Back in Santa Rosalia
13 October 2011 | Santa Rosalia
Here we are, back in Santa Rosalia again. We left the boat here in the marina for the summer and went home where it was much cooler. We came down about once a month to check on the boat, and boy was it miserably hot and humid! We're getting the boat ready to head south towards La Paz. We also met up with many friends and went out to dinner every night with different friends. This is a stopping place for boats from the north who are heading south, as it is the only town for a long stretch along this coast. Santa Rosalia has an interesting history. It is a mining town that got started back in the 1860's when copper was discovered. Two men had a number of claims between them and they formed the Boleo mining co. In the 1880's a French mining co. bought it from them. They built a harbor for the ships to come in and pick up the copper. The harbor breakwater is built from the slag from the mines and it's as wide as a 2 lane road on top. The ships took the copper back to France by way of Cape Horn and on their return trip they went north to Washington and Oregon and picked up lumber and brought it back to use in the mines and build the town with. All the homes and buildings are made of wood, which is different than most Mexican buildings which are made of cement. The bakery is in a building that used to be the company store. The main downtown area is old original buildings from the 1800's. The mines had a poor reputation for having a lot of deaths. Working conditions were very poor and dangerous. Frequent explosions, lung disease, cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis, and typhoid took the lives of 100's of miners. Also fresh water was in short supply and a poor sewer system spread disease. The early miners only wore a hat and shorts, no shoes. They worked barefoot with no protective clothing. In 1954 the French co. closed the mines because it was running out of copper. There are remnants of the smelting buildings and other mining buildings on the edge of town. The Hotel Frances is a restored French style wood hotel on a hill overlooking the Sea of Cortes. The church in town was designed by Gustave Eiffel, creator of Paris' Eiffel Tower. The steel church was built in Brussels, then bought by the French mining co. who disassembled it and shipped it to Santa Rosalia and reassembled it here in 1897. It's still in use today and is a very pretty church. The town has been in decline in recent years and was a quiet, sleepy town until a few months ago, when a Canadian mining co. bought the mines and are in the process of opening the mines again. The town is bustling with activity and more stores and restaurants have opened. Hundreds of locals have been hired and this will be great for the local economy. One of the men that used to manage the marina here got a job in the finance dept. of the mines and has been sent to Mexico City for training. We've seen a big change in the town in just the 4 months that we've had our boat here.