02 Jul Mineral de Pozos
Mineral de Pozos, located about 45 minutes from San Miguel de Allende, is a is a recently revived but still sleepy relic of Mexico’s past. Pozos is best known for its silver-mining heyday and the 100 years of abandonment that followed the bust. Today, it has a population of only a few thousand people with just a handful of businesses but it is gradually opening to tourism. It’s beautiful and strange, magical and spooky.
Pozos was originally a Chichimeca Indian settlement. Spanish Jesuits arrived in the 1500s and realized the area was rich in precious metals. They built the first mines and introduced European extraction methods before they were expelled in the mid-1700s. The town continued to grow thanks to silver & gold mining. Around 1890, the town enjoyed a mining boom and the population peaked around 70,000. By then, Pozos was the most important mining town in the state of Guanajuato.
By 1910 – the year of Mexico’s revolution – boom had turned to bust, and Pozos slowly slipped into ruin. Old mines and the town itself were left to crumble for almost a century before Pozos’ most recent revival began – now there are a few hotels, art galleries, a luxurious spa, and a few places to eat.
Some of the more popular ruins to visit include the largest, most productive of Pozos’ mines – Cinco Señores – as well as the San Rafael mine, the ex-hacienda El Triángulo, and the oldest mine in Pozos – Santa Brígida.
The Jesuits built Santa Brígida’s furnaces, known as chacuacos, and their three chimneys in 1595, along with the rest of the mining operation. The furnaces were used to melt silver using quicksilver and mercury. The mine later passed into other hands and then, as the quantity of precious materials extracted dwindled, the mine eventually closed, as did the town for a while.
Mining equipment was primitive and the miners would rappel in and out carrying heavy payloads in hopes of extracting small amounts of precious metals; many lost their lives working in these mines. Back in the day, the San Rafael mine experienced a tunnel collapse after heavy rains that claimed the lives of fifty men. Tragic stories like this one, coupled with a native population susceptible to superstition, have given rise to many a ghost tale – their souls are thought to haunt the mines to this day.
On our last visit, we learned that this long corridor at the Santa Brígida mine served to funnel air into the mine below – cooling it and guiding it down into the tunnels.
If you’re in Pozos, you might also stop by PizzanChelas for pizza and micheladas (a beer-based cocktail with hot sauce, worcestershire sauce, chamoy, clamato juice, and sometimes fruit juice).
Mittie once performed at PizzanChelas with her gypsy jazz group, the Belly Stringers. It was a fantastic weekend.
Pozos makes a great day trip from San Miguel de Allende. We drive there regularly to check out the ruins and to hike Pozos’ rugged landscapes.