Humberstone is a former saltpeter refinery located in northern Chile. Together with the Santa Laura Saltpeter refinery, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
Situated in the remote desert Pampa, one of the driest deserts on earth, thousands of pampinos lived and worked in this hostile environment, for over 60 years. Both works grew quickly, becoming busy towns characterized by lovely buildings in the English style. On this card, sent by Hernán, there's a general view of the Humberstone refinary, the nitre foundry, a grocery, housings, an hotel, the theatre and the church.
Photo by Alex Huber
Practically bankrupt, both works were acquired by COSATAN (Compañía Salitrera de Tarapacá y Antofagasta) in 1934. COSATAN renamed La Palma into "Oficina Santiago Humberstone" in honor of its founder. The company tried to produce a competitive natural saltpeter by modernizing Humberstone, which led to its becoming the most successful saltpeter works in 1940.
Both works were abandoned in 1960 after the rapid decline that caused COSATAN to disappear in 1958. In 1970, after becoming ghost towns, they were declared national monuments and opened to tourism. In 2005 they were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. - in: wikipedia