Mujeres con sacos de carbón. Vincent Van Gogh, 1882. Borinage, Bélgica

A principios de los años 40 del siglo XIX se inician las primeras explotaciones carboníferas
en Talcahuano (Las Vegas 1841 y Los Morros 1842), marcando la entrada de Chile en el uso de
combustibles fósiles. El primer demandante de carbón mineral fue la navegación a vapor. Pronto se agregó el ferrocarril, en la línea que conectaba los minerales de plata de Copiapó con el puerto de Caldera en 1852 y el despliegue de vías a partir de la creación de una empresa estatal en 1859.
En las fundiciones de cobre el carbón es incorporado masivamente, cuando el mercado mundial enfrenta un incremento de precio del metal a partir de 1854 . En 1852 Matías Cousiño adquiere las minas de Lota y se transforma en el principal controlador de la industria (Ortega, 1982).
Humo y hollín, motores de vapor, velocidades y fábricas empiezan a dibujar un nuevo mundo,
con ciudades marcadas por la paleotécnica. La vida cotidiana, las percepciones, el orden de las
cosas se recompone. En el grano fino de los días aparece trazas y trazados de carbón mineral en los cielos, papeles y palabras.

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Un comentario en “Carbón: humos y miradas en el S. XIX Chileno.”

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