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La Ramona Mining Chimney in El Triunfo Mexico

On my first trip to La Paz, Mexico, I heard about a mining chimney called La Ramona in El Triunfo that was made by Gustav Eiffel (who also built the Eiffel Tower) located in a small village just a short drive away from La Paz. Every time we have visited La Paz, we never had time to visit El Triunfo until recently.

I initially thought that our visit to El Triunfo would be a short visit, but after spending time in the magical town, we ended up spending the entire day exploring. It took us about an hour to arrive in El Triunfo, and the drive leading into the town was absolutely breathtaking. The minute that we first spotted the small town from the road, I was in love.

The first thing that I saw standing tall was La Ramona. Being an architectural history lover, I was in awe of the beauty of how every brick was perfectly stacked to create the chimney. Before exploring the chimney and taking a short hike around the abandoned mine, we had lunch at Cafe El Triunfo.

La Ramona is a 47-meter tall chimney built with local brick and stone. It was part of a large mining complex that extracted ore from the surrounding mountains and included numerous building and processing facilities that covered many acres around the chimney. The chimney was named for Saint Raymond, as it was completed on his Feat Day in 1890.

The chimney was designed to achieve high temperatures for the wood fires used to process silver and gold and to disperse toxic smoke away from the valley’s inhabitants to reduce public health risks.

La Ramona is a remarkable historical structure. At the time it was built, it was one of the tallest brick chimneys in North America; today, it is one of the few 19th-century industrial chimneys that remain standing. Its 70 to 130 cm wide walls are made from circular layers of brick stacked upon a stone base, joined by a mortar of lime, sand and cactus juice; the chimney has no internal structure no reinforcing elements. The design consisted with structures designed by the German engineering firm of Alphons Custoidis during that era.

Modern methods of Analysis reveal a structure that is truly remarkable for its stability and strength. At hurricane force winds the chimney top moves only 14 cm!! And contemporary structural engineering models indicate the structure will likely remain standing in the face of 500 or 1000 year recurrence earthquakes!

Rescuing La Romona
125 years after La Ramona was built, the chimney presented major cracks and significant damage to its crown and cornice. Townspeople and visitors were concerned about losing the monument, and falling brick posed a public safety concern.

The Ejido El Triunfo, the owner of the site, worked with Corredor Historico CAREM AC., a non-profit focused on promoting the culture and history of the Baja California Peninsula to solve the problem. Extensive consultation with experts in history, engineering, architecture, and construction helped diagnose, design and implemented a comprehensive structural restoration program completed in June of 2018.

As a result of these interventions, La Ramona will stand strong for many decades to come. The rescue of La Ramona would not have been possible without the individual contributions of many of El Triunfo’s citizens, and the support of local authorities, the International Community Foundation (ICF) and in particular, the donations that allowed this important project to go forward.
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