Mills in Altoaragón - harinero

Javierre de Olsón

Javierre is most easily to reach from the main road between L'Ainsa and Barbastro when you turn to Lamata in Mesón de Ligüerre de Cinca. Following the narrow road leading to Olsón you'll reach Javierre. Walk down towards the Río Susía, cross the river and there you are. A lovely way to enjoy the landscape is to walk in from the north starting at Castejón de Sobrarbe. Take a map and binoculars with you. The region teems with birdlife. The mills tap water from the Río Susía.

Pictures: 05.iii.2003

(1) Position of the mill (hidden by trees) with Javierre in the background.

The mill is also known as O Suelo and is in fact a conglomerate of three different mills, two harineros and one aceitero, built closely together and sharing the same water related infrastructure. The site is extremely interesting and should be preserved. But it is probably too late already.
The oil mill (blue stroke in 2) lies above the others. The mill pond (embalse) is behind the dark wall in the depth. The black stroke indicates the big grain mill (harinero) and the white stroke points to the roof of the small second harinero situated below both other mills.

(2) Three mills are built together at the same site.

The River Susia usually doesn't carry much water. Most of the water comes from a couple of hesitating wells in the vicinity of Mondot. It must have been quite a challenge to provide three mills with enough water.
The azud, dam, is located several hunderd meters upstream from the mill. As far as I understand — it is not always clear which is the main arm — the dam is on the Barranco Fiscal, a tributary of the River Susia.

(3) Dam

(4) First few meters of the canal
with traces of older constructions.
The dam is built on a large flat rock bed and made of natural rock, masonry and concrete. The wall closes off a large pond that is now sustaining a rich vegetation. The channel leaves the embalse in the corner at the north side of the dam (right in 3).

At exactly that spot the stone plate in the riverbed features traces of older constructions (4-6). Notice the square holes with a wooden pole still upright.

Other remains of wooden dams can be found in Caballera, Puyarruego, Lecina, and Las Bellostas — where the holes on average have a ∅ of 60 cm.

(5-6) Remains of older wooden constructions.

(7) First few meters of the channel.

(8) Further section longs the Río Susia.

The channel, once on its way, first runs along the Barranco Fiscal and then soon turns left and joins the Río Susia. The pictures of the different parts (8-11) let you appreciate how soon the channel gains height relative to the river. Eventually this will make for a huge pressure column at the mill. That is exactly why the tap had to be so far upstream.
The canal is easily to follow by walking inside. Only two stretches have disappeared. First the section in the erosion zone of the river (see 10, end of tracing line) and secondly the final part just before the reservoir.

(9) Channel below the cliff
also visible in previous picture.

(10) Last stretch before the channel leaves Susia
and takes shortcut to the mill.

The connection of the water supply channel with the embalse is severed as a consequence of the building activitity concerning the house located at the narrow end of the pond. This in earlier times probably was the millers' home. In smaller mills he usually had his quarters at the upper floor (e.g. Villalangua, Centenera, Fosado) but at sites this size he may have lived in a separate building.
It looks like the owners of the site at the time of our visit were not in the least interested in preserving this important spot. The embalse is being filled up with earth and converted into garden-orchard. The situation of the oil mill, aceitero, doesn't look very reassuring either. Let's hope that what remains after the works is more than only a signboard with the text Molino La Pilarica, a name we have also found on the fábrica of Siétamo.

(11) Enormous former mill pond.

(12) Red arrow indicates outlet of balsa.

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