The International Steam Pages

Steam in Uruguay, 2014

Jack Neville reports:

A recent Holland America cruise from Buenos Aries, Argentina, around Cape Horn to Santiago, Chile afforded the opportunity to check out two steam tourist operations (click here for the second which was at Ushuaia in Argentina).

The first was in Montevideo. We arrived in the early morning, and unlike sailing into say, Sydney harbor with its magnificent opera house and the coat hanger (Sydney Harbor bridge). Montevideo greets you with a graveyard of tumbled and forgotten ships! Upon docking, the cruise terminal itself is chock full of brightly painted items that once served the docks, including a Smith Rodley steam crane. In addition there is also the anchor and rangefinder from the German Pocket Battleship Admiral Graf Spee, scuttled by her captain 3 miles outside the harbor in December, 1939, having been damaged three British cruisers in the Battle of the River Plate. Looking at the size of the rangefinder it is hard to believe that something that large and heavy was placed so near the top of the foremast.

The tourist train is powered by an oil fired N-type mogul pulling two Allan passenger coaches and is operated by the Asociation Uruguaya Amigos del Riel. It operates out of a new glass and steel station in Montevideo, not far from the original Central station that was used from 1897 until 2003. Our trip took about 30 minutes and for the most part the ride ran through an industrial section of Montevideo before emerging into the suburbs. Substituting for the lack of scenery was an on-board folklorico presentation. The trip finished up at Estacion Penarol, across from the original steam shops and a 360 degree roundhouse. Alas, a few more miles would have given riders a nice trip into the countryside. Nevertheless, it was worth it just to ride behind a post Victorian era Beyer Peacock 2-6-0 in 2014! 

The tourists weren’t the only ones captivated by the train, a fair number of locals paused from their daily routines to snap photos of our passing.

Some specs on the loco are as follows: Built by Beyer Peacock & Company, Gorton Foundry, Manchester, England 1910; Wheel arrangement 2-6-0; Max speed 90 km per hour; Walschaerts valve gear; Weight 84, 667kg; Operating steam pressure 180 lbs. Braking system, Vacuum.

Rob Dickinson