Valparaiso Connections VII

Fertile Land and Saltpeter, spoils of war

Plaza Victoria

This is an answer for those of who responded to my last post Valparaiso Connections VI with “what does that desert in Peru have to do with Valparaiso?”  It starts with the Plaza Victoria at the end of Pedro Montt Avenue.  Victoria, as in victory not Queen Victoria.   At the beginning of the 19thcentury this was a beach, the site of several ship wrecks.  It was set aside as a gathering place by the Mayor, named Plaza Nueva (New Plaza), for a bullring until bullfights a law banned bullfighting on September 1823. The plaza became a place of public executions and, after Chile’s victory in the Battle of Yungay, a place of celebration, formally renamed for the victory.

The Central Valley of Chile is an exception to the topology north through Lima where agriculture and population centers follow river valleys watered by the Andes and surrounded by waterless wastes.  Yungay, is among one of those watered desert valleys.  Located 120 miles north of Lima, Peru at about 8,000 feet just below a summit of the Western Andes, remnants of cultures from 10,000 B.C. are proof of agriculture and human settlement. It was near Yungay, on January 20, 1839 (summer in the southern hemisphere) a force of Chilean and Peruvian dissidents called the United Restorative Army defeated a Peru-Bolivian Confederation Army to end the War of Confederation. The resulting split into different countries of Peru and Bolivia weakened a threat to Chile and Argentina, aimed in large part toward the broad and fertile Central Valley of Chile. The desperation in view in my post Valparaiso Connections VI was in large measure a motivation war, this motivation is still powerful today.

 The subsequent prosperity allowed reclamation of the land of Plaza Victoria from the sea.  For example, in my post Valparaiso Connections V we learned how French immigrants arrived and developed Central Valley wineries in the 19th century.   Around the time of the victory Chacobuco Street was built adjacent to the plaza on reclaimed land, the Plaza Victoria was pulled from the sea.  

The concrete Lions and bronze statue captured in the above gallery, were elements of a round of enhancements to Plaza Victoria begun 1870.

Monument to the Heroes of Iquique

Here we see from the Regatta bridge a monument to the Heroes of Iquique.   The Battle of Iquique, May 21, 1879, is remembered annually as Naval Glories Day (Dia de las Glorias Navales) .

  Click this Link for the Fine Art Photography Gallery.

This monument commemorates the destruction of the Chilean warship Esmeralda.  At the monument peak is Arturo Prat Chacón, captain of the Esmeralda who perished with his wooden ship.  He and the crew were blockading the then Peruvian port of Iquique along with another ship, the Covadonga.

May 1879 was in the initial phase of the War of the Pacific, fought over rich mineral deposits of the Atacama desert.  Today, the Chilean flag is over these barren wastes, seen here flying over a roadside memorial to an automobile accident victim.  The desert is the backdrop, there are no animals or plants here, only red dirt.  NASA uses the Atacama in simulations of the Martian environment. 

There are deposits of the mineral saltpeter, mined by large operations.  Here is the entrance of a World Heritate site we visited while docked at Iquique. 

The mining operation was literally scraping the deposits lying on the ground and processing it into, among other products, nitrogen
fertilizer.  At that time the operation was hugely lucrative, employing thousands in very difficult conditions.  That is a different story. 

Captain Prat faced two armored Peruvian warships, one the iron clad Huáscar.  Over the course of four hours the Esmeralda was overpowered and sunk.  The Huascar and the 22,500 mountain peak at Yungay, Huascarán, are named for an Inca chief.  

The monument honors the bravery of Captain Prat and his crew, all of whom are named on plaques.

After the Huáscar rammed Esmeralda a third time to sink it, the Huáscar captain, Miguel Grau Seminario, rescued Chilean survivors in danger of drowning.  In the meantime, the armored Peruvian warship was lured into the shallows and destroyed.  Although the blockage on Iquique was lifted Peru lost one of its most powerful ships at the cost to Chile of an older wooden ship.

The defeat and examples of the Esmerelda crew and captain brought a wave of recruits to the Chilean forces.  Chile was the victor of the War of the Pacific, vast tracks of the Atacama desert were taken from Bolivia, including the Saltpeter mines, shutting that country off from the Pacific Ocean.  There is a connection between these memories and the Training Ship anchored in the harbor, the sixth ship to carry the name, Esmeralda (BE-43). 

See my posting Valparaiso Connections V for the more recent history of the Esmeralda.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

With and Without People

always without water

Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve

Getty requires a signed photo release for each human in a photograph.

For this, the single best overview from our time with the Pintado Geoglyphs, I carefully painted out every human figure, our fellow tourists.

Here are the versions with and without human figures.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Geoglyph Panorama

Rain never falls here

Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve

Eternal high clouds that never yield water, we visited these hills just off the Pan American highway, to view shapes formed by moving stones.

The shapes are multifarious, mysterious and majestic. Hundreds of them, rendered for reasons known only to the makers.

I stitched together five images to yield an overall impression.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Ghost of a Ghost Town

A place that exists because of water and a roa

Adolfo Tapia Live Here (?)

The Spanish word pintados translates to painted in English. There are many references to the word, in one it is a war loving tribe known for tattoos. Here, it is the name of a deserted town on an abandoned railroad running roughly parallel to the Pan American highway. As we passed through en route to Geoglifos de Pintados, I captured these shots of the ruined town.

The handprinted sign above the window, top photograph, says in translation, “Here lived the Adolfo Tapia Family, 1940-1956, F.F C.C. del Estado.” Searches on Adolfo Tapia turned up nothing, all we know is the sign attributes the designation to the state government.

The hill of the geoglyphs are the background, some of the figures are visible. There will be more in later posts.

The railroad served the many Saltpeter factories dotting the Tarapacá region. To my knowledge all were closed in the mid-20th century.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

On the Pan American

A place that exists because of water and a roa

Pozo Altamonte

We passed this way between Humberstone and the geoglyph site, the town name can be roughly translated as “High Well.” A watering place, in other words. The sign advertises the “International Hostel” Tata with the convenience of private bathrooms.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Well Ordered

fighting for truth and honesty

a basis for fairness

Pooleys were a firm of mechanical engineers, founded in Liverpool 1790. Shown as Pooley of Liverpool in Heath Mill Lane, Birmingham, the company originally made scale beams, such as shown here, a reminder of the origins of Humberstone.

A demand of the workers was access to a scale to verify company store weights. With this post I close this series of photographs from the Humberstone UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Click me for the first post of this series.

References

Websites

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works World Heritage page

The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works site (Chile), removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger/

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Mother Country

touchstone or Imperialist Tool?

from well watered lands

1872 James Thomas Humberstone founded the Peru Nitrate Company. No, is geography was not deficient, this land was won by Chile from Peru in the War of the Pacific. This rolling stock was delivered from England, where Humberstone was born, in Dover, and worked his early years on railroads, London. At the age of 25, hired by the Tarapaca Nitrate Company, he moved to South American.

Robert Francis Fairlie developed the Fairlie Locomotive.

Click any photograph for a larger view and use Ctrl-x to zoom in closer.

Click me for the first post of this series.

References

Websites

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works World Heritage page

The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works site (Chile), removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger/

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Big Wet

Relitivity

Water Delivered

Modern, plastic, water pipes and moisture, in this arid place, suggest regular water deliveries.

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Click me for the first post of this series.

References

Websites

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works World Heritage page

The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works site (Chile), removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger/

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Children and Fellow Visitors

where’s Waldo?

A photographic essay

Can you spot the children and visitors in these scenes from the World Heritage Site Humberstone located in the Chilean Atacama desert?

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Click me for the first post of this series.

References

Websites

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works World Heritage page

The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works site (Chile), removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger/

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Atacama School Days

Dive In

A photographic essay

Children are our hope and the future. The yellow sign reads “UNESCO Contribution. the restoration of five classrooms of School number 35.”

From their web site: UNESCO encourages international peace and universal respect for human rights by promoting collaboration among nations. Its mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue.

Click any photograph for a larger view and use Ctrl-x to zoom in closer.

Click me for the first post of this series.

References

Websites

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works World Heritage page

The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works site (Chile), removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger/

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved