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The New York Times, January 17, 1855, p.2:


Railroads and Explorations—A New Silver Mine—Wild Speculation-
How the Silver is Got and Cleared of Useless Stuff, &c.

Correspondence of the New-York Daily Times.
COPIAPO, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 1854.
    Our little party here are in the daily expectation of a great pleasure, not less than that of a visit from Mr. ALLAN CAMPBELL, who has been commissioned by the Government of the Republica Argentina to make a thorough survey, instrumentally, of the passes of the Cordilleras, for the purpose of constructing good roads between the two countries.
    All hands of us here have also been engaged in collecting information with reference to this point, and what will astonish you not a little, the result of our various investigations has been to render it almost certain that through one of the passes, a little to the north of this, a railroad may be constructed. Some of us need a little more evidence to be entirely convinced, and it is proposed to start off a party of engineers for the purpose of reconnoissance...

    The great interest at present in this place is the discovery of a new "mineral," or mining district of silver, which, according to the discoverer's report, throws all the previous ones into the background. It is, however, too new to say anything with certainty.
    But the prices they ask for shares are something enormous, even in the view of this community. Think of paying $30,000 for the twenty-fourth part of an as yet unworked mine, as some have demanded, or even $10,000, which others have taken.
    From the wide difference of these two amounts you will see what a wild speculation it is, and perhaps a week from now I could buy one for $1,000; though the chances of that are small, if some specimens I have seen are to be taken as fair samples; one stone, especially, weighing twenty-two pounds, which looked like a parcel of dollars half melted and pounded together with a stone.

    Some time since I accompanied a party of the Directors up the valley, the object being to form a opinion as to the comparative merits of two lines of road proposed and surveyed for the prolongation of this (the Copiapo) Railroad.
    We left here early in the morning, and went by rail about twelve miles above the city to a village called "Tierra Amarilla," where we left a number of ladies and gentlemen who had gone up for the pleasure of the excursion. The rest of us, who went on business, here got into carriages, which were awaiting us, and went on for some six or eight miles more to "Maquina," as it is called, of Cerrillos.

    Maquina means, really, any kind of machinery; but here its almost exclusive application is to the establishments in which the silver is worked down from the ore to its pure state. There are a great number them in this city and the valley above it, but of all I have seen, this of Cerillos seems to be the most extensive and best managed.
    The processes are very simple, and even to appearance rude, and one would think ineffectual; but it is, notwithstanding, a fact that the old, clumsy, Spanish machinery, with all its mechanical disadvantages, works more economically and thoroughly than any one of the—nobody knows how many—improvements on it got up by French, English, and even smart Yankee,—tried for a time, found a failure, and thrown aside.

    The first thing is to break the ore up into pieces, of which none will be larger than about half the size of an egg. These are then thrown into a tub with a stone bottom, about half full of water. In this tub, an immensely heavy stone wheel, with an iron rim, continually goes round, breaking and grinding to the most impalpable powder whatever may be so unlucky as to come beneath it.
    There is a hole in the side of the tub, a little above the level of the water, from which a pipe leads to vats in which the very thin mud produced by this process is allowed to settle. As the mouth of the pipe is above the surface of the water, it is only the water thrown up by the wheel in its revolution which can enter it, and this will of course contain only the finest powder, the larger particles remaining by their own weight at the bottom of the "trapiche," as the machine is called. Fresh water is allowed to enter the tub constantly, just as fast as that impregnated (so to call it) with the ore runs off.

    Perhaps a little sketch will give you a clearer idea of this machine than I can by words. The horizontal shaft is moved by a cog-wheel at its upper extremity, its lower resting in a hole in the stone bottom of the trapiche. In its revolution it, of course, carries with it the wheel whose axis passes through it, thus giving it a sort of double motion, very difficult to describe, but easy to imagine, and whose grinding effect will be seen to be tremendous.
    The wooden sides of the tub set around the stone bottom, but the open space is filled with cement, so that nothing can escape or leak out between them.

    In the vats the liquor is left for some days, till all the solid parts, metal and stone together, have settled to the bottom, leaving the water quite clear. By removing plugs in the sides, this is now allowed to run off, leaving the thick sediment at the bottom to be bailed out, and subjected to the next portion of the process, which is amalgamation.

    There are two ways of doing this, both quite common, and there does not seem to be much difference in either economy or effectiveness between them.
    One is to put the paste, with mercury, and water enough to render it fluid, into tight barrels, which are then rolled over and over by machinery till the mercury has taken up every particle of silver.
    The other, and more common, is to put the same materials in a vat with an iron bottom, on which three or four iron arms, something like the dashers of a churn, are continually going round keeping the mass in motion until the same effect is produced.

    This effected, the whole is allowed to run off through a small opening in the bottom into kettles in which the amalgam, by its own weight, falls to the bottom; but the water and earthy matter, being lighter, run over the side into pits dug for that purpose.
    All that remains now is to separate the two metals, which is very easily effected by first pounding the mass in strong vessels with perforated bottoms, which drives off a greater portion of the quicksilver, and finally baking it, which clears off the remainder.

    It was for a long time, until within three or four years, supposed that the earthy resiuum, called relàves, left after the amalgamation, was valueless, but it is now known that it always contains more or less silver, in some cases a very large amount. This comes from the fact that very frequently the ores of silver are in combination with arsenic or antimony, and that of these combinations the mercury will take no hold. Quite a different process is needed for the reduction of such ores.
    There is an establishment for that purpose near here, but I have never been able to visit it since it went into operation. Almost all the silver ores here contain more or less of these refractory combinations, and some of the richest mines yield only this class of ore.
    These ores are always sent to England for reduction; the establishment of which I spoke above being but small, and only beneficiating metals and relàves belonging to its owner.

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1855 was equivalent to $21.97 in 2007.

The New York Times, May 19, 1895:


War Is Threatened Between Argentina and Chile.


Arbitration Might Avert War,
but Arbitration is Not Now Popular in Argentina—
Resources of Both Republics.

    Disquieting reports and rumors are heard here and in Washington from time to time concerning the relations between the Argentine Republic and Chile... both nations are strengthening their land and sea forces... exchanges of heated language may at any time be followed by resort to more mischievous weapons...
    The excuse or pretext for a war between Chile and Argentina will be a question of limits, a boundary dispute touching the line along the Andes. It is not a new dispute. Nearly every South American Republic has a boundary dispute as old as itself...

    From 1875 to 1881 there was grave danger of war between Chile and Argentina over this unsettled boundary line... In October, 1881, a treaty was signed at Buenos Ayres by Bernardo de Irigoyen of the Argentine Republic, and by Francisco de B. Echeverria for Chile. It described the boundary line between the two nations as running north and south over the highest peaks of the Cordillera of the Andes...
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    Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while Araucanian Indians (also known as Mapuches) inhabited central and southern Chile.
    Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern regions. It was not until the 1880s that the Araucanian Indians were completely subjugated.
    A three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990.
    Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth, reduced poverty rates by over half, and have helped secure the country's commitment to democratic and representative government. Chile has increasingly assumed regional and international leadership roles befitting its status as a stable, democratic nation.
    CIA World Factbook: Chile

Area of Chile: 756,950 sq km
slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana

Population of Chile: 16,284,741
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    The Andine limits, however, do not appear to have been clearly understood or described. Indeed, the language used to describe the limits is the ground of the later dispute, which has become extremely critical...

    The Chileans insist that the word "cumbre" signifies a "ridge," instead of "the highest peaks," and declare that the line of demarkation should follow the curves of the Cordillera... The Argentines are understood to be positive that the Chilean method, if adopted, would prove on the whole to be much to the disadvantage to the Argentines, and the latter are urging that the line described in the treaty means one to be carried straight from peak to peak... And they support this contention by reference to the fact that the Chilean Government signed a protocol, in 1893, in which it was conceded that all the lands, lakes, rivers, and currents to the east of the highest peaks of the Cordillera, which divides the waters, belong to the Argentine Republic.
    Chile and Argentina have Commissioners under the stipulation of the treaty—Barras Arana for Chile and Qurian Costa for the Argentine Republic... It is now learned from Santiago that Señor Arana has published in a newspaper a long and—so the Argentines say—very intemperate exposition of his views on the questions in dispute between the two republics; views which, if indorsed by the Chilean Government, might lead to a rupture of diplomatic relations, or worse...

    The two great republics of Argentina and Chile are prodigious in resources, the natural advantages of each country have been rapidly developed, and both have extensive and important commercial relations with Europe and the United States.

    The Argentine Republic has, including the annexed Patagonian territory, an area of 1,125,086 square miles, with 4,086,492 population. The population has been rapidly increased by encouraged immigration, but in 1893 the arrivals were about 50,000 and the departures 48,794. The revenues in 1893 were $31,909,953 gold and $108,801,225 paper. The estimates for 1895 were $34,373,000 in gold and $23,825,000 in paper, and the expenditures were estimated at $18,418,300 gold and $61,777,574 paper.
    The army consists of thirty-seven Generals, 685 infantry officers, 507 officers of cavalry, 167 of artillery, and two of engineers. The rank and file of the army number 6,498. The national guard is estimated at 480,000, of whom not more than 65,000 have received any military training. The Argentine Navy is third in importance of the navies maintained by South American States. The list of vessels is as follows:



Almirante Brown
8 8-in., 6 4½-in., 4 m.
2 24 c.m., 4 12 c.m., 4 3-pdr.
2 24 c.m., 4 12 c.m., 4 3-pdr.
2 11-in., 2 4½-in., 2 l., 4 m.
2 11-in., 2 4½-in., 2 l., 4 m.


Nuevo de Julio
23 de Mayo
4 6-in., 8 4.7-in., 12 3-pdr., 12 1-pdr.
2 21 c.m., 8 12 c.m., 12 3-pdr., 12 1-pdr.
1 10-in., 3 6-in., 6 l., 10 m.
1 6-in., 6 7 c.m., 4 m.
3 14-pdr., 3-in. q.f., 4 3-pdr.
.... ....
2 4.7-in., 4 3-pdr., 2 3-pdr.
2 6-in., 2 4½-in.
2 6-in., 2 4½-in.

    The Plata and the Andes are port-defense monitors; the Nuevo de Julio and 25 de Mayo are twenty-two knot cruisers, built in 1890 and 1892; the Almirante Brown was built in 1880, and has 14 knots speed. The cruiser rams Libertad and Independencia, launched at Birkenhead in 1890 and 1891, are remarkable vessels. They were the first vessels to be provided with heavy guns for high-angle fire. The Patria, built to take the place of the Rosales, lost at sea, has steamed 20.5 knots with forced draught. There are also eight first-class and six second-class torpedo boats, the naval fleet counting thirty-three vessels of all kinds.

    Chile's area in square miles is 293,970, and the population is 2,915,332, or about 1,100,000 less than that of Buenos Ayres. The revenues in 1893 were $60,000,000, and the expenditures $57,000,000. The external and internal debts are small in comparison with the indebtedness of Buenos Ayres.
    The army of Chile is restricted by law to 6,000 men, and the force consists of 3 regiments of artillery, 7 of infantry, 4 of cavalry, and a corps of engineers. There are 5 Generals of division, 4 of brigade, 17 Colonels, 40 Lieutenant Colonels, and 460 inferior officers. In 1894 the National Guard consisted of 51,000 men.



Capitan Prat
Almirante Cochrane
4 24 c.m., 8 12 c.m., 10 57 m.m.
6 8-in., 4 57 m.m., 3 m., 1 l.
2 8-in., 4 4.7-in., 2 m., 1 l.


Blanco Encalada
Presidente Errazuriz
Presidente Pinto
Almirante Lynch
Almirante Condell
2 8-in., 10 6-in. q.f.
4 15 c.m., 2 12 c.m., 4 57 m.m., 6 m.
Same as Errazuriz.
3 14-pdr., 4 3-pdr., 2 m.
Same as Lynch.
3 7-in., 4 10-pdr.
1 70-pdr., 4 40-pdrs. 4 m.
1 7-in., 1 64-pdr., m. l. r., 3 l.
1 70-pdr., 6 l. r., 2 40-pdr.

    There are also five gunboats of about 420 tons each, six second-class, and three third-class torpedo boats. The Capitan Prat, built a La Seyne, is a remarkable vessel of 18½ knots speed, powerful armament worked by electricity, and ample protection. The Presidente Errazuriz and Presidente Pinto, launched in 1890, have 19 knots speed. The Blanco Encalada, launched in 1893, made 22.78 knots under forced draught and is a powerful as well as a swift vessel. The Condell and the Lynch are torpedo gunboats. The whole number of naval vessels is twenty-six.

    In 1894 Argentina had a commerical fleet of 73 steamers of over 100 tons and 97 sailing vessels. Chile's commercial navy in 1894 consisted of 137 vessels of more than 100 tons, of which 39 were steamers and 98 were sailing vessels.

    In the event of a conflict between the two nations, the Argentines would be prepared to meet the Chileans with larger resources than the Chileans command, and with a slightly superior navy. For a time the political dissensions that have recently and do still weaken Argentina might embarrass that Government in undertaking a foreign war, but the probabilities of eventual success would rest with the Argentines.

    The suggestion that the boundary dispute with Chile be settled by arbitration would, under ordinary circumstances, appeal to the pacific administration of Argentina. But the administration is now subjected to criticism because of the settlement of the Misiones boundary dispute in favor of Brazil. President Cleveland so decided the question, after it had been a matter of hot dispute for years, and there can be no appeal from the just decision. But Argentina's loss has not been popular, and it has made arbitration a distasteful word for a time.

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1895 was equivalent to $24.71 in 2007.

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