Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000 Page: 14
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Rancher James Stotts has been a driving force in the research
that has been done on his property in Llano County.
worked at a later date,
probably in the late 1800s.
The present investigation has
focused on Spanish Colonial
mining. All mine areas were
carefully mapped and examined
on foot by archeologists.
These initial inspections disclosed
few artifacts and nothing
of early vintage, but a later
metal-detector survey disclosed
two end fragments of a
long, iron, digging tool known as a barra. The barra was used as
both a pick and a lever and was the hand tool of choice at mines
throughout the Spanish Americas. During one of my first visits to
the site, James Stotts found a stone digging tool within a spoil pile
clearly associated with one of the oldest mines. This artifact is
composed of a type of igneous rock found elsewhere in the region,
but not at or near Packsaddle Mountain. The stone was, therefore,
deliberately transported to the site and was shaped and used
for digging. Such stone tools must be very old, probably dating
from the initial period of Spanish mining activity in the area. A
few years before our study, archeologist Dee Ann Story was visiting
the mine area when Stotts found a piece of flint that Story
identified as a possible gunflint. These were used to fire flintlock
muskets and pistols in the late 18th to early 19th centuries. This
small complement of artifacts represents the total recovery of probable
Spanish Colonial material from the site to date, but it corroborates
the view that these mines date from that period.
MINE DESIGN AND
The mines themselves provide additional corroboration of great,
although nonspecific, age. Many of the mines of the Spanish Colonial
period were small, and virtually all were mined by hand.
Explosives generally were not used. Instead, the barra was widely
employed to dig and pry rock manually. The broken rock was then
transported by hand or loaded into carts or onto animals. Manual
transport and loading implies that the fragments were small, yet
not necessarily fine. Loose, finely pulverized rock might be moved
with shovels or buckets, but the effort required to break rock into
fine fragments using hand tools would be excessive. The barra was
most effective for wedging and levering relatively large pieces of
rock. Miners could then use hammers to reduce the freed fragments
to manageable size, but not finer. Waste rock and ore were
Mines at the Stotts Ranch are located in an
area where plausible geological reasons for
mining exist. This part of Texas is known
as the Central Mineral Region, where various...
minerals are present in abundance.
POINT, CLICK AND LEARN...
on the THF website
There's more fun...more information...
and more Texas history at
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then moved to locations of convenience just outside the
mine opening. Extensive mining produced a large quantity
of spoil, which was discarded immediately down slope
from the mine entrance. Mining during this period involved
very limited mechanization. In hard rock, there
was no need to shore the ceilings of small tunnels. If
groundwater was encountered, mining was effectively
prevented from continuing below that level. Although
devices for pumping groundwater from even deep mines
had already been in use in Europe for hundreds of years,
few if any of the mines along the northern Spanish Colonial
frontier made use of them. Most of these mines
were small, irregular, rough-finished tunnels following
veins or stratified ores. Whether the mines incorporated
shafts or adits (vertical and horizontal mines, respectively)
depended on the depth of the workings and the
nature of the rock.
The oldest mines at the Stotts Ranch share many of
the characteristics of traditional Spanish Colonial mines.
All of the oldest Stotts' mines are adits or shallow pits
that did not require mechanized lifting of spoil and ore.
HERITAGE * 14 * FALL 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000, periodical, Autumn 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45391/m1/14/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.