The International Steam Pages
Steam in South America, August 2009
Neil Edwards joined the FarRail tour to South America from 7th to 14th August 2009, he reports on the visits in alphabetical country order.
Since this was written, the Sentinels at Cruzeiro have finished (21st November 2014).
Argentina 12th August 2009
A visit was made to Posadas to view and photograph the dumped/preserved steam locomotives together with the two paddle steamers. A surprise was that a new station is being built at Posadas. Permission was required, and obtained, to enter the building site, and the two locos 252 4-6-0 (Baldwin 32578/1908) and 602 4-6-0 (Baldwin 33039/1908), have been separated from their tenders, presumably to enable site access to the new station. A sort of aerial view was possible from the new station building, the river bridge, crossing the Rio Parana, can be seen in the background.
The other two tenderless locomotives 230 4-6-0 (NBL 19216/1910) and 294 4-6-0 (Kerr Stuart 1339/1914) remain close by, but have become a target for the local 'street artists. Even 0-4-0WT (O&K 1696/1906), plinthed in the Av. Bartholome Mitre, has had a can of paint thrown over it. The two paddle steamer train ferries are well cared for, access was permitted to Roque Saenz Pena (A&J Inglis Yard No. 298/1911), but the second Ezequiel Ramos Mejia, also an Inglis product, remains un-identified. Members of the Museo Ferrobarcos, were working on site, but said a works plate had not been located. Someone must know surely?
Brazil 7th August 2009
An official visit was made to Amsted Maxion, a steelworks at Cruzeiro, to view their two Sentinel built, vertical boilered, oil fired, 5ft 3inch gauge), steam locomotives, the last steam locomotives in Brazil still in commercial use. 167 0-4-0T (Sentinel Wagon Works 8399/1931) was in use with 166 0-4-0T (Sentinel 8398/1931) serviceable. The hospitality afforded, to the group by the steelworks was first class. A highly recommended visit.
Close by, at the base of Estacio Ferroviaria, Cruzeiro, a number of metre gauge steam locomotives are based. On display, possibly steamable No.2 0-4-0ST (Alco 6862/1932), ex-Lone Star Cement Co:
207 4-6-2 (Hartmann 4638/1925)
103 0-6-0T (NBL 25914/1946):
1424 2-8-2 (Baldwin 59712-1927)
221 2-8-0 (RSH 3852/1914)
On route back to Sao Paulo airport, we called in to the metre gauge railway at the Municipal Park at Taubate. Despite not being an operational day, a member of the staff on site opened the shed doors. Both serviceable locomotives were inside:
7 2-6-2T (Societe Suisse 2805/1922)
Paraguay 8th to 13th August 2009
According to an official booklet, dated 8/2008, FEPASA has 8 operational steam locomotive (the group saw 4 in steam and were told another 3 were serviceable). Cargo, mostly Soya Bean, is handled at Encarnacion and amounts to some 300,000 tons per year (2008 level). At the railway museum in the old Central ctation, 'Sapucai' 4-2-2T of 5ft 6 inch gauge, is still on it's plinth, just inside of the station. A few works plates are on display, Hawthorn Leslie 2978 and 2981 of 1912 both from 2-6-2T class together with NBL 19142/1910 from No.59 a 2-6-0. The majority of artifacts, from the railway company safes to the railways film projector are of British manufacture. All in all an excellent museum without everything being 'behind glass' as is normal.
Stored in the old Asuncion depot, across the road from Central station, is 226 4-6-0 (NBL 19212/1910):
and in a street nearby 228 4-6-0 (NBL 19214/1910).
At Botanico Station, two locomotives are kept to work the 'Tren de Lago' to Aregua. Unfortunately, about 3.5km outside of Botanico, the base of a centre support of the rail bridge has been eroded by the river, and has 'sat down' on the river bed, leaving the track suspended in the air. Currently the journey is a very short one indeed, with realistic photographic opportunities limited to the first couple of km, before the line passes a military installation and enters heavy vegetation. The train then pushes back to Botanico. Despite the short journey, a full accompaniment of musicians, singers and entertainers travelled on the train. On the 13th September 2009, a train in the style of Harry Potter will run!
Locomotives at Botanico
54 2-6-0 (NBL 19137/1910), facing Encarnacion, in use
151 'Encarnacion' 2-6-0 (Yorkshire Engine Co 2513/1953) was steamed for the group but became de-railed on points submerged in standing water.
Inside of the workshops, 53 2-6-0 (NBL 19136/1911), 102 2-6-0 (NBL 19145/1911) and 152 2-6-0 (Yorkshire Engine 2514/1953), remain in varying states of repair. The workshops still provide spare parts to keep the remaining steam fleet in operation.The horizontal steam engine, used to supply steam power to drive the machinery, Ruston Proctor #30030 of 1905, remains in situ. Several rusting hulks are dotted around the site. A steam crane (Booth Bros, Rodley #3758) was standing adjacent to the station, and may well be serviceable.
Little remains of the metre gauge system here. The three mg steam locomotives are plinthed within the mill complex. Security is tight, passports were examined and only official visits allowed. Any photography of the mill itself is forbidden.
0-4-0Tram (Borsig 7473/1910), still piped up to the factory where it was last used as a stationary boiler, preserved.
0-4-0T (OK 3597/1909), carries cabside plate OK Buenos Aires
'Tebicuary' 0-4-0T (Hanomag, Eggesdorf 4992/1906)
No.2 0-8-0 (O&K 10786/1924), another locomotive with conflicting works numbers, again clarification is needed.
Road conditions prevented us reaching this station, however our railway 'fixer' who accompanied us throughout the tour, confirmed that 2 steam locomotives remain here..
The last vestiges of 'real' steam in Paraguay... A major disaster for the railway enthusiast, the street running through Encarnacion has finished. A few months ago, a digger damaged the track and it was decided not to effect repairs. The reason being that in December, the water level of the Rio Parana, will be allowed to rise a few metres, as part of a hydro electric power plant scheme and the depot and shed area of Encarnacion will be submerged. In June 2009, all the equipment and locomotives was moved to the freight yards at Empalme. A visit to the old station found it being used by the local fire brigade, all trackwork in the area, including the turntable, has been lifted, and the depot just a shell. Another area to be lost, will be the old winding house down by the river, (still contains boiler from No.57, NBL 19140/1910) together with the gantry where the train ferries used to dock. All this low lying land was already very swampy underfoot. At Empalme, an area adjacent to the current yards (east side), has been levelled and new track panels laid down, but has not yet been tamped down, or connected to the current stub. The yard is used for loading and unloading wagons that come across the bridge from Posadas, diesel hauled. When shunting the yard, the steam locomotives pull forward, beyond some disused semaphore signals and signal box, before reversing and pushing back into the yards, thus giving some different photo opportunities. A 2 km, U-shaped branch to a fertilizer factory, which crosses the main Paraguay - Argentina road, still sees occasional use. Two locomotives are required when traffic traverses this line, the factory end being very good for photography, with a church and some roadside running.
The locomotives (except 101 and 524) roughly face North, so are best for yard photography, late afternoon.
Locomotives in use:
59 ELKOKETO' 2-6-0 (NBL 19142/1911)
60 'ELINGLES' 2-6-0 (NBL 19143/1911)
Said to be serviceable
101 2-6-0 (NBL 19144/1911)
524 2-8-0 (NBL 19673/1912)