Juragua Iron Company Mine Photographs, 1912-1914
Collection — Box: Photo 0011.01
Identifier: SC Photo-0011
This collection covers at least a two year period beginning with the title date of the album January 1, 1913 to August 1914 as noted on notations on some of the photographs. The collection is composed of 130 black and white or sepia photographs. Shown in the photos are many aspects of an iron ore mining operation and the landscape of the mining district in the Sierra Maestre Mountains in eastern Cuba. There is one personal postcard mailed from Panama addressed to Mrs. A. W. Gaumer, Firmeza, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba c/o Juragua Iron Co. dated May 6, 1912.
Language of Materials
0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)
The Juragua Iron Company was the first American company to become interested in iron mining in Cuba. The mines were located in the province of Santiago at the eastern end of Cuba. The Santiago province climate is hot, but not affected by fevers or malaria. The company first went to Cuba in the early 1880s to begin iron ore mining. Its capital stock was controlled by the Bethlehem Iron Company of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Steel Company of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It shipped its first iron ore from Cuba in 1884. The company was the most successful of the American iron mining companies operating in Cuba in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. This collection of photographs illustrates in detail the mining operation as an open pit quarry process in the Sierra Maestre Mountains of southeastern Cuba. Three Lehigh University alumni, Albert Wesley Gaumer (1906), Archibald Johnston (1889) and Charles Austin Buck (1887) are known to have been affiliated with the Juragua Iron Company.
Biographical / Historical
The Juragua Iron Company was the first American company to become interested in mining iron ore in Cuba. Originally the company’s capital stock was controlled by the Bethlehem Iron Company, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Steel Company of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The company’s business office was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a manufacturing plant was located in Titusville, Pennsylvania. In Cuba, the company’s mines were all located in the Province of Santiago de Cuba, the most healthful section of the island of Cuba with excellent access to the sea coast. Although the climate is hot, there are no areas of tropical fevers or malaria. The mines were located at altitudes of 200 to 1,500 feet above sea level. In the early 1880s the company began building a mine complex including a railroad from the iron mines in the Sierra Maestre Mountains in southeast Cuba to the harbor at Santiago, approximately 15 miles apart. In 1884 the company began shipping high grade hematite iron ore from its Firmeza mine in Cuba to the Bethlehem Iron Company. The company had a total of 17 mines in Cuba. Juragua was the most productive of the three American iron mining companies operating in Cuba. The mining operation was quarry open pit style. Around 1894, Juragua Iron Company became a subsidiary of the Bethlehem Steel Company. Juragua continued mining operations during the Spanish-American War. During the war the company buildings in the village of Siboney were burned by U.S. army officers on the pretext of combating yellow fever. As a result of this destruction of its property, Juragua sued the United States in 1909 to recover damages. A. W. Gaumer, for whom this presentation copy was prepared, graduated from Lehigh University in 1906 in with a degree in civil engineering. He began working for the Juragua Iron Company in 1907 as an assistant engineer in charge of construction and design. He married Sara M. Stadon in 1909 who accompanied him to Cuba. From 1910 to 1918 he advanced to the position of chief engineer and general superintendent of mines. Other Lehigh alumni involved with the Juragua Iron Company were Charles Austin Buck (1887) as president and Archibald Johnston (1889) (see SC M0137) as second vice president. References:Industrial Cuba, by Robert P. Porter, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1899, p. 319 – 325, reprinted by Arno Press, New York Times Company, 1976. “Interests near Santiago,” editorial, New York Times, July 18, 1898, p. 6. Iron Ores, by Edwin C. Eckel, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1914, p. 292-293. Who’s Who in Engineering, 1922-23, Volume 1, by John William Leonard, editor; John W. Leonard Corporation, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1922, p. 484.
The collection is composed of 130 black and white or sepia photographs, many with brown stains on the photos. The first 41 photos are mounted in an album of black pebble textured leather (possibly sharkskin) 7 inches by 12 inches (17.5 cm by 30 cm) with dark grey heavy paper pages. The album title page is lettered in white ink: Juragua Iron Company Mine Photographs, Jan 1st, 1913, Mr. A. W. Gaumer. The black and white photos mounted in the album measure 4 ¾” x 6 ¾” (12cm x 17cm) unless otherwise noted. The remaining photographs of assorted sizes were found loose with the album. Their size and condition is noted in each entry. These loose photos were sorted to reflect an order based on name of mine and photo size and placed in Mylar sleeves filed in a three ring binder box
- Juragua Iron Company Mine Photographs, 1912-1914 SC Photo 0011
- Eleanor Nothelfer
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Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA