Atacama virtual: English

History of the Atacama region (Chile): Mining

R. A. Philippi (1856): The village Tres Puntas

Mining at Atacama

W. Griem, 2021

Text of Philippi
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Philippi Carta del sector Trespuntas de Philippi
Ruinen eines Schornsteins in Tres Punta, Atacamawüste

 Literature: History of mining at Atacama desert

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Philippi describes the mining place Tres Puntas in a very real way. It does not gloss over anything and also makes it clear that many mines do not make a profit at all. The sale of water from the pits is often the main source of income.

From Chañaral to Trespuntas, the "silver-town", there are still 7-1/2 leguas. Trespuntas is located 5447 feet above sea level in the saddest area, in the middle of the desert, where you don't see a green stalk, where there is no drop of water. The village has only existed for a few years and may have 2-3000 inhabitants; the houses are almost only wooden huts, or dry walls near the pits; the roofs are mostly only rush mats. Perhaps 80 or more mines are being worked on, four or five of which yield an enormously rich yield, give half a dozen moderate profits, and the others are being worked on in hopes of finding silver in greater depths; the most common ore here is Proustite (Ag3AsS3; orig.: Rothgültigerz).

The gold mines are of minor importance. Some mines cover the costs by selling the mine water! but most of the water comes from 10 Ieguas far, from one place Puquios, and the mule charge costs a Spanish thaler. Each mule drinks water daily for 2 Real (10 sgr.) and eats barley daily for a Prussian thaler. Life in this charming place is almost as Pöppig of Cerro de Pasco describes it.

On the old Inca Trail, if you have a good horse, you should be able to ride in 7 hours to Copiapó, the trail will be calculated to 30 Leguas, but in our opinion it is only 19 2/3 Leguas long; we returned it in less than two days by riding at night, and arrived the 27th of February happily in Copiapó, very pleased to see a civilized man.



The original texts were digitized, converted to ASCII and edited by Dr. Wolfgang Griem. Sketches and drawings are digitally cleaned.


Malacate en Tres Puntas de Philippi
Picture from R. A. Philippi: Town of Tres Puntas in Atacama - see picture total (Chapter Pictures of Chile and Atacama) - see winches in mining (more)

PHILIPPI, RODULFO AMANDO (1860): Viage al Desierto de Atacama, hecho de orden del gobierno de Chile en el verano 1853-54.- 236 +6 p. 25 tablas; 7 perfiles  Halle Sajonia, Librería Eduardo Anton.

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Published (spanish): 19.9. 2017; Updated: 8.10.2017, 30.1.2021
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