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MARISCAL MOUNTAIN

MARISCAL MOUNTAIN. Mariscal Mountain is seventeen miles southwest of Boquillas in Big Bend National Park, southern Brewster County (at 29°01' N, 103°09' W). With an elevation of 3,932 feet above sea level, it rises 1,830 feet above Fresno Creek, a mile northeast. The mountain is a mile wide and extends nine miles from the northwest to the southeast, where it terminates on the Rio Grande above Mariscal Canyon. It was reportedly named for Albino Villa Alfelias, an Indian fighter held in high regard by the local Mexican population (mariscal, Spanish for "marshal," can refer to any important person).

Mariscal Mountain became an important center of mercury mining in the early twentieth century. The Lindsey Mine, near the northern end of the mountain, was productive, but operated for less than five years; Lindsey could not afford to ship the ore by burro to Terlingua for processing, so he sold the claims to Isaac Sanger, who formed the Texas Almaden Mining Company in November 1905. The 1907 depression forced the company out of business, and W. K. Ellis, who also owned a candelilla wax factory nearby, bought the claims. In 1916 Ellis built his own refining plant at the mine, and from July 1917 to May 1919 the Ellis Mine produced 894 flasks of mercury. After World War I, when the price of mercury dropped, Ellis sold out to the Mariscal Mining Company, organized by William D. (Billy) Burcham. Burcham modernized the mine and installed a more sophisticated furnace, but expenses were high; in 1923 the mine closed after producing just 400 flasks of mercury, and most of those who had worked there moved to Terlingua. In 1927 Burcham took over the Mariscal Mining Company's assets and organized the Vivianna Mining Company, but except for a brief period in 1942 and 1943, when ninety-seven flasks were produced, the mine has been inoperative since the 1920s. Several of the caves along the lower cliff of Mariscal Mountain, which were harvested for bat guano in the 1930s, are nesting sites for the rare cave swallow.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Arthur R. Gomez, A Most Singular Country: A History of Occupation in the Big Bend (Santa Fe: National Park Service; Salt Lake City: Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University, 1990).

Martin Donell Kohout

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Martin Donell Kohout, "MARISCAL MOUNTAIN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rjm06), accessed July 25, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.