Dealing with old mines

The 1100 acres of Santa Fe County parklands and the adjacent BLM lands have on them the remains of many hundreds of abandoned mines and prospect pits, some of them vertical shafts with depths in excess of 100 feet [30 meters].  It is partly  because of this unique and visible mining heritage that these hills are such an extraordinary historical resource, but these abandoned mines are became the park's most significant hazards.

A few of the sites of mineral extraction within the park originated in prehistoric  times, and most of these prehistoric locations have seen continued activity by subsequent miners.  The early historic records of Spanish mining are not extensive, but we have identified several Spanish period [1600-1821] and Mexican period  [1821-1848] mines.  The bulk of the diggings - the visible evidence of mining - in the Cerrillos Hills date from the Territorial period [1848-1912], with a few  sites that continued to be worked well into the twentieth century.

By and large it is the legacy of holes in the ground from the mining boom of 1879-81 that  concerns us today. This legacy included the re-digging and expansion of some old  Spanish mines.

Within the Cerrillos Hills State Park and on immediately adjacent lands, there were approximately 90 vertical or near-vertical shafts with depths in excess of  6 feet [2 meters], shafts that were regarded as hazardous. All of these were made safe by the time the park opened to the public.

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