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Armero, Colombia Ghost Town of the Month

The town of Armero was located 100 miles from Bogota in Colombia’s most fertile agricultural region.  It was founded in 1895 but not officially recognized until 1908.  It was originally named San Lorenzo and was changed Ruiz85_aerial_lahar_armeroto Armero in 1930 to honor the memory of Jose Leon Armero, a national hero who died fighting for Colombia’s independence from the Spanish.  The region was the main cotton producer in the country and prosperous until 1985.  In addition to cotton it also produced rice, coffee and sorghum.   Being the main cotton producer it gained the nickname – Colombia’s White City.  The soil was very fertile and enriched with mineral deposits produced by Nevado del Ruiz, the nearby volcano.

 

Armero_Mudflow_and_ruins On November, 13th 1985 the area was destroyed after an eruption of Nevado del Ruiz Volcano produced lahars (a highly destructive mud flow containing rocky debris, and water) that destroyed the town and killed about 23,000 people .  At the time ~ 31,000 people lived in the region.  Life in the region slowly returned to normal but the town of Armero was gone forever.  It became known as the Armero tragedy.   The event made national headlines as many Colombians blamed the government for the loss of so many lives.  The survivors were relocated to the towns of Guayabal and Lerida where they received housing and money.

In the area where the city use to be survivors constructed a tomb with an epitaph where their house had been. In this way they created a new symbolic city called The Camposanto.

Today, Armero is a ghost town with scattered graves, ruins, and memorials.

 

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