It is impossible to understand the idiosyncrasy of this region and its people without going back to its mining past. We are in the center of the Caudal basin which, together with the Nalón basin, came to employ thousands of people in the trade of extracting coal from the depths of the earth.
To better understand this mining past, there are several museums and tourist experiences that we are going to review here.
MUMI MINING AND INDUSTRY MUSEUM (El Entrego)
The Museum of Mining and Industry of Asturias is located in the town of El Entrego, municipality of San Martín del Rey Aurelio. It was built on the land of the emblematic San Vicente Mine dump, in the area called El Trabanquín, in the heart of the Nalón coal basin.
A tower, whose braces rest on the square flanking the main door, presides over the complex and is visible both from the inside and from the outside. An elevator or mining cage runs through the tower that facilitates the access of the visiting public to the mine.
The starting point of the Museum responded to a social need to preserve the material remains of what makes up the identity of the mining basins, in a time marked by the abandonment of the exploitations that at another time gave occupation to its people, and by the general decline of an industrial activity that has been the protagonist, in Asturias and in Spain, of outstanding moments in its history. It was inaugurated in March 1994.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE MUMI
Ancient mining technologies
People has practiced mining since the beginning of time, using the tools he had at his disposal at all times. Utensils, techniques and objectives that evolved and improved as the species did over the centuries.
Times with completely manual processes that used the force of the wind or water, or human or animal traction -blood machines- to extract water or material or renew the air in indoor farms. These are the first steps of engineering, which would have an important advance with the publication of titles that collected all the knowledge on the subject that existed until then, such as De re metallica (On metals) by Georgius Agricola, printed for the first time in Basel (Switzerland) in 1556.
Steam and the industrial revolution
The transformations that changed living conditions with the new model of economic development that began in the second half of the 18th century in England and from there spread to the rest of the countries of the Western world are known as the Industrial Revolution.
This phenomenon had several phases, in the first the protagonist was the cotton textile industry. In the second Industrial Revolution the central elements were coal, iron and steel, and above all, the railway. From this period, the most representative machine was the steam engine. The coal associated with this made it possible to start up a whole complex of machine tools that multiplied production and increased productivity, lowering costs. Its application was also seen in other fields, such as transport, which meant the definitive consolidation of the railway as a means of transporting both bulky and heavy loads and people.
In Asturias, industrialization had its origin in the wealth of carboniferous resources in its subsoil. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the availability of mineral coal attracted the installation of various steel companies. These, together with the deployment of the railway through the Principality and its connection with the Castilian plateau in 1884, was the definitive impulse for Asturian mining.
The house of the explosive
Explosives are products that have accompanied all the great works carried out against nature and in which it has been necessary to break, chop and move huge amounts of rocks and minerals. The activity in mining, quarries, clearing, etc., would be unthinkable without the help of explosives.
The exhibition dedicated to explosives tries to explain the complex process of the birth and development of industrial explosives and their relationship with industry, mining and chemistry.
This space in the mining-industrial complex had a function that went beyond treating sick or injured workers. Its activity extended to the health care and prevention of the population of the mining nucleus as a whole.
In the mining infirmaries of the early 20th century, which were in operation until the 1950s, it is possible to trace the process of medical discoveries through a series of devices and tools -such as those contained in this section of the MUMI- that revolutionized all clinical fields. A collection with which to take an educational journey through the most brilliant chapters in the History of Medicine over the last 150 years.
Mining rescue brigade
The Mining Rescue Brigade is the most characteristic expression of the spirit of solidarity that presides over the life and work of the miner.
Created at the beginning of the 20th century, it was an institution in Asturian mining, it maintained a checkpoint service 24 hours a day and had detachments in each mining basin in order to attend to those affected by all kinds of accidents. When these occurred, they came with equipment like the ones in this exhibition: masks, filters, oxygen bottles, air pumps, self-rescuers, respirators,…
The Bath House is that place where workers change when entering or leaving the mine. Each one of them has a plate that, suspended from the ceiling, is provided with several hooks on which the clothes and equipment that they have to put on are hung.
This space of every mining facility has always been a social and political place, a meeting place that encourages both the meeting between colleagues and the assembly debate.
In the drawings of the first literary works on mining, the miners can be seen entering the interior of the mine with an oil lamp in hand, or working by the light of these lamps. At that time, when the flame gradually dimmed, it denounced the thinning of the air and the need for ventilation. Already in later times, in the first mining of the Industrial Revolution, oil lamps and oil lamps began to be used, although later carbide, petroleum, benzine or gasoline lamps were used, until reaching electric ones.
When the mining work began to be in depth, the gas constituted a serious danger, when it came into contact with the air, the methane gave rise to the explosive firedamp. A discovery to improve safety conditions in this circumstance was Davy’s lamp (1816). A development that was followed by other models –Boty, Muesler, Marsaut, Wof,…- that improved both safety and lighting.
Currently, the helmet lamp is used, provided with a battery or electric belt that is attached to the belt.
This section of the MUMI is made up of a wide collection of scientific instruments from the University of Oviedo dating, mostly, from the end of the s. XIX and beginning of the s. XX. An eminently educational material, of great plastic beauty and historical value with which we can discover the means available to investigate in fields such as Mechanics, Fluids, Acoustics, Thermodynamics, Optics, Astronomy and electricity.
Although the sequence of the exhibition covers the great currents of this field since its study became generalized in the Renaissance. Names such as Galileo, Kepler or Newton and stages such as the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution thus arise.
Visitors to the MUMI have the opportunity to descend in the “cage” (the mining elevator) 600 meters inland until they reach the image mine, a walk of almost 1000 meters in which to discover through different recreations the most significant aspects of the uprooting (by cutters, roadheaders, shoring,…) and extraction of coal, the types of support used in galleries and internal transport.
Equipped with real equipment, we will feel like miners walking through their galleries and different workshops while listening to the noise of the hammers, the controlled blasting of an area under exploitation or even traveling on the train used by the old workers.
Geometers, fossils and minerals
Asturias is not just coal. Its subsoil also keeps large reserves of metallic and non-metallic minerals such as gold, iron, mercury, zinc, magnanese, copper, tungsten, tin, lead, fluorine,… Metals and minerals that have been extracted at certain times throughout history , from the times of the Romans and to more recent times, continuing in some cases even in the present.
The extensive collection that the MUMI exhibits in this section – the result of both its own funds and deposits from individuals and companies – allows us to know how rocks and minerals are formed, as well as their original appearance (crystallized) when they are extracted from the earth. Each piece is unique in itself and can and should be studied based on qualities such as brightness, hardness, weight, coloration, light refraction, shape,…
POZO SOTON (HUNOSA GROUP) (San Martín del Rey Aurelio)
El Pozo Sotón is a coal mine in the heart of the mining basin in Asturias. HUNOSA, the public mining company that owns the well, has launched a unique tourism project in the world: the possibility for tourists to visit its galleries and feel like a “miner for a day” chopping coal or drilling a gallery next to the miners. of the company. Sotón is a unique adventure, the best plan when one wonders what to do in Asturias.
El Pozo, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest with a Monument category, has more than 140 kilometers of galleries. The visitor will go through part of them, more than half a kilometer deep, on foot and also on board the train that transports the miners from the cane to the work fronts.
Along with interior visits -short and long-, the facility completes its offer with exterior tours, for the less daring, and with a mining museum that offers visits for children, activities for schools and students, a mining escape room, dramatized visits and many more activities. Do not miss it, in Sotón there is fun for the whole family.
Finally, in 2014, several buildings in the well were declared a Site of Cultural Interest with the category of monument.
- the two metal towers with riveted profiles and welding, about 33 meters high
- the reter or metal structure of rolled profiles, which surrounds the towers and houses the coal classification area, also assembled by metal rivets and welding
- the machine house and union offices, an exposed brick nave located in front of the foot of the towers. The latter houses the Pulley Koepe extraction machines from the Siemens firm, which replaced the original ones, as well as the compressors.
For security reasons, the entrance is restricted to a small group of visitors who, equipped with their cover, their gloves, their self-rescuer – self-contained breathing equipment for emergencies – and their safety lamp, chop coal, drill galleries or travel on trains that sometimes run under mountains, more than a kilometer from the surface. Given the conditions of the visit, access is limited to the fulfillment of certain physical conditions.
Sotón offers a long visit of five/six hours and a shorter one of two/three hours. Before entering the mine, visitors will change clothes, receive a safety training talk and will be provided with a mining light and self-rescue equipment.
It will be time to go to the entrance of the well where the descent cage will be taken into the interior of the mine. Outside you can see the Engine Room, the shipper’s booth, the communication systems used with the interior of the mine and the track yard.
The visits to the interior of the mine will take place along the current 8th, 9th and 10th floors of the Sotón well at a depth with respect to the ground surface of between approximately 386 and 556m. Adventure is a unique experience that has already become a benchmark for tourism in Asturias.
The descent will begin in the cage along 386.25 m., until reaching the eighth floor. From the boarding, you will visit the Chimenea La Jota to descend to the ninth floor.
In the ninth boarding, the systems and elements of communication used with the outside (genephone, telephone, signal box…), the existing emergency equipment (stretcher, first aid kit…), traction elements (winch) and the rail yard will be explained. , as well as the electrical substation, the vacuum return circuit, and the ventilation control systems with doors and the discharge of materials through the earth well will be explained.
After the above, the tour will begin on foot towards the areas where coal was exploited. Along approximately two kilometers of galleries, you will advance in a northerly direction, being able to observe the different water, air, communication, control, electricity and ventilation facilities used in the mine. As well as the layout of the tracks, the methods used to support the galleries and the automatic opening system for the ventilation doors.
Once the coal exploitation area has been reached, a vertical road shearing workshop will be visited, as well as the progress of a guide gallery in the La Lozana area. Later and a short distance away, you will also visit the sublevel exploitation workshop (soutiraje) through which you will descend an inclined plane.
At the end of the plane, the tenth floor of the well will be reached. It will be possible to observe the existence of a coal loading hopper and the presence of a descending inclined plane towards sub-tenth completely flooded with water.
Given the special characteristics of the visit, which runs through confined spaces where gases may be present, and the conditions of some sections, close to adventure tourism, the visitor should know:
- During the tour you can suffer situations of stress and overload.
- It is strictly forbidden to introduce any type of electrical or electronic device into the mine: battery-powered watches, mobile phones, cameras, etc.
- Likewise, access with food is not allowed.
- Nor will smoking be allowed inside the facilities.
- To carry out the visit you must have completed the following documents. Without them you will not be able to access the interior of the well.
- The conditions inside the mine are very special: darkness, artificial lighting, sounds, unusual noises, a feeling of confinement in small spaces, humidity, heat, presence of dust in the environment, etc… so the use of sunglasses is not recommended. contact inside.
- The interior of the mine is not adapted for people with reduced mobility.
- The activity will not be allowed to minors, unless there is express authorization from the person who has parental authority and custody of the minor and signs the corresponding supporting document, setting the minimum age for the visit at 16 years.
The visitor must not present any of the following processes considered as contraindications:
- Arrhythmia, angina pectoris, history of myocardial infarction or coronary disease.
- Bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or diseases that affect ventilatory capacity.
- Claustrophobia, epileptic attacks or convulsive crises, history of cerebral stroke, balance disorders or vertigo, alterations in gait or ambulation.
- Morbid obesity, insulin-dependent diabetes, high blood pressure with uncontrolled figures.
Given all these conditions, for security reasons, HUNOSA reserves the right to authorize the descent to the mine to people who, in its opinion, do not meet the minimum requirements to carry out the activity.
The tour inside the mine begins by descending in the personnel cage to the 8th floor, at 386.25m. deep.
From it you can access the floor immediately below, 9th through the La Jota Chimney.
The visit continues through the 9th floor touring different mining tasks where visitors can drill or get on a staff train.
El Pozo Sotón includes in its offer an extensive guided tour of the exteriors of the Pozo Sotón, which have been equipped with mining milestones for the occasion. The visitor will tour part of the facilities and learn about different machines and tools used in mining work.
During the tour, the guides will explain the different exploitation methods used in the more than one hundred years of history of the Well. On their walk, tourists will have the feeling that the HUNOSA miners have taken the mine out onto the street so that they can get to know it without having to go down to the Well, with less difficulty.
Equipped with a helmet, lamp, gloves, mask and a token that will be essential to start the visit, visitors will tour the warehouse and the plumbing, where they will be given the equipment, to then discover the history of the Well and its architecture: its two towers , the metallic structure that unites them or réter and the building of the machine house and the union offices, a set that constitutes a true cathedral of mining, which together with the mining environment of the coal region, allows to know one of the ecosystems complete ones that exist on the Industrial Revolution in the world.
The industrial walk will take you to boarding, where you can be photographed with the reserve cage; to the workshop and post-mining offices, a 1946 building that had a kitchen, dining room, toilet and rooms with bunk beds. Obviously, the Powerhouse is a must stop. There they will learn about the work of the extraction engineer.
Outside, they will review the different exploitation methods in six educational galleries created to help understand the ins and outs of mining work. When they finish the tour, the participants will know what a chimney is, a headwall, postiar, pull, racks, masonry, chulana posting, chapeo, bocarrampla, gallery advance, driller, scraper, tresillones , a cross of Saint Andrew, etc, etc. They will attend the simulation of a forward shot and see a roadheader in operation.
Throughout the visit, you will access production areas that have industrial and mining facilities and elements that can hinder the movement of people. They must be attentive at all times to the different obstacles that may appear on the floor or on the walls.
Schedules and rates
The exterior visit lasts approximately one hour and a half. There are two visits a day from Monday to Saturday, one at 9:30 a.m. and another at 11:30 a.m.
Adults (+16 years): €7.
Children (from 5 to 16 years old): €4.
Children under 5 years: free.
Cataloged elements of Cultural Interest
Every Tuesday of the year (except holidays) at 9:30 am.
To book, call 630 119 642 (from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday to Friday).
For the less daring, we also have a Mining Memory and Experience Center that shows the history of mining in Asturias in an educational way. Installed in the old Casa de Aseos del Pozo Sotón, it shows a journey through the history of the HUNOSA company from the perspective of experiences and interactivity with virtual and real elements.
The museum recreates spaces dedicated to miners, firedamp, work accidents, historical documentation, labor stores and the work of women miners.
90% of the exposed elements have been recovered or reused from closed mine shafts. The spirit of the Center is to take advantage of all available materials. The selection of pieces from closed wells is used for direct exhibition, or they are reused to support exhibition material.
MUSI MUSEUM OF THE STEEL WORKS (Langreo)
Traditionally the axis of the Asturian economy has been mining and steel, with blast furnaces in La Felguera, Mieres, Avilés and Gijón. The past splendor of this activity, and the present times of forced reconversion, are safeguarded in the Iron and Steel Museum (MUSI), located in one of the pioneering councils of this sector in Spain: Langreo. This museum is the natural complement to the Mining Museum (MUMI), in El Entrego.
The “Valnalón refrigerant” is a construction that is part of the Industrial Heritage of Asturias and has recently been refurbished so that culture lovers have access to a peculiar collection. On the outside, the robust fireplace has been decorated with a multicolored band that serves to identify it from a distance and give it a museum-like tone. It no longer fumes, now history and ideas are buzzing inside it. Within the immense cone, the process that leads iron ore to become steel is perfectly illustrated. We are also told about the history and sociology of work in the factories, the life of the nearby workers’ settlements and the territorial development of the cities associated with this industry.
For this, the MUSI has machinery and work elements from the old factories, enlightening information panels, an audiovisual room, a library, etc. The intention is to clearly show the industrialization process that the Asturian mining basins experienced since the 19th century.
In 1857, Pedro Duro, a businessman from La Rioja, founded the company Duro y Compañía, which became the most important steel center in Spain. With the arrival of this entrepreneur, the valley, which until then had basically been a rancher and miner, underwent a gradual transformation. With the growth of the steel industry, a trail of nearby cities was created that gave work to thousands of Asturians. All of them, like La Felguera, developed in the shadow of the blast furnaces and their derived industry, ultimately leaving an outstanding socio-cultural legacy.
In 1900, Duro y Compañía was reconverted into Sociedad Metalúrgica Duro-Felguera, S.A., and in 1902 it began trading on the Stock Exchange. In 1920 it is the largest coal company in the country, thanks to whose profits important technical transformations of the steel business are undertaken. During the 1940s and 1950s mining and steel found a very favorable environment. Duro will dominate the national market together with Altos Hornos de Vizcaya until 1960, the decade in which the process of mining and industrial restructuring begins. In 1961, the Union of Asturian Iron and Steel Companies (UNINSA) was created, made up of Duro Felguera, the Mieres Factory and the Factory of the Asturian Industrial Society, the seed of what would later become ENSIDESA, to which all the steel assets of Duro Felguera passed. .
To analyze this trajectory, revive it and study it in depth, the MUSI also has its own training, research, documentation and publication activities. Two documentaries are shown in the Audiovisual Room: “The process of making steel” and “Dismantling of the blast furnaces of the old factory”. Later, we access the first coolant plant where there is a collection of minerals and tools from the time. The distribution of the contents is thematic and is organized in five differentiated zones. The space for the exhibitions is completely open, with the incentive of feeling inside an industrial chimney. If we look up, behind a glass platform, we discover the sky framed in a huge circular mouth.
But the imposing reception center does not exhaust all that the Iron and Steel Museum has to offer, and the visits do not end here, rather they begin. It is the starting point for other optional visits: “Workers’ housing in La Felguera: living spaces” and “La Felguera, the entrepreneurial spirit of Pedro Duro and the origin and development of a population center”, which take the visitor through two of the areas of Langreo that changed the most during that industrial era and that conserve in perfect condition the traces left by the workers and owners of the old factory: workers’ houses, “engineers’ chalet”, lampposts and a bandstand in the park…
Hours and Rates
From Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Individual/adult rate: €3
Child and senior rate: €2
School and senior groups: €1.70 per person.
Adult groups + 20 pax: €2.55 per person.
SAMUÑO VALLEY MINING ECOMUSEUM (Ciaño – Langreo)
The Samuño Valley Mining Ecomuseum offers a train trip through the Samuño Valley, a one kilometer interpreted tour inside a mine from the end of the 19th century, a guided tour of the Pozo San Luis mining complex and the chance to see a genuine mining town, enjoying gastronomy in addition to hiking trails, is part of what the Valle de Samuño Mining Ecomuseum offers. Without a doubt, an excellent plan for people of all ages.
An experience to learn, discover and enjoy.
The starting point for the train journey and the subsequent visit to Pozo San Luis is El Cadavíu station, where the Visitor Reception Center of the Valle de Samuño Mining Ecomuseum is also located. Tickets will be provided at the reception desk. If you have already made your reservation, do not forget to show up at least 20 minutes before the train departure time, you can bring the printed receipt or on your mobile.
The estimated duration for the visit is two hours. The mining train departs from El Cadaviu station at the indicated times and returns to the starting point approximately two hours later.
You have several options to continue the adventure in the Samuño Valley, choose the one that best suits you.
INTERPRETATION CENTER OF THE MINING TOWN OF BUSTIELLO (Mieres)
The town of Bustiello constitutes an exception within the Asturian industrial heritage: a complex built between 1890 and 1925 by the Sociedad Hullera Española, an important mining company belonging to the industrial group of the Marquis of Comillas. A church, a monument, a casino, a school, a sanatorium and accommodation for engineers and workers, which respond to a careful overall plan and unusual aesthetic care.
To discover it and understand the keys to the “industrial paternalism” that it exemplifies, the tour must start at the Interpretation Center located in one of the old chalets (Don Isidro’s house) where the geological and industrial importance of the mining basin is neatly displayed. , as well as the network of business firms of the Marquis of Comillas and, finally, the characteristics of the town from a historical, artistic and patrimonial perspective, for which the second floor of the building is reserved, from where this unique town that responds to the garden city model
SCHEDULE AND VISITS
The visits are always guided and last approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Up to 3 people: €5 / person
From 4 to 19 people: €4.50 / person
From 20 people: €4.00 / person
September to June: Saturdays, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sundays and holidays, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
July, August and Easter holidays: from Wednesday to Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday closed (except holidays).
Closure: The Center will remain closed from January 10 to February 15
Combined visits with other interpretation centers and routes are also offered.
Bustiello, s/n. 33612 Mieres (Asturias)
POZU THORNS. Consulting and Cultural Management
INTERPRETATION CLASSROOM OF THE POZU ESPINOS (Mieres)
The Espinos shaft is an extraordinary example of coal mining inserted in the attractive Turón valley: dating from the 1920s, promoted by the Basque firm Hulleras de Turón, it is a work of engineering whose small scale and its magnificent restoration allow us to understand the operation of these facilities and what was the industrial history of the area.
The Interpretation Room is sheltered in the old plumbing and is the preamble or climax of the guided tour, along with access to the unique viewpoint excavated in the immediate dump. Linked to the Vía Verde del Valle, within the Protected Landscape of the Mining Basins, the pedestrian route discovers various pieces of industrial historical interest in an environment of great environmental quality.
POZO FORTUNA CENTER (Mieres)
The old carpentry shop of the Fortuna mining exploitation, in San Andrés de Turón, houses this new cultural facility. The content of the Pozo Fortuna Center is shown along a route made up of three exhibition blocks that collect the history of the industrialization process of the Turón Valley from its beginnings, with an incipient mining that its workers combined with agricultural and livestock activities, until the new commitment to recover and value its natural resources and the history of the Well. All this articulated through photographs with explanatory texts, interactive screens and audiovisual projections. At the end of the route, there is also access to a room in which the recovery of the Historical Memory and the events that took place there are alluded to. Likewise, an authentic underground gallery is visited, destined for a powder keg, in which the sensations of working underground can be experienced.
The visit is completed with a tour of the exterior where you can see the exterior panels and various examples of mining machinery.
SOCAVÓN LA REBALDANA (Mieres)
This mine entrance constitutes a centuries-old access to an old mountain mining group. It is located between the Santa Bárbara well and the Espinos well, right on the edge of the green path that follows the route of the old mining railway, built by the Sociedad Hulleras de Turón, and which articulated the entire Turón valley. It constitutes the first floor of a total of 7 and, from a productive point of view, it was linked to the San Pedro group.
It has the interest of showing, in its section that can be visited (about 15 meters, approximately), the different historical systems for supporting the galleries: original solid brick arching for the initial section, wooden shoring in the traditional way in the intermediate section and, finally, metallic squares in the background. Its restoration, in June 2014, is the result of the altruistic work of several members of the Santa Bárbara Cultural and Mining Association. The result supposes the restitution of this estimable piece to the industrial patrimony of tourist interest. It stands out for its authenticity, for the care with which innumerable traditional elements (tools and procedures) have been recovered with the aim of achieving the sensation of traveling through time and the emotion of the visitors.