Durango, Mexico (State) - Encyclopedia




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DURANGO, a state of northern Mexico, bounded N. by Chihuahua, E. and S.E. by Coahuila, S. by Zacatecas and the territory of Tepic, and W. by Sinaloa. Pop. (1895) 292,549; (1900) 370,294. Area 38,009 sq. m. Durango is a continuation southward of the high, semi-arid plateau of Chihuahua, with the Sierra Madre extending along its western side. The Bolson de Mapimi covers its N.E. angle, and in the S. there are peculiar volcanic hills, covering about 1000 sq. m. and known as La Brena. The Bolson de Mapimi, previous to the building of the Mexican Central railway across it, had been considered an uninhabitable desert, but irrigation experiments have demonstrated that its soil is highly fertile and well adapted to the production of cotton and fruit. The rainfall is very light in the eastern part of the state, a succession of years sometimes passing without any precipitation whatever, but in the W. it is sufficient to produce good pasturage and considerable areas of forest. There are no rivers of any magnitude in the state. The largest is the Rio Nazas, which flows eastward into the lakes of the Mapimi depression, and the Mezquital, which flows S.W. through the sierras to the Pacific coast. The climate is generally dry and healthful. Cotton is produced to a limited extent, especially where irrigation is employed, and wheat, Indian corn, tobacco, sugar-cane and grapes are also grown. In the elevated valleys of the sierras stock-raising is successful. The principal industry of Durango, however, is mining, and some of the richest and best known mines of Mexico are found in the state. Besides silver, which has been extensively mined since the first arrival of the Spanish under Francisco de Ibarra (1554-1562), gold, copper, iron, cinnabar, tin, coal and rubies are found. The famous Cerro del Mercado, 2 m. from the city of Durango, is a hill composed in great part of remarkably pure iron ore, and is estimated to contain 300,000,000 tons of that metal. Near it are iron and steel works. The principal mining districts of Durango include San Dimas (on the western slope of the main sierra),Guarisamey, Buenavista, Gavilanes, Guanacevi, Mapimi, El Oro and Inde. In the firstnamed is the celebrated Candelaria mine, where the ores (largely argentite) assay between $70 and $140 a ton, the aggregate output being estimated as over $100,000,000 before the close of the 19th century. With the exception of silver, the mineral resources of the state have been but slightly developed because of difficult and expensive transportation. The Mexican Central railway crosses the eastern side of the state, and the Mexican International crosses N.E. to S.W. through the state capital on its way to the port of Mazatlan. The history of Durango is similar to that of Chihuahua, the state originally forming part of the province of Nueva Viscaya. The capital is Durango, and among the principal towns are Guanacevi (pop. 6859), El Oro, Nombre de Dios (the first Spanish settlement in the state), San Juan de Guadalupe, San Dimas and Villa Lerdo. These are comparatively small mining towns. Mapimi lies 130 m. N.N.E. of Durango and gives its name to the great arid depression situated still farther north.

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