Thursday, August 30, 2012

Big Bend's Mariscal Mine

There's a place on Big Bend National Park's rugged River Road that offers a peek at a early mining operations in the area.  The discovery of cinnabar--a bright red mercury ore--in 1900 encouraged several mining operations over the next few years.  The need for mercury in the First World War led to the building of Mariscal Mine.
From the park's webpage on the Mine:
"Mercury or "quicksilver," as it is known commercially, is the only metal that appears in liquid form at ordinary temperatures. Centuries of use as an amalgam to process precious metals, a detonator for explosives, an electrical conductor, and an agent for dental and medical preparations, made the enigmatic metal a highly valued commodity. While California was the first United States producer of mercury beginning in 1824, the industry advanced to West Texas by the end of the 1800s. From 1900 to 1930, the Terlingua Mining District, which borders present Big Bend National Park on the west, accounted for approximately one-third of the total U.S. output."

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