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Lost Mines of Pozos
Gold mines, silver mines, great treasure, these were the engines that drove the colonization of Mexico by Spain. The mines at Guanajuato were and continue to be the richest silver mines in the world. The central mountains of Mexico are laced with mines. Many are still in production, but some are lost to time.
Near San Miguel de Allende, about 30 minutes by car, is the ghost town, Pozos. It was known for its mines, now closed.
It is not truly a ghost town. Several hundred people still live there, including a few expatriates who are brave enough to live pretty much in isolation, away from their fellow countrymen. But, at one time, Pozos was home to many thousands and there are blocks and blocks of closed and abandoned buildings. Except for the main road through the town center, there is rarely any traffic. The main road has an occassional pickup truck or rural bus pass through. It may not be a true ghost town but it feels like one.
In the center of town, next to the Plaza, is a boutique hotel with a nice restaurant. It is in a renovated residence and is really quite nice. It was built about ten years ago by a woman who moved into Pozos from the US. The restaurant and hotel have attracted people to the town and are Pozos’ main industry. The woman who started them now owns most of the downtown.
Jeanette and I have gone there several times for a leisurely lunch. Sometimes we have gone alone. Sometimes we have taken friends. The last time Jeanette’s cousin, Peter, came with us.
Each time we have gone we have heard about the mines. Always, someone would offer to be our guide and take us to them. I never wanted to go. The idea of going into some old shaft, dark and damp, never appealed to me. But, the last time we were there the group decided we might as well see them. There was nothing else happening.
Our guide rode with us up a winding rutted dirt road about three miles until we came upon this gigantic ruin. I was astonished. It was enormous.
Before us loomed what remained of a large industrial complex. The guide referred to this as a Hacienda. It had been a mine and the mine processing center.
As a point of reference, notice the dark door opening at the ground level near the left of the building. It is about 10 feet tall. And from where the photo was taken, the building extended to the right and to the left and behind me, with a central yard full of chemical processing vats.
In the Hacienda the ore was mined and then pulverized and treated in a succession of chemical vats to purify it before it was smelted into ingots of pure silver.
The guide explained that the mines operated through the 1800’s and into the 1920’s. When the economy collapsed worldwide the mine owners closed the mines. Then, the following year they removed the machinery that ran the mine processing and left the mines closed. Little by little, the people came and removed anything of value: doors, windows, roof tiles, beams, anything. Now what remains are shells of the Hacienda, hulking ruins.
What I found equally astounding was the fact that on these hills above Pozos are about 60 of these Hacienda complexes, all abandoned and in ruins.
So, if you find yourself in Mexico, go off the well-travelled path and explore. You may marvel at what you find.
As an aside
When I am in Mexico I work on paintings. Here are some from San Miguel de Allende. They would like a good home.
More to come
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