They say that when the loggers used to get sick, they would drink goat’s blood. This reveals the close bond with the natural environment that takes us to the core of our relationship with the countryside we live in. In this mountain range, such a relationship dates back a thousand years, with references since the 11th century to the harvesting of bark to obtain tannin, wood or produce wood tar. For centuries, this mountain range was like a larder of products created in a large, living organism: the largest range of forest in the Iberian Peninsula.
What is, today, the national park of the mountain ranges of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas has been the home of thousands of human beings who, as true pioneers, developed a culture around the sustainable use of wood, forests and all its natural resources. To provide income in such a tough environment, families would produce charcoal and were also involved in harvesting lavender, a job in which all the family took part, and picking more than thirty different species of wild mushrooms, extensive shepherding of the typical Segureña sheep, small game hunting, gathering lichens, tobacco cultivation (always in remote areas), extracting resin and obtaining bitumen or wood tar, as well as the traditional slaughtering of the pig in each individual home,
Possibly the most legendary and epic task carried out for hundreds of years was logging, which could be seen as the "shepherding" of timber. A story was written in this area of the timber, the trees, the forests, the laws established for logging and the railway sleepers produced here. It's a story that also evokes the memory of the forest cable railways that made timber fly, of the mule drivers that dragged tonnes of materials with their oxen and mules, of the lumberjacks, covered in resin, that stripped bark from the trees; of sawyers that would sink their saws rhythmically into the entrails of the wood, of the timber raftsmen that would dance across the river on the logs. It is also the story of their wives and children.
It's a story that converges in the sawmill located in Vadillo Castril, today the site of ciCUM. The sawmill was in operation from 1942 to 1986, producing special beams for the shipbuilding industry, as well as essentially crossing timbers, railway sleepers, the floors of carriages and other pieces for RENFE (the Spanish railway network operator).
The timber's great adventure did not end on the carts or lorries that carried the wood away from Vadillo Castril but surely continued in the ships it helped build and in their great maritime expeditions, as well as across the lands sewn together with an iron thread by the railway line, sleeper after sleeper