Sunday Special – La Brea Pitch Lake, Trinidad & Tobago

Not a place that is traditionally considered pretty, nonetheless, Pitch Lake in Trinidad’s southwest city of La Brea is something of an unusual natural occurrence. It is the world’s largest “pitch lake” – there are only three in existence – and is filled with approximately 10, 000, 000 tons of pitch (asphalt).

Guided to it by Amerindians in 1595 CE, Sir Walter Raleigh saw it’s immediate uses and had his ship coated in the lake’s tar and took some home with him on a later trip.  In the 1790s it was the Spanish that refined the tar and called the area “Tierra del Brea” (land of pitch) and therefore the name of the town came to be known as La Brea.

In addition to commercial uses of the pitch, the lake also attracts over 20,000 tourists annually. Some areas can be walked on due to its semi solid surface yet in other areas standing on it can cause sinking. Additionally, there are local legends regarding the lakes formation. Trinidad & Tobago’s indigenous peoples believe that the gods opened up the earth to swallow up an entire village after celebrations over a rival village became out of control.

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La Brea’s Pitch Lake, Trinidad & Tobago. Photo Credit:  Taken and owned by Martina Jackson – Wikimedia Commons

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Pitch Lake in La Brea, Trinidad & Tobago. Photo Credit: Taken and owned by Carl Ungewitter – Wikimedia Commons

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