La Camocha Mine
La Camocha Settlement
La Camocha Mine
La Camocha Mine has a huge importance in the industrial history of Asturias, being a big Felgueroso’s family project and the only mine shaft in Gijón. In addition, José León Delestal, a local poet and musician, created «La mina de la Camocha», a song about the nature of everything related to this mine: from the plumbing process and the creation of Comisiones Obreras (nowadays, one of the biggest trade union in Spain) in the facility, to its unexpected and sad closing.
The Felgueroso Brothers were associates and workers in the unsuccessful railway company connecting San Martín, Lieres, Gijón and El Musel. In 1901, the area of San Martín de Huerces started being bored in order to create an extraction-oriented vertical shaft which would be beneficial in the mineral deposits they found while building the railway stretch mentioned above. These drilling operations suffered from huge delays, finally concluding in the 1930s and leading to the mine shaft opening.
In La Camocha, three different vertical shafts were dug: two of them created in the 1930s and the third one in the following decade. However, the first one was only used for secondary tasks in 1940. Alongside with these shafts, the rest of the mining facility was built in the area, including offices, toilets, a coal washing plant and a railway branch connected to Veriña, which was used to transport the results of the mine production by means of the unfinished Lieres Railway. Surrounding the facility, a small village started to grow, and some low and medium density residential buildings were built as accommodation for the increasing number of workers and families.
The second shaft preserved a steam power extraction machine until 1996, an absolute treasure built by the German company GHH in 1921. It was installed in Gijón in 1932 and it eventually became the only one operating in Europe. Nowadays, this machine is kept in the MUMI, acronyms for Museo de la Minería de Asturias (Asturian Mining Museum).
La Camocha is also known by a beautiful song wrote by José León Delestal, which became very popular in Asturias and whose lyrics describe the way these mines are built under the sea and how the miners heard the waves while working. Nevertheless, the only underwater mine in Asturias was located in Arnao and La Camocha only made use of the mainland.
In 1945, the Felgueroso family gave this mine up due to financial issues, and it passed through the hands of several owners until its eventual closure in 2007.