The constitution of the mining company in the early 20th century, caused a high demand of labour, fostering the arrival of a great number of workers from other communities, especially from Andalucia and Vasc Country, who came to settle down in the new mining town called Sierra Menera, built with the purpose of providing acommodation to the miners.
The town was divided in several districts: watchmaking, hospital, town centre, management, station and the “Manolo´s houses”. These towns are similar to other working class neighbourhoods throughout the Spanish territory with family houses and straight streets.
As well as the housing, the mining town had community facilities and some services to help the workers endure economic and social difficulties experienced in Spain during those years.
We could highlight the commissary, which offered special discounts to the workers, a chapel, a school and a house to welcome everyone which was built as a community home for gathering and celebrating cultural meetings such weddings, etc.
The casino was also the meeting point for employees after a working day; It had a bar, a cinema, a game room and a library.
A hospital was also built, including the doctor´s office, radiology services and a committal area for long term injuries.
Beside the station, a neighbourhood called the “Manolo´s houses” was built to give housing to the employees who worked in the railway. It was located in the municipality of Villar del Salz.
Near those buildings was the management district: an unmistakable opulence symbol where the owners lived, also the senior´s, administrator´s and engineer´s houses. The administration office was also there.
All this splendour ended up with the mining closing in 1987. Nowadays, most of the districts are being restored as a holiday destination and also, making the most of the railway line, a green route with 160 km long has been designed, becoming the longest in Spain.
The mineral exploitation in Ojos Negros comes from the Celtiberian period, but it won´t be until the Modern era when the mineral extracting activity was developed in a more intensive way, providing minerals to the foundries located at the Sierra de Albarracín and Alto Tajo areas.
By the early twentieth century, the Sierra Menera mining company was established, alternating the exploitation between galleries and open-pit mines. This activity needed an important quantity of labour force coming from nearby towns. Those employers used to work in a very tough and extreme climate conditions.
The mining company built its own railway line in order to transport the mineral to the Sagunto port from which it was loaded onto ships to export it.
In 1921 the company acquired its first two diggers starting the industrialization process and making much easier this kind of work.
Later, in 1925 the Montiel tunnel was built, communicating the Castilla area with this side of the mountains entailing a great advance.
Between 1932 and 1941, the mines remained closed.
From 1941, the railway was rebuilt, restarting again the exploitation activity and making improvements, to name but a few: a conveyor belt at the Montiel tunnel, a mineral grinding plant or a charger. These developments led to a frenetic exploitation producing tons of tailings and causing a destruction of the landscape resulting in the great subsidences of the land as we know today.
Here is a video you can watch and make an idea about the work performed by the miners in Sierra Menera.
- Mining Route
- La Marajosa Viewpoint
- GR-24 from Gallocanta to Peracense
- Jiloca Wetlands
- Peracense Castle
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