Huasca de Ocampo
Huasca de Ocampo (Spanish [wa'ska de oka'mpo] (help·info))
is a town and municipality of the state of Hidalgo in central Mexico.
It is located 34 km from
Pachuca and 16 km from Real del
Monte in the Sierra de
Pachuca Mountains. While the town itself
is just within the mountain range, much of the municipal land is
located in a valley that opens up to the east of the town. While one
of the first haciendas to be established in
Mexico is located here,
economic development started with mining haciendas built by Pedro
Romero de Terreros in the 18th century. By the mid 20th century, none
of these haciendas were in existence, having been broken up into
communal farm lands ( ejido ) and some even fully or partially under
lakes created by dams. While agriculture remains important
economically, the area has been promoted as a tourism destination,
especially for weekend visitors from
Mexico City, with attractions
such as canyons, traditional houses, old hacienda facilities and
3 The town
4 The municipality
6.1 Santa María Regla Hacienda
6.2 San Miguel Regla Hacienda
6.3 Basaltic Prisms of Santa María Regla
6.4 Other attractions
8 External links
The 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
First 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
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
Real del Monte
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
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.
View of the San Juan Hueyapan Hacienda
Since that time, agriculture has continued to be the mainstay
economically. The large haciendas of the area were broken up, with
much of the land becoming ejidos, or lands held in common by rural
communities. By the latter part of the 20th century, the main
buildings of Santa Maria Regla and San Miguel Regla were converted
into luxury hotels and resorts. The San Antonio
Hacienda is almost
completely underwater due to one of the many dams that have been
constructed here in the 20th century to store water and to provide
No major indigenous communities remain with only 64 people speaking an
indigenous language as of the 2005 census.
In addition to agriculture, ecotourism has become a major aspect of
Huasca de Ocampo
Huasca de Ocampo was the first in Hidalgo state to become
part of the federal
Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns) tourism program,
mostly because most of the town’s old buildings remain and the pace
of life has changed very little here since the first half of the 20th
However, the area’s popularity tourist destination has led to
property disputes between residents and those wishing to purchase or
otherwise gain control of land here, especially around the old Santa
María Regla hacienda. Government authorities have pressured about
twenty families to sell, and there is pressure from banks which hold
outstanding loans on other properties. Some have been threatened with
eviction but court orders have prevented this so far. Many of the
families have lived on these lands for over 200 years. Attempts to
take the land had been tried since the 1970s, but have intensified
San Juan Bautista Church
The town of
Huasca de Ocampo
Huasca de Ocampo is set just inside the northeast edge of
the Sierra de
Pachuca where the meet the west end of the valley of
Tulancingo. The town is surrounded by low forested peaks. Upon
exiting the town towards the east, the landscape opens out into the
valley. The center of town is narrow filled with houses and
other buildings made with white sandstone and topped with pitched
roofs covered in red laminate (metal or plastic) or red clay tile. The
walls are thick and large chunks of stone can be seen held together
with mortar. This is common in the older mining areas of Hidalgo where
rain is frequent. (tradition) Some of the structures are decorated
with smooth river stones and many of the storefronts and other
buildings on the main roads have accents done in rough hewn wood with
the bark still attached. The streets of the town are paved with
stone and there are few to no streetlights at night.
In the center of the town is the main parish church. Many think the
church is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, mostly due to the relief
carving above the main portal, but in reality it is dedicated to John
the Baptist. This church was founded in the first half of the 16th
century by Augustinians from the monastery in Atotonilco el Grande.
The relief over the main portal was donated by Pedro de Terreros who
was a devotee of the archangel. The side altars inside are made of
wood and are assumed to be from the 18th century. One is Baroque in
style but is missing columns. It contains a large painting of the
Archangel Michael depicted with two
Franciscan saints helping souls
trapped in Purgatory. The other side altars are more traditionally
Baroque in style.
The town is noted for its pottery, made with the local red clay. Most
of the pieces are everyday wares such as jars, plates and cups. These
are mostly sold at the weekly market or tianguis. The best known
artisans in the town are Jesús Chavez Centeno and Luis Escorz who
have their shops in the portals north of the main church. Other
crafts include hats, caps, molcajetes made with volcanic stone,
furniture, wrought iron, objects made from obsidian and rompope.
The Casa de Cultura is to the south of the main church which also
sells local crafts.
Kiosk and buildings around it in the center of town
Market day for the town is Monday, when vendors set up stands all
along the main street through town, mostly to sell locally needed
products. At the market and in the restaurants traditional dishes such
as baked trout, cecina, barbacoa, pastes, quesadillas with
huitlacoche, pulque bread and fruit wines are available.
Specialty dishes such as chinicuiles, escamoles chichas de maguey and
dishes made with local wild mushrooms are available in season.
Near the town there is a possible pre-Hispanic site, with evidence of
a former pyramid. The town has over fifteen inns and hotels.
The festival of
John the Baptist
John the Baptist takes place on 24 June of each year.
The event is celebrated with masses, charreadas, horse racing,
cockfights, sporting events, fireworks, folk dancing and more. Another
important annual event is the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. On
these occasions, it is possible to see traditional dress such as pants
and shirts made of manta (natural cotton cloth) which have been
embroidered in bright colors.
View of part of the valley area in the municipality
Although the town of
Huasca de Ocampo
Huasca de Ocampo is governmental authority for
the entire municipality, only a small percentage of the
municipality’s population of 15,201 (2005) lives in the town proper.
The rest live in the 80+ other communities, which together form a
territory of 305.80km2. The municipality borders the
municipalities of Tulancingo, Omitlán de Juárez, Acatlán and
Atotonilco. To the north, it borders the state of Veracruz.
The municipality extends from the Sierra de
Pachuca mountains, where
the town is, to over part of a wide, flat valley with lower altitude
and warmer temperatures. This area is filled with small towns and
villages, as well as fields and orchards. The higher elevations around
these flat lands are forested with holm oak which give them an
ashy-green look. The altitude of the municipality varies from
between 1,800 and 2,800 masl. The municipality is part of the
Reserva de la Biosfera de la Vega de Meztitlán (Vega de Meztitlán
Biosphere Reserve). About 70% of the municipality lies on the
Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt
Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt although there are no active volcanoes
About 3,300 hectares is forest, almost all of which is in the Sierra
Pachuca Mountains which surround the town. Major elevations include
Cerro Grande, Las Navajas, La Piedra de Jacal, El Horcón and La Peña
del Aguila. There are numerous small canyons and ravines, jagged
mountainsides which extend far below the peaks. One peak which gives
an extended view of the municipality and beyond is called Los
Canyon with Hueyapan River below
The municipality is divided between the basins of the Panuco and
Moctezuma Rivers. The area is filled with small rivers, streams and
arroyos, which almost always run north-south. The largest of the
rivers are the Huascazaloya, Iztla, Hueypan and San Jeronimo. These
rivers and streams feed 87 natural and dammed bodies of water, which
vary in size from a few meters wide a couple of kilometers. The
best known dam in the areas is the San Antonio Regla dam. Water from
this dam is used primarily for agricultural irrigation. The major
fresh water spring is called Ojo de Agua, which is surrounded by large
willow and other trees.
The rivers and streams of the area have cut deep narrow ravines and
canyons into much of the municipality. The largest of these is the San
Sebastian Canyon, which is part of the
Metztitlán Canyon system.
The climate is temperate to mildly cold with an average annual
temperature of 15C. Winter gets cold enough to need a warm jacket,
especially at night.
There various vegetation here. Most tree species such as pine and holm
oak are found in the higher elevations. The flat areas are mostly
grass and farmland with scattered trees such as willows and laurels.
Wildlife is limited to small mammals such as badgers, squirrels, foxes
and moles. Other species include birds such as eagles and reptiles
such as chameleons.
Man on horse by San Antonio Dam
Historically, the most important economic activities here have been
mining and agriculture. Mining no longer has the importance it once
did, but agriculture remains important, employing over 37% of the
municipality’s population. There are over 3,000 units of production
that occupy over 17,000 hectares of land. Over 9,000 of this are
dedicated to crops, with about 4,000 as pasture. By far the most
important crop is corn, producing over 14,000 tons. Next in importance
are animal feed, beans, wheat and alfalfa. Fruit orchards can also be
found. Domesticated livestock includes fowl, sheep, goats, pigs
turkeys, cows, horses and bees. The most common are sheep, cows and
As of 1993, there were only nine industrial enterprises in the
municipality, employing fifteen people. Products include processed
foods, drinks and animal feed. Manufacturing, construction and mining
employ 28.1% of the population.
Commerce consists of tourism and those devoted to goods and services
for the local population. This employs about 35% of the population.
This is the portion of the economy which has been promoted by state
and local authorities.
The municipality is promoted by the Hidalgo state tourism authority as
part of the Corredor de la Montaña, or Mountain Corridor. On the
federal level, the town is promoted as a Pueblo Mágico or Magical
Town, due to its preserved architecture and natural surroundings.
These promotions have included reforestation and other reclamation
projects to make the areas more attractive to tourists. Most of the
area’s visitors are from
Mexico City, which is only 1 hour and 40
minutes away by car. Ecotourism and the local haciendas are the
major draws, with activities related to the bodies of water, mountains
and canyon areas. These include fishing, boating, hiking, horseback
riding and more. The area’s haciendas were mostly built by Pedro
Romero de Terreros and they, along with other sites, have been used as
sets for movies and television shows. Tours to most of the
municipality’s attractions run from the town of Huasca, especially
Santa María Regla Hacienda
Overview of the Santa Maria Regla Hacienda
Terreros built four mining haciendas in this area, at a cost of two
million pesos, an incredible sum at the time. About half of that money
went towards the construction of Santa Maria Regla alone. Located
four km from the town of Huasca, Construction began in 1762 as a
silver operation. The name is from its dedication to the Virgin
Mary as she was venerated in the town of
Chipiona in the province of
Cádiz, Spain, where Romero was from. Rocks extracted from mines
were brought to the main facility to be crushed and treated with
mercury to purify the silver. This process required large quantities
of water which the local streams provided. Local forests provided the
wood needed to melt the silver into bars. The hacienda extends over
twelve hectares of land at the bottom of the canyon (very close to the
Prismas Basálticas), and at its height, employed up to 2,000
This haciendas was Romero’s residence in the area, where he died in
Alexander von Humboldt
Alexander von Humboldt visited Santa María Regla in 1803,
making sketches of it, including the Prismas Basálticas which were
part of the property at the time. His sketches and writings were
published in Europe, and he is considered to be the first tourism
promoter for the area. The original drawings are in the British Museum
The main portal bears an image of the
Archangel Michael with the
inscription of “Quis ut Deus” (Who like God). A number of the
original buildings have been preserved such as the main house, the
smelting ovens, tunnels, aqueducts, storage facilities, the main
patios with its arches and chapel. The chapel has a sober
Baroque facade and the design is attributed to Antonio Rivas
The hacienda was converted into a hotel in 1945, with the main
residence as a luxury hotel. Much of the hacienda property is now
underwater due to the damming of nearby stream. The facility offers
picnic spaces, protected wildlife areas, restaurant, horseback riding,
guided tours and ATV rentals. There are exhibits of old mining and
smelting equipment, and the chapel can be rented for weddings and
other occasions. It also has facilities for raising trout, which are
available at the restaurant. The hacienda was used in the production
of movies such as The Old Gringo,
The Mask of Zorro
The Mask of Zorro and the Mexican
film “Ave María” with Demián Bichir.
San Miguel Regla Hacienda
Santa Miguel Regla Hacienda
The other well-known hacienda of the area is San Miguel Regla, which
is located just outside the town of Huasca, in a community also called
San Miguel Regla. This hacienda was constructed by Romero in the 18th
century and is also dedicated to mining. The hacienda conserves
many of its structures such as the five-meter stone perimeter wall,
arches of the main patios, the main house, the smelting ovens (now
flooded), holding tanks for ore and the gardens. Much of the former
property of San Miguel Regla is now ejido land, but the complex has
been converted into a hotel and ecotourism park. The main house is a
luxury hotel, with small villas constructed over the property
connected by footpaths. The gardens of the area are maintained as they
were in the 18th century, with a modern heated swimming pool added.
Other offerings include a clay tennis court, bar, game room,
videorental and a meeting hall that accommodates 160 people. The lake
by this hacienda has walking paths, fountains and a Greek-style
Basaltic Prisms of Santa María Regla
View of the Prismas Basálticos
Basaltic Prisms of Santa María Regla
Basaltic Prisms of Santa María Regla (Prismas basálticos de
Santa María Regla in Spanish) are tall columns of basalt rock that
line a ravine through which water runs from the San Antonio Dam. This
ravine area was part of the Santa María Regla
Hacienda and was first
Alexander von Humboldt
Alexander von Humboldt in 1803.
The walls of the canyon, called the Barranca de Alcholoya, are lined
by polygonal columns between thirty and fifty meters high with five or
six sides. The basalt columns were created by the slow cooling of
volcanic lava. The visible columns are backed by even more
polygonal basalt columns. There are two waterfalls. The higher one has
its water supplemented by diversions from nearby dams. The lower
one is called the Cascada de la Rosa. The canyon has been
prepared by the addition of stairs, walkways and hanging bridges for
Two other important haciendas in the area are San Antonio Regla and
San Juan Hueyapan. San Antonio Regla was built by Pedro Romero de
Terrero as a mining facility. In the early 20th century, it was one of
the more active facilities in the state. Today, however, the entire
area is submerged due to the damming of the Huazcazaloya and Iztla
Rivers by the San Antonio Dam, which provides electricity to Pachuca.
All that can be seen is a large smokestack or chimney poking up out of
the waters. This belonged to the refinery. The San Juan
Hacienda was one of the first to be founded in
Mexico and was
dedicated to farming and livestock. It was constructed by a nephew of
Hernán Cortés in 1535. It conserves its taverns, stables, and
El Zembo is located seven km from the center of Huasca in a small
valley surrounded by high peaks and forests of holm oak and fir. It
has a trout farm and various small rustic restaurants that prepare the
fish in various ways. Visitors can buy a trout to have prepared or
fish one from the property’s lake.
The Parque de las Truchas or
Trout Park (also called Bosque de las
Truchas) was begun about ten years ago when 72 ejidos decided to
construct a trout farm on their communal lands. Only twenty one remain
with the project. The park offers fishing, canoeing, grills and
horseback riding to visitors along with the sale of fish. The hatchery
deposits anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 eggs in a tank, of which about
80% hatch. These eggs are imported from the United States because the
waters here are slightly too cold for rainbow trout to spawn. Each
week, eggs are deposited in Lago de la Cruz, the only lake in the park
with a name, but fishing is permitted in almost all of the lakes and
ponds. It is located about seven km from the town of Huasca.
View of the Peña del Aire
The Peña del Aire is an enormous basalt rock that juts off the side
of a canyon just north of the Santa María Regla Hacienda. Located 800
meters above the canyon floor, upon first glance, it appears suspended
in the air, giving it its name. In this canyon flows a river arriving
Tulancingo and leading to the San Sebastian Canyon. Near this
landmark are areas dedicated to rappelling, mountain climbing and
Just outside the town of Huasca is the Museo de los Duendes (a duende
is a troll or goblin-like creature). Outside of the building is a sign
which says “Aunque usted no lo crea” (Believe it or not). The
building is small and made rough hewn wood from local trees. Run by
María de los Angeles, the museum is dedicated to stories of goblins
and similar creatures around the world. Angeles states that, according
to legend, a group of friends were camping in this area in 1994 when
they came upon a group of goblins which told them that their kind were
angry over mankind’s destruction of nature and cruelty to each
other. They also stated that despite stories to the contrary, goblins
were not evil creatures. This is reason behind the museum. The
Museo de los Duendes A large part of its collection of goblin figures
include those made from hair from horses’ manes and tails.
The Aguacatitla Canyon is several km from San Miguel Regla and is one
of the branches of the San Sebastian Canyon. This area has been
developed for rappelling, hiking, and rock climbing. El Huariche is
an ecotourism development on ejido land located in the community of
Oje de Agua, near Santa María Regla. It has begins and camping areas,
and is surrounded by pine forest. There are two organizations that
offer hot air balloon tours over the area: Club Aerostático Nacional
and Club de Aeronautas de México.
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^ a b "Dirección de Turismo Municipal de Huasca de Ocampo" [Municipal
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^ "Disputan en Hidalgo terrenos de ex hacienda" [Former hacienda lands
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^ a b c d e Kibzaim Juárez García (Winter 2001). ""Granja para el
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Retrieved July 15, 2010.
^ a b c Anabel Tello (May 3, 2003). "Huasca de Ocampo: Lugar de
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^ "Principales resultados por localidad 2005 (ITER)". INEGI. Archived
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^ a b c d e Jacobo Velez (April 18, 1996). "San Miguel Regla: Goce de
su tranquilidad" [San Miguel Regla:Enjoy its tranquility]. Reforma (in
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^ Anabel Tello (July 29, 2005). "Mágica telenovela" [Magical soap
opera]. El Universal (in Spanish).
^ a b c d e Ivette Rangel (April 8, 2007). "Prismas Basálticos: Agua
escultora" [Prismas Basalticos:Sculpted water]. El Norte (in Spanish).
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^ Ricardo Olivares (August 9, 2009). "Museo de los Duendes en Huasca
de Ocampo, Hidalgo" [Goblin Museum in Huasca de Ocampo, Hidalgo] (in
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