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History of mining - Atacama Region, Chile

Technological innovations

Mining 1830 - 1920
W. Griem, 2017
Peinecillo en Atacama

Sistema de transporte de una mina de Calizas en Alemania (Treptow, 1900)

 Historia de la minería 1830 - 1920

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In the Atacama region, the period between 1830 and 1920 is characterized by a multitude of innovations and changes. A first phase of a new mining technology manifests itself in many deposits.

Technological innovations from 1830 to 1920:
The period between 1830 and 1920 was characterized by a multitude of technical inventions or improvements, which quickly proved to be of great benefit in mining. For example, the use of the railway as a means of transport has significantly increased the amount of moving rock. The first rails were still made of wood and the trolleys had to be moved with manpower or horsepower. But this was already a tremendous advance as the entire material on the back of the mine to drag. The first of these wooden rails are known from Europe in the 16th century.
The steam engine was a very important invention for the mining industry. But the machines, which were initially very inefficient, have been continuously improved.
Thomas Newcomen introduced the first steam-powered water pump around 1712, which was used for pumping mine water.
Richard Trevithick designed the first pressurized steam engine around 1801, which has a much better efficiency.
Later, this steam engine becomes a "self-propelled" vehicle. But not only railways are driven by steam, but also tractors in agriculture, cars, buses, ships and cranes. The development line of the steam engine shows a very impressive course:  

Railway history:
1825: First railway line in England between Stockton and Darlington  
1830: First public railway route in England  
1835: First railway route in Germany  
1851: First track in Chile  
1879: Siemens' first electric locomotive;
1881 first electrified line.   

From 1833 onwards, some of the deeper mines were equipped with so-called "Men Engine". A system of two moving bars or ropes running in opposite directions, which small platforms attached, helped the miners to get in or out of the mine. The miner was now able to quickly enter the mine by simply changing the platforms. The relatively simple system allowed it to reach depths of 200 to 400 meters quickly. The often long and time-consuming ways into and out of the mine were now past.


Grua a vapor de Huasco, Atacama - Chile
Crane in Huasco (Foto: W. Griem 2004) Large photo


Literature and Links
Bibliographical reference

Sankt Andreasberg mine(Harz / Alemania) y la "Fahrkunst"
en alemán:

The Fahrkunst: explicación en inglés: (de Thomas Krassmann):

Literture and Links:

Simonin (1867): La Vie Souterraine Du Les Mines et les Mineures" (Paris 1867)

Mining Atacama
History of Atacama


History of mining 1830-1920
Intro epoch 1830-1920
Technical innovations

Ejemplo 1884 Aracena

Scientific innovations
Social conscience
Educational impulse
Mine safety
Records of the period::
Gilliss: Apires and barreteros
Work conditions of miners
Los Mineros (Tornero 1872)
Apires y barreteros - Tornero

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General Geology:
History of Geosciences

Historical sketches mining
Chapter "History of Geology"
Historia de las geociencias
Mining history of Atacama
Mining from 1830 to 1920
List of minig districts of Atacama

Mining in Atacama
Tres Puntas
Carrizal Alto
Cerro Blanco
Lomas Bayas
Cabeza de Vaca

Visitors and scientists
List of visitors
R.A. Philippi in Atacama
Paul Treutler in Atacama
Charles Darwin, Atacama (1835)
Ignacio Domeyko y Copiapó
Kunz en Copiapó
Hugo Kunz en Chañarcillo
Gilliss Mineros en Chañarcillo

Additional information
Timeline Atacama
Mining history of Atacama
The railroad history of Atacama
Cartas y Mapas de Atacama
Cartas históricas de Atacama
Listado de personajes de Atacama

The railroad history of Atacama
History of Atacama
Mining history of Atacama
Geología Atacama
Climate of the Atacama Region
Virtual viewpoint Atacama

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Mining history of Atacama, Chile
© Dr. Wolfgang Griem, Chile - all rights reserved  (Mail a Wolfgang Griem Uso de las páginas de y
Published: 7.10.2017; updated: 7.10.2017, 15.7.2018
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Any new publication not authorized by the authors is expressly prohibited. This applies in particular to electronic publications:  Usage guidelines.
© Wolfgang Griem (2005, 2009) - Todos los derechos reservados - alle Rechte vorbehalten - all rights reserved
KW geolog, soluciones en geología y minería - Atacama