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Huasca de Ocampo

Huasca de OcampoEtymologyThe original name for the area was “Huascazaloya.” This come from Nahuatl and has three possible meanings. The first and most probable means “place of happiness and abundance.” The second derives from a phrase that means “place of water.” The third comes from a phrase that means “place where they make precious cotton shawls (mantas).” The appendage “de Ocampo” was adopted in honor of Melchor Ocampo, who lived briefly here in the mid 19th century.HistoryFirst records of the area extend only as far as the early colonial period. The area came under the encomienda of the Diego de Paz family, who were centered in Atotonilco el Grande starting in 1558. Small villages such as San Sebastian and San Bartolomé are mentioned in early records but not the municipal seat of Huasca. In the late 16th century, the area was acknowledged as an “Indian Republic,” meaning that the natives here had a certain amount of autonomy from the Spanish. By the 17th century, the encomienda was broken up and the lands around the Indian republic became haciendas.The town of Huasca became established between the 1760s and 1780s as Pedro Romero de Terreros, the first Count of Regla, developed mining here. The mines he established along with earlier ones in Pachuca and Real del Monte made him the richest man in the world at the time. Romero established four major mining haciendas here, with the largest being San Miguel Regla and Santa Maria Regla. At their height, these haciendas employed thousands of workers, first to build them then to operate them. This would end after this count’s death in 1781 due to poor management. By 1810, the production of the mines here, in Pachuca and in Real del Monte fell almost 80%. Lands were rented out and the raising of cattle grew in importance. However, since the renters had no vested interest in maintaining the properties, overgrazing and other ecological damage would ruin this aspect of the economy as well. By the mid 19th century, many of the granaries and other buildings lay in ruins. This prompted mass migration out of the area.
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