‘The amazing railway graveyard at Uyuni, Bolivia’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

Yes, it a an amazing graveyard- a graveyard with a difference. Here one finds a large number of old railways engines, bogies etc. left to rot in the sun. ThisĀ  rail yard which I visited in 2014, is about 3 kms outside the small town of Uyuni in Bolivia and is connected to it by the old train tracks . Let us first try to get a mooring of where exactly is Bolivia located on the map of the world.

bolivia_worldImportant: The geographical boundries of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir as shown in the map above are NOT correct as part of its area seems to have been wrongly excluded from the Indian boundary. bolivia2 uyuniUyuni is located in the southern part of Bolivia, near Chilean border.

DSC00377 640 40In the past, this town served as a distribution hub for the trains carrying minerals on their way to the Pacific Ocean ports. The train lines were built by British engineers who arrived near the end of the 19th century and formed a sizable community in Uyuni

DSC00355 640 40 The engineers were invited by British-sponsored Antofagasta and Bolivia Railway Companies, which is now Ferrocarril de Antofagasta a Bolivia. The rail construction started in 1888 and ended in 1892.


It was encouraged by the then Bolivian President Aniceto Arce, who believed Bolivia would flourish with a good transport system, but the local indigenous people did not see to it kindly as they viewed it as an intrusion into their lives.

DSC00347 640 40The trains were mostly used by the mining companies. In the 1940s, the mining industry collapsed, partly due to the mineral depletion. Many trains were abandoned thereby producing the train cemetery. One can see a large number of these retired engines staying unmoved.

DSC00327 640 40 Most of the trains that can be found in the Graveyard date back to the early 20th century and were imported from Britain. In other places in the world, the mighty steel trains would have held up better. The salt winds that blow over Uyuni, which hosts the world’s largest salt plain, have corroded all of the metal. Without guards or even a fence, these pieces were picked over and vandalized long ago.

DSC00331 640 40There is a talk now of building a museum out of the cemetery.DSC00329 640 40That’s me, a happily retired person, posing with a happy looking retired railway engine.

(Text with inputs from the internet)

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