As we speed down the A370 towards Garrucha (or up towards Pedro’s petrol station at Los Gallardos) we often forget about the first ancient and twisting road between the two villages, the AL150, which heads off at the Alfaix motorway junction towards Turre.
Here’s an extract from the full article:
As you meander along the road, you may notice the two famous bridges, the famous arching Puente Vaquero over the River Aguas, and its little brother, which is often ignored (for it is difficult to see clearly) but which is no less amazing, for it is far higher than the Vaquero, and just as worthy of admiration as it was far more difficult to build.
In 1914, as Britain and Germany marched to war, the decision was taken to build a road linking Garrucha and Los Gallardos. Until then, most of the traffic had been alongside the mining railway which linked the Bedar mines and Garrucha port, but this failed to go near any population centres, and so this route was abandoned.
Instead, it was decided to upgrade an existing track which went via Turre and the population centres nearby, including the three famous Mills along the Rio Antas, which milled grain into flour for the nearby towns.
30,000 pts was promised by the Diputacion de Almeria on the 12th of August 1914, and planning began. All was not simple.
The owners of the land through which the road passed initially refused to allow workers onto their land until they received the monies for the expropriations. This meant that the workers were sent home (unpaid) whilst negotiations continued, although they were given guarantees of work which allowed them to negotiate credit with local shops.
A local newspaper reported that a spokesman for the workers complained “we are not paid in metal, but in vouchers, which not all shops will accept; and those that do charge us an exorbitant amount for their goods. And if we exchange the vouchers for hard currency, we are forced to use local shops who charge us a minimum commission of 10%. And furthermore, we denounce that the Director of Works, don Diego Cervantes García, who must monthly issue us with our obligatory paperwork, charges us an informal commission of 1pts each to do so.” Old Diego obviously had quite a scam going on, and the negative press didn’t seem to stop the abuse!
The Puente Vaquero and Puente Largo are both built out of a striking golden sandstone. Huge blocks which have been hewn out of the mountainside. Quarries were struck specifically for the two bridges, the remains of which can still be viewed.
The stone was hewed out of the ground, shaped and transported by mulecart down to the bridge works. Despite this dangerous and hard work, it seems that few accidents occurred – in fact, the Puente Vaquero is known as such for the simple reason that the only person who died on the works was called Vaquero, and with his death he baptised the bridge.
This full article is available in .pdf format for download for just €1. And if you don’t like it, I´ll give you your money back 🙂