BUSHIRIBANA GOLD MILL
On the northern coast, midway down the island, sits the abandoned gold mill called Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. You will have to go down a sandy/dirt road that is very bumpy to get there. Tours can take you there, or you can adventure there on your own like we did. Just go slow in a car. Free parking and no admission price.
In the 1400's and 1500's, adventurers traveled throughout the Caribbean in search of wealth and treasures. According to legend, one of these treasure islands was named "Oro Ruba," which means "red gold." Now known as Aruba, a colorful history of gold prospectors has shaped the island's history. Today, remnants of this history can still be experienced.
In 1824, gold was finally discovered in Aruba, and eventually, the industry produced more than 3 million pounds of gold. The founder of this ore was a twelve-year-old boy named Willem Rasmijn. He was herding his father’s sheep in Rooi Fluit when he encountered the precious metal. Of course this started a heavy gold fever. Everyone went looking for gold. However what they found had to be sold to the government at a fixed price.
Finally the fever died out in 1830. But with the findings of new gold veins in 1854. The exploitation was going to be handled professionally. In that same year the right to dig for gold was stripped from the locals and granted to the first Company to dig in the Aruban soil. It was of course a Dutch company, Concessie de Jongh, Den Haag (concession the Youngh of the Hague). Though they did not work intensively.
In 1867 the right was passed on to another company, Isola for the next 25 years. Isola had to pay the government f 2.500,= a year. However in 1868 the right was passed on to an American company, Rickect & Co of New York. This company worked with a primitive method. At the mines the rocks and stones would be broken, filtered and the residue would be washed. Isola worked in the area of Westpunt, Rooi Fluit, Seroe Cristal, Sero Moskita and Tres cabez at the North East Area of Aruba.
In 1872 to 1881 the right was given to the English company Aruba Island Gold mining Company, London. It was finally this company that built the Gold mill of Bushiribana in 1874. The famous Aruban bricklayer, or masons at the time, Alexander Donat, along with a few other bricklayers of Curacao were hired to lift the massive rock. These people had to use cranes of wooden beams to put the rocks in place. An old fashioned grind mill was being built.
The idea was to grind the rocks into dust. The mill would be powered by the powerful wind of the northeast sea. The dust would leave the clumps of gold behind to be picked up. But they did not have pure gold yet. This had to be achieved by melting the gold and letting it attach itself to quicksilver.
The areas near the Gold mill, Kadushi, Matividiri, Sero Cristal, Wariruri, and Babijn was mostly excavated for gold. Including the more traditional and new regions like: rooi Fluit, Sabanilla, Piedra Cacho, Daimari, Tamarijn, Parca, Shita and Angochi. The longest mine tunnels were at: Sero Cristal, sero Gerard and Kadushi. But the work there was done in a primitive manner. With a heavy hammer and crowbar the rocks containing the precious gold were released. Then they would be put in a chest and were past from hand to hand to Bushiribana.
The machines at Bushiribana cost £ 21.000 not counting transport- and installation cost and the high wages. Furthermore all the required machinery had to be imported. Because of the lack of materials to refine the ore during world war I, the gold digging was stopped in 1916 and was never resumed afterwards.
One of the big things to do in Aruba is rock stacking. Sakari loved doing it and putting her "mark" on things.
It was really neat to see the ruins. There are some great picture opportunities here, including pictures of the fierce ocean waters as a back drop. You will also find some rock stacking going on here as well.
For those that are not good with climbing or have difficulty...the back of the ruins is a hill and very easy to climb (instead of the rocks within the ruins).