The Trinidad Pitch Lake is the largest of its kind in the World. The second and only other deposit similar to Trinidad’s lake is located in neighboring Venezuela. However, there are tar pits located in Hancock Park, in the urban heart of Los Angeles, California.
From the days of Sir Walter Raleigh the pitch formed in the bowels of the earth and pushed to the surface to collect in the bowl that we refer to as the Pitch has fascinated countless people then and even to this day. More than 20,000 visitors travel to La Brea in Southern Trinidad to visit the site. It is estimated that about half of the visitors are tourists and the first memory of the lake is the smell that emanates from the boiling tar pit.
The Amerindians believed that the formation of the lake was a punishment from God. If you travel to the lake expecting to see something fascinating you might be in for a surprise. On arrival all you might see is a very large parking lot that might cause you to wonder why did they put such a large parking lot at the site and where is the pitch? Well that large parking lot is the Pitch Lake that can be bubbling in certain areas while producing hissing sounds in other areas and smelling not so pleasant because of the sulphurous content. The ‘lake’ covers an area that is about 100 acres and is estimated to be about 250 feet deep at the center with an estimated 6 million tons of asphalt that is replenished daily from deep within the bowels of the earth’s surface. It is estimated that an additional 400 years supply remains beneath the surface.
People travel from all over the World to visit the site and even take a bath in areas where substantial water has pooled. They claim that the water has healing attributes and guarantee that it cures rheumatism, arthritis, joint pain and many other ailments. Apart from these claims it is important to note that the main income earner is the mining of the asphalt that is processed and exported for high-quality road construction.
Countless stories of exploitation of this natural resource can be told but the discovery of the use of coal tar quickly led the foreign developers to pack up and leave behind a financial mess for stock holders of the company that managed the processing of the asphalt for sale worldwide. In the end the government of Trinidad and Tobago had to step in to form Trinidad Lake Asphalt Company that mines and sells the asphalt modifier worldwide.
The history of the lake and other related topics can be accessed from the Trinidad Lake Asphalt site located at: