American Pictures/ Peter Francis
wooden buildings in the town of María Elena in the Atacama desert near
Tocopilla. María Elena was established in the 1920s for work on the nearby
low grade sodium nitrate -caliche - chile saltpeter beds of the Atacama.
While similar towns lie abandoned in the desert as relics of the 19th C nitrate
boom, Maria Elena continues with a population of 7,600, a museum and houses unchanged
by the passage of time.