HomeEL GALLO BLOGHow did Muertos Bay get its morbid name?

How did Muertos Bay get its morbid name?

El Gallo Fly Fishing: Catching Roosterfish in Baja, CA

The first time that I went to this magnificent place, the called it “Ensenada de Los Suenos,” or “The Cove of Dreams.”  When I fished it for the first time, the Captain called it “Ensenada de Los Muertos,” or “Cove of the Dead Men.”  I thought to myself what a morbid, strange name!  I later came to realize that renaming this place the Bay of Dreams was kind of a marketing ploy, I mean after all, who would want to go to the bay of the dead men?  As appropriate of a name as it was (The Bay of Dreams), it bothered me that this charming little cove was named on ever chart as “Muertos Bay.”  After all, there is a World of difference between the names!  So I did some research and found the reason for the melrose name.

What occurred here to get such a name?  At first my mind thought of the most horrible of situations.  Was it a mass murder, like in the famed Muertos Beach in Puerto Rico?  Was it a site of a famous battle?  Where people marooned here? Was it some horrible disease?  It turns out that history had a different story to tell, let me explain:

It turns out that since the 1880’s this bay has been charted as “Bahia de los Muertos,” or “Bay of the Dead Men.”  But why?  In 1862 the El Triunfo mining company struck silver, and gold, and a lot of it!  Making this place in important place to ship from.  The word Muertos in this situation, is referring to the dead man anchors that were placed for ships to moor.  The company built a narrow set of tracks for a rail car system to bring the ore down the mountain, then load it on ships anchored in this beautiful bay that is sheltered from the North wind.  El Triunfo buried six train car axels in the soft sandy bottom that are likely still there today, they were rumored to weigh over 2,000 pounds each.  This is where they anchored the loading barges when they were not in use.  Early charts showed the moorings to be located at the foot of Punta Perico, (on the North side of the bay), where the company built a warehouse, and a loading wharf, which you can still see the remnants of today.  This is at the foot of, and to the East slightly of El Gallo Fly Fishing Lodge.  Our lodge sits 300 feet above this place, so it is not visible from our patio, but a short side-by-side ride, and you can walk right up to the stone remains of the wharf, and you can still see the back walls of the old warehouse.

El Triunfo was once a bustling mining town, but is now the name of a sleepy little town that can be visited.  In 1878 the British Progreso Mining Company took over the operation, and made this the home of 10,000 miners from Mexico, and the United States.  Some of which participated in the Gold rush in California  in 1849.  This was in its hay day the biggest city in Baja California Sur.  Now there are about 300 people that reside here.  A notable feature of the town is the 47-meter-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) and the Corredor Histórico CAREM, A.C. collaborated to restore La Ramona for an estimated $200,000 USD.

In recent years, to attract tourism, many of the original buildings have been restored and converted into restaurants, museums, boutiques and other locations.

No matter what you call this wonderful little bay on the East Cape of Baja California, I would love it no less.  It is a place that I doubt its novelty will ever wear thin.  We at El Gallo Fly Fishing Lodge would like to extend a ward welcome for you to join us in enjoying this little slice of Heaven.  The silver and gold are long gone, but what remains is still a treasure in my humble opinion.  Thanks for your time in reading this.  If you found this information helpful, please let us know by commenting.


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