May 16, 2005

Talking to Aimee's Son

Up until now, I've been able to sketch the story of the Ore Terminal and Tramway only in broad strokes, like drawings in a children's coloring book.

Today, I begin filling in the colors.

The letter I sent with photocopies of articles and pictures made it to Aimee's son. He called today. Unfortunately, I had my two small kids in the bath at the time, so I couldn't talk long, but here's what he said:

Aimee's dad, Louis, this gentleman's grandfather, was somehow affiliated with the mining business in St. Louis. So, he goes down to Mexico, probably Mexico City, probably for a Mining Congress. Somehow, he meets Carlos Moser in Mexico and they decide to go into business together and work the mine in Boquillas del Carmen. He mentioned this was around 1904.

Apparently, the rest of the family stayed in St. Louis, so Aimee's mom tells her, "Go down to Boquillas and see what your dad is up to." She does. She meets Moser, they fall in love, they get married.

The son tells me that Aimee was the first person to ride the cable across the river. This must have been sometime between 1908 and 1910. Which means, other people rode the cable as well.

He also descreibed her as a partner, so it was the three of them running the business. As he grew up, she told him he and his son could have owned the mine, but the Mexican government probably took it over for paying taxes. Which means at some point, they lost track of the mine...there's more here to dig into.

He (the son) went to The Register of Mines in Mexico City (I think) sometime as an adult to find out about the mine. He said the clerk couldn't find anything under Boquillas Del Carmen, which made him think that maybe the story his mom told was true. However, the clerk let him look at the records himself and he found a mine called Termopilas. Aimee was a graduate of Washington University and she named the mine "Thermopylae", in honor of Greece ("Termopilas" in Spanish.) Now, what's interesting is that on the map I have of North Coahuila and Brewster county, the straight line of the aerial tramway is clearly marked, but ends at the Rio Grande. Extending it down the appropriate distance south from the Rio Grande in a straight line gets you to a valley. According to all the articles of the time, the tramway was 5(?) miles away from the Puerto Rico mine. So, I assume the beginning of the tramway is somewhere near that valley; there are trails marked on the map leading from the Puerto Rico mine to the valley. Also, the mountain range the tramway would traverse is named Sierra Las Terminas, lending credence to this theory.

If you look on the map to the southwest of where the terminus would be, you'll find a fainter straight line that goes a bit south east. (I don't know what this line is, a road, maybe?) At the end of the line is a mine named Termolipas, clearly the mine Aimee named. According to JA Gregory's MA Thesis from the early 1900's, Report of La Mina Boquillas Del Carmen of Coahuila, Mexico, there were a number of mines discussed.

Now, the son said that the mine no longer produced zinc and in fact, produced flourite and was a rich producer of that mineral. So, I'm thinking, for whatever reason, the Puerto Rico mine wasn't the big mine in his family...maybe Termolipas was the last one Aimee held onto. I know other people mined the Puerto Rico because I've interviewed the mine owner. His dad and his dad's partner worked the Puerto Rico from 1928 to 1945 (or so).

A lot to unravel, but what a great start! I'll be interviewing Aimee's son later this week.

Posted by Joelg at 09:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack