Ghosts and where people once lived

24th December 2012 by Helen
What do you think of when you hear the words “ghost town”?

Do you think of scary sounds in the night?  Do you think of white sheets floating through houses and scaring the people there?

Well, we’ve been to a different type of ghost town.  One where people used to live many years ago.  Now all the houses and shops are empty.  Nobody lives there.  Very few people visit these towns.

We’ve also been to a ghost mine and followed the track of a ghost railway line.

Can you find Salta in Argentina and Antofagasta in Chile. The red line shows where the railway used to run between the two towns.

Way back in 1921 the people of Argentina and Chile started building a railway line.  It ran all the way from Salta in Argentina to Antofagasta in Chile.  It crossed a big line of mountains called the Andes.

The people finally finished building the railway in 1948. Can you imagine it taking 27 years to build a railway line?  A lot of things can happen in 27 years.  Do you know anyone who is 27 years old (an older brother or sister, or a parent, or an aunt or an uncle, or even one your teachers maybe)?  Ask them if they can remember some of the things that have happened to them in 27 years.

Not many trains carried people travelled along the railway.  The railway was used mainly for carrying freight. That means it carried lots of goods used in industry.  The most common goods it carried was for the mining industry.

We think the railway line was used for about 50 years. That doesn’t seem very long does it? Lots of things can change in 50 years.

We stopped to see two of the old towns that people used to live in alongside the railway line.

Paul is pretending to use the old machinery at abandoned town of Laguna Seca.

One was a tiny town with only 16 houses in it.  The town was built to provide a stopping point for the trains. There the trains could get water and repairs done there.  There were lots of towns along the way but the one we stopped at is called Laguna Seca. That means “dry lake”.

Here are the remains of the houses at Laguna Seca. It was a tiny town wasn't it?

Is there a railway station in your town?  Do trains still travel on the track there?

A bit further on we stopped at another town.  This one was called Tolar Grande.  It too used to be a railway town.  Now all the old railway buildings are broken down because they are not used any more.  But this town was not a ghost town.  There were people living and working there.  And we stopped to buy some cold drinks and some food to eat.

Can you find Mina la Casualidad on this map?

Along the railway line there used to be a big mine.  The miners took sulphur out of the ground.  Mostly the sulphur was used in agriculture (that’s farming).  But by 1992 the mine was not making enough money so it closed.

We went to see the old mine.  Right up close to the old mine was the town where the miners and their families lived.  At one time as many as 3,000 people lived in the town.  The men worked in the mine and lived there with their families.

We could see where there were all the usual things you might find in a town. Things like running water in the kitchens and bathrooms, and sewers to take all the waste away.  We saw an old abandoned church on top of the hill.  It overlooked the mine and the houses.  We went in the old community centre.  There people would have parties and celebrations. Sometimes visiting mine officials would stay and sleep in the special rooms set aside for visitors.  And there was a school for the children.

Most of the houses were built up on a hill but right down near the road that ran next to the mine were some more buildings.  These looked like old shops.

Here we are arriving at the abandoned mine called Mina la Casualidad.








Can you see the old houses in the front of this picture? What about the remains of the old mine in the distance?







Even these modern homes now stand empty.





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