Mills in Alto Aragón - harinero, central eléctrica

El Grado

El Grado is situated a bit besides the main road between L'Ainsa and Barbastro. The mill is situated along the east side of the road a bit further south than the Barrio del Cinca (with fuel station) of El Grado. The construction, which also houses the local tourism office, is signposted and there is ample parking space. It may be difficult to hit a time when it is open, though. The mill got the name molino de Chuaquín in honour of a former mayor of the village. The upper floor of the building is dedicated to parchís (a board game) of which El Grado is the world's capital, we have learned.

Pictures: 20.VIII.2014

(1) Overview of the construction.

There is no way that the installations will run again — not even in demo mode — like in some other mills that were restored (e.g. Buera, Caldearenas, or Troncedo). Most elements of the milling business were preserved, however, and a visit is still worth its while even though I couldn't discover anything rela­ting to the production of electricity.
In the early years, at the beginning of the 20th century, the back half of the construction was lower than nowadays and counted only one floor: it was the mill proper where the stones and the turbines were housed. Later on more floors were added.

(2) Remains of the canal.
(3) Grating at the end of the canal.

The canal is an impressive piece of work (4). It is broad and deep and runs for more than 2 km along the river Cinca. The intake can be seen as the funnel like structure at the far right in (4) and is nowadays below the waters of the embalse de El Grado.
The canal runs for more than half of its length along the high end of a zone with many small pat­ches, probably vegetable gardens. Just before reaching the mill the canal has to take one last obstacle, a narrow tributary of the Río Cinca: the Barranco de Lariño (). This rivulet is crossed by means of a siphon.

(4) The mill (white circle) and its canal with the capture point far right (which is North)
Mosaic of aerial photos taken in july 1956 () — comparison with situation in 2018.

(5) Stone table with two pairs of stones and crane.

(6) Cog wheels below the stone table.
(7) Text written in underside of a bedstone.
Año 1923 — Lo hizo
Mariano Pallás — y Yacinto Perise

(8) Display of old machinery: (l) tamizadora = sieve, (r) aventadora = winnower

(9) Turbine with belt wheel.

The mill was owned by Celso Joaniquet Ponz (, §). He was born on the 21st of July 1884 in Bono, a village in the Pyrenees on the border between Aragón and Cataluña, studied in Barcelona and worked in Madrid.

He was a very active lawyer and had a remark­able view on the future of Spain and Europe. In January 1931 (!) he held a much applauded speech in which he discussed the need for a European Union as the only effective remedy to save the European industry from the crisis at that moment. Only by eliminating customs barriers would Europe be able to retain intercontinental markets, he said (). He wrote several books about politics and economy.

In the 1940's the Spanish court started an investi­gation against him. There were indications (coming from trustworthy sources, the file says) that he was incurred in political responsibility under the law of 6 february 1939 (§). This Ley de Responsabilidades Políticas was used as a tool for punishment of people who defended the Republic. The law was, however, not only used to suppress the Republi­cans who were most influencial or most rich. It was also applied to those who had escaped Franco's courts-martial because they were not liable for any criminal act. The law became a repressive instru­ment that allowed the settling of accounts with the families of Republicans (). The case against Joaniquet was dismissed 17 years later in 1957 (§).

(10) Cárcavo with traces of the pressure pipe.
(11) Cárcavo with outlet of turbine

(12) Mouths of the 2 cárcavos.
(13) Restitution channel.

Joaniquet (or his wife) was the owner of several mills in the region (§): the mill of El Grado (house and power station), a mill in Enate (house, power station and mill for fodder), and a mill situated in Guaso (grain mill and power station).
The electricity business operated through corpora­tions. In El Grado it was Riegos y Fuerzas del Cinca and in Guaso it was Fuerzas Eléctricas del Ara.

(14) Lines coming from the mill (the star) in 1952 () — larger picture.

Old maps () show power lines of the mill of El Grado to all the villages in its neighbourhood: Artasona, Bolturino, Ubiergo and Secastilla to the East and El Grado, Coscojuela de Fantova and Naval to the West (14).
The grid was extended to Castillazuelo (see and our page about the mill of Huerta de Vero). That should have been in 1929, but the maps of 1931 show no lines. The editions of 1952, however, show so many lines that it is difficult to see what lines brought the power from El Grado to Castillazuelo.


 José Antonio Cubero Guardiola — 2012 — La electricidad en Castillazuelo, apuntes sobre su historia.
in ro Zimbeler de Castillazuelo — Revista informativa de la asociación cultural "Castillazuelo"; Num. 24, Jan. 2012, pp. 28-29.
 Based on maps of the Instituto Geográfico Nacional of Spain, series MTN50, leaf 250, 288, Ed. 1952
 The aerial photographs were taken during what is called the El Vuelo Americano serie B which happened between March 1956 and September 1957. The work was done by the American Army Map Service. © Instituto Geográfico Nacional de España
 I am using the name shown on the older maps of the IGN. Newer editions from 2003 on show the rivulet as Barranco de Ariño which is probably born out of a confusion with a barranco with this name situated a few kilometers to the South, near Enate.
§ Archivo Histórico Provincial de Huesca J/005771/000009.
 Fernando Peña Rambla — 2012 — La exigencia de responsabilidades políticas como mecanismo represivo especial: la Serratella (Castellón), 1939-1942. Millars, XXXV (2012) pp. 172-197.
 ABC (Madrid) — 27.I.1931 — En la Casa de Aragón. Ed. de la mañana, p 37.

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