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History of mining - Atacama Region, Chile

Technological innovations

Mining 1830 - 1920

W. Griem, 2006 - 2021

Page Content
Text: Introduction
Intro Mining History

Peinecillo en Atacama

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

 Mining history 1830 - 1920

español / deutsch / english

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.

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 human resources or horsepower. This new technology led to a rapid increase in transport volumes. The first of these wooden rails are known from Europe in the 16th century.
The steam engine was an 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 resolved the mine water problem.
Richard Trevithick designed the first pressurized steam engine around 1801, which has much better efficiency.
Later, this steam engine becomes a "self-propelled" vehicle. 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 an imposing 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 the 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 enter the mine by simply changing the platforms quickly. The relatively simple system allowed it to reach depths of 200 to 400 meters rapidly. The often prolonged 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: List of bibliography:  Here
Bibliographical reference
● SIMONIN, L. (1869): Underground life, Mines y Miners. - 522 páginas, Translated by H.W. Bristol; London; Chapman & Hall; 1869. (Collection W. Griem) - see page with more links

Any new publication not authorized by the authors is expressly prohibited. This applies in particular to electronic publications:  Usage guidelines.

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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, 28.02.2021, 2.4. (gram)
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