UT wordmark
Ox Cart
The Saint John d'El Rey Company
cut its own primitive roads.
Luckily, Brazilian oxen are quite hardy.

A Wood Saw
Both the buildings and the mines themselves
required enormous amounts of processed wood.

Testing the Fire Hydrants
Because of the amount of wood construction
employed at Morro Velho, fire posed a significant
risk to the mining operations.
In this photo mine employees test the fire hydrants.


Self-Sufficiency at Morro Velho

click any of the photos for more detail.

Located as it was in the rugged and heavily forested mountains of Minas Gerais, the mining operations at Morro Velho necessarily included much more than just the mines. In fact, the Saint John d'El Rey Company built an entire support infrastructure as well. For instance, the Company cut its own roads and constructed its own buildings, including residences for the mine employees. logo

Of course, such large-scale construction required a substantial amount of building materials and tools. As it was significantly cheaper to produce the materials locally than to import them, the Saint John d'El Rey Company constructed a number of shops for everything from woodworking to blacksmithing and tool-making.

The local operations at Morro Velho also took steps to provide for the site's safety. For instance, mine workers constructed and maintained a fire hydrant system. Also, miners could qualify as crack shots for gold shipment guard duty. In fact in the 1890s, Morro Velho was nearly entirely self-sufficient, which was a good thing considering that the nearest rail line was over a hundred kilometers away.

Excavation
The Saint John d'El Rey Company constructed residences for its employees. Not all of them were as
lavish as the manager's house seen here.

Fitting Shop
A mine employee takes inventory of the
assorted drill bits in the fitting shop.

Crack Shots
The mechanics who qualified as crack shots
and were authorized to guard the gold troop
stand with their rifles for a portrait.

Last updated: May 3rd, 2010.
Created by: Beau Steenken - Graduate Research Assistant
Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin
Please send comments to: schroer@mail.utexas.edu

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