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Mining History:
The Mint at the Mescal Mine

A Government Detective

If I had told Kevane that I was a government detective, that I knew the operators of the Mescal mine were a lot of counterfeiters and that I had come there to arrest them, his tongue would have burned at the roots, and he could never have cooled it until he had told the men at the camp all I had told him. I did not commit this error, besides, had I done so, he would have realized that the camp was about to be broken up, and as it was a source of great revenue to him, and of nearly all the prosperity of the little town about the station, where the spurious dollars circulated like air, he would naturally have sided with the camp against me. I therefore told him I was an agent of Williams; that Williams had sold the mine upon the condition that if the ore developed over forty ounces he was to get a certain royalty on the difference, that we had reliable information that the ore was averaging seventy ounces, and yet Davis had never told us anything about this increased yield. The purpose of my visit to the mine was to secretly ascertain how the ore was running.

Knowing it was the strict rule of the operators to allow no stranger in the camp or on any of the claims, and wishing to remain here as long as possible, I went disguised as a laborer seeking employment. I arranged with Kevane to have a mock quarrel with me after our arrival, the upshot of which would be that he would refuse to take me away on the team. Having no food nor water, I would then be an object of pity and sympathy to those at the mine, and being very harmless and inconsequential in appearance, I relied on my chances of being tolerated in camp, and given a little food, while, without making any inquiries, I would keep my eyes open to all that went on about me.

This programme came to be carried out exactly as it was laid down. The quarrel with Kevane passed off successfully, and I was left alone. I was ordered out of camp by Superintendent Spencer, but I told him I would not go, that I had neither food nor water, and that I could not walk over the desert, as my feet were sore. I told him that the only thing I could do was to remain at the camp until a team went down to the station and go on that. My excuse did not please Mr. Spencer, but he did not drive me off.

So far as the mining of the ore and the smelting and refining was concerned, I observed nothing unusual nor extraordinary, except that they should have a refinery in connection with their plant, then they could have shipped the bullion and have had it refined much cheaper in the East, and this is the usual method pursued at all mines where any smelting is done, but I asked no questions. I observed, also, that after the silver was cast into bars it was taken up into the mine, and subsequently the bars were brought back to the refinery again, and piled up there in an iron vault.

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