The Mariscal Cinnabar Mine and Processing Complex was developed and operated between 1900 and 1943 in the Big Bend area of Southwest Texas. Over that time numerous iterations of the furnaces and condensers for processing and recovering Mercury from the Cinnabar Ore found there were built and abandoned. While in operation this site produced 25% of the Mercury produced in the United States. During World War I Mercury was in high demand as it was essential in the manufacture of blasting caps and fuses for munitions.
The brick structure depicted in the panorama is the remains of the Scott Furnace that was used to heat the Cinnabar Ore to 360 degrees F. This caused the Mercury to vaporize. The larger structures above the Furnace are multistage condensers where the Mercury vapor was cooled and returned to a liquid state where it drained out the bottoms. The vapor was transported between the Furnace and the various stages of the condensers via metal and large diameter ceramic pipes.
The Scott Furnace and Condensers were considered state of the art technology at the time of their construction, and while having no moving parts, were huge machines assembled by hand from brick and concrete. Any supplies required were transported via mule trains 30 miles from the nearest settlements. Temperatures in this part of Texas are brutally hot in the summers, during 2011 visit it hit 126 degrees F and during this visit were a balmy 106 degrees F.