Item #2896 [Large Archive of Correspondence Relating to the Operations of the La Lluvia Gold Mine in Sinaloa]. Mexico, Mining.

[Large Archive of Correspondence Relating to the Operations of the La Lluvia Gold Mine in Sinaloa]

Mexico; Montana: 1922-1926. Approximately 200 documents and letters, totaling more than 250pp. Old folds, light wear and soiling, heavier to a few items. About very good. Item #2896

Significant archive of correspondence documenting the activities of the La Lluvia gold mine in Sinaloa, primarily consisting of correspondence from J.H. Pankey, the mine supervisor. The Mexican Revolution brought deep disruptions to foreign mining activity in Mexico, grinding activities to a near halt during the civil war there. In years following the war, opportunities for foreign investment in destitute Mexican companies arose. Foreign involvement in Mexican mining would return to pre-war levels from 1920 through the 1940s, though some the danger of violence and disruption persisted. This archive highlights the beginning of that return to normalcy in foreign involvement with the industry.

The correspondence here is primarily between J.H. Pankey to his boss, Karl Elling, the owner of the mine and chairman of Elling Bank of Virginia City, Montana. Records suggest that the Ellings bought the property from the Mercantile Trust Company of St. Louis, who owned the mine in the early 1920s. The archive also includes copies of Elling’s outgoing correspondence from the same period, when he was also negotiating to purchase other mines. The material gives an incredibly detailed look at the calculations and logistical challenges at work in mine management. Most of Pankey’s letters give detailed accounts of the current conditions at the mine – weather, supplies on hand, the quality of the ore, and the need for constant infusions of cash to keep the operations going. The yields at La Lluvia seem to have been generally disappointing, and Elling’s correspondence shows his concerns with balancing other opportunities against La Lluvia, as well as the difficulties he has raising capital, getting his debts repaid, etc. Writing on October 5, 1925, Pankey tells his boss:

"I have had a Hell of a time here with last five weeks, have not been able to run the mill only about half the time with two 8 hour shifts, first one of the pumps gave out, the feed pipe under the baler burned off. So had to close down, cool off the baler, so as we could get inside the brick work to fix it, which took the day. ... But we have everything going now, but only two shifts as it keeps me busy on repair work. I have been working 16 to 18 hours per day for the last two months. It has not rained but very little the last two months. I have water enough to run two shifts for about 30 days. I can pump some out of a well near the mill.... I have opened up an ore body on the side near the mill, which looks as it may produce considerable ore, as it is in new ground. But if it should prove to be a large ore body, we could not get out very much of it as our time expires on Dec. 12. But I believe we would be able to get an extension."

Pankey spent some of his time in Mexico scouting other opportunities. Reading the correspondence here, one discerns the constant balancing act of this particular type of investment, especially for smaller operators like the Ellings, who were constantly weighing the potential of one opportunity over another due to limited capital. Many of Elling’s letters are concerned with “the dope” on various other mines, as well as the shuffle of machinery and personnel, and trying to make the best of the weather conditions. Pankey also spends time at Nogales, across the border from El Paso, detailing the transfer of equipment across the border and noting, “one has to order material in this country several months in advance.” He briefly mentions “the natives,” though only in passing and as it relates to the discovery of gold. Pankey does mention the revolution at one point, saying that if his equipment can hold up he should be able to continue his work, providing “the revolution does not put me out of business.”.

Price: $5,750.00