In 1845, Captain Andres Castillero of the Mexican Army was sent on a routine scouting patrol through what is now northern
California, then part of Mexican territory. As an amateur geologist, Castillero recognized the possibility that the rolling
hills held vast mineral deposits. During a visit to local Indians, his suspicions were confirmed. The Indians told him of
the red rock they used to make paint, and of the cave where the walls were solid deposits of this red rock. A trip to the
cave left Castillero amazed; the red rock was cinnabar, high grade mercury ore. He quickly filed a claim with the most suitable
local authority, a justice of the peace, and received mineral rights to excavate the mine site. The rights were divided among
five principal holders, including Castillero, his guide, and the Indians who led him to the mine.
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