Farther away was a rocky ridge beaten with narrow, bare, crisscross trails, and beyond, the old Valenciana mine on the flanks of the jagged range shutting off Dolores Hidalgo, appearing so near in this clear air of the heights that it seemed a man could throw a stone there; yet down in the valley between lay all Guanajuato, the invisible, and none might know how many bandits were sleeping out the day in their lurking-places among the wild, broken valleys and gorges the view embraced.
Everywhere were mountains piled into the sky. Valenciana, where so many Spaniards, long since gone to whatever reward awaited them, waxed rich and built a church now golden brown with age, sat on its slope across the valley, down in which no one would have guessed huddled a city of some 60,000 inhabitants.
With every successful speculation, new adventurers were found to invest their capital in resuming the working of abandoned mines, until at last men have become bold enough to undertake, for the third time, the draining of the great shaft of the Valenciana, so famous in the last century. When I was last in Mexico that undertaking was reported to have been accomplished.
Having thus described with some minuteness one of the most extensive silver mines in the world, where an average of 5000 men and unnumbered animals are employed, it will not be necessary to go into details as we notice the many other celebrated mines of Mexico. Toluca. Queretaro, Guanajuato, and Zacatecas. Fresnillo. "Romancing." A lucky Priest. San Luis Potosi. The Valenciana at Guanajuato.
But the most sanguine hopes were entertained that it would again be as productive as in the times when its abundant riches secured for its owner the title of Marquis of Valenciana, though he had worked with his own hands on the shaft which afterward yielded him its millions. Second in importance among the old mines of Guanajuato is Los Rayas.
I had lost the last boat off to the steamer, on which I was a passenger; it was late at night, and I knew of no inn near the landing. At midnight, as I was walking in the Plaza, called after that revered monarch, Queen Isabel II., I was spoken to at the door of a fonda, and asked if I wanted a bedroom. It was the taberna "La Valenciana."
I think well of the establishment of a chapel, such as exists at the entrance to the Valenciana mine in Mexico, where each miner spends half an hour, going to or returning from his labors. Such a union of work and worship seems a proper adjunct to the profit and the peril.