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Santa Rosalia

This vibrant city has a very interesting past. Rich copper deposits were found in the area in the 1860s. These were quickly unified by a Mexican duo who subsequently sold their shares to a French conglomerate, Compagnie du Boleo, that continued and increased the mining. Wringing deals from the Mexican government, they paid no customs, import, or export duties, none of the company employees were subject to military or civil duty, and their land claims were increased to 2,317 square miles. Bringing timber from the US, coal and equipment from Europe, they began smelting copper on-site. By 1910, they had shipped out 366,000 tons of copper. Naturally, much of the profit came at the expense of the workers, many from Mexican prisons and others from as far as China and Japan. Hundreds died, strikes and labor disputes were common.

By the 1930s, Compagnie du Boleo realized that the deposits were dying but the World Wars kept the market lucrative. They finally sold the company in 1954, virtually killing the town. Efforts to establish fishing and canning, and the construction of a ferry terminal, have helped revitalize the town.

Wings rests in a marina for the first time in weeks. Note the whitecaps in the harbor waters! Northerlies again.

The working harbor of Santa Rosalia shows the fishing fleet of pangas.

A boat sunk in the harbor and has now become a navigational hazard to avoid, but the birds like it.

Looking northward one sees more of the fishing fleet in front of the remains of the dockside copper loading facilities.

A good look at a panga. These flare-bowed, heavily built fiberglass boats are 20-25 feet long and are powered by large outboards. They are used extensively throughout the Sea of Cortez. Their heavy weight is important for stability in the winds and seas.

Lovely Conni strolls along their Malecon, overlooking the harbor.

A crucible for molten copper adorns the waterfront. Brought all the way from Europe on a square-rigger, it bears mute testimony to fortunes won and lost.

The other marina in town, this one private and a bit less expensive.

More copper industry buildings in the harbor area overshadow everything else. The stack at left must have exhausted smoke from the horizontal boilers just to the left of the stop sign.

A nice harbor view, looking south. Marina Santa Rosalia is in the foreground.

This enormous wooden structure is, we think, the loading structure for copper or other goods.

"The town that would not die" say the words. No hint of the French company that raped and ran remains, but the locals are proud of their survival.

A switch engine from the Compania El Boleo pulled ore cars from the mines to the smelters.

La Iglesia Santa Barbara de Santa Rosalia, designed in 1884 by Gustav Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame, was on display at the Paris Exhibition of 1889 beside the Tower itself. Moved to Brussels, Belgium, it was purchased by the Compania El Boleo, disassembled and transported to its current location and reassembled. That move and reassembly started in 1895 and was completed in 1897. It's beautiful and all wrought iron as is the Eiffel Tower.

The beautiful structure of the church is evident from inside. Form is function since the ironwork itself is so sinuous and pleasing

We passed this small neighborhood eatery just at lunch.

From cemetery hill, a view of Santa Rosalia. It's straight street, huge numbers of wrought iron gates and decorations, and European architecture make it a very non-typical Mexican town.

Conni reads a grave marker.

The ground is alluvial and digging is virtually impossible, so people are buried above ground.

Life and death: small, unmarked piles of stone are all that remain for the poor as they overlook the land of the living and the inevitable soccer field.

The government building, a lovely building near the docks and harbor, has an old world charm. I wanted to see the old French cemetery, and had deduced that they probably had their own, away from the laborers whom they abused. We later found the cemetery on that nearby hilltop behind.



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