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.