The Bridge over the Guadalimar (La Puerta de Segura)

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The Bridge over the Guadalimar (La Puerta de Segura)

This bridge was a waypoint for some of the many maderadas, or lumber transportations, that took place on the river over centuries. Wood from the park's forests was floated down towards Seville and other destinations, where it was used to build boats and large civil and religious buildings. Many well-known historical events would not have been possible without the involvement of the maderadas.

The job of the pinecutters, known as gancheros in some areas, was difficult and dangerous. Imagine the scene in a square in one of the towns, where a group of pinecutters are readying their hooks and other equipment to begin guiding the tree trunks downstream. The group is large, containing more than 50 people; on occasion such groups may be made up of several hundreds of people. A number of children are present, to learn the trade, along with mules, dogs and an array of essential items that will be required during a journey that will last several months.

The individual responsible for organising the operation is the rivermaster, a man who has gained this position owing to his extensive experience and who has earned the right to travel with the foreman in charge of the group leading the maderada. There are another two foremen, one in the centre group and one at the rear, and their job is to direct the efforts of the pinecutter gangs.

The rivermaster is also the man who decides whether it is necessary to carry out any channelling operations, using the same lumber that is being transported, in order to facilitate the control and transportation of the wood.

It is important to reflect on these difficult conditions and way of life of people who spent a large part of the year away from their homes and for whom these activities represented the only way they could earn a living. Nowadays, an annual exhibition of lumber transportation takes place in Yeste (Albacete) and you can also see a woodcutting exhibition in Siles.

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