Mysterious structures: what are they?

I have examined  this photograph again and again over the past year but am no closer to understanding what it depicts. It is a simple flat mount stereoview with an albumen image. A negative number but no other information. The scene is a valley, with scrub covered hills and a little sign of cultivation on some lower slopes. In the foreground and apparently the subject of the view, are a series of structures that look at first sight like the trestles of a railroad but are not. They are quite complex structures and not all alike. Is this some sort of mining operation where extracted material is sifted or graded with the help of water?  Some sort of drying sheds? A couple of buildings are in view including what looks like a small church. I'd be very grateful for any ideas about this as the picture is now driving me mad! Thanks for any help you can offer




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  • It is a Gradierwerk (in german) probably in Bad Reichenhall (to win salt)

    sorry, my english is not good

  • On the other hand:

    this is the clear solution

    didn't spot that before...

    still, geographically not too far adrift!

  • I think the suggestion of a mining or industrial zone is unlikely because of the managed-agricultural, almost park-like setting of the valley bottom and presence of a developed residential area (besides the church, roofs are visible to right and middle distance; the larger building upper left has an awning over an apparent upper balcony).

    The distant left slopes look more like vines than anything; the whole scene resembling in some ways an Italian/Austrian sub-alpine area.

    There is an impression that at least some of the large structures are mobile, capable of tracking left-to-right (from our viewpoint), but this may be merely an impression given by straight access tracks. While the structures appear temporary, the foundations in the foreground appear substantial. The farther roofed frameworks suggest different stages of construction in progress:

    so, perhaps a barracks being constructed to guard a new frontier established in a pass between two nations recently divided or in conflict (otherwise there would be evidence of an older generation of fortification - the blockhose with awning: perhaps a customs post?)

  • great, so mining it is!

  • Thank you very much Anthony. I was particularly pleased to see that you had spotted other signs of mining that I had missed. I am sure that your interpretation is correct. It certainly fits with one of my favoured theories. Presumably the location could be America (North or South) or Australia?

  • Looking at the picture it is definitely a mining area as shown by the adits and spoil heaps on the hillside at the top left of the image. The valley floor in the distance below this and the hillside to the right behind the buildings also looks disturbed, especially at the bottom. Like you, I wonder if the structures are something to do with aqueducts or mineral aqueducts (for slurry). They appear to be fairly wide structures with a solid side and a wooden cross-braced side (facing the viewer), if they were facing the sun they could be some sort of evaporation surface. In the foreground there is a river and a wier with a leat taking the water to the right of the image, possibly for water wheels or mineral washing. I have looked on the web for images that might fit with these structures, but not been very successful. Page 24 of a pdf about non-coal mining describing Perkiomen-Whim-Ecton mines, Audubon, Montgomery County has an image of probable mining aqueducts. Mineral processing (sluicing) uses aqueducts and large amounts of water. Anthony Cooper - geologist.

  • Hi Bob, Yes it is an albumen stereoview of about 1870's I think. Any ideas what it might be?


  • i'm not very good at this but i wonder whether this "other , hidden, side" is a slope facing the sun?

    will the sun ever reach this side? any Sherlock good at this?

  • What an interesting idea - I hadnt thought of that one. They certainly do look like the backs of large 'bleachers' - stands put up for sports events. However looking at what they face on to, and their odd arrangement, doesnt suggest any sort of suitable field for sport or big public event. The large one to the right certainly looks as if the other , hidden, side is a slope facing the sun. So I was wondering about something for cultivation of vines or drying of some product?

  • not a Roman soldier! a stage for viewing activities like sport. it's just a wild guess but i had a look at the shadows and the structure it reveils looks like giant (broad) stairs.

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