The Lost Vampire Bat Mine is a long, long, way from tropical Yucatan, where vampire bat makes its home. Places like Chichen Itza and Tizimin and eastward, at the Bahia Chetumal on the coast of Quintana Roo.The Lost Vampire is in the stark Baboquivari range of Arizona's Pima County, west of the Altar Valley and marking the eastern boundryof the Papago Indian Reservation. To Anglo ears, the place-names--Gu Oidak, Ali Ak Chin and Chukut Kuk-- are more Asiatic than Mexican or Indian.
The bats in this lost mine story were Mexican brown bats, that hid by day in abandoned adobe buildings, old churches, caves and old mine shafts. These little bats would rather eat bugs than suck blood.
Edward Nelson, cheif of the U.S. Biological Survey, wrote in the National Geographic Magizine of may, 1918, that " at Tucson, I once saw them, a short time before dark, issuing from a small window in the gable of a church numbers that in the half-light they gave the appearance of smoke pouring out of the opening. At the town of Patzcuaro, near the southern end of the Mexican tableland, I saw two rooms of an old adobe house occupied by as many of them as could possibly hang from the rough ceiling. They are plentiful in caves and may be heard frequently by day shuffling uneasily about and squeaking shrilly at one another."
The hills and deserts of the Lost Vampire story have a long hostory of mining. There is a tradition and a folklore of Spanish mines in the Cerro Colorado. There is an abandoned mine near Three Peaks in the Baboquivaris. In the hills around Arivaca - a scant dozen miles from the Baboquivari range - are a dozen mines: the Albatros, the San Luis, the Brouse, theLas Guijas, the Amando, the Liberty, the Charles, the Black Princess, the Cerro Colorado, the Ajax, the Colorado Clark and the Edwards.Mabye there is one more, a gold mine that was hidden from the white man by an old Papago Indian.
The old Indian had gold nuggets to trade at Aravica and at the Tucson fiesta long after the placer mines in the Altar Valley and the Aravica hills had played out in the late 1800s. The source of his nuggets was a mystery for years, but in an uncharacteristic episode of talking openly with a white man told the storekeeper at Aravica about it.
Years before, the Indian confided, he had wounded a deer and had pursued it into the foothills of the east slopes of the Baboquivaris. At sunset he sat down to rest, on a long ridge running northward to a high peak. Suddenly,there was a great outpouring of bats, hundreds of them, from an opening in the mountainside. He looked, and found the small mouth of a cave that had been widened, he found upon entering, into a timbered mine. There were buckskin bags of gold nuggets and coarse gold, mine tools, a small shrine to the Lady of Guadalupe and several bars of gold.
The bats and the hovering spirits of the long dead Spaniards made the old Indian very uneasy. But as he fled, he stooped to pick up one buckskin bag. This he hid in an olla in his hut.
The Arivica storkeeper was confident he could find the mine. He knew which arroyo to follow and which peak to climb. Then all he had to do was wait fr the bats to fly from the mine at sunset. He found a man to mind his store and, three days later prepared to ride out to for the bat cave gold. He had loaded his gear onto a pack mule and was saddling his horse when the old Indian approached " I was afraid," the old Indian said, " after I told a white man of the gold. so I waited until all of the bats came back to the cave. I then closed the cave with dirt and rocks. the bats will die and they will no longer signal, at sunset, wherethe mine is. No white man will ever see it." Good huntng!