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20 November 2012 / leggypeggy

A moving cemetery that’s not going anywhere

Train cemetery

The sun sets at the train cemetery

The world is full of train buffs and I’m wondering why a group of them haven’t descended upon Uyuni in Bolivia to create a proper museum out of the many train carcasses rusting away not far from the Salar de Uyuni (salt flat) of Bolivia.

I should have, but didn’t, count how many train parts are languishing there, but the overall display is massive. And the variety of pieces is overwhelming. Someone needs to do a catalogue.

The cemetery is connected to the town of Uyuni—3 kilometres away—by old railway tracks. Uyuni was once a distribution center for trains carrying minerals to ports on the Pacific Ocean.

The rails have been there since the late 19th century, when British engineers were invited to come build them by the then British-sponsored Antofagasta and Bolivia Railway Companies.

Train cemetery

Donna-Leah tries out a swing someone has made from train parts

The Bolivian president at the time, Aniceto Arce, encouraged the project, because he thought a good transport system would help Bolivia to prosper. Unfortunately, he didn’t count on frequent sabotage by the indigenous Indians, the Aymara, who thought the railway intruded on their lives.

Over the years, the mining companies were the main train users. But when mineral reserves were depleted by the 1940s, the industry collapsed and the trains were abandoned to the elements.

We arrived in late afternoon and hung around until the sunset. It seemed fitting to see the sun go down on these metal beasts, but I hope the day comes that an actual museum is created.

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6 Comments

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  1. Joanne T Ferguson / Nov 20 2012 8:35 pm

    Am THE BIGGEST train fan there is, TRUE!
    LOVE the old steam engines and if you EVER wondered where the WHOO HOO comes from, you now know too!
    LOVE interesting, different and unique, JUST like Poor John, YOU (Dh and me lol)
    Sounds like the perfect romantic sunset train memory!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Nov 20 2012 9:11 pm

      Hi Joanne — I had heard about your love of trains. 🙂
      This place was amazing. I’ll share more pics when I get home. WHOO HOO!

      Like

  2. Sebastian / Dec 19 2012 9:45 am

    Western style – looking forward to going there as well!!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Dec 19 2012 9:56 am

      Hi Sebastian, I think you’ll love the train cemetery. Try to go in the afternoon and stay for sunset.

      Like

  3. Brian Lageose / Sep 5 2016 5:19 pm

    This post fits perfectly into the category of “Things Which I Never Considered But I’m So Glad That Someone Nudged Me in That Direction”. Wonderful pics, especially the”Exploring the train cemetery of Uyuni” silhouette shot…

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 5 2016 6:49 pm

      This was one of my favourite stops in South America. Oh, and to be there at that time of day. So glad you enjoyed it too.

      Liked by 1 person

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