Carmen Tower – Tlalpujahua, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Carmen Tower

Tlalpujahua, Mexico

This lonely tower survived the landslide that devastated much of a Mexican mining town. 


Near the town of Tlalpujahua stands the Carmen Tower. It’s a stalwart survivor of the tragic day a massive landslide buried a large chunk of the town beneath layers of mud and debris.

Tlalpujahua was once home to the Dos Estrellas Mine, which, at the time, was among the leading producers of gold in the 20th century. The tons of earth extracted from its depths, along with the water and cyanide they were mixed with, were stored atop the ravine, inside an improvised dam.

But that ramshackle dam had damning consequences. On the night of May 27, 1937, tragedy struck. After intense rain, the dam collapsed early in the morning, burying the town in tons of mud. Villagers had to dig through the debris to hunt for survivors or recover the bodies of their relatives and friends.

Now, little remains of the parts of town that were buried beneath the mud. The Carmen Tower, a remnant of an old church, is indeed the only surviving above-ground structure. The area is now considered to be an archaeological site. To reach it, you first have to cross dirt corridors, within which the ground and the original details of the streets and some houses can still be seen. In front of the tower, it’s even possible to see some tombs from the old cemetery and the original floor of the church.

According to local guides, all the land was deserted, but when the settlers placed a layer of fertile soil atop the mud, grass began to grow. However, it’s said there are no trees because the earth still contains the cyanide that the mine sheltered as waste.

Know Before You Go

The parish of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in downtown Tlapujahua preserves the original altarpiece of the buried temple. Not so far away, on the road to Tlalpujahua (Maravatio - Atlacomulco) is the Dos Estrellas Mine Museum where the tragedy began. The Carmen Tower is where the "beast invocation" takes place after the monster parade at the annual "Feratum" Horror Film Festival.

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