Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Going for "The Gold"

On Saturday, Alejandro and I took an overnight trip to a town called "El Oro" which simply means The Gold.  It is about two and a half hours away from Mexico City in the State of Mexico near the border with the state of Michoacán.  The town was founded in the 1700s when gold was discovered.  Its heyday was in the late 1800s and early 1900s when some of the purest veins of gold in the world were discovered here.  Most of the mines were owned by English companies, and there is an English influence in some of the architecture.  By the 1930s most of the mines had been tapped out and were closed.  Today the town is turning to tourism as the base of its economy.  The town was named a "Pueblo Mágico" (Magic Town) by the Mexican tourism department for its historic and cultural significance.  The town has the appearance of a slightly ramshackle mining town with some examples of ornate architecture that are a reminder of its former wealth.

The city hall, which dates from 1910, was built in a combination of neoclassical and art nouveau styles.

Inside the entrance there are mural paintings which show the contrast between the hard life of the miners and the town's elite.

Like most mining towns, El Oro had plenty of bars (more than 170) and brothels.  The upper class, largely English and European, wished to elevate the town's cultural level. and in the early 1900s the elegant Juárez Theater was built.  Some of the leading actors and musicians of the era, including Enrico Caruso, performed on its stage.

As I mentioned, due to the British mine operators, some of the houses look as if they would be more at home in England than in Mexico.

There is even a Methodist church, and next to it a house that I would assume was the parsonage.

Within the town is one of the old mines, "el Tiro Norte".  The wooden tower from which ore was pulled up from the shaft below is still standing and is now an observation deck for the tourists.

A couple of views of the town from the top of the "Tiro Norte" tower...

Alejandro took this picture looking straight down through a glass barrier into the shaft of the "Tiro Norte" mine.

Alejandro hauling a load of ore.

Notice the warm coat that he is wearing.  It was quite cold in El Oro, especially when it was overcast (which was most of the time).  The elevation of the town is 8990 feet above sea level... more than 1500 feet higher than Mexico City.

The main church in the town is the Church of Santa María de Guadalupe.  Although it appears to be a colonial structure, it was built during the late 18th and early 20th centuries.  The interior is very pretty.

Here are some more photos taken while wandering the streets of this interesting town.

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