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Atacama Region, Chile: Historical records about Copiapo

Hugo Kunz in Copiapó (1890)

Museo Virtual, Atacama
W. Griem, 2014, 2017

Carta de Gilliss Aviso Beluzan
Aviso historico Martinez Karta de Sudamerica de Kunz, 1890


 Literature: Copiapo at 1890

Hugo Kunz published a summary of Copiapió's history in 1890 - a short description of the city in the Atacama Desert.
Original text:
Page 414 - 416

The town of Copiapó, founded in 1772 by Jose Manzo on the river of the same name, 396 metres above sea level and connected by rail to the port of Caldera 82 kilometres away since December 1851, is the centre of silver and copper mining in the province of Atacama.

The city is in pleasant contrast to Caldera, thanks to its location, favoured by lush vegetation with its majestic churches, tasteful, partly two-storey houses, its beautiful private gardens and statues adorned with public squares, the impression of prosperity and a certain elegance. The city has a beautifully built theater, a Lyceum, mining academy. Gas lighting, there is a railway, post, telegraph station and seat of an imperial German consulate.

Copiapó owes its world renown to the famous silver minerals of Chañarcillo, discovered 10 miles away in 1832.
In addition, Copiapó has declined as a result of the decline of the copper industry. Only an English owned copper mine (Dulcinea), near Puquios, is still successfully mined.
At the beginning of the 1860s, Copiapó had three banking businesses in Edwards, Ossa Escobar and Gormaz. The latter was soon liquidated. The two remaining ones were then joined by one of only very ephemeral duration, that of C. Lamarca, after whose departure in the province of Atacama, more than other needy of financial institutions due to the character of their industry, for two decades the banks of Edwards and Escobar divided the money transactions among themselves. The copper smelting works were (among others in Chañaral etc.) six larger ones in the province: in Nantoco of Escobar, at Tierra Amarilla the owner Edwards and the other four in Caldera. The number of silver refineries (amalgamation works) was even greater, the majority of whose products were taken over by the two banking businesses mentioned above.

Three of the copper smelting works in Caldera did not experience the seventies. From that time onwards, the standstill and in some cases setback in industry and commerce generally came to light, as can be seen in the dividends of the Copiapó Railway, in which prosperity is fairly faithfully reflected. The 12%, to which the same seemed to have been standardized, shrunk worryingly, - and the fact that they still kept to a certain extent can only be thanked for the fact that the maintenance plant of the railway has become a rich source of income and merit by taking over work for the public of the north.

In the 1880s, the province's prosperity was often referred to as a tradition. The silk, which the two banks had spun in the past, was coming to a close. It was no longer sufficient for two - at most for one - of course for what, as they say, could last the longest. Thus it happened that the Escobar' sche drew the flag and that the Edwards' sche alone as a matador, in a way as an unrestricted ruler - because in critical time runs the owner of the money monopoly, especially in industrial districts, remained on the place.

This situation of things is to be put to an end now, not precisely because a new, particularly noticeable upturn in the industry lying below it has occurred and the field of activity for money institutes has again expanded to such an extent that Edwards's would have become materially inadequate for transport, but because the way in which the latter has managed its monopoly seems to have made the same thing rather unpopular.


The original texts were digitized, transformed to ASCII and edited by Dr. Wolfgang Griem

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● Kunz, Hugo (1890): Chile und die deutschen Kolonien. - 634 Seiten: Commisonsverlag Julius Klinkhard, Leipzig - Colección W. Griem
● Guía SudAmericana (1910-1912) y General de Chile. - 3ª Edición para 1910 - 1912; Valparaíso (Chile) (Biblioteca Museo Regional de Atacama)
● GILLISS, J.M. (1855): The U.S. Naval Astonomical Expedition to the southern Hemisfere, during the years 1849-50-51-52. - Volume 1 (Chile); Washington A.O.P. Nicholson Printer.
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