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From the archive /Selected Essays/ Award-Winning Publications/Ana Córdova

We are pleased to announce that the essay below, written by Ana Córdova and published in JSW’s autumn 2021 issue, has won the 2022 Blegen Article Award, given by the Forest History Society. A huge congratulations to Dr. Córdova for this excellent piece!


El Colorado Sawmill: A View into 20th-Century Timber Extraction from the Chihuahua Sierra Madre
by Ana Córdova,
Journal of the Southwest 63, 3 (Autumn 2021)

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El Colorado Sawmill was one of the largest sawmills in the state of Chihuahua between 1952 and 1970. It operated with up to three shifts daily, processing lumber extracted from its surroundings and providing employment for hundreds of workers. Impressive as it was, it endured for less than two decades, and followed the fate of mills in other logging and mining towns in the extractive boom-and-bust economy of the northern sierra of Chihuahua during the 20th century. To understand the origins of El Colorado settlement, one must go back to the end of the Apache Wars, the arrival and colonization of Mormon refugees, the Mexican state’s demarcation of what it saw as vacant lands, and the series of timber extraction concessions given by the Mexican government to international, and later national, corporations. International economic and political crises, advances in extractive and transportation technologies, changes in the international market value of lumber and associated forest products, and the successive waves of mestizo migration to this region were other factors that played a role in the settlement of El Colorado.

The fate of the sawmill and the locality of El Colorado, which became integrated into Mexico’s largest ejido, 1 Ejido El Largo y Anexos, cannot be understood without reference to the Mexican Revolution, agrarian reform and land distribution, the guerrilla assault on the Madera army barracks, and the division of labor in the forest extractive industry.[…]

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