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Sewell Mining Town
Site number:
Type of site: Cultural
Date: 20th century
Date of Inscription: 2006
Location: South America, Chile, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins Region, Province of Cachapoal, Machali
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Description: Santiago, located 85 km south of the capital, being more than 2,000 m up the Andes has an extreme climate environment. The Braden Copper Company built the Sewell Mining Town in the early 20th century to house workers from the world’s largest underground copper mine, El Teniente. Many remote parts of the world saw the birth of company towns instituted to mine and process local high-value natural resources through the fusion of local labour with the resources from an industrialized nation. Though Sewell was largely abandoned in the 1970s, at its peak it numbered 15,000 inhabitants. The town was erected on a terrain too steep for wheeled vehicles, so it was constructed around a large central staircase rising from the railway station. Along its route the main public spaces or squares of the town were constituted by formal squares of irregular shape with ornamental trees and plants. Coming off the central staircase, paths ran along the contours towards smaller squares and other secondary staircases linked the town’s different levels. The streets are lined with timber buildings that were often painted in vivid greens, yellows, reds and blues. Designed in the U.S.A., most of them were based of an American model of the 19th century; the Industrial School’s (1936) design for instance, is of modernist inspiration. Built for year-round use, Sewell is the only 20th century mountain industrial mining settlement of such a considerable size. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  Sewell is an uninhabited Chilean mining town located in the commune of Machalí in Cachapoal Province, O'Higgins Region, on the slopes of the Andes, at an altitude between 2,000 and 2,250 metres. The town was founded in 1904 by the Braden Copper Co. to extract the copper in the mine, and, in 1915, it was named after the company's first president, Mr. Barton Sewell. In 1918, it already housed 14,000 people. Following many years of active life and achieving the construction and exploitation of the largest underground mine in the world, in 1977 the company started moving families to the valley and soon after the camp was being dismantled. The Chilean Government declared Sewell a National Monument in 1998, while the UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site in 2006. Sewell is known as the city of stairs as there were no roads, only a train that brought workers and their families to the camp; at night, it had the shape and the looks of a Christmas tree and anyone being born or having lived in Sewell keeps the memories of a place never heard of. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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