D27C, 66360 Escaro.
MAY to mid-JUN Sat, Sun, Hol 15-18.
Mid-JUN to mid-SEP Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun 15-18.
Mid-SEP to OCT Sat, Sun, Hol 15-18.
Adults EUR 3, Children (8-15) EUR 2, Children (0-7) free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 2.
|Classification:||Iron Mine Flußspat|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Musée de la mine d’Escaro-Aytua, D27C, 66360 Escaro, Tel: +33-760-34-25-83. 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.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1959||begin of mining at Thorrent.|
|NOV-1974||«village du haut» (upper village) destroyed to extend the mine.|
|1977||end of mining at Thorrent, deposit exhausted.|
|1993||end of mining at Escaro.|
|1998||Association «Mémoire de la mine» (Memory of the mine) founded.|
|2004||Escaro Mining Museum opened to the public.|
The tectonic movements of the Pyrenees caused to formation of cracks in the rock. Those rocks were filled by hydrothermal convection, mostly with fluorite mixed with siderite, hematite, as well as galena and pyrite. The mining first mined the different sulfur-based metal ores, especially the iron ores. At first the use of fluorite was unknown, but when use of fluorite as flux for steel production was the mining continued for the fluorite. The tectonic movements continued and so the growing
One deposit was near Escaro, a smaller one was located on the western slope of the commune of Sahorre, below the hamlet of Thorrent and near the Saint-Etienne church. The deposits in the area were veins or gangues, measuring 10 to 20 m and 100 to 250 m long. Other gangues were too small to be mined. The deposit at Thorrent produced approximately 450,000 t of ore with a concentration of 55 to 60 % CaF2.
Musée de la mine d’Escaro-Aytua (Escaro-Aytua Mining Museum) presents a unique collection of wagons, helmets, carbide lamps and hammers. They are the remains of first iron mining, later the fluorite, or fluorspar, used in particular as a flux in the manufacture of steel. The huge open cast mine was one of the largest in Europe before its closure in the early 1990s. The museum is located in the small mining town Escaro on the southern side of the open cast. But the upper part of the village Escaro d'Amont once was located where the open cast is now, it was completely destroyed, the inhabitants relocated.
The iron ore mining at Escaro started in antiquity, and continued through the Middle Ages, but only in a low scale. Mining was at a rather low scale until the 19th century, obviously a result of the remote location and the difficulties of transport. At the beginning of the 19th century Napoleon changed the mining laws and introduced mining concessions. Escaro had three concessions, Escaro-Nord Concession, Aytua Concession, and Escaro-Sud Concession.
Escaro, in Catalan Escaró, is located in the Catalan Pyrenees Regional Natural Park, in the hills above the valley, many say they are at the end of the world. The altitude of the commune varies between 582 and 2,082 m asl. The village itself is about 900 m asl. The first mentions of the name are villa Ascaro (879) and Ascarone (968).
The museum has a great exhibition of mining tools, machinery, ore and mineral samples, and a very detailed model of the open cast mine and its cable car system. The model shows the history of the mining trains from horse pulled to locomotive polled. There is also a truck which is powered by wood.
The museum has no underground part, although there are some ancient underground tunnels which pose the danger of collapse, there is actually no underground part of the last mining phase. The museum offers a ride on a mine train, but only on a short track at the museum and a small replica mine. The mining was done in an open cast. This open cast is still there, just a little overgrown in some patches, but there are two roads across and a lot of trails. At the upper end the ruined cable way station, which was used to transport the fluorite, can be seen.
The museum is quite detailed and informative. It shows all aspects of the mining history, the technical aspects as well as the social. There were drawbacks due to nature destruction and the destruction of a part of the town. There are still drawbacks like collapses and floods caused by mining residuals. But on the other hand, mining was the economic backbone of a remote area where jobs are very scarce. Today the unemployment rate is much higher than average in France, and many people, especially the young, leave the town for good.