All Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works are a UNESCO World Heritage in Chile’s Atacama Desert. There are more than 200 former saltpeter works in the area and this is an intriguing and unusual destination to add to a tour of Chile. Workers from Chile, Peru, and Bolivia lived here in company towns that developed a distinct culture of their own. The industrial ruins here are bleak yet fascinating especially for people interested in the industrial revolution.
During the first half of the 19th century up through WWII, in the isolated Pampa desert, thousands of Chilean, Bolivian and Peruvian workers came together to process the largest deposit of saltpeter in the world. The saltpeter, in turn, was produced into fertilizer sodium nitrate used globally to morph agricultural land. During the world wars, the saltpeter was also used in explosives. The works themselves were actually built and operated during a time when northern Chile was part of Peru. This distinctive working circumstance resulted in a rich, unique and communal Pampino culture all its own. Each of the 200 original saltpeter sites was linked by a series of trains and represent the technological progress of an era.
Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
Humberstone and Santa Laura saltpeter works are two of the industrial heritage sites found in this remote desert and are representative of the binding of the diverse Pampino culture. The little-known saltpeter works in northern Chile were named UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2005. On a tour of the saltpeter works, you can learn about how the mining process worked, see the worker’s quarters, and learn about the unique Pampino culture, a mixture of Bolivian, Chilean, and Peruvian people.
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