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Quicksilver mine goes bust

October
01
1942

On this day in 1942, the Chisos Mining Company filed for bankruptcy. The company, a major quicksilver producer at Terlingua in southern Brewster County, was established in 1903. Founded by Howard E. Perry, a Chicago industrialist, the Chisos reported its first recovery in 1903, and during the next three decades became one of the nation's leading producers of quicksilver. Several factors contributed to the success of the operation. First, the property contained some of the richest ore in the quicksilver district; second, Perry engaged men of outstanding caliber to supervise the onsite operations (metallurgist William Battle Phillips and geologist Johan August Udden); third, quicksilver prices peaked during World War I, the period of the mine's maximum recovery; and fourth, an abundance of cheap Mexican labor was available. Production declined during the late 1930s, and the company filed for bankruptcy in 1942. The Esperado Mining Company purchased the Chisos assets and operated the mine unsuccessfully until the end of World War II.

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