Valparaiso Separation

Learn about funiculars

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To begin with an epilogue to my last post, “Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Conception Hill” , our meeting with the El Mercurio reporter never appeared.  Inquiries to the newspaper per  promptly and courteously replied to, there was nothing.  They suggested a search of the online archive and only a January 2014 fashion show, the article featured a photo from the same terrace.  After our pleasant time we walked off some calories on Gervasoni Promenade, a showcase of city harbor and hillside views.

Click the link for my Fine Art Photography Galleries.

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Most city visits on this cruise we traded independence and flexibility for the convenience of the guided tour.  Ricardo, our guide, was a knowledgeable, good humored companion to our small group.  After we left the promenade for Calle Conception Ricardo was most helpful.

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It was here I entered a photographic fugue, losing touch with my surroundings through concentration on capturing the moment.

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I walked ahead of Pam, expecting her to follow, and caught the view of the arriving care of the Conception funicular.

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Wow, that’s the Regatta at dock.  Other elements of this vista are the harbor, of course, then the famous Turri clock tower.  Hmmm, almost 1:30 pm.

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I was fascinated by the view of a drydock the Regatta passed while docking early that  morning.  It is the red structure with the letters “Sociber”, it even has a Facebook page!!!

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Once at street level the experience of the crowd on the alley opening onto Calle Prat, waiting for the ride up, brought back reality.  “Where’s Pam?”  I could not go back up because of the crowd, the views from the car fell from my mind.

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I was on the street, disoriented and alone.

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I fell back on photography to pass the time.  Nowhere near the charm of Cerro Conception, typical downtown urban environment.

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A man approached the family across Prat, “What is going on?” I wondered when the tour bus arrived.  Still no Pam.

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Oh, it is an ice cream vendor.  Delicious.  “Where’s Pam?”  Ricardo not around, either.  Back on the bus, waiting, a younger member of the tour was an Irish wag who declaimed on the benefits of freedom, even temporary.

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Finally, Ricardo arrived followed by a few other tour members and Pam.  Whew!!  I’ll never live down “deserting” her.  She was not able to find the entrance to the Conception funicular.  Along with a few others they kept each other company until Ricardo rounded them up.   That was a long 20 minutes (reading from the photograph metadata), I was worried.  As I mentioned, at the time I was clueless about my whereabouts.  Reviewing the numerous photographs, I found the “Servicio Nacional de Aduanas” (National Customs) building across the where Calle Esmeralda joins with Cochrane and pieced it together from there.

About the Conception funicular, that morning while the Regata docked I caught this view of Valparaiso hillside.  It is a microcosm of the Andean topography, ravines cut through the heights.  This is when I noted the Sociber drydock, it is on the lower left…look down into it — the business is to sell that dry space in the middle of the harbor for ship repair.  The space and be flooded, opened to allow entry of a ship, then drained for work on the hull or whatever.

The city pioneers adapted to this terrain.  As a entrepreneurial endeavor, in 1882 Mr. Liberio E. Brieba Pacheco founded the Mechanical Elevators Company of Valparaíso.  Conception funicular opened the following year to facilitate the urbanization of Alegre and Concepción hills.  Conception funicular is closed for repairs currently, from 1883 until recently this, the oldest and first funicular of Valparaiso lifted people from the downtown Plan (plain) to the hilltop for a small fee.

Funicular is derived from latin “funis” for rope.  It is an elevator that runs two counter balanced cars on a rails on a steep, less than vertical, slope.  As one car rises the other lowers.

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Here are some views of the Conception funicular and environs as seen from the upper Regatta deck.  First, a 24 mm wide angle view.  Look to the center for the rails and one car at the top.  Above are the buildings of Cerro Conception (Conception Hill).

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The funicular emerges from downtown on the right in the following view. The prominent church is Parroquia Perpetuo Socorro, just above the midpoint.  It rises from Cerro Cordillera, above Cerro Conception.  A Catholic church founded by the Redemptionist Fathers, the first stone was laid down 1905.  Learning from the devastating earthquake of 1906, the engineer Juan Tonkin chose construction of Oregon pine and concrete to stand tall today.  What a view (I’ve seen photographs).

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A view a bit to the right, many of the colorful exteriors are zinc panels brought from early sailing ships, repurposed as siding.

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After the wide angle shot I used the variable “zoom” lens for the rest.  Here is a close view of the Conception funicular.  The business of building and running these services thrived, over the years up to 29 funiculars and one elevator, served the city portenos (people of the port).  In 2018 seven are in operation, nine are under a process of restoration and modernization, including Conception.

Click to see more in “Valparaiso Old and New”j

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

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