El Chorro reservoir in Malaga
The station of El Chorro in Malaga, in whose esplanade is located the Rural Tourist Complex La Garganta, is integrated in the first railway line of our province. It is part of the history of Malaga, at that time a very important industrial and commercial centre to which the railway brought new hopes. Nowadays this station receives a great number of passengers with destination el Caminito del Rey, from it is from here that you take the shuttle bus to the entrance of the tour.
If you are interested in visiting El Pantano del Chorro stay at Complejo Turístico La Garganta
El Chorro Station
“El Avisador de Málaga” thus highlighted, in 1860, the importance of the railway line:
At first it was a wish. Today it was a necessity. Today, with the railways of Alicante and Seville to the east and west, Malaga was on the road to decline; trade was beginning to move away from our port, and the value of our exports was going to suffer due to a lack of exports to the interior. With half a century more in this state, Malaga would have become a village of great memories.
The desolate industrial landscape of today’s Malaga contrasts with the productive importance of the capital and its surroundings in the 19th century, and especially in its second half, when it was the second industrial centre of Spain, surpassed only by Barcelona. In the middle of the 19th century, Malaga was a city of 80,000 inhabitants, economically, socially and culturally active. The traffic of its maritime port exceeded two thousand national ships and four hundred foreign ones, placing it at the head of the Andalusian ports and forming part of the most active in Europe. Malaga produced 72 % of the total national iron, had an important production of yarns and fabrics, had a chemical and lithographic industry, tanneries, spinning and weaving factories, sugar factories, production of oils, wines and liquors and other food products.
The city’s prosperity came from the confluence of several factors:
- On the one hand, the agricultural richness of the area of El Chorro in Malaga. Since 1760, a significant rise in agricultural prices had allowed the accumulation of capital and a considerable increase in mercantile activity, reborn after the parenthesis of the War of Independence.
- On the other hand, and related to this agricultural boom, the presence in Malaga of an incipient and active colony of immigrants, mostly foreigners, eager to do business. Surnames such as Petersen, Loring, Livermore, Crooke, Kreisler, Scholtz, etc., inevitably join local history, and among the immigrants of national origin, two families from the area of La Rioja that had among their members several protagonists of the social and economic development of the city: the Heredia and the Larios.
In 1832, Manuel Agustín Heredia inaugurated La Concepción, an iron foundry fed by vegetable coal, and in 1836 La Constancia, next to the port of Malaga, which started working with English coal.
At that time, the coal mines in Bélmez (Córdoba) were beginning to be exploited, and Manuel Agustín Heredia and his partner Jorge Loring James bought mines in that town, with the intention of supplying their industries and counteracting the competition that they could suffer from other companies that were determined to install smelters next to the coal mines of Córdoba. They added the intention of creating a coal deposit in Malaga with which to supply all the ships and ports of the Mediterranean.
A railway line was essential to link Bélmez with Málaga, which would bring fuel to the factories, send seeds and cheaper fertilisers for agricultural production and bring inland products from Málaga itself and from America. From the economic point of view, the project was impeccable.
Unfortunately, it could not prevent the industrial collapse of Malaga at the end of the 19th century. The Córdoba-Málaga line took longer to build than desired. It was opened in 1865, but the branch to Bélmez was delayed until 1873 and did not arrive in time to overcome the difficulties of finding cheap fuel needed by Malaga’s foundries. The splendour of the factory and the employment of many Malaga citizens were dying out in the century.
Construction of El Chorro Station
It was the Sociedad del Ferrocarril de Málaga a Córdoba that decided to build and operate it. This society was headed by Jorge Enrique Loring, Martín Larios and Tomás Heredia. By contract awarded on June 30th 1860, the company of Vitali, Picard y Cía would be in charge of executing the works. The land on which the railway line was to be laid was very rugged, so that it required a great deal of engineering work, especially in the area of El Chorro. Seventeen tunnels, eight viaducts and eighteen bridges had to be built. In addition to the difficulties caused by the orography, the railway had to solve the problems and delays caused by the expropriation of land and the damages suffered by individuals. The Alora Historical Archive has documents that testify to this and other curious matters related to the construction of the railway.
However, the Málaga Cártama section came into service in July 1861. Three years later, the train arrived in Alora. On August 15, 1865, Malaga and Cordoba were united by rail, after twenty years of caressing the project.
When the railway was inaugurated, the route between El Chorro Station and Malaga was covered by two daily return journeys, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. From Alora to Malaga, the journey took 59 minutes, not much longer than today, especially taking into account that the trains, by legal imposition, could not go faster than 30 kilometres per hour in the bad sections and more than 40 in the good ones.
The visit of Queen Elizabeth II in September 1862 to the exhibition of agricultural products and industrial technologies (the most important exhibition held in Malaga in the whole of the 20th century) was a great success. The visit of Queen Isabel II to the exhibition of agricultural products and industrial technologies in September 1862 (the most important exhibition held in Malaga in the 19th century), allowed the monarch to officially inaugurate the first section of the railway and to lay the first stone of the Civil Hospital, which had also been started by Jorge Enrique Loring Oyarzábal, whose actions during the cholera epidemic of 1854 and 55 in favour of public health earned him the title of Marquis of Casa Loring.
But if the city was able to recover from the cholera epidemic, the same did not happen with the economy. The railway, with no government support, was late for industry. In spite of everything, it served to bring in fertiliser and contributed to the resurgence of agriculture in the Guadalhorce valley, which was converted to irrigation when the 1879 phylloxera epidemic dealt a fatal blow to the province’s vineyards.
Santa Mariana Flour Factory
The exact date of construction of this imposing building that houses part of the facilities of the Rural Tourist Complex “La Garganta” is not known. Located in El Chorro Station, in front el Caminito del Rey,
in the municipality of Alora, is a beautiful example of industrial architecture. In his book “The Industrial Heritage of Alora”, Pablo Pérez Gómez tells us how it has only been possible to date the factory by oral testimony, which gives the most likely date of completion of the building in 1914, and by the author of the project to a German architect of unknown name.
The main building, where the wheat was milled, is a three-storey building. It was surrounded by other rooms that housed the office, bakery, weight of the flour, silos to keep the grain and housing for the workers.
According to the investigations carried out by Pablo Pérez Gómez, it is likely that the factory had three engines and a curious system of pipes through the nave that served to transport wheat, flour and bran. Equally interesting were the drainage channels, which converged in the centre of the ship, underground, and from there were exhaled into the river.
El Chorro Reservoirs
Geographically, the area surrounding the Guadalhorce and Guadalteba reservoirs is made up of the seven municipalities in whose territory these reservoirs are located: Carratraca, Ardales, Teba, Campillos, Álora, Valle de Abdalajís and Antequera, although the boundaries of the reservoirs are in the municipalities of Ardales, Campillos, Antequera and Teba. The whole area is known as El Chorro, although a distinction must be made between the three reservoirs: El Chorro or Conde de Guadalhorce, built on the confluence of the Rivers Turón and Guadalhorce, the Guadalhorce-Guadalteba and the small Gaitanejo dam. The origin of the El Chorro Reservoir Settlement lies in the need for the workers to have accommodation close to their work on the works of the Conde dam.
With the same name of El Chorro is known to the neighborhood of the municipality of Alora where is located our Rural Tourist Complex La Garganta, on the esplanade of the railway station of the same name. At the foot of the neighbourhood, the Tajo de la Encantada power station is located, and in front of it, on the top of the Villaverde table, the counter reservoir towards which the water used in the production of electricity is pumped.
Of the reservoirs, the first to be built was the El Chorro reservoir, later known as embalse del Conde de Guadalhorce, finished in 1921 and to which we have dedicated a special section. It was born out of the need to supply electricity and to regularize the irrigation of the entire fertile plain of the Guadalhorce, whose agriculture was greatly improved by its construction. Shortly afterwards, (between 1924 and 1927), the Compañía Hidroeléctrica built the Gaitanejo dam, downstream from the El Chorro dam.
The growing needs for water supply to Malaga city and the approval in 1961 of the Guadalhorce Irrigation Plan led to studies on how to make better use of the water resources of the Guadalhorce River and its tributaries, studies that determined the possibility of building a new reservoir, formed by a concrete dam, at the confluence of the Guadalhorce and Guadalteba Rivers. For various technical reasons, it was finally necessary to opt for the construction of two twin dams made of loose materials, one on each river, a few metres from their confluence. When the waters are high, both dams form a single reservoir.
The first excavations began in 1966 and were the ones that discovered the many problems that the soil of the initially planned site presented for the construction of the dam. After modifying the projects as explained in the previous paragraph, the works were completed which enabled the Guadalteba dam to be dammed in 1971 and the Guadalhorce dam in 1973.
The construction of these reservoirs meant the flooding of some stretches of the railway line, so it was necessary to adjust the railway route over 12.6 km in length, of which 8.3 km were in four tunnels. This diversion came into service in January 1972.
It was also necessary to build three variants for the road sections flooded by the reservoir (two local and one regional), which have a total length of 28 km. Without a doubt, the most painful price to pay for the reservoirs was paid by the inhabitants of the village of Peñarrubia and the neighbourhood of the Gobantes station, which were flooded by the reservoir. The Santa Rosalía district of Malaga was the destination for many of the residents who were evicted by the waters of the reservoirs, although some preferred to emigrate to Catalonia. Every five years they hold a pilgrimage from Santa Rosalía in honour of the patron saint, the Virgen del Rosario, whose image they took with them. Buses leave from Barcelona for that day. Some never miss it.
Know Our History
Built on an old flour factory from the beginning of the 20th century, our Rural Tourist Complex is part of the history of El Chorro and its surroundings.
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