The former saltpeter works of Hemberstone (next to Santa Laura) are the current remains of a glorious past, in the early twentieth century. The former offices and people are now a ghost area declared as a World Heritage Site, but also included in the list of endangered heritage, for its almost zero degree of conservation.
Situated just 48 kilometers from Iquique in northern Chile, both nitrate ghostly state, are the remains of two villages which together numbered about 4,000. The nitrate belonged to a nitrate mining company that had a rapid growth, giving birth to thriving towns under the unmistakable classic English style. The villages, enjoyed periods of prosperity to be forgotten with the drastic drop in activity in the Great Depression of 1929.
The crisis, coupled with the development of production of ammonia by the Germans leaving the nitrate on the verge of bankruptcy. The largest town, then known as La Palma, becomes Santiago Humberstone Office of the hand of new investors Accelerate the nitrate with a new business model. Finally, in 1958 comes the end of the activity and after the last cycle of prosperity, in 1960 both villages are completely abandoned.
Humberstone and Santa Laura are two peoples since ghosts in the desert of Atacama. Over the years, tourists are soon to arrive, attracted by the remains of a people of great wealth left at their mercy. Currently, restoration work is carried out by a Saltpeter Museum Corporation. Striking, find a theater, church and even a grocery woodwork, large corporate buildings and old workers properties. A site visit will undoubtedly be a walk funny and full of stories: it is hard to imagine so much activity in the middle of the desert.