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El Triunfo: Cabo’s Quaint Mining Town

December 02, 2019

For a trip back in time, plan a day trip to El Triunfo, a small mining town located an hour’s drive from Todos Santos along Highway 19. In 1862, silver and gold were discovered in the southern mountains of Baja California Sur, prompting miners from Mexico and the United States to set up camp. Many of these miners had participated in the 1849 California gold rush. But others seeking riches journeyed from as far away as China, Russia, Italy, Germany, England and Canada.

Once the largest city in Baja California Sur (and its former state capital), El Triunfo, set an elevation of 1,585 feet, was once home to more than 10,000 miners. In its heyday, it was a cultural center and the first town in the region to install electricity and telephones. Pianos and other instruments were brought to El Triunfo from all over the world (a piano museum still exists). Another remnant of the past is the 154-foot-high smokestack constructed in 1890. According to local legend, it was designed by Gustav Eiffel, the man behind the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Cracked and damaged, it was restored last year at a cost of $200,000 USD.

Once they were no longer productive, the mines of El Triunfo shut down in 1926. Most people left to find work elsewhere. The 2010 census reported a population of just over 320 inhabitants. The town has returned to its previous identity as tiny mountain settlement.

A visit to El Triunfo today is like entering a colonial time warp, with the city’s humble present contrasted by its once glorious silver mining past. To attract visitors, many of the original brick and mortar buildings have been restored and converted into cafes, boutiques and museums. A regional cultural center, the Silver Route Museum (Museo Ruta de Plata), features interactive exhibits and an orientation film that tells the story of the town’s unique geology, mining adventures and rich cultural history. There’s also a simulated mine designed to educate and surprise visitors of all ages. 

The museum is open daily (except Tuesday) from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adjacent to the museum is El Minero Restaurant & Bar, which serves lunch and drinks. Another good dining choice is Café el Triunfo, which offers breakfast and lunch and is known for its pizza, paninis and salads.

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