Friday, June 27, 2008

Mountains of Gold



Mr. Russell's Discoveries In the Stronghold of a Race of Strange Indians — Remarkable Stories Told by an American Residing In Mexico.

Fabulous deposits of gold are known to exist in the Sierra de Nayarat, in the territory of Tepic, near the west coast of Mexico. D. B. Russell, a well known American residing in this place, and who is an extensive manufacturer and dealer in machinery and apparatus for mining, has returned from a trip into the mysterious fastnesses which, with their inhabitants, have long baffled the attempts of the prospectors to unravel their golden mystery of the centuries. Mr. Russell, who is an old resident here, and whose word is never disputed, is perhaps the only man who has been allowed to view the riches and live to repeat the story. Others have penetrated a part of the way into the Eldorado, but have always met death at the hands of the Alacian Indians, who hold the stronghold and jealously guard its secret.

The gold belt lies in the Sierra de Nayarat, a rugged and almost inaccessible range of mountains some 90 miles north of the road to San Blas and several days' journey from this city. There is also another range known as the Alica, running nearly parallel with the Nayarat, which is inhabited and guarded by a brave and warlike race of Indians, the Alacians. They are supposed to be direct descendants of the Aztecs. Securing a military escort from the governor of Tepic, Mr. Russell set out on his perilous journey and in due time reached the entrance to the canyon, in and about which are all the settlements of this mysterious people.

Near the close of the second day the explorers passed over the last range of mountains shutting in the Alacians and had their first glimpse of the entrance to the valley. It is a narrow pass between two cliffs, which rise almost perpendicularly to a height of nearly 3,000 feet, and is a natural wonder. The view into the valley proper is shut off by a mountain wall running at right angles to the pass. From the top of the mountain the captain of the escort sent an interpreter to notify the chief of the first village beyond of the coming of Mr. Russell and his party, while they followed cautiously. It was after dark when they neared the entrance to the village and were met by a chief and a crowd of natives in their gala dress, who, accompanied by a band of music, came to extend a seemingly hearty welcome. All the natives except the chief wore complete suits of birds' feathers, which covered them from head to foot. At daybreak they started for the main city, a placo of 6,000 or 7,000 persons, a long day's travel away. The intervening country was found to be under a high state of cultivation, corn, vegetables, fruits and other products being raised in abundance on terraces 2,000 feet or more up the mountain sides, which, in places, have a slope of 45 degrees. Even the highest of these terraces seemed to be well irrigated.

The houses along the route were roomy and comfortable adobe structures, and the people were well supplied with cattle, cows especially, and large numbers of tame deer. The natives are straight featured, with long rather than oval faces, very quick and energetic in their movement and experts at handling their bows, arrows and slings, with which they always go armed.

Mr. Russell scanned the surrounding hills eagerly during the journey for evidence of the mineral wealth, and it was not long before he was overwhelmed by it. The valley is so narrow that he could scrutinize the mountains on both sides, and along toward the middle of the day he began to catch glimpses of old tunnels and the openings of abandoned mining shafts. On nearing a projecting spur he saw what looked like a mineral vein, and when he came to it there was plainly to be seen a fine streak of gold quartz, 8 inches wide, running through rocks.

That night was spent at the house of the chief of the main village, who told Mr. Russell that his people were the descendants of the "fathers of Mexico" and had been conquered by either Spaniards or Mexicans in their wars with the latter. Some 50 years ago Mexican troops tried to subjugate them, but were driven out of the valley and far beyond. Then the government made peace with them, so that now they have to pay only a small tribute to be left alone in their mountain homes. The old chief hesitated long before granting Mr. Russell permission to inspect the holes in the mountains, but finally consented and the next morning sent him off with a guard of 30 men. These were greatly exercised when Mr. Russell announced that he was going down into the shafts, and it was only on the chief's order that they accompanied him. When Mr. Russell climbed up to the shafts, he saw at once that they were openings of old mines.

The first mine Mr. Russell entered was dark, and he had to descend by means of a log of wood notched for footholds. When he landed at the bottom, he felt something under his foot, and holding a candle down was horrified to find himself standing on a mass of human bones, Which fell apart and rattled with every move he made. He was so overcome that he sank down on a rock and gazed aghast at the mementos of either some tragedy or religious observance, but as he sat his eyes fell upon the finest ledge of gold he had ever seen in his life. By this time the horrors of the dead chamber had worn away, and he chipped off some specimens. Mr. Russell visited half a dozen other mines and in every one found human bones, some of the shafts being filled to the brim with them, and in all also rich gold ledges.

By this time his guides had become so surly that he had to return to the village, where the first move was to ascertain from the chief the cause of the mines being filled with bones. Talking through an ignorant interpreter, he found it difficult to follow the chief's explanation, but he gathered that many years ago there had been a great revolution, in which many thousands perished in battle, so many that the bodies could not be buried, and all, friend and foe, were thrown into these shafts to prevent a pestilence in the valley below. The only inference is that the foes were Spaniards, and that these people had thus gained the independence they yet maintain under Mexican rule. Doubtless the bones of many missing Americans also rest in those charnel pits. — Guadalajara (Mexico) Cor. St. Louis Globe-Democrat.


Tom — You look awful blue. I suppose it's because of Miss Maybelle's having rejected you?
Cholly — Yes; I can't help feeling sorry for the poor girl. — Pick Me Up.

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