The emery mines of naxos
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Railways, emery and pumice mines
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Mainland Greece

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Piraeus, Athens and the Acropolis Railway

Another cruise - another Port of Call or two, but fancy finding a railway on the Acropolis - clever chaps, those ancient Greeks.

Katakolon, Pyrgos and Olympia

Another surprise, the Katkolon to Olympia line is working!! I've got to have 10 Euros of that! and theres a very derelict steam engine at Pyrgos

Corfu, Ionian Islands

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And piles of genuine Victorian 4th Century BC ironmongery all over the place .....

Ios, The Cyclades

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A new reservoir under construction as we sailed past on the ferry - which is my excuse for the poor telephoto photos.

Naxos, The Cyclades

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The North-east of Naxos was the centre of a flourishing emery industry until 1976 when synthetic emery killed the industry off. Being Greece there was no great salvage operation, the mines just went to sleep. The aerial ropeways just stopped with full buckets in mid-air, tramways were left with the drams in the dozens of levels and emery piles stood where they were. Occasionally the better seams were and still are worked as the mood takes the miners. One enthusiastic miner is establishing a museum at the ropeway base station but the area is so remote. On the road from Koronos to Lionas, time has just stood still.....

Stravolagada, the centre of emery mining operations

The aerial ropeways

Two aerial ropeways left Stravolagada, one heading to Moutsouna over the mountains. At 9 miles long, this is by far the longest but crosses some really inhospitable country. It retains its cables and buckets, some still containing their cargo of emery. The other ropeway went down the valley to Lionas but has lost its cable and is easier to follow. A Blackstone 'Made in England' engine drove both ropeways via a beltdrive to a large outdoor gearbox. The Moutsouna ropeway was contructed between 1923 and 1926

The mines and tramways

Stravolagada appears to have been quite an important complex. Apart from the mines themselves, there are workshops, storage bins, barracks for the miners and the ropeway terminal. As with the rest of the area, there are workings everywhere, some with tramways and drams and some just rough diggings. An incline or chute runs up the hillside belows the ropeway pylons.

The top of the hill down to Lionas

The inclined levels

Just past the hilltop church there are some under-construction buildings on the right. Behind them are two inclined levels with a winch house over the tracks to the left-hand level. There was also a modern compressor on site.

The double-track incline

On the other side of the road below the tips from the levels is a brakehouse from which a steep double-track incline descends to the floor of the valley past a gallery, very reminiscent of the North wales slate inclines.

The Lionas Hill gallery

A gallery off the incline, aleads to more workings on the way down to Lionas. The incline has collapsed where the gallery leads off so it's difficult to tell whether the gallery connected directly but it's certainly a possibility.

On the way down to Lionas

The roadside levels

As the road drops down towards the lovely bay of Lionas, there are numerous roadside levels with tramways and wagons, some are obviously still being worked on and off. These are just a few! The shaft and levels 1 and 2 are close to the roadside aerial ropeway shown above. level 2 has an 'L' shaped track layout. Level 4 has a maze of tunnels inside.

The levels below the roadside

There are many more levels below the road and require a bit more scrambling to reach. Again this is just a few of the easier-to-reach levels. Across the valley there are even more spoil tips and levels to explore.


I didn't get down to Moutsouna, the end of the aerial ropeway and main export harbour.
These photos of what I missed are from Facebook :-

Elsewhere on Naxos

Agios Prokopios

A Russian GAZ69 jeep with reg. no. 20520 was rusting away in its parking place beside a taverna. It could be up to 30 years old but who knows. Could make a great restoration project if you're feeling adventurous.

Paros, The Cyclades

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There is a very well-known folklore museum just outside Aliki with the majority of exhibits hand-built by the owner. Its very quaint and well worth a visit. These are some of the industrial bits and pieces.

Santorini, The Cyclades

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Marble quarries and other bits and pieces

The Gaia winery near the airport was built in the 1900s as a tomato processing factory and a very rickety chimney remains. The old port of Skala has the WW2 German HQ and what looks like a small power station. On the Eastern side of the island there are a couple of working marble quarries.

The pumice mines

Commercial pumice mining on Santorini goes back until the 1860s when it was exported to Egypt to make cement for the construction of the Suez Canal. Many abandoned quarries line the rim of the caldera where the pumice layer is particularly thick. Pumice was quarried and mined and passed down a series of chutes and ramps to be loaded onto ships in the caldera. Work at the quarries was stopped in 1986 as tourism became the dominant factor in the island's economy and to help preserve the unique landscape of Santorini. These photos illustrate 5 sites between the old and new ports showing their cliff-hugging chutes and conveyors.

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