Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Train Cemetery

The Train Cemetery 

Resposar en Paz

Uyuni Railway Station, Bolivia

Gyan C. A. Fernando

On the Bolivian Altiplano, at an elevation of 3700 m (12,139 ft) is the town of Uyuni, an isolated community. It is however, a major railway hub.
 Here in Uyuni is a strange place known as the "Cementerio de trenes" or the "Train Cemetery".

The Train Cemetery
Located 3 km out of town and accessed by an unpaved dusty road or along the abandoned railway tracks, it is a rusting collection of old steam locomotives. 
Uyuni Train Cemetery, BoliviaUyuni Train Cemetery, BoliviaAn impressive sight especially at sunset, it is a major but non-commercialised, tourist attraction.
The best time to visit is just before sunset. The light is too harsh during daytime. 
The pictures on this blog were all taken by the author on the 22nd of November 2003, just before sundown.
Uyuni Train Cemetery, Bolivia
Uyuni Train Cemetery, Bolivia 
It is not a museum. The locomotives have been just abandoned, are rusting and parts have been "salvaged".  Steam train enthusiasts will find a lot of interesting material here including Kitson locomotives and at least one Beyer-Garratt.
Legend has it that the first locomotive to enter service in Bolivia is here, as well as another that was allegedly robbed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!

What is known is that Uyuni was at one time a thriving railway center and associated with the mining industry. At that time, Bolivia had access to the Pacific Ocean. 
 The railways were built by the British and the company was known as Antofagasta and Bolivian Railway Company which still exists as the Ferrocarril de Antofagasta a Bolivia.
In the 1940s the mining industry collapsed, thought to be due to depletion of minerals. The locomotives were then abandoned.

Other Railway Attractions in Uyuni
Other railway attractions in this town include the railway station itself and "The Stranded Locomotive" on Avenida Ferroviaria, a Hunslet steam locomotive on a plinth in the middle of the street.

 Salar de Uyuni
The main attraction of Uyuni, however, is the vast salt flats known as the Salar de Uyuni.
Picture of Salar de Uyuni
Uyuni Train Cemetery, Bolivia
The author at The Train Cemetery, 22nd Nov 2003

Copyright: Gyan C. A. Fernando, 2012
To Jill H: Thank you for your company on this trip and getting me to the Train Cemetery just before sunset!

Further Material: 
  1. More pictures:
  2. The Telegraph:
  3. Ferrocarril de Antofagasta a Bolivia:  

 Bolivian Train Cemeteries

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