Fourty five minutes from the town of Iquique lay the remains of a mining community left to the sand and winds of the Atacama. Humberstone saltpetre works was named after a British chemical engineer who made a fortune from saltpetre after moving to the continent.
Before the production of synthetic fertilisers the world depended on Saltpetre. The best Saltpetre came from Chile and was transported all over the world. The industry is Chile was so successful it accounted for 40% to 60% of the countries income. The ghost town is a reminder if this past, which is still in living memory for it’s youngest inhabitants.
It’s hard to believe anyone could live under the harsh sun in the driest desert on earth. However a community thrived here. However it is the dry climate which has helped preserve the town. The community was a microcosm of Chilean society, the class divisions were clear in the types of housing provided to the different workers.
The houses if the single male miners were cramped with dirt floors and had shared toilets at the end of each block.
The houses if the executives were much larger and contained toilets and many rooms as well a wooden flooring. People lived very different lives in close proximity.
Facilities offered by the community included a swimming pool made from the bottom of an old ship.
Some of the machine used to pump water in to the pool were still behind the seats
There was also a basketball court
One of the most eerie parts of the town is the abandon factory and workshop. Many of the machines had been shipped from Europe.
Many of the corrugated iron panels swung freely in the wind, it was a little unnerving as they could injure you if you fall. There is pretty much full access to all areas but you are warned that you may be injured if you are an idiot.
One of the most impressive things was the chimney.
The lot of forgotten engines.
Also the old locomotives.
This place is really worth a look if you like rusty old stuff! Good day out!