Mapimí

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Mapimí is a city and municipal seat of the municipality of Mapimí in the Mexican state of Durango.
As of 2010, the town of Mapimí had a population of 5,623.

The Ojuela Mine, about 3 km. southeast of Mapimí, is a famous locality for mineral specimens, especially adamite.

Mapimi is an outstanding “Magical Town”, given its fierce history and location in the middle of an inhospitable desert. Be surprised with every step you take; listen to the wood of the Ojuela hanging bridge as it creaks under your feet and the wind as it howls through the hundred meter deep gorge and whispers the secrets of the people and the mining center into your ear while looking at the verdant mountains that complete this imposing structure.

Step into the Rosario Caves and discover the Bolson Biosphere Reserve; a surprising natural area recognized by UNESCO (in the Man and Biosphere program), which is home to many different endemic species (some of them endangered) such as the bolson tortoise, pale hawk and bura deer.

Feel the enigmatic mystery that surrounds the Zone of Silence; the desert and dune sands will cause your eyes will marvel at the marine fossils, cacti in violet tones and stones that locals say are actually meteorites that bring with them the history of the universe.

History

The small and historic town of Mapimí served various local mines.

The indigenous Tepehuan Indians called this place “the rock on the hill” and repeatedly thwarted the attempts of Jesuit missionaries to found a town here, but the thirst for gold won in the end.

It is rumored that gold was even found under the town’s streets. A small museum houses mementos and photos from the old days showing just how prosperous this mining town once was.

One handbook to gem collecting in Mexico describes Mapimí as the “mineral collector’s capital of Mexico”. This is the place for the geologist in the group to find plenty of inexpensive agates, selenite crystals, calcite and other minerals.

Like seemingly every town in this region of Mexico, Mapimí boasts that both Miguel Hidalgo, the Father of Mexican Independence, and Benito Juárez, the President of Indian blood, passed by in the nineteenth century. Juárez even stayed overnight.

Access to one of the local mining areas, about 10 km outside the town is via the Ojuela suspension bridge, a masterpiece of engineering. Ruined stone houses on the hillsides tell of Ojuela’s former wealth.

Ore was first discovered here in 1598. By 1777, seven haciendas de beneficio (enrichment plants) served thirteen different mines. In 1848, the Spanish mine owners gave up their struggle to make the mines pay and a Mexican company took over.

In 1892 they decided to attack the hillside opposite Ojuela. To shortcut the approach, engineer Santiago Minguin spanned the gorge with a 315-meter-long suspension bridge, said by some to be the third longest in Latin America.

The mine’s production peaked just after the Mexican Revolution. Between 1922 and 1925, 687 kilograms of gold and 99,820 kilos of silver were extracted, alongside more than 51 million kilos of lead and a million kilos of copper. At that time, some 3000 miners celebrated every evening in the bars of Ojuela, now completely abandoned to the elements.

The bridge, restored for its centenary, is a worthy contribution to tourism in Durango state. One and a half meters wide, it sways and bounces in the breeze, probably scaring mums and dads into silent concentration faster than their excited children! But the local miners and their mineral-laden donkeys rattle across the planks as if it were a highway. Once across the bridge, old timers will take you on a one kilometer walk along mine galleries (unlit except for hand-held miners’ lamps) which completely traverse the mountain to emerge into daylight on the far side.

Mapimí Silent Zone

Not far from Mapimí is the internationally-famous “Zone of Silence”, the Mapimí Biosphere Reserve, the claimed merits of which are much discussed.

The Mapimí Silent Zone (La Zona del Silencio) is the popular name for a desert patch near the Bolsón de Mapimí in Durango, Mexico, overlapping the Mapimí Biosphere Reserve. It is the subject of an urban myth that claims it is an area where radio signals and any type of communications cannot be received.

However, communications equipment tends to work properly in the zone. Guides assert that the zone moves around; as a result locals are highly skeptical of the zone’s existence.

History

In July 1970, an Athena test missile launched from a U.S. military base near Green River, Utah toward White Sands Missile Range lost control and fell in the Mapimí Desert region. The rocket was carrying two small containers of cobalt 57, a radioactive element commonly associated with the construction of Salted bombs.

After several weeks of searching, local farmers found and reported the crash in the Northeast corner of the State of Durango. Once the rocket was found, a road was built to transport the wreckage, along with a small amount of contaminated top soil.

Legend

As a result of the US Air Force recovery operations there, a number of myths and stories relating to the area arose, including “strange magnetic anomalies that prevent radio transmission”, mutations of flora and fauna, and extraterrestrial visitations.

Municipality

Mapimí is one of the 39 municipalities of Durango, in north-western Mexico. The municipal seat lies at Mapimí. The municipality covers an area of 7,126.7 km².

In 2010, the municipality had a total population of 25,137, up from 22,940 in 2005.

In 2010, the town of Mapimí had a population of 5,623. Other than the town of Mapimí, the municipality had 283 localities, the largest of which (with 2010 populations in parentheses) were: Bermejillo (9,149) and Ceballos (3,730), classified as urban.

Located in the northeastern portion of the state, it borders the municipalities of Lerdo, Gómez Palacio, Tlahualilo, Villa Hidalgo, San Pedro del Gallo, San Luis del Cordero and Nazas.

Tourist Assistance + Emergency Numbers

You can dial 078 from any phone, where you can find free information about tourist attractions, airports, travel agencies, car rental companies, embassies and consulates, fairs and exhibitions, hotels, hospitals, financial services, migratory and other issues.

Or dial the toll-free (in Mexico) number 01-800-006-8839.

You can also request information to the email correspondencia@sectur.gob.mx

MORE EMERGENCY NUMBERS:

General Information: 040 (not free)

National Emergency Service: 911

Radio Patrols: 066
Police (Emergency): 060
Civil Protection: +52(55)5683-2222
Anonymous Complaint: 089

Setravi (Transport Mobility): +52(55)5209-9913
Road Emergency: 074

Cruz Roja: 065 o +52(55)5557-5757
Firefighters: 068 o +52(55)5768-3700


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