Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000 Page: 35
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(Los Almagres Mines, continued from page 15)
GEOLOGICAL CONTEXT AND
EVIDENCE OF MINERALIZATION
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 metallic
and nonmetallic minerals are present in abundance. The particular
rock types exposed at the ranch are potential sources or
hosts for precious metals. Accumulations of iron minerals are
often reliable indicators of rich ores, and the prospectors who
opened the mines at Packsaddle Mountain clearly recognized
this fact. The mines follow fractures and a conspicuous, metalrich
zone along a geological contact between two different rock
types. Modern chemical assays do not, however, confirm that
silver or other valuable materials are present in economically
significant quantities. Were richer ores mined out entirely in
years gone by, leaving no trace today? Or do the mines represent
the results of deliberate, but unsuccessful, mining efforts
at a time when assays were difficult to obtain? Regardless of
whether valuable ore was ever recovered, there appears to have
been ample geological evidence of mineralization to justify legitimate
prospecting efforts. This fact may eliminate the possibility
that the mining was undertaken as part of a fraudulent
effort to lure investors, such as might have been the case in
The 300-year history of Spanish colonialism in Texas is the
foundation upon which virtually every institution in the state
now stands. Texas operated under Spanish Colonial rule for
half again longer than the entire history of the United States.
Yet, despite the survival of many valid historical accounts, oral
traditions, and even the mines themselves, late 17th through
early 19th century mining in Texas was largely forgotten and is
now generally relegated to the province of legend.
History and legend collided along the northern Spanish Colonial
frontier. The hope and sweat of miners and treasure hunters
engendered a bawdy mix of truth never quite measuring up
to hope, and fable never quite measuring up to truth. By the
end of the Colonial period, Los Almagres may have become a
mining district in which several mines were opened and operated,
at least sporadically. Whether the Stotts mines are, in
fact, the actual mines described by Miranda may never be known
with certainty, but they appear to be the right age and more
closely match Miranda's descriptions than do any other mines
in the region. There is substantial evidence to support a preliminary
conclusion that the oldest mines at the Stotts ranch
are the Los Almagres mines. With the ongoing support of the
Texas Historical Foundation, work to refine this interpretation
will continue in the coming months.
* A report on this mission was published in 1995 by the Texas Historical
Foundation and Texas Tech University. The report, "The
Rediscovery of Santa Cruz de San Saba, a Mission for the Apaches
in Spanish Texas," by V.K. Hindes, M.R. Wolf, G.D. Hall, and K.K.
Gilmore, is available from THF for $15.00 plus $3.50 shipping.
Author's Acknowledgements: This project could not have been
undertaken without the support of the Texas Historical Foundation,
its Board of Directors and members, and the personal involvement
of its executive director, Oliver Franklin. Landowner James
Stotts, the Stotts family, and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Wallace are to be
commended for their generosity in permitting access to the Stotts
Ranch, for sharing their experiences and insights, and for working
tirelessly, in the face of official skepticism, to ensure recognition of
an important historical site. Members of the investigative team
include Robert Burnett, Mark Helper, Richard Kyle, Ron Ralph,
Francisca Ramirez Sorensen, Robert Ricklis, and Solveig Turpin,
with special contributions by Robert Baumgardner, Ellen Brady, and
Homer Milford. These individuals and more than 100 unnamed
volunteers provided both their energy and expertise. A complex,
multidisciplinary project of this kind can impose a special organizational
burden, but the professionalism of each of the team members
made this effort simple.
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