Puras de Villafranca, Burgos (0)
Manganese mines whose exploitation is probably one of the oldest in Spain
It is located in the locality that gives it its name, southwest of Belorado, in a small valley between Ezquerra and San Miguel de Pedroso, on the northeastern edge of the Sierra de la Demanda. Although the existence of manganese in the subsoil of Puras de Villafranca has been known since ancient times, mining activity in the Puras de Villafranca Mining Complex began in 1799 and ended in 1965 leaving a large mining heritage. The mineral extracted here was of a great purity compared with others existing in other geographical points. There is documentation that the first mine was named Anita.
In the vicinity of the town of Puras de Villafranca are several mines, the Victoria mine, Luisito mine, La Segura mine, El Comienzo mine and Pura mine, are only five of those that make up this first mining complex in Castilla y León. When around 1922 the temporary extraction of ore was stopped, the facilities were used for storage and after the final closure of the mines in 1965 many of them were used as landfills by the neighbors themselves. After its conditioning the mining complex is ready to transport us in time and make us enter the mines Pura and El Comienzo, real manganese mines where thick veins of ore, holes or wagons testify to the intense mining activity that existed, while making known the work and tools used by the miners.
Next to the Victoria mine pit, the ore washhouse holds memories of the women and children who worked here to separate the ore. The mini power station, the laundry, where the clothes used in the mine were washed separately in order to avoid staining the water used in the laundry of the houses, the lifting derricks, the old offices of the mine El Comienzo. Today it is here where experiments and workshops related to manganese make a little better known its use and importance while pull off extract some exclamation. All these installations show us the infrastructures that this industrial activity had associated with it and the social and working relations that were established in the place and that interacted with the traditional life of the locality.
In some mines it was customary to give the miner extra money in the pay to take his own fuel to light up the gallery. In other mines it was a person, the almijarero, who was in charge of supplying the oil to the miners at the beginning of the day.
The Puras de Villafranca Mining Complex has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. Manganese was already used by the prehistoric for their cave paintings. The Greeks and Romans also used it to colour the glass or make it more transparent, according to need. Although since the 19th century manganese has been used as an alloy with iron to obtain steel, this mineral was found in the iron mines of the Spartans, so it is believed that they already used it to give hardness to their swords.
It is said that manganese extracted from these mines was used in the construction of the Titanic.
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We can reach Belorado by the N-120 that joins Logroño with Burgos and crosses the town. Once in Belorado, take the BU-811 road in the direction of Pradoluengo, just a few kilometres away. A crossroads on the right allows us to take the road that leads to San Miguel de Pedroso and just after crossing the river Tirón, take the detour to Puras de Villafranca. Also on the N-120 shortly before reaching Belorado from Burgos we find the junction with the road that leads to San Miguel de Pedroso and from there we approach Puras de Villafranca. Belorado has daily bus services that stop in the town and cover the routes of Burgos-Logroño-Zaragoza and Pamplona-Logroño-Madrid.
On our arrival in Puras de Villafranca we will see the sign indicating the detour towards the welcome centre of the Puras de Villafranca Mining Complex, where we will find space to leave our vehicle. In summer, a tourist train is set up from Belorado.
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