Mills in Alto Aragón - harinero, central eléctrica

Aso de Sobremonte

Aso de Sobremonte is a lovely village not far from Biescas. From Biescas take the road for Francia; turn left where Aso is signposted. Aso is on the end of the valley. Walk the dirt-road (just before the village on the left side) down toward the Barranco del Aso. Remember that this rivulet came in the worldnews when it annihilated a camping in a furious mudflow (august 1996).

All pictures: XII.1997

Front wall of mill
Wall against the river

Walking down the dirt road coming from Aso, you will discover the harinero hidden under the abundant green of the many willows and poplars.
The workplace and only room is rather small and has a slightly irregular shape: a narrow fifth wall. It is a humble construction with many things in common with the mill of Torrolluela del obico. It is less well preserved though.

The smaller wooden things (tolva, guardapolvo, door) are gone. Hikers on the GR probably used them for the evening camp-fire.

Observe the cabra and the levador without wheel. Both stones are in place. Don't miss the hole in the upper stone. It is the place where the arm of thevcabra was attached for maintenance operations. The runner (the upper stone) is higher in the center. I don't remember seeing that in any other mill.

A third stone rests outside. It is an old stone made of one piece and dressed with old style ridges. You'll find similar stones in Sarvisé and Allué.

Mill stone
Old stone outside

The valve housing
The balsa has earthen walls (as in Torrolluela) and is overgrown with shrub. It lies some meters apart from the mill (In Torrolluela the balsa rests against the construction.) and above it.

The balsa drains via a grid and a channel leading towards a small construction at the same level. Apparently this was the housing of a valve regulating the flow towards a small building leaning against the harinero, but without direct doorway to the mill. In this second building some machinery balances above a deep pit. It was the local electricity station.

I couldn't find out how the water got to the rueda of the flour mill. It was impossible because of the snow.

The cárcavo doesn't show special features, but is wide and open as in Torrolluela.

In April 2003 we received a testimony by Luis Bara, born in Aso de Sobremonte, who has known this mill while it was still in use. Mr. Bara kindly gave us permission to share his valuable information with our audience.

Outlet of mill pond with grid
Old machinery: turbine with a belt wheel

Original Spanish by Luis Bara

He leido su articulo sobre el molino en Aso de Sobremonte. Desearia efectuarle algunas precisiones con el objeto de cumplimentar su información. Mi nombre es Luis Bara y procedo de ese pueblo, Aso, donde nací, pase mi infancia y todavia voy con mucha asiduidad. Mis antepasados igualmenta habian nacido y vivido en ese pueblon en la casa denominada Olivan, cultivando las tierras y cuidando del ganado.

Mi abuelo paterno, Santos Bara, de acuerdo con el ayuntamiento de Aso, contruyeron una acequia hasta una balsa ubicada en el lugar que Vd. describe. Al lado se construyó un pequeño edificio en el que habia una tajadera sobre un canal que comunicaba por un lado con la balsa y por el otro con una tuberia que descendia hasta dos edificios situados unos metros mas abajo totalmente independientes. Uno de esos edificios era el molino que Vd. describe, y cuyo objeto era moler el trigo que se producia en el pueblo destinado a hacer el pan, pues cada casa tenia su amasaderia donde efectuaba el pan para su consumo, Hay que tener en cuenta que hasta epoca bastante reciente no habia carretera, y por tanto estos pueblos eran bastante autonomos.

El segundo edificio contenia una central hidraulica propiedad de mi abuelo, destinada a producir electricidad, que a traves de una linea electrica a baja tension, abastecia a la casa Olivan para las luminarias y estufas electricas. El resto del pueblo en el que no habia luz, se iluminaba las calles a cambio del mantenimiento de la acequia y balsa.

Todo esto que le cuento lo he vivido personalmente, ya que recuerdo cuando yo era pequeño, los paseos con mi padre y mi madre al atardecer para ir a dar la luz, que consistian en caminar del pueblo a la central, primero arriba para manualmente levantar la tajadera y permitir que el agua pasara, y luego al edificio inferior para comprobar la tension en los voltimetros, limpiar las dinamos del alternador etc. Por la noche en la casa, el ultimo que se iba a dormir, apagaba la luz mediante un artilugio que desde la casa hacia bajar la compuerta de la central.
Luis Bara


I've read your article about the mill in Aso de Sobremonte. I would like to complement your information with some additional information.

Aso is the village where I was born. I lived there when I was young and I still love to return as many times as possible. My ancestors, living in Casa Oliván, spent there their lives farming and looking after the cattle.

My father's father, Santos Bara, agreed with the local authority to build a balsa (mill pond) at the exact place mentioned earlier on this page. Next to this reservoir a small construction was erected to house a valve. A tube brings the water to the two buildings some meters down the hill.

One of those was the flour mill where the corn of the village was processed. At that time each family made its own bread. We must not forget that until recently there was no paved road and people in this and similar villages needed to be self-supporting.

The second construction was the hydro-electric station of my grand-father. It produced electricity and a line carried the low tension to the Casa Oliván where it powered the lights and stoves. The rest of the village had no light, but the streets were illuminated. In return, people of the village did maintenance of the water supply channel and the mill pond.

I'm telling you this from my own memory. I remember the evening walks when I was a child. With my father and mother from the village to the power station to switch on the electricity. First to the construction near the reservoir to lift the valve. Then down to the generator house to check the voltage meters, clean the alternator and do some other maintenance when needed. Back at home the last person who was going to bed had the task of shutting down the lights. A clever contraption made it possible to close the valve from the house.
Luis Bara

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