Treasure of the Round Rock Rest Stop

Written by: Paco de Otromé Jico

Chuy the lobster diver arrived unexpectedly at our Whalecamp house one afternoon in November 2000.  His friend Urbano accompanied him.  Chuy and I stood around one of my Sea of Cortés maps and chatted about the locations of seamounts we had discovered.  Chuy wanted to dive on them.  Urbano stared at the map, but said almost nothing during that first visit.

Several days passed, and then Chuy and Urbano again came to the Whalecamp.  A more talkative Urbano remarked that we must be good with maps and secret places, and he mentioned that he had some papers he would like to show us.  We agreed to have a look at his documents.

A week or so later, Urbano arrived alone and unexpectedly.  He brought two documents.  One was a worn, soiled, seven-page document originally handwritten eight years previously in a spiral notebook.  He told that the document had been copied from an original manuscript that was handwritten on a large piece of paper like “cigarette paper.”  Urbano said that the person who had copied the “cigarette paper” manuscript had died three years after copying it.  The second document brought by Urbano was a typed copy of the spiral notebook manuscript.

In summary, Urbano’s chain of possession began with the original manuscript handwritten on “cigarette paper,” a copy of that manuscript handwritten into a spiral notebook, and the spiral notebook copy typed onto plain white paper.  Urbano showed us the spiral notebook copy and the typed copy.  He claimed that the original “cigarette paper” document was in pieces amongst his possessions in Navojoa. 

Urbano told that the documents describe where gold bars are buried.  He wanted to go look for them.  He needed transportation and a metal detector.  He claimed to know exactly where to look.

We carried his documents to a papeleria and made two copies, one for him, one for us.  Then we went to his choza.  There, in the sand, he sketched a map of where the gold is buried.  We told him that we would first translate the handwritten, spiral notebook copy into English.  The coming Sunday at noon we would meet again.


Handwritten Manuscript


Translation of the Manuscript

I am Ángel María Peres Samora, a native of the mining district of Jesús María, Chihuahua.  My first 25 years of age I dedicated to a rustic life in the campo.  I was born in 1867, and when I had completed 28 years, it was 1895, and I was named policeman on a squad to guard the caravans that left the mining district of Jesús María, with a destination of Real de Los Alamos, Sonora.  These caravans  varied between six, eight, and ten loaded mules, carrying bars of gold and of silver founded in the same mining district and containing a weight of 34 1/2 kilos each one.  The squad that guarded the mules on their trip was composed of eight mounted men heavily armed, plus an armed mule teamster for each mule.  At Real de Los Alamos, Sonora was the house of money where this gold and silver was coined in order that as such it be returned to the mining district.  Since 1893 had been interned in the sierra dividing the states a bandolero nicknamed El Manos Pintas (Spotted Hands).  This audacious assailant captained a gang of riflemen that were dedicated to rob the caravans that went in as well as the ones that came out.  In the year 1896, in the month of May, we were assaulted by this bandolero in a place called Puerto de la Loza.  He killed six of our men and took all the caravan that was made of seven mules, four loaded with gold and three with silver.  After this we changed the route to cross the sierra more to the north, by a road that descended to Los Algodones by a cuesta blanca.  Now I happen to tell you what is of interest to me and to you also.  The day 10th of March of 1898, we crossed the state line with a caravan of eight mules.  Four with gold and four with silver.  About 3000 varas (9,000 feet, 1.7 miles) from the stateline is a spot called La Piedra Bola (Round Rock).  At this place we always napped or slept.  On this occasion there we were napping at noon when the lookout warned us of danger from behind us.  As the lookout repeated his signal the enemy gathered above us.  Our chief arranged us to fight the enemy, and the mule teamsters buried the cargo and continued along the road with the mules empty in order that in case they were overtaken to fool Manos Pintas into believing that we went with cargo to Real de Los Alamos, or that in case the assailants had a large group hidden below that could defeat us. I stayed behind, wounded by two bullets, one in the thigh, and the other in the stomach.  I confused the assailants by pretending death.  The mule teamsters waited for us at Los Algodones at the foot of the cuesta.  After the fight, Manos Pintas continued to believe that the cargo was with the mules, and in the night he attacked by surprise killing everyone.  I dragged myself up to the highest rocks.  There I passed the night.  The following morning I could observe the return of the assailants without the cargo.  As some of our horses had remained, I was able to mount one.  I went to inspect the spot and I could observe that the mule teamsters had left almost uncovered all the cargo.  And to conceal it a little they had put a fire on top of it.  For this reason the assailants did not realize that it was there. 

I picked the ground with a sword, and I could easily feel the buried bars, and I realized that they had no more than dos cuartas of soil on top of them.  I returned to the mining district, and only with much hardship could I arrive.  There I told all to the Chief of the company.  But I said that I no longer knew where the cargo remained.  On the road I had thought that if God lended me life I could be the owner of this treasure.  And it was for this reason that I told the company that Manos Pintas had taken the cargo like he had the other time at El Puerto de la Loza.  I no longer wanted to belong to the squad and when I had recovered I entered the work of dynamite hole digger in one of the mines.  Seeing that I alone could not go for what was buried, I began to talk in confidence with a companion that worked at the same mine with me.  One day there was a collapse inside the mine.  Eight men died and my friend was one of these.  I went on taking life, but I was all broken.  I recovered, but now I stayed paralyzed forever.  I have told this to others, and I said to them that if they carry me on a stretcher to this place, that I give to them the treasure, but they say it will carry me to my death, and no wants to do it.  One thing is that they are afraid of the company, and another is that from Jesús María to the place is six days of road, and it is a lot for them to carry me in their arms for six days of travel.  And in truth, it is very difficult to do this without feeling.  Seeing myself without hope of going to this place, I write this legend so that someday it arrives to the hands of some person that is familiar with this place to bring out this treasure, and to give to he that goes the following signs.  Go to the port of Los Alamillos that is right on the state line, and continue to Sonora by descending and by skirting until arriving at the foot of a cuesticita that climbs to where you can see the rancho of Los Algodones at the bottom, and also you can see in the distance the little sierra of Real de Los Alamos.  At the foot of this cuesticita is the spot of the round rock.  The cargo is buried right in the road in the piece of land that forms just above where two canyons join, about 15 varas (45 feet) from where the two canyons join.  It is easy because it is less than three quarters deep and is in a field where the bars were placed side by side to prevent them from forming a bulk.  The person who finds the treasure must come to the cemetery of Jesús María.  If he does not find my tomb, he should make one with a tombstone in my name and say four solemn masses.  The collapse of the mine that crushed me happened on the day 24 September 1898.  And today is 10 January 1899.  All this happened in the course of ten months and already I see myself without hope in this life, but that which I swear is that to the company I never told these things.  Goodbye forever these roads I walked.  Goodbye treasure of my keeping.  Mining District of Jesus Maria, Chihuahua.  January 10, 1899.  Ángel María Perez Samora.

Description and Comments Pertaining to the Document

The handwriting of the spiral notebook document is clear, sharp, and clean, almost certainly scripted by an educated person.  Only three scratch-outs are present, suggesting that it was copied from something easy to read, such as a typewritten book.  The manuscript appears as something a Mexican student would copy into their cuaderno, their spiral notebook.  Such copying is common in Mexico and is encouraged in school.  The likelihood of it being copied from an old “cigarette paper” manuscript seemed slim.

However, favoring an old manuscript is the observation that sentences do not begin with capital letters, that punctuation is absent, and that proper nouns are not capitalized.  These are signs of old Spanish manuscripts.  Also favoring old Spanish is that the letters “b” and “v” are often confused, as are the letters “s” and “z,” as well as “h” and “i.”  An example of this is Peres in the first sentence, and Perez  in the final sentence.  Contradictions include reporting dos cuartas (two quarters of a meter) of dirt covering the gold, but later described as tres cuartas (three quarters of a meter).

Also favoring old Spanish are the syntax and the actual words.  Syntax, that is, placement or arrangement of words in a sentence, is different than that of today.  Some of the words are unknown and not in a modern Spanish dictionary.  Other words, such as acordada, conducta, and barretero are certainly words common to the time of the alleged incident.  The measurement of a vara is consistent with the time the document was alleged to have been written.

Conversation with Urbano after Translation

Urbano was outside his choza working on his bicycle when we arrived on Sunday.  At his insistence we moved into the privacy of his choza to talk.  We sat with his saddle and diving gear and a picture of his sister who lives in Albuquerque.  We quizzed him about exactly how he had come to have the letter from Peres.

“I used to be a miner.  Here is my work card with my picture on it.  About eight or nine years ago, I was working in the mountains of Chihuahua and had been around a group of Indian’s houses for some time. 

“One day one of them told me that he had a gift for me.  I thought it would be a goat or something to eat.  Instead he took me to a small cave where he brought out a large earthen jar.  Inside was stuck the papel arroz document.”

I motioned for him to pause.  “¿Que es papel arroz?”  He explained that it was the cigarette paper, which he began to call rice paper.

“The rice paper was all folded and doubled and was falling apart if opened.  We carried the paper to the house of the Indian.  Later another Indian came, an old man, and over a two-day period he copied into a cuaderno what was written on the rice paper.  The old Indian had been to school in Chihuahua and knew to write.  I stayed in the area for another six months.  During that time the Indians told me how to find Cuesta Blanca and Los Algodones.

“After leaving the area, I returned to Navojoa.  My woman was there.  I told a friend of mine about the letter and the gold and we decided to go look for it.  We went to Alamos and then headed for Cuesta Blanca.  We had no car and we walked.  It was a long hard walk and my friend’s feet began to swell and bleed.  My feet also became very sore.  We had hoped for a ride, but no one came by.  It was late when we reached Cuesta Blanca.  My friend could not go farther, so I alone descended to the paraje.  I found it to be exactly like the rice paper reported.  I verified the location by climbing to look down on Los Algodones.  Then I returned in the darkness to Cuesta Blanca and spent the night.

“The next morning my friend was in pain and he refused to go any farther, so we decided to return to Alamos rather than go look for the gold.  From Alamos I returned to Navojoa.  A while later I had problems with the woman and I moved to Kino.  That was six years ago.  I have not been back to look for the gold.  I know that the old Indian who copied from the rice paper has died.”

We asked Urbano to explain to us again where the gold was buried.  I took notes while he spoke.

“Descend down from Los Alamillos by first a straight drop and then by skirting around the flanks of the mountain… At the bottom, the trail crosses a piece of land that is relatively flat and sandy and bounded by arroyos on each side… This flat spot is the place where travelers rest… Just downslope from where the trail crosses the flat spot is the junction of the two small arroyos… Coming from Los Alamillos the trail crosses the first arroyo, then comes onto the flat sandy land for about ten meters, and then crosses the second arroyo… After crossing the second arroyo is where the small climb begins… If you make the climb, you will arrive where you can see the rancho of Los Algodones below you and where you can see the mountains at Alamos in the distance… The round rock is at the foot of the climb at the second arroyo… The gold is buried in the “pie-slice” shape of land between the two arroyos… From where the two arroyos join, the gold is buried about 15 varas upslope… It is buried right in the road… The distance between the two arroyos is about ten meters where the road crosses them… The gold bars were laid out side by side so as to make them flat so that they would not make a pile that could be seen… Then they were covered with less than 3/4 meter of soil…” 

We told Urbano that we were confused about the road from Alamos to Cuesta Blanca.  He explained that Cuesta Blanca is the same place as Los Alamillos.  He says that a vehicle road goes from Alamos to Los Alamillos, and that this vehicle road is not the same road as the mule trail to Los Algodones.  The car road passes through San Bernardo and Rancho Animas before reaching Los Alamillos.

Urbano explained that the paraje is a grove of pine trees and grass and is very cool and fresh.  The arroyos are small, less than ten feet wide.  The soil in the paraje is firm and held tightly by the grass there.  He does not believe that it would wash away and leave the gold exposed.

Afterwards, on our way back to the Whalecamp, I thought about an old man scripting the spiral notebook manuscript.  It didn’t look like old man writing.  It looked like young student writing.

Conversation with Urbano after Creating a First Map

Using the description rendered by Urbano, I generated a map of the region.  By so doing, I added to my skepticism of the story.  Nevertheless, with map in hand, I visited again with Urbano.

Together we studied my first draft of the map.  He corrected it and added to it.  He told that the round rock is not just one rock, but rather several rocks that are found not at the paraje but rather along the trail as one climbs up toward the vista from which one can see Los Algodones below.  At the paraje itself are small round rocks and a couple of rocks that look like big chairs.

I said to Urbano, “We need to see the original ‘papel arroz’ upon which was written the original letter written by Peres.” 

He answered, “It was in Navojoa, but it may not be there now.  I came to Kino six years ago.  I had trouble with a woman there.  She is still in Navajoa, but she may have thrown away my things.  I had the original papel arroz (rice paper) and also the cuaderno (notebook) upon which was written what was on the papel arroz.“

I continued to press him.  “How do we know that this story on the rice paper is not copied from a novela?”  Urbano dismissed this as unlikely by asking why would Peres do that.

Again I pressed.  “How do we know that Peres did not return for the gold?  He wrote the letter in 1899.  When did he die?”

Urbano responded, “The Indian claimed Peres lived only a short time after writing the rice paper letter.  He was paralyzed and could not go for the gold.“

More pressing.  “How did the Indian get the rice paper?  It is not common paper.”  Urbano did not know.

1st Plan of Action

After that meeting, I was convinced that, in his own mind, Urbano himself believes that the story is true.  Despite our pressing, he never budged as to the authenticity of the document.  Not quite ready to abandon the hunt, I produced a plan of action.

First, travel to Hermosillo.  Purchase any topographic maps available at INEGI.  Then visit the library at the University of Sonora and examine any old topographic maps they might have, and while there, search for any historical mining records.  Also search for anything that would provide credibility of Urbano’s story, such as, evidence that Jesús María really existed.

Second, based on what I learn at the library, create a revised map centered on the Peres letter, on topographic maps, and on the description provided by Urbano.

Finally, if the story holds up, consider a trip to Navojoa to see the original rice paper document, if it still exists.  If the story continues to hold up, consider a trip to Alamos to see what we can learn there.

Topographic Maps and the University of Sonora Library

I visited Hermosillo in December 2000.  Five topographic maps were found and purchased at INEGI, the most important being G12B27 Guajaray.  The names Los Algodones and Las Animas are on this map.  There are no such names as Cuesta Blanca or Alamillos.  A road is shown connecting San Bernardo, Los Algodones and Las Animas.  The road continues northward from Las Animas.  The topographic map of Ocampo and environs shows it to be a mining area. 

          In order to best study the G12B27 Guajaray topographic map compliled in 1982, I colored it.   Of compelling interest, the map showed a landform named Mesa el Piedrero, roughly translated as a mesa of small, loose rocks, perhaps gravel or pebbles.  The trail, or road, connecting San Bernardo and Ocampo passes beside this mesa.  If the route is a road, it likely follows the same course as did the old trail.

At the University of Sonora Library, my search produced a very authoritative  document titled The Mines of Mexico, written in 1905 in Spanish and English by J. R. Southworth.  This document verified the existence of the Jesús María mining district.

I studied Southworth’s volume carefully, and I created Appendix I, which is presented at the end of this manuscript.  My summary of the pertinent points follows.

Also found at the University library was publication of the Association of Mining Engineers and Metallurgists of Mexico 1973 Convention.  Appendix I contains excerpts from that volume.

Also found at the library was a book called Casas de Moneda de Sonora, in the reference section of the library, number CJ1907.S6.P73.  Appendix I contains excerpts from that volume.

          The material gathered at the University of Sonora indicates the following:

1.  Jesús María existed.  The name was changed to become Ocampo.

2.  Gold and silver bars could have been produced, as there is evidence of mills and processing facilities.

3.  Transportation by mule was highly likely in 1898, as this was before the railroad reached the area of Jesús María.

4.  Mules had previously been used to transport gold SOUTHward from Maguarichic, 40 miles southeast of Ocampo, to Mazatlán.

Problems With The Story of Peres

The information provided me from the mining records allowed me to more closely consider what the old Indian had transcribed from the Peres rice paper.

1.  The mint at Alamos had been closed three years by the time of the alleged event at Paraje de Piedra Bola (Round Rock Rest Stop).  Why was a mule train going to Alamos?  Was it going to the assaying office?  This is unlikely, as there existed assaying capabilities at the mine itself.

Although mules had historically traveled south from Chihuahua to Sinaloa, this had occurred in earlier times.  By 1898, wouldn’t it have been more likely for transport to be toward the EAST?  All the mints in Sonora were closed by 1898.  Hermosillo, where a mint existed before closing, was further away than Alamos, but was probably easier and faster to reach.  Even Hermosillo was closed by 1898.  Chihuahua City was further away than Alamos, but was certainly easier to reach. 

The big mines at Ocampo were owned by Greene.  Possibly there is a record of where he shipped his gold in 1898.  (Of course, there is no certainty that the gold carried by Peres was a shipment by Greene, but it is probable.)

2.  The Jesús María name was changed to Ocampo before 1905.  When did this name change occur?  If the name change occurred before 1898, did Peres simply continue to use the old name?

3.  The “main” trail through Alamos is the legendary Coronado Trail, a north-south trail.  From Ocampo, it is necessary to travel west, crossing the big mountains, to join this trail.  The Coronado Trail passed west of, but relatively near San Bernardo.  From Los Algodones it is easy to get to San Bernardo, and from there to the Coronado. 

It makes sense that from Ocampo the mule train would head toward the Coronado Trail.  Prior to the problem with Manos Pintas, the mountain crossing was at Puerto de la Loza.  After the problem created by the bandit, the crossing was changed to Cuesta Blanca, or Alamillos, and from there to Los Algodones. 

This revised crossing was NORTH of the original crossing.  Why didn’t the original trail use Alamillos?  Why did it use a trail SOUTH of Alamillos?  This can probably be explained, but it bothers me.

Where is Puerto de La Loza?  How far north did the arrieros move their trail?  Was Loza actually the best crossing?  If so, then that would explain why the arrieros actually BACKTRACKED to put the revised trail at Cuesta Blanca. 

Biggest Problem!

IF we become convinced that the story is true, and IF we want to look for the gold, then we have a huge problem.  The area is located smack in the middle of the drug cartel marijuana and opium poppy growing area.  This area is closed to tourists.  It is also closed to local buses.  The area is notorious for gun fights and violent deaths.  To limit access, there is a police control checkpoint leading into the region.  Even if we got by the control, a gringo is suspicious not as a gold seeker, but as a drug agent.  This is certain death.  Urbano agrees that it is dangerous.  Urbano is determined to go.

3rd Conversation With Urbano

Urbano came to our house, at our invitation, two days after our visit to the library.  We went over the findings.  Follows some remarks about the meeting.

Urbano had clearly not ever heard any of the details concerning the mines of Jesús María, the name Ocampo, the fact that Alamos had closed three years before the alleged event, or of any of the other details I provided him.  He was very excited to learn that the story actually has historical credibility.

Urbano was clearly amazed by the production of gold and silver cited in the references.  His expressions and exclamations convinced me that he was (is) a miner.  He said that no gold mine exists today in Mexico with seven mills, nor are there any mines today with the capacity reported in the findings in the library.

Urbano was ecstatic to see the place names Los Algodones and Las Animas on the topographic maps.  He became very animated when he saw them.  I am convinced that he has been to the spot of the alleged treasure.

Urbano is very much aware of the danger by the drug cartel.  He revealed that not only marijuana is grown, but also opium poppies.  He claims that the people there will know him and that he can secure safe passage.  BIG DEAL!  What about the gringo?

The Dope Growing Region

Urbano reports that the rancho at Las Animas is the main passage point for transport of marijuana and opium poppies leaving the region.  He says that a radio at the rancho reports on all people passing by.  The rancho is controlled by the Narcos.

During the fall harvest, human caravans pass the ranch.  As many as 300 men, all carrying dope, compose the caravans.  It is impossible to enter or leave the area without being detected and being reported on the Rancho Las Animas radio. 

The caravans get the dope to trucks stationed near San Bernardo and the trucks then move the cargo to Navojoa, somehow avoiding the Control just west of Alamos.  From Navojoa the cargo goes north on Carretera 15 toward the United States.

Urbano claims that he is known to all the people of the region.  He claims that he would be allowed safe passage.  He claims that his presence would not be alarming because of his reputation as a miner in the area.  He claims that the proper time to travel in the area is during the winter when no crops exist.  Once crops are planted, the region becomes dangerous.  During harvest the region is secured by the Narcos and no outsiders are allowed near Rancho Las Animas.  Enforcement is by gun rather than law.  Urbano is very aware of the danger.

At Rancho San Juanico near Tastiota lives ranchero Wilfrido Ramos.  Originally from Alamos, Wil now lives at the rancho, having left Alamos due to the danger there.  He described Alamos as a town under siege.  Many narcos have come there, using the old colonial town as a base for operations of their dope growing businesses.  The surrounding countryside is dangerous because of the dope activities.  Guns rule.  There are frequent killings.  Everyone is suspicious of everyone else.  Strangers are particularly suspicious.  Kidnappings are common occurrences.  There are dozens of missing people.  Travel to the countryside is discouraged.  Bus traffic is limited to the main highways only.  Almost everyone is armed.  There are frequent military patrols.  Roadblocks by the military are common.  Ambushes by narcos are not unusual.  Ranchero Wilfrido would not travel into the smaller towns because of danger in the towns and along the way. 

Clarification of Trail Problem

We became concerned about the trail described in the letter of Peres.  This concern was expressed in item Number Three (3.) of the section of this manuscript entitled “Problems with the Story of Peres.”

A visit to the University of Arizona Library resolved this concern.  At that library we found the 1881 map of Fleury.  His map shows Jesús María in the District of Rayon, and the main road of the time to Alamos, lending credibility to the claim of Peres.  This road goes from Jesús María south to Batopilas, and then southwest to Mescales and into Alamos.

The Next Act in 2000

Jesús María became Ocampo.  The main highway connecting Hermosillo and Chihuahua City passes near Ocampo.  At Ocampo is a National Park called Parque Nacional Cascada de Basaseachic, the site of a 300-meter waterfall.

Peres asked that the person who finds the treasure come to the cemetery of Jesús María.  The treasure finders are to look for his grave.  If they do not find it, they are to create one and to place in the cemetery a tombstone inscribed with the name Ángel María Peres Samora.  The old muletrain guard also asked that four solemn masses be said over his grave. 

IF we decide to proceed with the Treasure Hunt, we will travel to Ocampo.  To actually find a tombstone inscribed with the name of Peres will be somewhat reassuring.

Until that time, the Treasure of the Round Rock Reststop must remain in our imaginations only.

Update Composed in Oaxaca 2022

          The region of Round Rock Reststop became even more dangerous after 2000.  Today in 2022 the region is totally controlled by at least two carteles, which are at war with one another.  We never attempted to enter the region.  My report remained dormant in New Mexico until I had it delivered to Oaxaca de Juárez in 2021.  This manuscript utilized that December 2000 report.

Appendix I

Below is copied directly from the Southworth manuscript, pages 66-67.

Immediately north of Artiaga, and continuing along the line of Sonora, is the District of Rayon, one of the most important Districts in the State.  It includes Ocampo, Pinos Altos, Concheno, Yoquivo, Maguarichic, Urachic, Otates, Candamenia, Socorro, Sahuayacan and several other camps of more or less importance.

Ocampo (formerly Jesús María) was discovered about 1821, and has produced more than $100,000,000.  The general formation is porphyry, and the ores siliceous, carrying gold and silver.  The veins are numerous, and some of them are very large and persistent.  There are seven mills in the place, having a combined tonnage of about 250,000 tons per day.  The process employed in all of the mills is amalgamation, followed in some cases by concentration.  Experiments are being made with the cyanide process, and some of the mills may adopt that.  The mills are not all operated regularly, owing to the great difficulty in obtaining wood for fuel.  All the wood has to be carried in on pack animals and costs from $6 to $7 gold per cord, delivered at the mills.  There is an abundance of timber for all purposes in the surrounding mountains, but there are no facilities for bringing it to the mines.  This may soon be remedied, however, by the building of a railroad that is under construction for that place.  Such a road would develop an immense tonnage of freight in this and the neighboring camps.

Pinos Altos is only a few miles north of Ocampo.  The principal vein there is 20 feet wide and the ore of good grade.  It is stated that 2500 feet of depth can be obtained by means of tunnels.  The mines, which have been heavy producers, have recently been purchased by an American company, and a reduction works of 1000 tons daily is being built.  The ore will be treated by concentration, and the tailings may be cyanided.

Concheno is located a few miles northeast of Pinos Altos.  There is only one company operating in Concheno at present.  They are operating a cyanide plant of 150 tons daily capacity, and are getting good results.

The above three adjacent camps keep about 5000 pack animals constantly employed carrying in supplies.  The monthly production at present is about $125,000, a very small sum compared with what they would be capable of doing with favorable transportation facilities.

At Candamenia, a few miles south of Ocampo, there are a number of very promising properties, only one of which has been developed to any considerable extent.  The ores are high-grade silver, and are treated in a small lixivation plant.  Waterpower could be developed to run several large mills. 

At Otates there are two small mills operating on high-grade silver ores.  The mines bear a good name, and will probably be heard from in the near future.  Near this place are some quicksilver mines, on which considerable development work has been done and some rich ore taken out.  The ore and general formation is said to be similar to those of Nuevo Almaden, California.

At Sahuayacan, thirty miles west of Ocampo, a Pittsburgh company is operating a 20-stamp mill of high-grade gold and silver ore, and at Poterito, two miles from Sahuayacan, a 10-stamp mill is in operation.  The vein at this place is large, and the ores of good grade.

At Socorro, twenty miles west of Ocampo, an American company has built a 10-stamp mill.  The veins are small, but rich in gold and silver, and are free-milling.

Yoquivo is twenty miles east of Ocampo.  The mines have produced millions in the past, but are not active at the present.  The principal mine, on which there is a 15-stamp mill, is the property of Governor Creel, and is being worked under lease.  Some very promising gold-bearing veins have recently been discovered, and are being developed.

Maguarichic is forty miles southeast of Ocampo.  Mining was carried on at this place at a very early date by the Spaniards and Jesuits, though the exact date of discovery is not known.  The veins, which are found in gray andesite, are numerous, and rich in both gold and silver.  Before the railroads entered the State the high-grade ores, running as high as $2000 per ton, were shipped by mule to Mazatlán, on the coast of Sinaloa.  Two American companies are operating waterpower mills there at present.

Uruachic is twenty miles west of Maguarichic, and is also an old district, producing very rich silver ore.  One of the best mines has recently been purchased by English capital, and a mill is to be built at once.  The veins are wide and persistent, and the prospects good for profitable work.

The annual output of the District of Rayon is about 100,000 tons.

From page 58:  The famous Santa Juliana mine and adjoining properties at Ocampo, District of Jesús María, adjoining the Balvanera mines.

From page 59-60:  The one great obstacle to the successful exploitation of these properties in the past has been the distance from the railroad and the expense of transportation, but with the arrival of the first train at Deidrick in December 1905 – 295 miles from El Paso over the Rio Grande, Sierra Madre and Pacific Railroad, now in course of construction from Terrazas, 160 miles from El Paso, by Mr. WC Greene and associates – low transportation rates will be in force, with the result that one of the richest and most extensive mineral sections in the world will be exploited.

From page 61:  The Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad, which is now being extended in that direction.

From page 62:  The transportation problem has always been the insurmountable obstacle in the way of the development of the western part of Chihuahua, but happily this difficulty is now being remedied as fast as men and money can do it.  The work of railroad building in the State was not begun until 1880, when the Mexican Central Line reached here.

From page 62:  With the exception of a few of the very rich camps, such as Batopilas and Jesús María, the mountain districts of the State did not begin to be developed until the building of the Chihuahua and Pacific Railroad, which was completed to Minaca in 1900.

From page 62:  Besides the extension to the west, the Kansas City, Mexican and Orient is also building to the east, and before many months will give the State and City of Chihuahua direct communication with Kansas City and other Eastern ports…….

From page 63:  In some instances the ores may be concentrated to such an extent that the rich concentrations may be shipped to the smelters; in other cases the metals may be extracted by cyanide or other leaching processes, and reduced to the pure metallic state on the ground…..

From page 63:  It will place the mountain districts, now almost inaccessible, on an equal footing with those reached by railroads……

From page 63:  The State of Chihuahua is divided into twelve districts, as follows:  Abasolo, Andres del Rio, Artiaga, Bravos, Camargo, Galeana, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jiminez, Iturbide, Mina and Rayon.

From page 225:  The Greene Gold-Silver Company owns and operates the Balvanera gold and silver mines, located in the District of Rayon, together with the reduction works, consisting of mill and concentrator with a capacity for treating 40 tons per day….. the bullion showing 84% gold and 16% silver contents….. There are no shafts on the property, extraction of ore having been confined entirely to tunnels.

From page 225:  A photo of Mina Santa Juliana, a photo of the mills at Balvanera.

From page 227:  The famous Santa Juliana mine and adjoining properties at Ocampo, District of Jesús María, adjoining the Balvanera mines, is the property of the company.  It was owned formerly by the present Governor of the State of Chihuahua, Senor D. Enrique C. Creel… and holds the record as the largest and best paying mine in Chihuahua, having produced over $100,000,000.  The ledge is large, the ore body in places being over 50 feet wide, and even with its large production has only been worked to a depth of 900 feet, at which depth its former owners were obliged to quit work, on account of water.  Powerful pumps are now being installed, and before the close of 1905 it will again become a large producer of high-grade ore.  Upon completion of the Balvanera reduction works, the ores from the Santa Juliana will be treated at that plant.

Association of Mining Engineers and Metallurgists of Mexico 1973 Convention

Also found at the University library was publication of the Association of Mining Engineers and Metallurgists of Mexico 1973 Convention.  From page 13 and 14 are the following, translated from Spanish:

1804 – Beginning of operations at Mina de Santa Juliana in Ocampo.

1821 – January.  Discovery of the Mines of Jesús María and Jose (Ocampo), whose discoverers named it “Balbanera,” registered 14 January by Tomas Bon, Jose Tomas Rivera and Vicente Pancorbo.

Casas de Moneda de Sonora

Also found at the library was a book called Casas de Moneda de Sonora, in the reference section of the library, number CJ1907.S6.P73.

From page 121 is translated:  Following the political commotion of 1911, the Federal Office of Assaying that had resided in the building since 1895 when the Casa de Moneda was closed by official order, was removed from Alamos, and the house passed into the hands of don Reynaldo Ramos.

From page 122:  that the first coins were made in 1862 was confirmed in May 1953.

From page 122:  The American engineer Quentin Douglas seems to have been the first to have worked to establish the ceca (mint) of Alamos.  Manuel Larraguibel, in his letter of 30 March 1833, expressed great admiration for the demonstrated aptitude of the young engineer, who had constructed some scales for weighing large quantities, these scales so perfect that in weighing 40 kilograms registered the quantity within eight grams.  These scales, manufactured in 1864, were in service in 1895 and continued to be used by the Federal Office of Assaying until 1911.

From page 123:  In this house (Alamos), like the one in Hermosillo, there were two different types of classification.

From page 125:  A chart is presented that displays the quantity of GOLD pieces coined for the years 1873 through 1895.  Only $10 GOLD pieces were made after 1878.  The last year for coins was 1895.

From page 126:  A chart is presented for SILVER pieces.  No silver was coined before 1874.  Five types of silver coins were eventually manufactured.  By 1895, only 8 Real and 0.05 Real coins were produced.  No silver coins were produced after 1895.

From page 127:  Silver coins of 20 centavos were not coined in Sonora after 1893; indeed not in Mexico at all.  In 1898 these coins reappeared, but this is after all the mints in Sonora had been closed by official order.

2 thoughts on “Treasure of the Round Rock Rest Stop

  1. Max Berry June 5, 2023 / 5:00 am


  2. Bob Ittner June 14, 2023 / 6:33 pm

    Great story and research. Doesn’t seem like it will ever be safe to explore.

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