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Crisol Mine

In the wind-blown and rock slide country between Hayden's Peak and Kletting Peak, over-looking McPheter's Lake Basin, the Bell brothers discovered a Spanish mine from which they recovered an old and valuable relic. The came upon a place where a tunnel had been driven into a vein of high-grade ore, and from the ancient artifacts they uncovered in that tunnel .. . wrought iron and bronze tools and leather ore sacks ... it was evident that those earlier miners intended to return, but for whatever reason, now unknown, they never did. The most fascinating artifact found was an odd-shaped iron melting pot and retort, used by Spanish or Mexican miners to melt their gold and silver so that it could be cast into bars or ingots; what the Spanish called a "crisol." The author has a similar melting pot, which some call a "midden," which he found in the Pigeon Water country near Rock Creek long ago, but the find made by the Bell brothers may be unique.

It is obviously very old and no doubt of European manufacture. It is approximately eight-inches in both height and width, round in shape and very heavy. What is yet an unexplained oddity is that the melting pot has two spigots or pouring spouts, something like a tea-kettle with two spouts. Several persons expert at identifying such antiques have surmised that one of those spouts may have been attached to a cooling coil to recover quicksilver, while molten metal was poured from the other.

That ancient melting pot has a tight fitting lid through which finely ground metal ore could be poured; and to verify its use, in the bottom of that pot there still remains a round slab of silver bullion, about one inch thick and five inches in diameter. There is also a trace of white residue inside, probably borax or some similar flux used in refining silver. It is only one of two such antique melting posts found in the Uinta Mountains, and as such it is a priceless relic of Spanish mining days. It is fortunate that when the Bell brothers carried heavy sacks of gold and silver ore down from those rugged peaks, they had the interest to save and preserve that old "crisol" or midden.--Faded Footprints, pg. 82

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