6 July 2012

Uyuni - The Train Graveyard in Bolivia

Uyuni, Bolivia is home to one of the world’s largest antique train cemeteries. The railway system was originally built by a British mining company between 1888 and 1892 and encouraged by Bolivia authorities who believed that the country would flourish with a good transport system and connections to Pacific ports. In the 1940s, the mining industry collapsed leaving the trains abandoned and decaying in Uyuni.

The following extract is from a trip to Uyuni by Mike Powell who has some great pictures of the train cemetery on his blog http://bolivia.for91days.com/2011/06/24/the-train-cemetery-of-uyuni/ -

Desolate, dusty Uyuni in the sparsely populated southwest of Bolivia feels like a town abandoned to the march of history. Founded in 1889, it was once a bustling railway hub connecting Bolivia’s mines with the world beyond the Pacific. But the mines eventually dried up, and the trains stopped running. Rather than decommissioning and selling them as scrap, depressed Uyuni left the useless locomotives to rot in a fascinating “train cemetery” just a few kilometers outside the city.

On our three-day tour of the Salar de Uyuni and Boliva’s arid southwest corner, our first stop was the Train Cemetery, where we were allowed to clamber onto and into the old railway cars. It made me feel like one of the Boxcar Children. Or, like a dirty bum.

These were the first locomotives of Bolivia, and wandering around their rusty carcasses left a strong impression. Most other countries would have removed the old trains, cordoned them off, or perhaps made a museum out of them. The fact that they’ve been abandoned here to be stripped by locals and climbed upon by monkey-like foreigners might not be the most constructive or safest idea, but it’s pretty awesome.

Location: Uyuni, Bolivia

Category: Railway

Abandoned: 1940s

train graveyard
photo: R Lowseck
train graveyard Bolivia
photo: Taylor Weidman

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