Ojuela

Ojuela is one of Mexico’s ‘ghost towns’, the site of a mine that was abandoned after being decimated by flooding in 1932. It is the subject of our latest sim, which opens today. The landmark is here.

The Ojuela mining settlement is located northwest of the nearest town Mapimí, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northwest.

The Ojuela mine was established after the discovery of abandoned gold and silver mines in the area in 1598, and reached its peak during the 19th century, when the extracted ore was transported by railroad to be processed in the nearby town of Mapimí.

Today Ojuela is best known for the “Puente de Ojuela”, which consists of a long pedestrian walkway suspended by a spider’s web of steel cables over a gorge 100 metres below. Completed in 1898, the bridge has a main span of 271.5 metres and the distance between the pylons that support the cables is 315.5 metres. Here is a passage about the early history and purpose of the bridge in a paper by Cristina Matouk Núñez:

“In 1898 … construction of suspended bridge Ojuela concludes, whose main purpose was to facilitate the transfer of the mineral extracted by the Campo Sur shaft towards Ojuela. These fields are separated by a canyon more than 100 meters deep. The bridge [is] still standing, measuring 318 meters in length in a single span, 1.75 m wide and has a suspended weighing over 112 tons. The work [was] made possible the replacement of the burden of animal power to lower ore by the barrel and travel several kilometres around a hill, by an efficient and inexpensive way to load trucks … on a central rail bridge.”

The bridge was designed by Wilhelm Hildenbrand and built by the firm of John A. Roebling Sons Company, New York. Hildenbrand was chief engineer at the firm, while Roebling himself was famous for designing Brooklyn Bridge along with his son, Washington. When the bridge was recently restored, the original wooden pylons were replaced by the steel ones we have modelled at the sim.

Ojuela bridge opened as a tourist attraction in 1991, along with the mining settlement itself. The settlement was originally quite large, with houses clustered in neat rows on the hill to one side of the bridge

Today, only traces of that settlement remain.

As ever, we’ve tried to remain faithful to the ‘real’ Ojuela in our reproduction while bearing mind the need to develop a coherent design within the limits of a Second Life homestead sim. You’ll find some of the old houses (presumably these were mainly homes for miners and administrative offices), the bridge itself, and the dramatic mountainous landscape in which it sits.

We were particularly conscious of scale and hope that we’ve been able to represent just how spectacular this location must be for its visitors – and how scary that bridge walk must be for anyone who suffers from vertigo!

You’ll find a variety of wildlife on the sim which is typical of this area: jaguars, bobcats (aka lynx), a bear and her cub, wolves, lemurs, bighorn sheep, a couple of donkeys and a few rams. Many of these are hidden away, just as they would be in real life. So you’re more likely to hear the wolves than to see them at first, likewise the bears.

There is abundant birdlife, too. You’ll find eagles soaring above (the eagle sits at the centre of the Mexican flag), osprey, kestrels, cuckoos, owls, vultures, red cardinals, orioles, grackles (which is essentially an oversized blackbird), thick-billed parrots (which are endemic to Mexico) …

This was our first brand new sim since North Brother Island, which opened almost three years ago in June 2019. While Jade and I have enjoyed the challenge of designing sims on our own for a while, it was a pleasure to collaborate again, and we hope you enjoy the result. For photographers, the Flickr group is here.

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