The Butcher of Iquique in Chile
In the early 1900s, sodium nitrate, or "saltpeter," was the backbone of Chile's economy. But ruthless saltpeter mine owner James Thomas Humberstone created working conditions equivalent to slavery: 16-hour days, seven days a week, backbreaking work in the driest climate on earth and payment that could only be spent in the overpriced company store. When workers finally went on strike in 1907, Gen. Roberto Silva Renard was called in to break it up. Silva and his men brutally slaughtered more than 2,000 miners and their families, earning Silva the nickname "The Butcher of Iquique."
But what happened next is baffling. Despite plenty of jobs being available and many of Chileans desperate for work, few returned to the Humberstone Mine. And soon, the mining town became an abandoned ghost town that sits empty to this day. What turned a massive, thriving mining town into a ghost town virtually overnight? (Wednesday, Dec. 18, 11 p.m.)
LINK: Read UC Magazine story about how UC psychology grad Molly O'Connolly ended up on the show "Killer Contact."