El Triunfo Mining Town Has Its Own Museum

And the quaint town is a must to visit while you’re here.
BY: DAVID FLORES

El-Triunfo_LaRamona.jpg

Located about 45 minutes from La Paz and an hour from San Jose del Cabo, El Triunfo is attracting more visitors every day. Its first mine was established by Manuel de Ocio in the late 1700s. Ownership of the mine was temporarily transferred to the Spanish Crown at one point. However, the mine remained largely unsuccessful until 1878, when ownership was transferred.

In 1862, silver and gold were discovered in the southern Baja California Sur mountains, leading miners from Mexico and the United States to rush to settle in El Triunfo in a gold rush. Many of the miners had participated in the 1849 California gold rush. In 1878, the mine was taken over by the British El Progreso Mining Company and became more successful. Once the largest city in Baja California Sur, it was home to more than 10,000 miners. In its heyday, the town was a cultural center and it was the first town in the region to install electricity and telephones. Pianos and other instruments were brought to El Triunfo from around the world and a piano museum still exists, having being restored a few years ago.

When mines shut down in 1926, most of the townspeople left to look for work elsewhere. The 2010 census reported a population of 327 inhabitants. El Triunfo is one of the best-preserved 19th and 20th-century mining communities in North America and remains an important site for archaeological research.

A notable feature of the town is the 154 feet high smokestack constructed in 1890 for El Progreso Mining Company. It is called "La Ramona," named after Saint Raymond, on whose feast day the project was completed on. The smokestack was once thought to be designed by Gustave Eiffel, though no conclusive evidence of his involvement in the project has been located. After more than 100 years, the smokestack was cracked and damaged and collapse during an earthquake or hurricane was a concern.  In 2018, the nonprofits International Community Foundation (ICF), the Corredor Histórico CAREM association, the state government and private donors collaborated to restore La Ramona for some $200,000USD.

In recent years, to attract tourism, many of the original buildings have been restored and converted into restaurants, museums and boutiques, with exception to the old Chinese cemetery, which is an intriguing view from a nearby hill and an interesting place to walk in and around.

A regional cultural center named The Silver Route Museum (Museo Ruta de Plata) offers interactive exhibits, an 11-minute orientation film that lets you learn more about the unique geology, rich cultural history of the region and its past mining adventures. You can also experience firsthand the adventurous world of mining as you enter a simulated mine designed to educate, excite, and surprise visitors of all ages.

The Museum has special entry fees during this month. Southern Baja residents pay $4, while tourists pay $1 more. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult.

The museum is open every day except Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adjacent to it you can find El Minero Restaurant Bar, a place to cool off that serves lunch and drinks, where you can take a selfie with their sculpture of a miner. It closes from July through September, so do hurry up.

Another good place to eat is the Café el Triunfo, that serves breakfast and lunch with great salads, paninis and pizza. If you want to spend the night and venture around a few more hours the next day, you can stay at Cabanas El Triunfo, eMail: cabanaseltriunfo@gmail.com . Enjoy!