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The Madera Tribune

Little ovens, and the little white house

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webmaster | 01/28/12

We were off for another adventure. This time on a bright crisp, clear winter morning, and just for the day. My gal mentioned it was pretty cold as we headed for coffee and breakfast. She looked puzzled when I said we were in search of some little ovens. Driving up into the hills on Highway 140, we turned left at Cathey’s Valley and meandered toward the old mining camp of Hornitos near Burns Creek.

The town’s moniker is Spanish for “little ovens.” Because of the cement-like ground and rocky soil, graves were hard to dig, so the original Mexican residents built dome-shaped tombs of rock and adobe that resembled what they used for baking bread.

Originally, the town was populated by Mexicans who had been driven out of the neighboring town of Quartzburg a couple of miles up the road. They were considered nonwhites and foreigners who had no right to own a mining claim.

As history would have it, Hornitos soon was awash in gold and became one of the richest camps in what is known as the Southern Mines. The Mexicans soon had company, but this time the influx of “white-folks” didn’t seem to cause a stir...


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