The Death of the Beauty of the Sierra Madre Mts.


Expedition Leader
Just returning again from the trip into the Sierra Madre Mts. of Mexico, is another wake-up call.

As we live and take more for our greed we kill the world a day at a time. As we demand the technology of today we destroy the beauty of yesterday. The world has much to offer us and we loose this for us to live in a false world we are trying to create. Our life is in the computers a little more each day, at the cost of nature.

What these opinions are about are the destroying of the world we live in for the world of the devices we are growing to depend on, the glam and glitter we wear as well. Sure some of these can be used to save us some work and lives. It also destroys life at the same time. This destruction may not be in our backyard but in a neighbors back yard.

The trips into the Mountains in Mexico (Sierra Madre Occidental Mts.) I have only been traveling for about 40 years into the Mountains in Northern Mexico. I have seen the destruction of the area for the Gold, Silver, Copper and other minerals.

With little regulations for the environment in Mexico the big world wide companies have come into Mexico with the capital and abilities to buy their way into the destruction of the land, water and air.

I will start with some background into the mining of the area. The first people into the area were the ones who found the free silver in the streams and rivers of the Barrancas. This was noticed by the invading people from Europe. The prized silver and gold for the sponsors of the expeditions brought in the mining as the free surface minerals were depleted. Some smaller mines grew and became bigger by the standards at the time. The raids into the local Indian villages for slave labor increased. The cost of mining grew as they needed to go deeper to get the wealth.

The improved methods to retrieve the minerals improved with harsher chemicals. This lead to pollution of the land, air and water in the area. The people living their did not want the outsiders in their lands. They left the lands of their ancestors for the remote canyons. Mining came to a end for many years until the need and greed increased to make it profitable again.

Then comes the bigger companies who start looking at the reopening of the old mining areas. They have the resources of money to get what ever equipment it takes to rip and tear at the earth for what they want. Taking the lands for what it had to offer, without a plan for it’s future. Destroy it then leave it!

The land, the scars from destruction will be their for thousands of years at least. To give you a quick example, this is a list of some of the mines in the area. You do not need to drive to see them. Look at Goggle earth or Goggle maps to see them. I have a list for you to see from your computer.

The locations of mines medium to large (some split into sections) gulf coast to West of Chihuahua, Chihuahua. Located within the area, from the border with the U.S. to as the crow flies 350 miles south of the border. Twenty one (21) mines that are scarring the earth. Where a mountain once stood we have a hole generally filled with many heavy metals.

GPS Location Nearest location for reference

31° 6'39.09"N 110°26'6.61"W Milipillas
31° 2'47.23"N 110°25'29.37"W Milipillas
30°57'46.00"N 110°20'3.69"W Cananea
30°47'40.89"N 111°54'56.78"W Caborca
31°14'29.54"N 109°38'47.26"W Aqua Prieta
30°19'19.99"N 109°33'35.24"W Nacozari de Garcia
30°19'45.90"N 110°29'3.51"W Klondike
28°43'19.25"N 108°53'17.57"W Tarachi
28°38'14.08"N 108°45'7.05"W Yecora
28°59'32.88"N 108°32'14.85"W Dolores
28°37'53.88"N 109°38'20.50"W Tonichi
28°18'33.88"N 108°12'46.15"W El Concheno
28°16'25.35"N 108°18'25.06"W El Landrillera
28°11'5.61"N 108°22'57.43"W El Durazno
27° 9'46.94"N 109° 0'13.32"W Las Zayas (Alamos)
27°23'4.82"N 108°24'14.18"W Palmarejo
27° 7'55.54"N 108° 1'27.59"W La Tascatosa
27° 6'19.53"N 107°59'21.30"W Green Rocks
27° 7'23.46"N 107°36'19.86"W La Bufa
27° 0'4.55"N 107°53'9.74"W El Rodeo
26°45'3.10"N 108°39'50.24"W Zapote

There are even more this is just a quick look at some of the strip mines.. La Bufa is closed down and El Rodeo closed down about 8 years ago. El Rodeo had a mine dan break and flooded the Urique River with heavy metals about 3 years ago.

If your into pretty colors the collection ponds have bright pretty colors of blue and green to look at.

I am 72 years old some days and 72 years young on others. Every trip I keep learning more and it is sad, to see the beauty of a area like this be turned into a pile of rocks. The lives of the people who live here without any way to escape it. Read and learn about the Tarahumara people and you can see the pain in their eyes! If you are lucky you may have a opportunity to look into their eyes and see their world!

I will not debate my feelings. We do not have a chance to see it from where you sit, with pictures, or videos. You will not see the sole of the people forced to live their life there. I would find it hard to believe outsiders would understand this.

Da Frenchman

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
How sad to hear this. I know you don’t post pictures but was anyone with you that can?

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Mike W.

Well-known member
My wife's from Baja Sur..We have owned a house there for 35 years..We have always been into enjoying the trails but your right Frenchie..Were heading down for a month I June and I wonder just how much the landscape has changed in 15 months..


Expedition Leader
Hi Mike,

I am sure that you have seen the same things I have listed below.

My years in Baja are more extensive then in Mainland Mexico. It has really changed since the 1970's with the opening of Hwy #1. The landscape has really changed. By that I am referring to the irrigation and farming. Northwestern coastal Baja is a Mediterranean climate of under 10" of rain a year. For the last million or so years the water collected in the aquifers. The farming is sucking it out faster then it can be replaced. For the last 20 years not a single river runs with fresh water into the ocean. Many of the wells near the coast are getting saltier as the wells are getting the salt water flowing back to fill the dry aquifers.

The growing population of people are requiring water to drink and bathe. Most of Baja is a desert and that requires more water to grow plants then then a more moderate climate.

I think that Baja still has some growing to do then it will slowly start to become the Salton Sea. The land will not be able to sustain the changes and water (the source of life) will force the area to change. It will revert back to what it was before the 1970's.

Some may say this is progress? The world is stronger then anything man has and "It" will decide when it wants to kick our backside out of there!

We long time travelers to Baja, all have had our secret places we would go. Many of these have been discovered and the places are getting better known and less privacy. Development is taking them over. With all of this "life goes on"!

Da Frenchman


Expedition Leader
The Death of the Beauty of the Sierra Madre Mts.

The death of this is much more then just the scenery of the Sierra Madre Occidental Mts.. It is the death of the Tarahumara Indians or as they call themselves the Raramuri.

This group are some of the most remote people of the world. They lived further to the east closer to Chihuahua until the Spanish invaders came to the area, The people of the area left their good farm land and retreated into the mountains and canyons. They are a very shy people and wanted nothing to do with the outsiders.

This was short lived until the outsiders found the silver in the area, The greed for the treasures of the area brought the miners into the area. They started small for a couple of hundred years, getting the free metals, out of the streams. The cost became non-feasible to mine for many years. Most of the mining had shut down.

They then got big conglomerates with untold millions of dollars to move the mountains for the silver, gold and other metals. They built roads to get equipment, food and supplies into the mines.

This mining has taken over the area and made changes that will be around for a long time. They need labors for the hard work. They hired the locals. They bring in the heavy equipment into the small communities and moving out the people who have lived their lives on top of the wealth.

This is the biggest loss of beauty in the area the shy people had no choice as the outside people invaded their lands. We are the looser as well as the locals. We are changing the lives, culture and what we could have learned from these people. It is some thing that when it is gone it can never replaced.

The killing of the beauty still goes on today and will be around for untold times. The unseen heavy metals that have polluted the rivers and lake down stream. This is going to be around for a very long time.

The slow death has begun!

Da Frenchman