34 million years ago, magma oozed up through the earth’s crust into sediments deposited by an ancient sea.
Veins of galena and turquoise formed in the rock fractures, and over the next 30 million years, erosion slowly shaved off some 5,000 feet of igneous material, leaving the mineral deposits near the surface of the volcano exposed.
About 900 AD, the native peoples of the area now known as New Mexico, started mining the turquoise for the prized blue-green color. Galena, a lead-silver sulfide, became popular throughout the region as a pottery glaze.
Around 1300 AD, Spanish colonists entered the area to also mine for Galena, as well as lead for munitions.
Prospectors in the late 1800’s endured a hard life for a brief mining boom, striping the land of these precious minerals, and destroying much of the native peoples land and way of life along the way.
Luckily, the boom ended in 1884 with the imposition of stricter mining laws.
The Cerrillos Hills is now a protected area where one can hike through history.