O f i c i n a   H u m b e r s t o n e

  Rust, ruins and debris
And loneliness and silence
Howling through the optical illusion.
Its inactive workshops are there,
The thirsty vats
Destroyed cachuchos ¹
And the yards with their empty wombs
Yawning stillness to the sun and the wind.

Ivo Serge 
¹ Nitrate coil pans

Oficina Humberstone, formerly La Palma. General view of the town of the Nitrate Oficina, seen from the tailing cake.

Nitrate Elaboration Plant Oficina La Palma. Photograph of The Album "Views of Iquique and the Province of Tarapacá".

This Nitrate company commenced to produce nitrate under the name of La Palma in the year 1872, its owner being The Peruvian Nitrate Company.

Towards 1877 it produced nitrate with the Machine system, that is to say with open injection of water steam in the cachuchos.

It was sold to the Peruvian government in the amount of 325,000 soles and after the Nitrate or Pacific War ended, the firm of Gibbs & company rescued it through the return of the certificates received for its previous sale.


This redemption transaction gave rise in 1890, to the company the New Tamarugal Nitrate Company Limited, which resumed the start
up of this Nitrate Plant implementing the Shanks System to elaborate nitrate.

In the year 1932 it stopped its activities due to the nitrate crisis of those years.

In 1933, due to a reorganization of the Nitrate
Industry, it was taken over by Compañía Sali
trera de Tarapacá y Antofagasta (COSATAN)
subjecting it in the following year to a complete
restructuring of its productive facilities apart
from reconstructing and modernizing its Camp.

Plaza and Pulpería (Stores) of Oficina Humberstone, formerly La Palma. This Nitrate Plant was re-baptized in 1934 in memory of the renowned English Engineer James Thomas Humberstone, "Don Santiago", who made remarkable advances in the Nitrate Industry. His remains are buried in the cemetery of Tiliviche.

James Thomas Humberstone, "don Santiago", in an official photograph as General Administrator of Compañía de Salitre y Ferrocarril de Agua Santa.

On November 21, 1934, when the new facilities were inaugurated, they were re-baptized with the name of Santiago Humberstone in homage to the prominent English Chemical Engineer of the same name.

Since then and until 1940 Oficina Salitrera Humberstone reached its maximum development, accommodating 3,700 inhabitants.

It definitively shut down in the year 1960.

It was declared National Monument in January of 1970. During the month of November every year, a traditional feast is celebrated here when many of the people who worked there meet.

Theater of Oficina Humberstone
General View of the elaboration Plant of Oficina Humberstone

Pulpería (Store) of Oficina Salitrera La Palma. Photograph of the
Album "Views of Iquique and the Province of Tarapacá".


Swimming Pool of Oficina Humberstone
Waste yard of Oficina Humberstone

Anonymous. Group of workers of the Blacksmith Section of Oficina Humberstone.

Eco Pampino

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