As I research the history of the smelter in Ávalos, every day it seems I discover interesting sources. For instance, I began researching Santa Eulalia located in the foothills outside of Chihuahua in the seat of the municipality of Aquiles Serdán. So rich in history and minerals, Santa Eulalia was founded in 1652 by Diego del Castillo, and is one of the oldest settlements in the state of Chihuahua. It was also a vital link in the history of the Ávalos smelter.
During the Revolution, “the Chihuahua smelter was also more fortunate than other plants for the reason that the bulk of its ore supply was obtained from the nearby mines of Santa Eulalia, with which it was connected by privately owned railroad lines of little value in military operations.” (Marcosson, 1949)
There’s so much to write about Santa Eulalia but for this entry I would like to highlight an article in Mining and Scientific Press, Volume 98 dated January 2, 1909, which is just over 100 years old and coincidentally, the year my grandmother Catherine Morris Wilson was born.
“This important group of mines is situated 17 miles southeast from the city of Chihuahua, on a mountain area about eight miles in extent from north to south and six miles from east to west.”
“It is traditional that the mineral deposits of Santa Eulalia were worked by the natives before the Spanish invasion; but they were discovered by the Spaniards about 1591 and first opened about 1703. Official records tell us that the older mines of the camp: the Vieja, Aguada, Santa Rita, Santo Domingo, Parcionera, San Jose, Dolores, and others, yielded an immense tonnage of rich silver ore; this was smelted in primitive adobe furnaces at Santa Eulalia and also at the city of Chihuahua, which owed its early development to these important mines, and at one time supported a population of 70,000, since shrunk to 40,000.”
“The present condition of Santa Eulalia is eminently one of prosperity. In spite of some failures, there are many successes. Whether the ore be high-grade and valuable for its silver content, or low-grade and esteemed for fluxing, it appears to find a ready market. Transportation facilities are excellent. The Chihuahua Mining Co. operates a railway from the outskirts of Chihuahua into the northern and central portions of the district, handling the output of the Santo Domingo, El Potosi, and other mines. The San Toy Mining Co, operating the Galdeano and other properties, transports its ore by a wire-rope tramway to a branch of the Ferrocarril Mineral. The new mines of the eastern part of the district have no railroad connection, but busy strings of burros carrying sacks of ore to the station at Santa Eulalia give proof of productivity. The transportation rates to El Paso are favorable for the shipment of low-grade ore, though some of this goes to the smelter at Torreon. Only a few miles from the camp, on the plain toward Chihuahua, is the new Guggenheim smelter. Labor commands about the same price as at other large camps in Chihuahua, though contractors have learned to make better profits.”
Here’s a link to the original article digitized by Google: Mining and Scientific Press, Volume 98.
If you’re interested in the history of Santa Eulalia before and after the turn of the 20th century, you might enjoy reading the following articles digitized by Google: