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Pitch Lake

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Pitch Lake is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world. It is estimated to contain 10 million tons of asphalt. It can be found in La Brea in southwest Trinidad, inside the Siparia Regional Corporation. The lake covers about 100 acres (0,405 square kilometres). The lake is 250 feet (76,2 metres) deep.[1]

History[change | change source]

Pitch Lake, ca. 1890

The Pitch Lake has been very interesting to explorers and scientists. It was re-discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh in his expedition there in 1595. Raleigh himself used the asphalt to caulk his ship.[2] The native Amerindians told Raleigh where he can find the lake. The native Amerindians had their own story about where the lake came from. The story goes that the people living there were celebrating a victory over a rival tribe when they got carried away in their celebration. They then cooked and ate the sacred hummingbird which they believed possessed the souls of their ancestors.[3] According to legend, their winged God punished them by opening the earth and calling the pitch lake to swallow the entire village. So, the lake became a reminder of their sins. The local villages believe this legend because found many Amerindian artifacts and a skull that have been discovered and preserved, in the pitch.

In 1887, Amzi Barber, an American businessman known as "The Asphalt King", got a 42-year monopoly concession from the British Government for the Pitch Lake for his company, Barber Asphalt Paving Co. It was from the Pitch Lake that many of the first asphalt roads of New York City, Washington D.C., and other Eastern U.S. cities were paved.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Pitch Lake, Trinidad - a geological wonder that is mined for asphalt, Liverpool museums". web.archive.org. 2018-10-01. Archived from the original on 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2021-05-06.
  2. "Trinidad Express Newspapers: | La Brea, home of the pitch lake". web.archive.org. 2018-02-16. Archived from the original on 2018-02-16. Retrieved 2021-05-06.
  3. "La Brea, Pitch Lake". UNESCO World Heritage Centre.