Batopilas, One Story About Mexico and Silver

We are staying at a mansion built for a silver king with a grand living room, many enclosed gardens with room around courtyards and the potentials for being open to breezes on both sides. The mansion was purchased by an American in 1989 for $25,000. It opened as a hotel in 1997 after a renovation that cost more than $1.5 million, and we 4 are the only occupants. Tourism has not come through for this town which had hoped for jobs for their people. It is one of then so-called “Magic Villages” a Federal Program to bring tourists to rural villages.

Photo is of living room

Silver mining was the reason the town was settled. The Tamahumara Indians were living in the canyons having settled there thousands of years before in family groups. The Jesuits came and set up an early mission in Satevo, about 30 minutes drive away from Batopilas. That mission served many villages and remains a Catholic Church with a priest coming from Batopilas on Sunday to say Mass. Before we went we bought notebooks and pencils to bring to a country school, and bags of basic groceries to bring to one of the villages up in the hills.

Photo of countryside, church and graveyard

After lunch and a siesta we went to the abandoned hacienda once belonging to the Sheppard family which owned the mine. The ruins are shown in photos you can see in the small local museum, photos taken in the 1920s. We were there as the sun went down and came back to town over the automobile bridge the connects the town to the rest of Chihuahua and the world.

As a help to the economy and for the only info in English I bought a book at the Museum of local culture. It was written by the grandson of these owners and self published in 1932. Although not very well written, it gives his picture of the times from his arrival as a child, to his departure being thrown out by the Mexican Government after the end of the revolution. He nor his family were physically hurt, but the mine was nationalized and they left with very little. The site was abandoned then and now a family lives in one of the buildings and acts as wardens.

Photos above show the watch tower outside the entry gate, 2. the Main building which housed the offices and storage once the silver was refined and was ready to go by mule to Chihuahua (a trip of 7 days). It is the most grand of the building, once three stories high the interior wood had been completely gutted. 3. The strangler fig tree gets water out of the mountain through the stone walls – ain’t nature grand?

Published by


On the planet in California

4 thoughts on “Batopilas, One Story About Mexico and Silver”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s