Room 5: From colony to mining town
If in ancient times it was an important centre for the production of silver and lead, no less important and interesting was mining in the 19th and 20th centuries, which shaped the landscape and constituted an exceptional industrial and ethnographic heritage. The growth of La Carolina as a town is due to this boost from mining, which is evident even in the architecture, the social stratification associated with neighbourhoods and urban expansion.
The European countries that led the Industrial Revolution demanded a large quantity of mineral raw materials, and once again set their sights on the old district of Linares-La Carolina. The elimination of the lead monopolies at the beginning of the 19th century had encouraged private initiative to work the old slag heaps, pits and mine shafts. Towards the middle of that century, small proprietary companies appeared in La Carolina, which were soon absorbed by the large mining companies that arrived in the second half of the 19th century (Los Guindos, Real Compañía Asturiana de Minas, Castilla la Vieja y Jaén, etc.). The Mining Act of 1868 favored the entry of foreign capital and investors, so that large mining consortiums were formed in the hands of the English, Germans, Belgians and French. Towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the district Linares-La Carolina remained the world's leading lead producer, reaching historic highs in terms of population, infrastructure development, political influence and economic activity. All this at the expense of the miners' health, who were exposed to the fatal silicosis, accidents and very hard and demanding working and living conditions in a world-class mining district, but where mechanization and mining improvements in the interior did not arrive until the 1970s.