The mines of Cogne
Description of the route
The history of the magnetite mines of Liconi, Colonna and Costa del Pino, situated at the slopes of Mount Creya, is said to commence from the era of the Salassians and the Romans. The Church held usage rights up to 1679, when the bishop Bailly sold the mines to the Municipality of Cogne. A lengthy period of inactivity followed, which was most likely due to the lack of capital and labour. Interest in the problem of the mines by the Mayor Grappein, led to the building of a carriageable road about 6 km in length, which was completed in 1824, and which reached Vieyes from Champlong (where the material arrived on sleighs). Moreover, Doctor Grappein also proposed a fair sub-division of the profits from the mines among all the inhabitants of Cogne. Around the mid-19th century, the crisis in the iron industry forces the Municipality to rent the mine, and up until the early decades of the 1900’s very little work was done. The two World Wars and the State Intervention were cause for an impulse to use the mines, which lasted up to 1970, when they were hit by a serious crisis that imposed a slow-down in production, the mines have been closed since March 1979.
The mines of Cogne represent a beautiful testimony of industrial archaeology: the remains of the aerial ropeways used for transporting the material are still clearly visible, the cableway for passengers arriving in Colonna from Cogne and the numerous buildings, the mine workers could in fact take advantage of the store, the library and even a cinema. The ancient silver mine of Valeille, the copper mine of Ecloseur and the magnetite mine of Larsinaz are also worth mentioning.