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Location DB > Chile > Región de Tarapacá > Pozo Almonte > Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
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 Database Info
created by david416 on 6/7/2016 4:32 PM
last modified by david416 on 7/26/2020 6:03 PM
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This location has been labeled by its creator as Public, and therefore can be viewed by anyone.
Humberstone and Santa Laura are located 48 km east of the city of Iquique in the Atacama Desert in the Region of Tarapacá in northern Chile. (From Wikipedia)
 Basic Information
Type: Outdoors
Status: Repurposed
Accessibility: Easy
Recommendation: worth the trip
 Physical Information
48 km east of the city of Iquique, km 47 A-16
Pozo Almonte, Región de Tarapacá
  • See a map of this location
  •  Hazards
  • rust
  •  Interesting Features
    Unique building methods, beautiful textures, huge space with many different buildings to explore -- a whole ghost town
     Security Measures
     Historical Dates
    Built: 1872
    Closed: 1960
     Required Equipment
     Recommended Equipment
    Sunglasses, hat, sun screen
    Circa-1880 historic site that housed saltpeter mines & includes the remains of towns & buildings.

    (From Wikipedia) In 1872, the Guillermo Wendell Nitrate Extraction Company founded the saltpeter works of Santa Laura, while the region was still a part of Peru. In the same year, James Thomas Humberstone founded the "Peru Nitrate Company", establishing the works of "La Palma". Both works grew quickly, becoming busy towns characterized by lovely buildings in the English style.

    While La Palma became one of the largest saltpeter extractors of the whole region, Santa Laura did not do well, as production was low. It was taken over in 1902 by the Tamarugal Nitrate Company. In 1913 Santa Laura halted its production until the Shanks extraction process was introduced, which enhanced productivity.

    However the economic model collapsed during the Great Depression of 1929 because of the development of the synthesis of ammonia by the Germans Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch, which led to the industrial production of fertilizers. Practically bankrupt, both works were acquired by COSATAN (Compañía Salitrera de Tarapacá y Antofagasta) in 1934. COSATAN renamed La Palma into "Oficina Santiago Humberstone" in honor of its founder. The company tried to produce a competitive natural saltpeter by modernizing Humberstone, which led to its becoming the most successful saltpeter works in 1940.

    Both works were abandoned in 1960 after the rapid decline that caused COSATAN to disappear in 1958. In 1970, after becoming ghost towns, they were declared national monuments and opened to tourism. In 2005 they were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
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    Santa Laura, back view
    Wed, Jun 8th, 2016
    posted by david416
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    (unpublished, member last login in 2016 by Mickael)
     Latest Changes
  • on Jul 26 20 at 18:03, david416 changed the following: Status, Accessibility, Interesting Features, Recommended Equipment
  • on Jul 26 20 at 18:00, david416 made this location public
  • on Jul 26 20 at 18:00, david416 made this location available
  • on Jan 11 18 at 18:29, Mickael added this location to the delete queue
  • on Jun 8 16 at 7:35, david416 updated a panorama image
  • on Jun 8 16 at 7:34, david416 added a panorama Santa Laura, back view
  • on Jun 7 16 at 17:15, david416 changed the following: Display Name, Latitude, Longitude, Media Coverage
  • on Jun 7 16 at 17:04, david416 changed the following: Latitude, Longitude, Co-ordinate Accuracy
  • on Jun 7 16 at 17:01, david416 changed the following: Latitude, Longitude, Co-ordinate Accuracy, Prefer Satellite, Description
  • on Jun 7 16 at 16:57, david416 updated the main picture
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