On the eastern side of
the peninsula are copper mines so promising that the Rothschilds have purchased
them at high figures; and there is recently reported the discovery of a new and
valuable mine of this metal at San Fernando, on the west side of the mountain
range. The silver mines near San Antonio were worked in 1784, and by simple
processes of working metal was obtained that amounted to almost $1,000,000.
Between 1861 and 1864 some twenty companies were incorporated in San Francisco
to work the silver and copper mines, especially those at Triunfo and San Antonio
Real, near La Paz. Much money was spent and in three or four instances with
There are said to be guano deposits of a quantity and quality profitable to work on several of the rocky headlands and islets of the upper gulf sections, and companies have at different times been formed for their working.
It is said that here exist two distinct species of pearl oysters, with a possible third. They are found between the Magdalena, southward to and around the cape, and northward to above the Guardian Angel Island, covering over 1,000 miles of shoreline. Ordinary pearls abound every year, but very rare are those extraordinary in size and color. A first class pearl from these fisheries brings $5,000 to $6,000, or even a higher figure. The most splendid pearls in the Spanish regalia were taken from the Gulf of California before Napoleon's invasion, and they had been in great demand in Spain. Since the days of Cortez California pearls of good quality have been in demand in Mexico and Peru at profitable prices for the last 300 years. Between 1700 and 1710 the king's share of all the pearls taken in California amounted to $12,000 annually. In 1857 there was obtained $22,000 in pearls and $30,000 in pearl shells. The largest pearl taken from the district was one discovered at La Paz in 1882, which weighed seventy-five carats. A pear-shaped pearl found several years since in the crust of a pearl-shell oyster brought $150.
There is said to be an abundance of coral in Magdalena Bay and the gulf waters.
In 1860-'62 Professor John Xantus, collecting for the Smithsonian Institute, in the lower portion alone of the peninsula, leaving unworked two-thirds of its territory, gathered over 100,000 specimens of animals, plants and minerals, of which 30,000 were fish, shells, sponges, etc., and over one-half of his species were new to science.
The true tortoise-shell turtle abounds on both coasts, as well as all the known species of edible turtles.
The indigenous quadrupeds, insects, birds and reptiles of Lower California are almost identical with those of Arizona, and that portion of California lying south of Point Concepcion. Nearly every species and variety of edible fish found on the coasts of Europe, the West Indies, Chili or Atlantic North America, are found in Lower California in abundance.
La Baja is by no means deficient in the elements needful for agricultural greatness. The average yearly rainfall over the northern section for the past ten years has been 22.69 inches.
frequent occurrence in the northern half of Lower California are deep, and also
by the configuration of the mountains they are assured a large amount of
moisture. Springs are by no means rare. The soil in the valleys is re-ported as
extremely fertile, and as admirably adapted to fruits of all kinds, notably the
grape. In the valleys near Ensenada, grapes of all kinds are raised without
irrigation. On the mesas more or less irrigation is requisite, except for citrus
fruits. Among the possible products are corn, wheat, barley and all the other
cereals, sugar-cane, tobacco, cotton, apples, pears, grapes, apricots, peaches,
oranges, lemons, figs, pomegranates, limes, bananas and pineapples, besides
other varieties of fruits, citrus and deciduous, tropical and semi-tropical. The
aim of the concessionaires and of the colonists alike, seems to he to repeat
here the history of Alta California, in making agricultural, rather than mining
pursuits, the chief industry of La Baja California. Careful surveys have been
made to determine the feasibility of bringing water from the canons, and for the
sinking of artesian wells, to secure for agricultural purposes an ample supply
of water. As an illustration of the resources of this section in the respect of
farming, it may be well to cite at least one in-stance. A certain New Hampshire
man who had come to California nearly thirty years since, going to Ensenada in
1887, has become possessed of a ranch or farm, whose orange trees planted from
the seed nine years since are in good bearing. So, also, bearing good fruit, are
his bananas, eight years old. Some of the stalks of these trees have reached a
diameter of ten inches. One olive tree, nine years old, yielded sixteen gallons
of oil, which sold for an average price of seventy-five cents per gallon. A
single grape vine, nine years old, produced last season 900 pounds of grapes.
During no season within the past twelve years has there, failed to be an
abundant grape crop. The lemons, peaches and apricots on this possession yield
well, and the fig trees produce a great weight of fruit.
As far back as 1857 La Baja exported, according to
Mexican official statistics, wine, salt, cheese, sugar, dried meats, figs,
raisins, dates, oranges, salt fish, Brazil-wood, hides, gold, silver and copper
ores, gold and silver in mark and ounces, pearls, mother-of-pearl, etc.,
amounting in all to $155,000. The item of animal oils to be derived from seal,
sea lion, sea elephant, whale, etc., is one of importance, as also that of
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