Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/201

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195
THE BENEFICIATING HACIENDAS.

parlor ornaments—and diplomas had been distributed, the hall, which was beautifully decorated, was cleared and an array of brilliant loveliness, such as I have seldom if ever seen elsewhere, was soon mingling with the student-throng in the mazy dances of this land of music and of flowers. As we were to leave for Celaya at 4 o'clock next morning, I was reluctantly compelled to leave the ball-room and return home to get some sleep, and so missed the conclusion of the festivities.

The reduction works, or beneficiating haciendas of Guanajuato and Marfil are worthy of especial attention. One of the best establishments of this character in the district, that of Mr. Parkman—an American long resident in Mexico—was visited by our party who spent some hours in inspecting it. The "mill" or crushing apparatus, is run partly by steam, and partly by water power. It is rude and primitive to the last degree. The stamps work on wooden shafts, and the quartz must be constantly shoveled under them by hand, as there is no provision for self-feeding as with us. There are twenty-nine arastras worked by mule-power to reduce the crushed quartz to pulp. All the rock is "dry crushed," and the process is slow and clumsy in the extreme. But the "amalgamation," as we term it, or "beneficiating," as it is termed here, is the most interesting part of the work. We finish the whole operation in a day, but lose on an average twenty-five to forty per cent, of the silver. In White Pine, where the ores are chlorides and oxides, they lose only four to eight per cent—or a little less than is lost here. The cost of fuel is eight dollars per cord, and steam machinery could be run—if it were not for the difficulty of making repairs—for less than it costs in Washoe, as labor