Ecomuseo 145, Provincia de Guanacaste.
La Sierra, 5 km northwest of the center of Las Juntas de Abangares.
All year Tue-Sun 8-16.
|Gold Mine Silver Mine Placer Mining Écomusée
|Incandescent Electric Light System
|D=2 h, Max=15.
|Ecomuseu Minero Abangares, Ecomuseo 145, La Sierra, Provincia de Guanacaste, Tel: +506-2662-0004. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|first claim of a gold deposit in Abangares by a man named Juan Vicente Alvarado Acosta.
|Abangares Mining Eco-Museum founded.
|museum declared as Cultural Heritage by the Ministry of Culture and Youth.
The Ecomuseo de las Minas de Abangares (Abangares Mining Eco-Museum) was created on the site of the largest industrial gold mining operation in all of Costa Rica. It is located on the site of an old gold processing plant. The museum preserves some buildings, artifacts, photographs and original machinery of that era. It operated from 1884-1931.
The Museum is located at the small village La Sierra, not far from the town Las Junta. Both actually did not exist before the gold rush, there were only two sawmills. In La Sierra only the high-ranking officers of the company were allowed to live. As a result Englishmen, North Americans, Italians, and Costa Ricans from the central valley belonging to oligarchic families lived here. Las Junta was much bigger, as here the entire working class lived, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Colombians, Costa Ricans from rural areas, and Chinese. The Chinese were not accepted for work in the mines, they developed trade through the businesses like commissaries, bars, brothels, and gambling houses. The name was a result of the monthly payday, which was also the only day off. The miners used the day to spend some money on brothels, drinking, and gambling and soon called the day las juntas, the meetings. Soon they called the city with the same name.
The Historic Tour "Los Mazos" is a 2-hour tour of the area. It includes a 20-minute visit of the exhibition, the Tres Hermanos Trail, the Boston Tunnel, the remains of the El Tajo railroad, the Gunpowder House, the Pelton de Producción Eléctrica, a waterwheel used to generate electricity. The Sala de Exhibición de Piezas Museísticas is an exhibition with explanatory texts, photographs, and numerous tools and items from the mines. The Tres Hermanos Trail (Three Brothers) was named after the brothers Rafael, Paulino and Juan Acosta Chavez. Their cousin Juan Vicente Alvarado Acosta made one of the first expeditions in search of gold in Abangares and discovered the gold in Abangares in 1884. A few years later he sold the claim to his cousins, and they opened the first mine in the area. It was named the mina de Tres Hermanos (Three Brothers Mine).
Soon more mines opened and at the end there were 12 main mines in the area. After a few years the forest had been destroyed completely, as wood was needed for mining, to build houses, as railway sleepers, for the smelting furnaces, and precious woods were exported mainly to the United States. So the forest has regrown, but is not the ancient forest which existed before the mining activities.
The museum actually has an underground tunnel, called the Boston Tunnel. It was named after the Mina de Boston (Boston Mine), on of the 12, named after the birthplace of its main administrator, shareholder and president. The mine was operated by the north american company Abangares Gold Fields, which was led by Minor Cooper Keith. He was the most progressive mine owner and introduced state-of-the-art technologies from the U.S.A. here in Puerto Rico. This passage was built as a railway tunnel, connecting the mining area to the processing plant. The tunnel partly collapsed, and only the entrance section was reopened and reinforced. The site of the museum is the processing plant, Planta de Extracción Industrial de Los Mazos (Los Mazos Industrial Extraction Plant), the mines were 10 km north of the plant. That's the reason why there are no actual mine tunnels in the area of the museum.
The Casa de la Pólvora (Gunpowder House) is a stone building which was the storage for explosives. It was built at some distance, to avoid major damages in the event of an accident. The building had double walls with a small gap, there were ventilation holes in both wall but on different location, so the air had to move through the gap to reach the next hole. This increased insulation against all kinds of outside influence, like humidity and temperature. To protect the partly collapsed building from further destruction, it was founded by concrete and covered by an additional roof.
While the mine trains were operated by steam locomotives, which was rather old-fashioned, the plant was the first place in Costa Rica which had electricity. For this reason hydroelectric power plants were built at the Guacimal and Abangares rivers. The exhibited Pelton de Producción Eléctrica was actually the waterwheel, with which the generators were rotated.
There is also large machinery on site which was relocated from the mines to the open air part of the museum. This includes pebbles from Australia, which were harder than the local stone and used for the grinding mills. Its unclear if there was actually no source in Costa Rica, or if it was just easier to bring the rocks from Australia by ship than to transport them through the roadless jungle. Then there are tractor loaders and freight wagons, narrow-gauge railway wagon, lift pulleys, mallet boxes, and an air compressor.