Through my own research and people's contributions
to this website, I hope we can answer the following questions
about the Old Ore Terminal and its aerial tramway. Please ask
questions--and contribute answers--on the bulletin
Here are my questions, thoughts, and notes
on the terminal and tramway, in no particular order. Notes
indented and in brackets are mine.
||First eyewitnees account of the
tramway being built identified so far, by Farmer Jennings.
hauls first bucket of ore.
||Carlos Moser dies in El Paso and
is buried in the Mt. Sinai cemetary there. This ends
the first chapter of the tramway, as Moser dreamed up
the tramway. Presumably, the International Mining Company
buys the tramway as a result, but this till remains to
||May 5. Glenn Springs Raid. Eight employees of the International Mining Company
are kidnapped at the Puerto Rico Mine by the Glenn Springs Raiders.
These are the two most important articles about the mine and
tramway that I've found, so far.
Carmen Zinc Mine, from Mines
and Minerals, February 1911, Pg. 437. A great
overview of the tramway. It looks like it was written
as PR piece to target engineers.
Zinc Deposits, from Mines
and Minerals, by Carlos
Moser, March 1911, Pg. 479. Written by the man himself! Describes
why he's at the mine. This is a find!
We know it as the Old Ore Terminal? What
was it known as in its own time?
A: Farmer Jennings (see below), refers
to it as the "Cable Terminal." Other accounts, such as the
El Paso Herald, refer to it as the "Ore Termina."
Who were the Houston and San Antonio businessmen
that raised the $100,000 to build the terminal?
A: Some were part of the Jennings Family
in central Texas (see below). Still looking for information
on the others.
Who was Farmer Jennings from San Antonio
, the person the investors hired to build the Ore Terminal
and the Ore Road ?
A: Farmer Jennings was a rancher hired
to build the road from the cable terminal to Marathon. Then,
he was stationed in Marathon to make sure the supplies arriving
on the railway made it down to the cable engineer. He left
to return to ranching before the tramway started operating.
The same time tramway was closing down in 1919, Jennings
was the Secretary of the Old Trail Driver's Association.
His father, Robert Jackson Jennings, was well known trail
driver in Texas.
The History books seem confused about the
dates of operation. (Eg: some say it stopped operating in 1916,
others say 1919.) What were the exact dates of operation? How
long did it take to build?
A: It took about three years to build,
from 1907 to 1910. Not sure about the exact starting date.
Carlos Moser ran the mines from conception to his death in
1915. The International Mining Company, lead by F. C. Morehouse,
ran the mine and tramway until they closed it down in 1919,
presumbly because the price of silver dropped.
What was the relationship between between
this Ore Terminal and ASARCO, if any?
A: While there doesn't seem to be a formal
relationship, there's a possibility there was an informal
one between Carlos Moser and people from ASARCO. Is it coincidence
that when the Guggenheims consolidated all their smelter
operations, closing down the Boquillas smelter in the process,
that Moser appears on the scene in Boquillas?
Where, exactly is the old Puerto Rico mine?
Are there ruins on the Mexican side of the
river, such as the embarkation terminal? Where?
Are there any personal accounts (diaries,
interviews, etc) of building or working the terminal?
There are hints that the mine was closed
from time to time. Was this because of Pancho Villa?
A: Eight employees of the International
Mining Company were kidnapped by the Glenn Springs raiders
the night before they made their raid in May, 1916.. There
is some debate amongst historians whether or not the raiders
were affiliated with Pancho Villa. The leader of the raid,
Lt. Colonol Natividad Alvarez, said he was just a bandit
when he got caught and it seems like every historian took
him at his word. However, according to an account in the
May 9, 1916 El Paso Herald, Nick Postrius, who was one of
the men captured at the mine, said he heard a Mexican tell
Dr. Powers (the mine's physician and fellow captive), "You
have been looking for Pancho Villa, now we will show him
to you at Laguna."
Did the people who packed up the Ore Terminal
in 1919 think that they'd be back, or was this closure for
How was the cable line powered? Steam engine?
Where are the remains of the engine in the ruins? If they're
not there, this suggest the team that closed it down in 1919
did so for good.
It looks to me that there is less wood at
the ruins than their should be. Is some wood buried? Was some
wood taken for fuel or building supplies by area residents?
Are there remnants on the Mexican side?
Where are the buckets, there are only a few
on the trail and only one at the terminal. Where are the "trucks",
the wheel's that attached the buckets to the cable? Were the
buckets and trucks salvaged for scrap?
At the terminal, there's a bucket in field
of black stone. Is this coal? What drove the wheels that pulled
the cable? If it was a steam engine, then coal makes sense.
If it's fuel, they could have received from the Southern Pacific
railway in Marathon and shipped via the same mule trains that
- When did the terminal begin operations 1914? 1916?
Is the two year discrepency attributable to a two year building
time? Or, was it 1909?
- According to Tyler,
Pg. 138, the tramway took ore from Corte Madera Mine in Mexico. Maxwell says
it was the Puerto Rico mine. According to the Alpine
Avalanch, it's the Del Carmen mine. Are these the
different names for the same mine? Or are they different mines?
- The "K" in KSARCO stood for "Kansas
City". The Guggenheims folded KSARCO (and many other companies)
into ASARCO. By the time the tramway was built (around 1910),
it sounds like ASARCO was winding down it's involvement in
Boquillas, if not completely pulled out. According to The
Magnificent Marathon Basin, the
Kansas City Mining Company built the traction engines that
were supposed to haul ore. Was this the same company as KSARCO/ASARCO?
If so, was this their only involvement in the Ore Terminal?
- There was a customs inspector assigned to the terminal.
His name was Rutledge.
Who was he? Where did he go after the terminal closed?
- Big Bend has a Graphic
Documentation of Ruins project. Maybe they have
- J. A. Gregory wrote his master's
thesis on the Puerto Rico mine and discusses the tramway
at length. This was at the time the tramway was being built.
Who was he? Did he return to work at the mine?
Quotes from Source Documents
Here are pertinent quotes from many of the sources I've come
across. The point is to provide you a comprehensive view of
the history of the Ore Terminal and the Aerial Tramway. I see
the history through these documents as fairly confused, which
I find strange, seeing as this was a big operation. That's
what's fascinated me about the terminal and tramway; the history
of it should be something that's easy to obtain, but it remains
Update: Two reports from Mines and Minerals from
1911. The first identifies the tramway manufacture, A. Leschen
& Co. from St. Louis (finally!). And then, the piece de resistance...and
article by Carlos Moser himself. Finally, the story is getting
The following is probably the most extraordinary document
I was able to find concerning the Aerial Tramway and the Puerto
Rico Mine. It's a master's degree thesis by J. A. Gregory from
the University of Missouri School of Mines in Rolla, MO. It
provides some historical background, analyzes the condition
and ore potential of the Puerto Rico Mine, calculates the costs
for mining the ore and transporting it over the tramway, and
calculates net profit. It mentions the aerial tramway, which
was being surveyed at the time Gregory visited Boquillas, so
that places hime there in 1906, or 1907.
The following is an excerpt from Gregory's thesis. It was
published prior to 1923, which makes it part of the public
domain. If you believe you own the copyright to this, please
contact me at "webmaster at joelandkaren.com."
"The several denouncements embracing the group known
as the Boquillas Del Carmen Mines are located in the western
foothills of the Boquillas del Carmen range, and about eight
miles in an air line, east of the small town of Boquillas,
just across the Rio Grande River and in the state of Coahuila.
The post-office address is Minas Boquillas del Carmen, Boquillas
"The mines were originally exploited for their lead silver
values by the Mexican owners at what is reported as large profit,
but were subsequently taken over on a fourteen-year lease by
the Kansas City Smelting Co. This lease was forfeited after
running six years or until 1900, owing to what apparently proved
an excessive royalty (33.33% of the gross output). Reverting
to the owners, various properties in the group were gradually
allowed to lapse until only on the Puerto Rico, which is by
far the most important and valuable, were taxes being paid
in Spetember, 1906 when the present operator negotiaited a
five-year lease. Since then he has had dencounced in his own
name properties adjoining this on both sides following the
main outcrop of the Puerto Rico.
"A list of these properties and their areas follows:
2d Vencedora............... 6.00
2d Zaragoza................... 2.00
Boquillas del Carmen....51.16
"These, with the Puerto Rico, 18 pertencencias give a
total area of 179.68 pertencencias."
"The mine at present has two oulets.
"There is an old wagon road on which thousands of dollars
must have been originally spent, but which is now fallen into
disuse, winding around the maintains for some fifteen miles
before reaching Boquillas Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande it
is an easy nine-mile drive on to Boquillas, Brewster Co., Texas
before nightfall the same day. Thence over slightly rising
country for two days stage drive north ninety to marathon,
a town on the Southern Pacific between El Paso and San Antonio.
"The second outlet is by means of a good road south.
Three cars of lead ore have been marketed recently by means
of this road, which is in regular use by the district freighters;
it is a distance of 225 miles to Quatro Cienegas where railroadconnections
"By means of three chutes and cars and tram now installed
in different levels, ore can be delivered to the lowest or
Puerto Rico tunnel and then trammed out by mine cars and dumped
into the bins of the upper terminal or the aerial mine tram.
There is also a fine patio at this entrance which will serve
for hand picking and will hold several hundred tons of ore
in case of emergency. This gravity cable is a 1900-ft. jig
backwith two buckets of 10 cubic feet capacity each, requiring
four minutes for a round trip, one man to operate, and costing
$2,500.00 and $1,000.00 additional to install. It has a capacity
of 75 tons per ten-hour shift.
"At the lower terminal there is a 70-ton bin, besides
an immense new patio on which can be stored 5,000 tons of ore.
From this lower terminal a wagon road five miles long and
costing $1,100.00 has been constructed for hauling ore over
to the upper end of the main aerial tram for which a survey
and estimate have been made, and whose towers are now being
erected. This tram has an upper terminal elevation, 3,280 feet,
drops to the Rio Grande, an elevation of 1,968 feet crosses
it more than a mile below Boquillas then rises to the American
terminal, an elevation of 2,706 feet. This gives a total drop
of five hundred and seventy four feet in a total cable length
of 29,300 feet, 2/3 of which is on the Mexican side of the
There is one intermediate loading station on the Mexican side where a cutout
is to be installed for transportation of spring water by means of detachable
buckets. This cable has a capacity of 75 tons per 12-hour shift. Its actual
cost is $24,000 and freight and installation together with a 26-h.p. gas producer
engine to insure power sufficient to tram return supplies and water to mine
will bring total cost to $40,000.000.
Custom houses have been established at either end of the terminal
by the respective governments to look after ore duties, supplies,
From the American end of the cable it is proposed to use steam
or gasoline traction engines and haul the ore to Marathon.
From all information I can obtain, gasoline engines which have
a greater first cost, but would undoubtedly prove a great saving
of time and fuel if feasable, have never proved a continued
success in hauling such heavy loads.
Steam traction engines capable of hauling fifty tons in one
train of five small cars can be obtained. These engines are
guaranteed to have a speed of 2-1/2 miles per hour on level
ground which is firm, that is, ground which will pack and leave
a track under an ordinary wagon wheel. 40-h.p. engine with
a single back wheel base extedned to 40" can be bought
F.O.B. Marathon, for $2,800.00--ore cars would cost about $350.00
each. Coal is figured at an expense of 8 pounds per h.p. per
hour or 320 pounds per hour. At a cost of $5,000.00 it is proposed
to repair and shorten the present route so that the total distance
from the terminal to Marathon will be 81 miles. Figuring a
speed of two miles per hour this would take 40 hours and allowing
for stops, changes of crews, etc., 50 hours is a liberal allowance
in figuring coal cost.
320 x 50 = 16,000 pounds or 8 tons.
The return triop can be made for about half the power.
160 x 60 = 8,000 pounds or 4 tons, or a total of 12 tons per round trip per
engine, at $5.00 per ton, is $60.00.
An engineer and fireman would be required at an expense of
$4.00 and $1.00 respectively per shift; for eight shifts would
be $54.00 per trip per engine.
A mechanic to overhaul and repair all engines would also be
required, then loading, oil and waste are to be considered
and an allowance of $16.00 per engine per trip would about
Or a total of $120.00 per trip per engine or per 50 tons of
ore. This is $2.40 per ton.
Eight engines and 35 cars costing $35,000 would about correspond
to the proposed 75 tons daily mine extraction. including a
platform for loading at Marathon and tanks, buildings, etc.,
along road $85,000.00 is required for transportation, equipment,
and road improvement.
Mine tools, supplies, etc., are all in readiness. Hauling
from the mine cable to the long cable can be arranged for at
no additional expense, by contracting with the Mexican freighters.
Six Mule-teams can average three tons a day at contract price
of not over $1.10 at ton. A narrow gauge would probably save
money here in the long run. Summing up these costs results
Transporting over mine cable....................0.05
Hauling to long tram....................................1.10
Transporting over long cable......................0.50
By steam traction engines to marathon
and including loading..................................2.50
Administration including custom officials..0.75
Boiler scale if allowed to depost, as is almost sure to be
the case with this water, will increase this estimate, but
a fair estimate of all necessary expenses would be $6.00 per
Superintendent's house consisting of two bed rooms, office,
dining room, and kitchen, is in every respect satisifactory;
additional houses for living quarters, company store, and supplies
valued at $2,500.00 tool house, assay and chemical laboratory,
blacksmith's shop, carpenter shop, machine shop, water tanks,
etc., are worth $12,000.00.
Mules, horses wagons, $3,000.00.
Additional expenses including operating, developing, repairing,
road building, bring present expenditures to $35,000.00.
There are at present ready to be mined without additional
In sheet deposit.....................................24,000 "
In dumps and refilled waste.................. 2,000 "
Allowing for Sundays and Mexican holidays it would require
nearly two years to mine this quantity of ore at the proposed
rate of 75 tons per day.
Figuring from a quoted value of $20.00 per metric ton for
40% ore, a 6-ct. variation for each 1-ct. variation from $5.00
St. Louis spelter, and $1.10 for each percent difference in
grade, this ore would be worth $17.60 F.O.B. Marathon. (Spelter
$4.60, April 6, 1908).
37,500 x $17,60 = .........................................$660,000.00
Less expenses of:
Mining 37,500 x $6.00 = $225,000.00
Present incurred epxense,
development, etc. 35,000.00
Proposed for transporta-
Net Profit............ $315,000.00
James Asa Gregory Jr.
Here are some citations pertinent to the Old Ore Terminal.
October 14, 1909. Pg 2: "Custom Officer Rutledge and
wife returned home from a visit to San Antonio."
Feb. 10, 1910. Pg 3: "Parties from Boquillas write
the Avalanche that arrangements have been perfected for the
immediate movement of ore to the Southern Pacific station
at Marathon. On the dump at the mine, it is said, there are
250 tons of lead bearing zinc, which will be put across in
baskets on a cable six miles long and transported to Marathon
in cars handled by traction engines."
[Did the traction engines ever work?]
March 17, 1910. Pg 3: "Custom officer, Rutledge, has
moved to the terminal of the cable which brings the ore from
the del Carmen mine eight miles over in Mexico. The cable
works very successfully and the ore is being dumped in large
quantities and will be transported to Marathon by means of
electric engines which will be in operation in a few days."
March 31, 1910. Pg. 4: "Hauling Ore to Marathon. The
Del Carmen Company this week shipped two cars of zinc ore
to the Bartlesville, Oklahoma, smelter, this being the first
of a 30,000 ton contract. The ore was hauled in from the
cable station by [mule] teams and this mode of transportation
will be kept up until the electric cars are put on the road.
The Texas Motor & Transportation Company is now building
their cars for this service. Marathon Eagle."
From the El Paso Herald
May 8, 1916. Pg. 4. President of Boquillas Mine is Hurrying
Here. F.C. Morehouse, president and general manager
of the International Mining Company, will arrive in El
Paso tonight and leave at once for the mines at Boquillas.
Mr. and Mrs. Morehouse were in St. Louis on business and
left immediately upon receipt of a telegram from his agent,
John P. Denny, at Marathon, giving an account of the raid
at Glenn Springs and Boquillas.
May 8, 1916, Pg. 4. "Boquillas is 92 miles south of Marathon
and the International Mining company operates a string of
wagons south to that point for the ores from its mines, which
are seven miles in the interior of Mexico from Boquillas.
The ores from the mines are hauled by motor trucks from the
mine to a tramway which is 6 1/2 miles long, and brought
by this tramway across the river to the Texas side, where
the wagons get the ore and haul them into Marathon for shipment
May 9, 1916. Pg. Boquillas Raid...:Overpower Three
of Their Captors; Are Now Holding Them in Texas. Four Others
Not Yet Heard From. Col. Sibley's Command Is Making 40
Mile March Toward the Border. Marathon, Texas May
9 -- Overpowering their guards, the eight Americans, seven
of whom were employees of the Puerto Rico de Boquillas
mines, 7 miles south of Boquillas, Texas, in Mexico, captured
by a body of Villistas last Saturday, made their escape
and are today on American Soil.
Dr. Homer Powers, of San Angelo, was among those who made
his escape. News of the escape was brought here today by
Carl Halter, the min superintendent, who also said that J.
Deemer, the Boquillas storekeeper, and Monroe Payne, a negro,
were still prisoners of the Mexicans. Halter did not believe
that either had been killed.
The party of Americans who made their escape consisted of
Carl Halter, mine superintendent; R.R. Hasbrouck, assayer;
Dr. Homer Powers, of San Angelo; W. T. Butler, Nick Postrius,
N.R. McKnight, George Scott and Austan Swayze.
NATIVIDAD ALVARES LED RAIDERS. "A body of a doze Mexicans,"
said Halter, "came to the mine Saturday morning, brining
with them two of our truck drivers. They robbed me of my
watch and sacked the house and then ordered us into a truck,
which they loaded with oil and gasoline. The bandits, led
by Col. Natividad Alvarez, who was a Villista, treated us
courteously, saying they were going to take us to Torreon,
but would send us back in a month.
ROBBED DEEMERS STORE. "We started toward Ocampo, but returned
to Deemer's store to take on supplies. We then moved on to
a water hole and stayed there until Sunday morning. I reckon
we made about 18 miles that day, but the truck go into trouble
and we worked on it Sunday night, when we went to sleep under
"A Mexican was sent forward to get some mules form a wagon,
which had been seized. Monday morning other Mexicans went
forward, leaving only three men to guard us.
BRING CAPTORS BACK "We then determined to escape and, while
the bandits were pushing on the truck, we jumped them from
behind, jerked their guns from their pockets and made the
Mexicans prisoners. We then walked 12 miles across country
to save distance and turned the prisoners over to sheriff
Walton at Boquillas. One man will be brought here soon."
Halter said that Deemer was undoubtedly being held for ransom.
WE'LL SHOW YOU VILLA Nick Postrius, who was captured but
escaped, was brought here on a motor car by Lloyd Wade,
a rancher. Postrius says that the bandits declared they were
hunting for "gringoes, ammunition and guns," and that he
heard one Mexican say to Dr. Powers, "You have been looking
for Pancho Villa, now we will show him to you at Laguna."
"I wa working at the tramway one the Mexican side of the
river, " said Postrius, "when a dozen Mexicans rode up with
the men they had taken at the mine and on the roadway.
"The Mexicans lined us all up and left an armed guard while
the hunted around for more gringoes, they said. The bandits
siezed two truck drivers and Dr. Powers on the road.
HOW POSTRIUS ESCAPED "While the MExicans were hunting around
I walked leisurely down to the tramway and hid under the
feed floor. If I had run I would have attracted the attention
of the guard and I would have been shot. Then the took one
man away. This was Saturday after noon about 2 o'clock."
POSSE INTENDED TO SEEK DOCTOR. Dr. Homer Powers was visiting
the home of J. Deemer, the storekeeper, near Boquillas, who
is believed to e dead. Dr. Powers came from San Angelo, Texas,
and a posse of nine men came in here from Spofford today
with the intention of going into Mexico in search of the
May 12, 1916, Pg. 1. Raiders Attack Near Boquillas;
Are Repulsed. Marathon, Texas, May 12 -- Civilians
and soldiers four miles north of Boquillas were attacked
Wednesday night by Mexican raiders who fled after a short
skirmish. The attack was delivered at an ore terminal
station and behind Maj. Longhorne's column which up to
that time had not entered Mexico.
May 23, 1916. Pg. 1. Bandits Infest Big Bend Region:
Mining Man Says Protection Against Raids Inadequate; Rob
at Will. R.R. Hasbrouck, the mining engineer and assayer
of the Puerto Rico mine of the International Mining Company
at Boquillas, Coahuila, who was captured, with six other
Americans, and carried captive for a distance into Mexico
by the bandits who raided the Boquillas and Glenn Springs
districts on the Big Bend country two weeks ago, arrived
in El Paso Monday night and probably will return to his
ranch near Ysleta, in the El Paso valley. Mr Hasbrouck
was one of the men who turned the tables on the bandits
on the road south of Boquillas, made three of them prisoners
and brought them to sheriff Walton at Boquillas. hasbrouck
says that was "only a simple matter." He has been acting
as a guide for Maj. Geo. T. Langhorne, commanding the flying
cavalry column into the Cerro Blanco District.
The entire Big Bend region, a sort of no man's land, is
infested with bandits on the Mexican side, according to Hasbrouck's
statements. Headquarter for many o f them seems to be on
the Castillon ranch, near Cerro Blanco, Coahuila. There has
been no adequate protection from their raids and small and
large bands of them roam the country at will, robbing everyone
they chance upon. The group that raided Glenn Springs and
the Boquillas mine and the Carrancista customs collector's
office were headed by Rodrigo Dominiquez and Natividad Alvarez,
who said they came from the Laguna district near Torreon.
They say the are just bandits, and have no military status.
Mr. Hasbrouck says that superintendent Carl P. Halter, who
led his men in the escape from the bandits, remains at the
Puerto Rico mine, but that operations have been suspended
there. George Butler, one of the Boquillas men, is in El
Paso. Austin Swasey, machinist, J. McKnight, truck driver,
and a boy named Scott, of San Antonio, are understood to
be at the mine.
Quotes from History Books
Bend Country: A History of Big Bend National Park by
Ross A. Maxwell.
PP 28-29: "There were as many as 250
wagons hauling supplies to the Puerto Rico Mine and back
hauling ore to the smelter. Following the cessation of ore
importation by aerial tramway during 1919, the activities
at Boquillas, Texas waned...
[OK, now we know that Boquillas was wholly
dependent on the mine(s) that fed the tramway during this
"...When the aerial tramway began
operating during 1916, a branch from the Old ore Road, beginning
near the north end of Cuesta Carlotta, extended southward
to the aerial tramway terminal.
[Why 1916? According to the Alpine
Avalanch, it began operating in 1910. Why the discrepency?]
"The ore wagons were drawn by burro
and mule teams to Marathon. From there the ore was shipped
for processing, most of it to smelters at Picher, Oklahoma.
Steam engines with flat-rimmed, smooth-tread iron wheels
were tried unsuccessfully for hauling the ore...In addition,
the smooth wheels on the steam engines did not provide the
traction necessary for ascending steep inclines. Only one
of the engines that departed from Marathon on the ore haul
returned successfully with its load." [This probably
happened sometime after March, 1910. See Alpine
[This is the only account that talks
about ore shipping to Picher, OK. Others discuss shipping
the ore to the ASARCO smelter in El Paso. Seems to me that
the owners would ship the ore to anyone that paid them,
so multiple citations make sense to me.
This is also the only account that discusses
a successful ore haul using a traction engine.
The account in the Magnificent
Marathon Basin implies there were no successful
ore hauls using traction engines and that the prototypes
were strewn around the countryside.]
The book also has a nice photo of terminal
in operation, with three men in view. Pg. 29.
Most Singular Country: A History of Occupation in the Big
Bend by Arthur R. Gomez.
Good history. The mining district near Boquillas was discovered
in the Sierra Del Carmens in the 1890's and was known as
the La Mina de la Fronteriza (pg. 115.) In 1897, KSARCO bought
the land at the current Barker Lodge and built a cable tramway
(pg. 116). This is the tramway mentioned in How Come
It's Called That.
Here's the most interesting quotes, from pp.117-119: "In
1914, a group of San Antonio and Houston businessmen hoping
to make good their claims in Texas lead and zinc production,
renewed interest in the Boquillas mining district. Their
plans focused on the Puerto Rico Mining Company, a promising
Mexican-owned operation near Boquillas del Carmen.
"While Mexican engineers supervised the actual mining,
the Americans designed an expensive and complicated plan
for processing the ore. ASARCO's closure of the small smelting
plant in Boquillas in 1911 made its El Paso facility the
only one in West Texas. This required that ore produced in
Mexico be transported across the Rio Grande and hauled by
wagon train to Marathon, where it was loaded on Southern
Pacific cars and shipped to its final destination.
[This implies the tramway was built for the sole purpose
of ASARCO. But was it? J.A. Gregory's master's
thesis implies that KSARCO/ASARCO rented the mines
in Boquillas, Mexico, but pulled out in 1900 because the
rents were too high.]
"To accomplish this task, the Texas investors built
a second cable tram a few miles downstream from KSARCO's
earlier model. A more elaborate undertaking, this tram spanned
six miles of desert terrain including the Rio Grande. The
designers placed the American terminus near La Noria, a small
community located along the southern extreme of Tornillo
Creek. This way local residents would supply the wagons needed
to freight the ore to Marathon. While contracting Mexican
teamsters was not a problem, the success of the undertaking
demanded that a road be built from La Noria to the Boquillas-Marathon
highway (probably the Old Ore Road). The Texas businesssmen
hired Farmer Jennings of San Antonio to supervise both construction
of the road and the tram. The latter demanded a great deal
of engineering know-how as well as plenty of muscle. The
design of the aerial tramway called for a line of 75-foot
towers spaced at close intervals. The towers, made of timber,
supportred a 3/4-inch steel cable extending the entire distance
from the terminal to the mine and back. The tram carried
ninety iron buckets, each capable of transporting ore at
the rate of 7.5 tons per hour. Built at an astounding cost
of $100,000, the cable tramway experienced short-lived success
because the Puerto Rico Mine remained opened until shortly
before the end of World War I."
Big Bend: A History of the Last Texas Frontier by
Pg. 138: " Some of the more interesting artifacts in
the Big Bend - remains of old wooden towers and pieces of
cable and ore buckets - owe their existence to the Corte
Madera Mine in Mexico near Boquillas. The editor of the Alpine
Avalanch reported in February 1910 that 250 tons of
lead and zinc ore were to be transported across the river
on a 6-mile-long cable, then shipped to the Southern Pacific
station at Marathon in cars pulled by traction engines. The
cable tramway was an ingenious device to avoid hauling the
ore over rought terrain and floating it across the river.
The tramway's 90 ore buckets and 15 water buckets could carry
7 1/2 tons of ore an hour. The mines, offices, and living
quarters were in Mexico; the terminal was in Ernst Valley,
on the American side. Today, the ruins of the tramway can
still be seen by hiking along the Ore Terminal Trail."
[This is the only mention I've found concerning the Corte
Madera Mine. J.
A. Gregory doesn't mention it and he gives what seems
to me a comprehensive listing of the mines in the Boquillas
area. What's up?]
Pg. 221: "Ore Tramway Line Visible
just off the Boquillas Canyon spur road, the tramway line
and terminal were used near the turn of the century to transport
ore from the Del Carmen silver and lead mine in Mexico, across
the Rio Grande, to the terminal on the American side. The
mine was closed about 1906."
[OK, but the Alpine Avalanche mentions
the tramway and the Del Carmen Company in 1910. What's
going on here? Could this be the KSARCO tramway that simply
crossed the Rio Grande at Boquillas?"]
Come It's Called That: Place Names in the Big Bend Country by
Pg. 45. "D.E. Lindsey brought in a wagonload of supplies
from San Antonio to stock the trading post which he established
at Boquillas, Texas in 1894. His first customer was a Mexican
woman from "el otro lado," who had to be carried
across the Rio Grande by two Mexicans on account of high
water. However, water in the Rio Grande was not always too
high to cross and the cable bucket that was used on a cable
from the silver mines in Mexico was handy for human transportation,
so the trading post flourished."
[This is just about the only mention I've been able to
find about the KSARCO tramway.]
"...The Lindsey's stayed on for a time and then moved
to San Antonio to bring up their family."
[Maybe the family is still in San Antonio. An oral history
would be cool.]
of Texas Online
"Also in 1911 ASARCO closed the Boquillas smelter...In
1914 a group of San Antonio and Houston businessmen renewed
interest in the Boquillas mining district. The Mexican-owned
Puerto Rico Mining Company was operating in the Sierra del
Carmen, but the closing of the Boquillas smelter meant that
the ore had to be shipped to Marathon and carried by railroad
to the ASARCO smelter in El Paso, the only such facility
in West Texas. The Texas investors built a second and more
elaborate cable tramway across the Rio Grande, a few miles
downstream from the old KSARCO tram. This new tramway terminated
at La Noria and necessitated the construction of a road from
that village to the Boquillas-Marathon highway. The tramway
was briefly successful, but the Puerto Rico mine closed before
the end of World War I."
[This implies that the tramway was built around 1914.
According to a phone call with a National Park Service
ranger from Big Bend, Mary Kay Manning, the tramway and
terminal was sold in 1916 (I still haven't found documentation
to confirm this). Still, the selling of the tramway
could be what the handbook mistakenly took for the building of