Phosphate mines at Ascencion

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Ascencion 20140424 035 smallIt is a long time ago that François, Fred and I visited the phosphate mines at Ascencion (June 2010) and because the others hadn't seen these mines, we decided to renew our visit on Thursday April 24, 2014. François is doing archaeological work in St. Kitts and Dominica, so he was not present this time. Dirk with a family member, also with the name Dirk, Fred, Carel, Eddy, Hetty and I parked our cars just behind the gate of the plantation house. Dirk has the key of this gate and in this way we are sure our cars are parked safely. From there we took one of the many Uniek Curaçao trails in this area in the direction of the Seroe Mainshie (Werbata) or Ser'i Mainshi (Kadaster). On top of that seru the mines are located and also a triangulation point.

The first part of our hike went through a nice forest. Lots of Indju, Manzaliña and even some Mispel trees give this area an almost Dutch appearance. There is even a path with trees on both sides that could have been copied from a Dutch forest.
In the forest we found a shallow water hole (tanki), a nicely made stone bench and some parts of a dam. We crossed an open area and then we reached the path uphill towards the mines. On top of the hill we found the triangulation point. This  triangulation point is originally from Werbata, but reused by Kadaster in more modern times. The bottom part is still in the shape of the original Werbata point but without the identification tablet that normally is present in one of the sides. As has become a tradition Fred had to take place on top of the triangulation point.
Strangely enough there is also a Kadaster measuring point nearby; this one has no longer any visible identification. I don't know what the function is of such a measuring point almost next to the standard triangulation point. Also strange was the fact that there were three copper points on the triangulation point. One on top, what is the usual position, but also two on the former Werbata part.

From there we walked over the clearly marked path to the former railway embankment. That is an impressive structure which is at some places about 2 meters high; no cement is used to reinforce this structure. Just carefully piled rocks to create the two sides. Probably just filled with more stones to create the path on top. A very sturdy construction that apparently had to carry a railroad for the transportation of the phosphate from the mines.
Almost at the end of the railway embankment lies the ruin of the former mine building. A bit farther is the largest mine. Inbetween is a large field of rocks in different colors. All the mines here are surface mines, so apparently the phosphate could be found close to the surface. We saw some phosphate in one of the boreholes in the side of the deepest part of the large mine.

We didn't visit the other mines because of the time. We took the Northern route to get back to the cars. Close to the edge of the plateau is a large Clusia rosea tree that we also saw during our previous visit in 2010. The tree had flowers and fruits at the same time. It is a rare tree in Curaçao and this is one of the known places where it can be found.

We descended along the cliff and walked back over the San Pedro plains to the bay and from there back to our cars.

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