What hides the Cabezo chimneys: A recoverable heritage treasure

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Image of one of the galleries.

Text and photos by Enrique Fernández Bolea

There are days to discover, where you not imagine what later will reveal. Precisely in the splendid yesterday morning, 21 October, It took place one of those days full of surprises. In the call I received the day before Matías Gómez Cervellera, The president of the SAT Guiraos, I reported that in Cabezo de las Chimeneas, near the hamlet of Los Lobos and clearly visible from the road of Eagles, They had found a gallery that was interested in visitásemos together. Land located in this place have been acquired not too by this dynamic community of irrigators that aims, with careful planning, There convert brownfields located in center of activity and wealth for the region, although this is not the time to reveal the nature of the project. In the vast plain which ends altozano, In addition to the remains of a corporate outbreak of the early of the 80, Inhiesta and stands a high chimney that belonged to the smelter Against All Odds, another secular staggered structure and not as tall companion for the harmful gases from another factory was evacuated entitled Acertera. His presence enough to understand the name of the place toponímica.
Those two manufacturing complexes were the beginning of metallurgy in the vicinity of Sierra Almagrera shortly after the discovery of rich silver reef Jaroso. Among 1839 and 1840 Gibraltarian smelting Francisco Scotto and a certain Manuel Martín Molina began to transform into ingots and Tortoises [cakes metal species] precious minerals that tore the neighboring ravine and came to their yards through the Boca de Mairena. For this reason, namely, since this is the least broken out for trains of oxen dragging carts colmados mineral from the Jaroso, its owners decided emplaced there, on the right bank of the Rambla de Muleria, in the section between the current districts of wolves and the Tarahal, born precisely in those years of the decade 1840 the heat of this benefit.

From the outset the harmful impact metallurgical operations had on the health of the workers who worked there were detected. Direct inhalation of gases given off during ovens and calcination processes of mineral copelación, and their skin contact with them when those fumes and dust lead the wrapped completely, -very contributed to suffering a serious illness outstretched known as saturnine colic or emplomamiento. It manifested initially with gastrointestinal disorders, especially acute abdominal pain and bilious vomiting. Solidification of lead in the stomach and intestine caused pain so intense that, in order to contribute to their relief, some companions came to tread the belly of the affected. If contact with agents causing the disease did not stop, more serious symptoms surfaced that impinged on the liver and kidneys. Another of the most visible and repulsive effects was the appearance of a bluish gray coloration, one to two millimeters amplitude, along the gums, which it occurred as a result of the elimination of lead from the gingival mucosa and precipitation as sulfide. However, the most feared consequences were shown in an advanced stage of the disease and had to do with the saturnine encephalopathy: tremors, headache, insomnia, delirium and loss of sensation and body mobility, in most of the cases, They announced the death of Leaded.

The spread of disease among workers in foundries detracted, on the one hand, available working mass, and secondly this activity shooed potential applicants from those jobs for fear of contracting the disease. The owners of the Contra Viento y Marea and Acertera had no choice but to react in order to find a solution to a problem they considered more business survival public health. He had to slow as was the incidence of evil to recover a scarce labor and reticent, hence the afanasen in constructing galleries leading the harmful gases from the furnaces to fireplaces nestled considerable distance and elevated position as we occupy. These galleries smoke, sometimes built in masonry and other drilled in the field, They painted a snaking route in order to achieve a second target: ralentizasen the dense gas circulation and quit hauling heavy metals adhering to the walls of these galleries, where they were collected at certain intervals for later use. Through this infrastructure, initially designed to prevent lead colic, promoters able to recover a metal which until then was discharged into the atmosphere as gas. No bad investment -for which obligaron- that a silver lining.

Well, without expecting it, hundreds of meters of galleries smoke these facilities belonging to Contra Viento y Marea and Acertera are those, surprised and even excited, We could go yesterday morning five privileged, almost pioneers, among the ones who, besides this Matthias and subscribes, Pedro Perales Larios were, Andres Caicedo and Ginés Martínez Pérez Pérez. After entering a stretch of about 70 meters, end of the gallery that connected with high chimney Contra Viento tour, we have entered into another which has been extended, adopting an almost circular path, for over three hundred meters. takes this, after a short transverse travel, perfectly adapted to the topography of the hillside, intervals so that holes connecting to the outside at the time employed to facilitate maintenance and access to the workers dealing starting metals adhering to the walls of the open gallery. From time to time we have encountered other secondary galleries, noticeably smaller dimensions, that could have fulfilled a function breather. this tunnel, excavated walls and reinforced by hydraulic lime mortar or masonry, It possesses dimensions, more or less regular along its entire length, approximately 1,50 meters wide 1,70-1,90 high. Its shape is square and domed sometimes in other, acquiring sometimes on top a completely irregular morphology due to its adaptation to the ground. It is very well preserved, Very few detachments being detected.

Alongside the outdoor fireplaces, comprise a set of our mining and industrial heritage of the first order, well illustrating plastically these processes for evacuating gases from metallurgical and the use of these metals transported. And its current owners, SAT The Guiraos, It is shown ready to recovery, its restoration, to its value, When those plans projected onto the Cabezo de las Chimeneas soon begin to materialize. We're, ultimately, before a historical element, suggesting that cultural and heritage, under musealization and interpretation, it can become a very attractive resource for that quality tourism that seeks alternatives to sun and beach in summer activities, or an enlightening and rewarding offer in our mild winters. Cabezo de las Chimeneas is a strategic point of that terrain, Almagrera from which can be seen in its full extent, historic landscape where everything started giving us the stage and the story that contextualize this heritage which fortunately has been revealed to us.