the socabon (or drain) of San Judas was commenced. This is a great ditch of five and a half feet in breadth and six feet ten inches in height, which drains the mines into the lake of San Judas. Its length is about thirty-five hundred feet, and it cost one hundred thousand dollars. It was finished in 1800. This would drain, by percolation, all the mines above it. For those below it, it was necessary
the water up by hand. This was found so inefficient a means, (the socabon also not being sufficiently large, that in 1806 the gremio commenced the construction of the socabon of Quiulacocha, eightyeight feet below that of San Judas, six feet ten inches broad, and eight feet three inches high. The work is continued upon it to this day. The part that I saw is arched, well walled with solid masonry, and the water rushes through it like a small river. Many lumbreras, or light holes, are sunk down upon it in various directions to give light and air, and to carry into the socabon the drainage of the neighboring mines.
In 1816, the gremio contracted with two Spaniards, Abadia and Arismendi, for the drainage of the mines by steam machinery. These persons put up three steam machines for working pumps, and the results were very happy, the ores being found much richer the farther down the mines reached. The war of independence broke them up; their miners being taken away for soldiers, and their machines used up for horse-shoes.
In 1825, an English company, styling itself the “ Pasco Peruvian," undertook the drainage. This company contracted to be paid in ores, which they were to beneficiate themselves. They were never fairly paid. They employed English officials and operatives at high salaries; and after having dug one hundred and ten feet, at a cost of forty thousand dollars, between September, 1825, and January, 1827, they failed. The government then took it up, and gave two thousand dollars monthly towards the work, the miners also taxing themselves twelve and a half cents on the mark of silver obtained. Rivero took charge of the work, and from the first of June, 1827, to the first of January, 1828, he perforated one hundred and twenty-two feet in the socabon, the workmen finding powder and candles, and he supplying tools. In an official statement, afterwards made by Rivero, he shows that to excavate a vara cost him eighty-six dollars, while it cost the Pasco Peruvian Company one thousand dollars; though he says that in the lumbrera of Sta. Rosa the Pasco Peruvian Company found the rock so hard that twelve men could not perforate more than half a vara a month. The socabon at present is eight thousand two hundred and fifty feet long, and three hundred feet below the surface. About a million of dollars have been spent upon it, though it is said it has not really cost so much.