Both were built to feed the Chilean saltpeter industry

A tour of two abandoned hydroelectric plants in the Atacama Desert

The great Atacama Desert, in Chile, is known as the driest place in the world if we except the polar areas.

Aliaga, the ruins of what was once the most important thermal power plant in Spain
The Gordejuela Water Elevator, one of the most beautiful ruined buildings in Spain

In that place there are some low-flowing rivers, which serve as a base for the construction of hydroelectric plants linked to the saltpeter industry, which was of great importance in that country at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. XX. Exploring the Unbeaten Path has visited two of those power plants that are now abandoned.

The first of them was built in 1905 and was commissioned in 1911, ceasing its activity in 1956 and currently being cataloged as a historical monument. The second was built in 1898, ceasing its activity in 1929. Unfortunately, the lack of surveillance and the long years of abandonment have caused many of its elements to have been looted, Despite which today they continue to be a fascinating vestige of an important industrial past in the middle of the desert:

You can see some screenshots of this video below. I'll start with a detail that I really liked: the fabulous northern sky of the Atacama Desert, with a clear view of the Milky Way. Due to its aridity, this is one of the best places in the world to see the stars. In fact, in that desert is the largest astronomical project in the world: the Atacama Large observatory Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

The first of the power plants that appear in the video, built in 1905. Its reservoir is still intact.

The three 500 HP Voith in Heidenheim turbines of this power station. Despite abandonment, vandalism and looting, this plant still looks impressive.

The second power plant, built in 1898. It had two turbines and its reservoir also still stands.

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