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Cerrillos Mine of New Mexico

The Cerrillos Turquoise Mine is found at the base of a volcano creating a variety of colors that come from the various volcanic host stones. Cerrillos has been known to produce some 75 different colors or turquoise. Cerrillos not only produces some the largest varieties of colors it’s one of the oldest operating mines in North America possibly operating back as far as 800-900 AD. Cerrillos is located about 10 miles south of Santa Fe New Mexico. It has been mined for hundreds of years by various tribes notably the Pueblo Indians. Using only the most primitive tools, stone axes, antler picks and simple chisels. The Pueblo miners have been thought to have removed 100,000 of tons material including turquoise from a 200-foot-deep pit they dug. Once at depth they would dig vertical shafts that would follow the veins. They would carry the material up out of the mines with leather buckets using notched log ladders. Once the turquoise was removed and sorted they would use it to trade all over the Southwest, Midwest and the West Coast. The Native Pueblo people continued to mine turquoise from Cerrillos until around the 1870’s when silver was discovered in the mine and the Tiffany company bought up all the rights. The Tiffany company extracted silver and turquoise from the mine from 1892 to 1899.