Friday, 9 August 2019

Fuelling a Ghost Town: Puerto Percy

Sunset in Puerto Percy ghost town through the broken panes of glass.
The silence was almost unearthly, even the wind seemed to be holding its breath. A gull scream followed by the clatter of a metal sheet shattered the moment, a moment left in shards like the numerous window frames. 

Abandoned in 1995, Puerto Percy is a relatively "young" ghost town.
Patagonian winds hammered at it from various angles across the plains of Tierra del Fuego ensuring that someone even remotely nervous would be looking around constantly at the banging and scratching sounds echoing through the air. 
This is probably not the type of place many would elect to stay the night but I liked it somehow and was going to stay two nights.
Sunset over the ghost town of Puerto Percy, Tierra del Fuego, Chile
Sunset over a seafront house in Puerto Percy.
Established here in the Bahía Gente Grande (north of Porvenir) in 1950 by the Empresa Nacional del Petroleo (ENAP - a state petroleum company formed in 1945) to serve as a port for tanker ships to transfer crude oil from Tierra del Fuego to Chilean refineries. 
The same year, a sea terminal further south in the bay at Caleta Clarencia was also built. Story has it that in the final years this port did not have the depth though required to fully load the tankers, so they would be loaded around 50% with the balance being loaded in Puerto Percy which also had gas storage tanks. 
Workshops, warehouse and gimnasium at the old pier in Puerto Percy ghost town.
Workshops and warehouse with the gimnasium at the back.
The older of the two piers in the foreground.
The pipeline transporting the crude from the rest of Tierra del Fuego to Puerto Percy got damaged in its last years so the oil was trucked to Puerto Percy for two years. Needless to say the costs of this was astronomical in comparison with the product being transferred by pipeline. 
This led to the closure of Puerto Percy and the relocation of some operations and tanks to the Estancia San Gregorio on the other side of the Strait of Magellan with a submarine pipeline from Tierra del Fuego. 
View over Puerto Percy ghost town in Tierra del Fuego, Chile
View towards Puerto Percy from one of the crude oil tanks.
It's quite incredible to see what infrastructure that had been in place in Puerto Percy. The town had electricity and gas and water was piped from two large tanks at Caleta Clarencia - 10km away by road. 
Water tanks above Caleta Clarencia that served Puerto Percy 10km away
Water tanks above Caleta Clarencia that served Puerto Percy 10km away.
The houses look to have been comfortable with each building consisting of two 3-bedroom homes, each with kitchen, dining room, lounge and bathroom. 
The town school was massive and even featured a kitchen the size of which could easily cater for over 50-80 people. In addition to this, there was a clinic and a church for the community.
 The houses of Puerto Percy in the distance with the large school building on the right.
The houses in the distance with the large school building on the right.
A gimnasium with basketball court etc was near the school and obviously considered important enough to have its own huge generator. Bathrooms and showers were not in short supply either with enough to cater for at least 15 people at any given moment simultaneously. 
 The older of the two piers in Puerto Percy.
The older of the two piers in Puerto Percy.
The port area of the town has two piers, one clearly much older and probably the first one that was in use and now falling apart. The second still fairly solid, appears to be the pier used during the final years of the town's existence.
 The newer pier in Puerto Percy with pipelines and valves for loading the tankers.
The newer pier in Puerto Percy with pipelines and valves for loading the tankers.
Pipelines and valve connections are pretty much still in place as if the last ship departed just the other day but, the gulls and cormorants were the only arrivals and departures now. Kelp and Upland Geese now patrol the pebble beach with the Magellanic Oystercatchers checking in at times. 

Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. 
— Cesare Pavese




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1 comment:

  1. Fabulous, Marcell. ������ I loved very moment of reading. A wonderful, scary,yet true Ghost town story.������ All your incredible writing talent & gift for words are once again displayed. ���� What a town it must have been. ❤������❤ Thsnkbyou for sharing the historic beauties of old.������������

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