Notes for the attention of Mr. C. T. Alt before he commenced work as the railway's General Manager
FERROCARRIL CENTRAL DEL CHUBUT.
AUTHORISED CAPITAL: £200,000 IN 20,000 SHARES of £10 each.
DIRECTORS:Frank Henderson, Esq., (Chairman)John Aungier, Esq.Charles W. Parish.
CONSULTING ENGINEERS: Messrs Livesey, Son & Henderson.
LONDON OFFICE: 198, Finsbury Pavement House, E. C.J. T. Claxton, Esq, Secretary.
BUENOS AIRES REPRESENTATIVE:R. Inglis Runciman, Esq.,Calle San Martin, 264.
CHUBUT OFFICE: Trelew.
RAILWAY LINE. The line was constructed in 1886 at the instigation of the Chubut Colony, headed by one Lewis Jones, who obtained the original Concession. The Company which was formed in England, met the entire cost, receiving, by way of compensation, a tract of 28 Leagues of land situated alongside the Railway line, the total length of which is 70 kilometres, and runs from the port of Madryn to the town of Trelew.
The Rails are of the flange type and weigh 41 ½ lbs to the yard, while the Sleepers are of the open channel section weighing 80 lbs each [28 / ton]. Both Rails and Sleepers are of Steel, and were manufactured by the Ebbw Vale Co. in England.
The gauge is the narrow, or metre gauge.
It was about the middle of 1889 that the line was officially opened to the Public service.
The first Manager was Mr. H. H. Loveday, the present General Manager of the Central Argentine & Rosario Rly. Then followed Mr. Hill from the Assam Railway until, in 1891, Mr. E. J. Williams took over the management, resigning his position early this year .
PIER. The Concession obtained from the Government included the building of a pier at Madryn. This was duly constructed, and is now over 20 years old. It was built in three sections, each one being of greater length and width than the preceding one, and the whole being entirely constructed of timber. The first section is over 18, the second section over 16, while the third and last one is rather more than 10 years old. As it is at the present time, it is proving too short and too narrow to adequately cope with the actual traffic of the port. The ravages, moreover, of the sealouse — teredo navalis — said to have been imported with the timber for the most recently built portion of the Pier, have reduced the piles which were originally 12" by 12" to a diameter of less than 6".
In view of this, and of the progress of the Territory, the necessity has arisen for the building of a Pier at an early date in keeping with the requirements of the port, and a petition recently submitted to Government for its construction will be brought up for consideration at the sitting of the Sessions during this month [May 1907].
At the same sitting a further Petition will be considered for the EXTENSION OF THE RAILWAY from Trelew to a point known as the Paso de los Indios, a distance of about 350 kilometres, with a branch from there to the North-west and another to the South-west, having no particular terminus.
In 1908 [sic; 1906?; this document is dated 1907] a Concession was granted for the extension of the Railway to the township of Gaiman, a distance of 15 kilometres, to facilitate the transport of the products from that point, but the project was never carried through. We are aware the inhabitants of GAIMAN are still hopeful that the Railway will be extended to the township, sooner or later, which is progressing at present. So also is RAWSON, the present capital of the Territory, although more slowly, its progress being retarded by reason of the isolated position and bad port.
TRELEW, the largest town, has a population of nearly 600. Bricks are made in the neighbourhood, and stone is brought from the Quarry which is situated close to the Railway at 50 kilometres. [This shows that the siding was still in use at this time.] The town is well-built. Its buildings being chiefly of brick, and is progressing
MADRYN, with a population which is roughly estimated at 300, is progressing rapidly. Brick-making has not been carried out successfully in the neighbourhood, but is now being encouraged, and as the nearest stone obtainable is at 50 kilometres, the expense of building substantial edifices has been found to be too great up to the present. The buildings in the township are of wood and corrugated iron, and these meet the case for the present.
Madryn is the only port of call for Ocean steamers between Bahia Blanca and Sandy Point. It is a free port, as are also those to the South of it, including the Chilian ports in the Magellan Straits, so that the interchange of commerce is unrestricted.
STEAMSHIP SERVICE. The Railway Company are the Agents in Madryn for the Pacific [Steam Navigation Company] and the Hamburg South American Companies. Both these lines have Packet privileges, and carry mails and passengers.
A new line, called the "Roland" Line [This name is strange to me; can find no reference on web to it.] of steamships, Madryn, in competition to the Hamburg and Pacific boats. The two latter Companies arehostile to any competitive line making use of Madryn. They have both got elements of their own, which they use to assist the Railway Company, for facilitating the discharge of their own boats, mutual cooperation being exercised for the benefit of all concerned. The Pacific Company have a hulk for their own accommodation, while the Hamburg Company have 'chatas' and a steam launch. The "Roland" Line have none of these conveniences, and are entirely dependent on the lighters of the Railway Compy. for the discharging of their steamers. When the "Roland" Line commenced calling at the port of Madryn, overtures were made to the Railway Company by the two Lines whose agents they are, asking them to refuse lighterage privileges to the new Line, which, of course, it was impossible for the Railway Company to do, as they are the general lightermen for the port. Everything being equal, precedence can at all times be given to the boats of the Pacific and Hamburg Cos. without prejudice to the Railway Company, for the reason that they carry mails and passengers and have Packet privileges, none of which advantages are enjoyed by the "Roland" Line. This is as far as the Railway Company can go without running the risk of creating complications.
The strong firm of D. Meyer & Co., of Bahia Blanca, and Madryn, are the agents for the "Roland" Line of steamships.
CRAFT. The Railway Company are the owners of the lighter "Filocre" a lighter of 80 Tons deadweight capacity, which has done useful work in the port for a number of years, and is still in service.
The need for a new lighter was demonstrated a few months ago. We managed to secure here a second-hand craft of 100 Tons deadweight capacity at a cost of $21,000 - paper, to which we added a hardwood fender of 6" on both sides and carried out other repairs at a cost of over $1,000 -, fitting the lighter for the voyage down [presumably from BsAs.], which it made successfully several weeks ago. It is now at Madryn, but we have been unable to get any Insurance Company in this country to under- take the risk of insuring it there, and we have had to appeal to London to attend to this operation. It is called the "Coriolano".
The Company also own two Steel "Chatas" which they received from England two years ago, as also a steam tug called the "Madryn". The Engines of this steam tug were overhauled as recently as December last .
LOCOMOTIVES. There are two in service at the present time, Nos. 2 and 3, both made in England by Messrs Beyer, Peacock & Co. Ltd [not correct; former was by Sharp Stewart]. Two more have been ordered from the same makers (with corresponding tenders) costing respectively and £2,175 fob [free on board] Liverpool, the delivery stipulated for being 30 weeks from the first week of October last . These Engines, which we call Nos. 4 and 5, are alike in every respect.
London has been recommended to arrange that two months should elapse between the delivery of the first and the second of these Locomotives, and not to ship more than 100 Tons of new rolling stock at a time, so as to avoid interfering with the working of the traffic of the port, which is rapidly increasing.
ROLLING STOCK. There are at present in service on the line a total of 9 carriages and 59 wagons. The carriages consist of 2 First Class 1 Second Class, 2 Mixed and 1 Saloon; also 3 Brake Vans. Of the wagons, there are 14 Covered (10 of which carry 10 Tons and 4 carry 6 Tons) 43 Open (10 of 10 Tons, 10 of 6 Tons and 23 of 3 Tons) and 2 Sundry wagons [Are these the water carriers?].
The 4 Passenger Carriages provide seating accommodation for 197 persons, and the 57 Covered and Open wagons actually in service have a total carrying capacity of 344 Tons deadweight.
In view of the need for new Rolling Stock, a start has been made by ordering in England 10 Bogie Steel-covered Goods Wagons and 6 Bogie Cattle wagons. These wagons should be nearing completion. London has been recommended to ship out only three or four of these wagons at a time, so that they can he taken out of the way and put together before the arrival of the remaining wagons [ie the wagons were sent dismantled].
40 pairs of Wheels and Axles were ordered at the same time, and the Specifications relating to these were sent down to Trelew Office some time ago, as also for the above-mentioned Wagons.
SLEEPERS. We expect to receive by an early mail copies of the documents relating to 100 Tons Steel Sleepers [ie about 2800 giving about 2-2½ km of track] which it was hoped would be shipped per "Santos'" from Liverpool, closing on the 20th April last .
16,800 Clips for these Sleepers are now on the way per "Mendoza" [if to go with above sleepers implies 6 clips / sleeper!].
STEEL RAILS & FISHPLATES. 100 Tons [depending on weight could be about 3¼ km of rail] were shipped from Antwerp per "Sao Paulo". These bear the mark "C.U.E.E.R" that Railway Co.[Central Uruguay Eastern Extension] having permitted us to take delivery of same in order to put us in early possession of this material. This vessel sailed on 23rd Mch.
An endeavour was being made to ship the 25 sets of Switches and Crossings on order [Is this for renewals or new work?] per the s/s "St. Michael", a steamer chartered by the Pacific Company which should now be nearing the coast of South America.
2,800 Fishbolts and Nuts [ie for 700 rail joints] were shipped out per "Galicia" on the 23rd January last .
GOODS SHEDS FOR PORT MADRYN & TRELEW have been on order for some time and shipment should be effected from England towards the middle of June next .Copies of the specifications for these Sheds, as also for the Sleepers, Clips, Rails, Fishplates, Switches, Crossings, Fishbolts and Nuts were duly sent to the Trelew Office for their information.
This is as far as we have got with regard to what we have actually ordered to meet the early requirements of the Railway.
WAREHOUSES, etc. At Port Madryn there are some rough wooden buildings for the Station, Offices, and living quarters for the employees. These were hurriedly knocked up years ago, and are in need of being replaced by more suitable structures. Trelew suggested that we required there (at Madryn), in the first instance, a more ample warehouse, say, one of Iron or Steel, built on the town side of the new pier, measuring 60 metres by 12 or 15 in width, having a line of rails passing through it, dividing it into two platforms of about 4 ½ metres wide, one for local town traffic and the other for sorting goods. A similar structure was suggested for Trelew, but of smaller dimensions, the need there for a warehouse of the size indicated not being apparent. One of 40 metres by 12 was mentioned as being large enough for Trelew.
There is a large Railway Galpon at Trelew which is divided into 15 bays of 4 metres each. These are disposed of as follows:-
Our letter to Trelew, No. 491, of the 26th ultimo [April 1907], deals with the question of the disposal of space in this galpon. The arrangement mentioned with regard to an annual charge to be levied on each user of the galpon can, of course, be regarded as temporary.
PARCELS OFFICE, TRELEW. In our No. 491 to Trelew we enclosed an estimate for an erection such as appears to be required at an early date, the price delivered fob [BsAs] here being $1,500.- c/l. Possibly the local Carpenter might be able to put up a suitable structure. This matter is in suspense until you have had an opportunity of considering on the spot what is wanted in this respect.
CULVERTS. Some of the culverts on the line require to be renewed. This, alas, is in suspense for you to study in due time.
Our No. 491 is the last letter making reference to this.
MADRYN STATION BUILDING. A suggestion has been made that a corrugated Iron structure would meet the case, measuring about 20 metres long by 8 metres wide, to contain Booking Office, Parcels Office, Waiting Room and Living Room for the Station Master's family. This suggestion was made in view of the fact that a substantial brick or stone building would be costly, builders being scarce and high wages being demanded for the most ordinary work, quite apart from the fact that the bringing of bricks to Madryn would be expensive. [How does this square with the building of the present day building?]
CLAIM SEÑOR CORRASCO . This matter is treated at length in the letter No. 549 from Trelew, dated 18th ultimo [April 1907], and our reply, no. 491.
We instructed the Acting Manager to take no further notice until such times as a formal claim was put in.
COAL SUPPLY . Best Welsh Steam Coal is what is consumed by the Locomotives. This has for some time past been shipped direct from England. We took the opportunity of a sending down 80 Tons Cory's Merthyr from here several weeks ago, as ballast for the lighter "Coriolano", so that there should be sufficient stock of this class of Coal for the time being.
Newcastle Coal has hitherto been used for consumption in the tug and by the crane on the present Pier, the quantity consumed in the former averaging 9 Tons per month and in the latter 3 Tons per month.
The supply of this latter Coal has been, so far, obtained from the hulk lying in the Madryn harbour, which hulk is the property of the Pacific S. N. Co. There is a prospect of this S. S. Co. abandoning the keeping of Newcastle Coal on this hulk, and, if we wish to continue using this cheap Coal, we shall have to get it from England. The rate of freight on Coal shipped from England to Madryn has advanced in 12 months from 16/6 to 23/- per ton, and the question arises, and which has to be decided by Trelew, as to whether it would be worth while importing this or some cheap Lancashire Coal, for the small quantity we use, or simply consume the Welsh Steam Coal in the tug and the crane. From enquiries which we have instituted here, we are given to understand that, while cheap Coal from Newcastle and Lancashire is often used in tugs, experience has demonstrated that these Coals are unsatisfactory for that purpose, inasmuch as they corrode the fireboxes, are very dirty to use and leave a big residue of stone. We are informed that it has been found to be an economy in the long run to use Welsh Steam Coal in tugs.
SURVEY EXPEDITION. Mr. E. J. Williams, the late Manager, left Trelew on the 3rd ultimo [April 1907] to superintend the Survey of the Railway Extension to the interior, and will probably return towards the end of the present month. Accompanying him is an Engineer (Norwegian) named J. P. Waag, who has been engaged for this work at a salary of $500.- per month, and who has been on the Limits Commission for some years. [One might suppose that he was appointed as his background would suggest that he was experienced in assessing topography from a distance and in the use of triangulation.]
With him are some Assistants to help in the carrying out of this survey.
WATER SUPPLY. The average rainfall of Madryn and Trelew is only 6". [Web site suggests that the annual rainfall over the bulk of Chubut is less than 200 mm – not inconsistent with above remark.]
The water for Trelew comes from the River Chubut. It is taken when obtainable, from an irrigation canal which skirts the town. The supply is much reduced during the summer months. In the course of that Season, the canal usually dries up, and water has to be obtained by digging in its bed, which yields an insufficient supply of brackish water. The river is 4,000 metres from the town. A few months ago a well-borer from England, while endeavouring to find water in Trelew, drove down a bore about 30 feet. At that distance he found that the ground consisted of hard clay, which choked the perforated point he was using and caused the galvanised iron pipes to bend. The work was then abandoned until such time as he could obtain more suitable boring appliances.
The scarcity of water seems to be the worst feature of Trelew. Madryn has a limited number of wells yielding a supply of water which is insufficient for the needs of the residents. The same well-borer as we have mentioned above was sent out from London 12 months ago to study the water question on the spot. He brought with him an Abyssinian Tube, and had some test bore-holes made for the finding of water, which he eventually located in the sandhills near the coast at a depth of about 10 feet, the deposit — which will be dependent on the rainfall — being about 7 feet in depth, and floats on the surface of sea-water, which is reached at 25 feet.
As the supply of water indicated is not absolutely to be relied on, and, as the boring plant brought out did not permit of deep boring being carried out, complete boring machinery has been ordered in England at considerable cost. On its arrival — about August, we presume — boring operations in Madryn will be resumed on an adequate scale. The requirements of Trelew in this direction will thereafter be attended to.
The water question, and the expenses connected with the boring operations has been taken seriously in hand, not by the Railway Co. but by the Port Madryn (Argentina) Company., Ltd., with the same Secretary and practically the same Directors and shareholders as the Railway Company. The Port Madryn Co. have the controlling interest in the Railway to the extent of 3/4th of the shares. Both Companies are represented in Buenos Aires by Mr. R. Inglis Runciman.
The capital of the Port Madryn Co. is £140,000 in £1 shares. It was formed in London in the month of June 1906, and it is an offshoot from the Argentine Southern Land Company, from which Company it purchased 59 Leagues of land, 32 Leagues of which are situated in the Rio Negro Territory, while the remainder (27 Leagues) are in Chubut alongside the Railway Line, and include the townships of Madryn and Trelew. [Further up it mentions 28 leagues, has 1 league been sold off?] 5 Leagues of this latter, 1 ½ from Madryn, close to the Railway Line, are fenced in, and are worked as an Estancia under the Management of Mr. James [Later there are photographs taken in the area by a photographer James.], who also has charge of the sale of the Madryn town lots. This Co. also supplies meat to the Butchers in town and to the vessels that come into the port.
The Madryn Co. is also agent in Madryn for the above-mentioned Argentine Southern Land Company, which exports large quantities of products from the Estancias it owns in the Rio Negro Territory near the Cordilleras [eg Leleque and Ñorquinco].
In TRELEW the sale of town lots was entrusted to Mr. E. J. Williams, late Manager of the Railway. Since his departure, Mr. Berry, the Accountant and present Acting Manager, has taken this work in hand for the Madryn Company, the remuneration for which was fixed at $50 per month during the time when Mr. Williams attended to it.
ORDERS FOR STATIONERY &C. All orders for Stationery are passed to the Buenos Aires Office, where they are attended to. The same remarks apply to other articles that may be required from time to time, excepting such articles as spare parts for Engines or Tug, which have to be ordered from England on a Requisition form to be filled up and passed on through the Buenos Aires Office.
An order was placed here for 200 Sleepers with the necessary bolts and washers as far back as the month of December last , in the course of which months they were shipped to Madryn. These Sleepers were required for strengthening the existing Pier, the work in connection with which has already been carried out, we believe.
RAILWAY STAFF. Mr. Berry is the Chief Accountant. In November last  his salary was raised from $275 to $300 [sic; should be £275 to £300] a year. For the time being he is acting as Manager, and a special remuneration will be accorded to him for the responsibility he undertook in filling that position from the time Mr. Williams relinquished it, until the duties are taken over by you. Accounts and Statements have been behind for months, and Mr. Berry has been much handicapped by insufficient Assistants. We sent a young man down to him over a month ago at a salary of $200.- per month, who had Railway experience on the Southern Railway here. Two more clerks are asked for, accustomed to the receiving and despatch of goods, at salaries of $100 to $120 per month. We had engaged one to go down for this work, but had to pay him $160 per month. Only yesterday, he decided to withdraw, and we are again on the look-out.
It is difficult to get young men, likely to suit for Chubut, at salaries below $150. The knowledge that living is cheaper there does not tempt them. Mr. Berry has been afraid that, if we paid this or over, it would come to the knowledge of the present Railway staff and bring about an immediate demand for higher wages, all-round.
The Traffic Superintendent, who also fills the position of Guard, was advanced from $250 to $275 per month in November last . He and Mr. Berry have both been in the service of the Chubut Railway for 18 years [ie since 1889]. These two are seniors on the Railway.
POSTAL SERVICE with Chubut is somewhat unsatisfactory. It sometimes happens that two steamers arrive in one week with mails, while we sometimes have to wait three and four weeks for the succeeding mail.
We hope for an early improvement in this service.
BUILDINGS AT MADRYN. A small row of wooden houses (shanties) for the accommodation of 'peons' in the Co's service has been condemned, and will shortly have to be pulled down, and replaced by a better erection. It is situated immediately behind the Offices and the house of the Stationmaster. We have only to-day learned of this, and will require to get an indication of the space occupied by this row of shanties, and to know if further space is available close by, in case we should be able to ship a more suitable dwelling soon for these employees.
BUILDINGS ON BEACH. A few firms at Madryn have obtained permission to build on the beach in front of the Railway Offices, completelyblocking the Co's view of the lighters and steamers. Mr. Williams and Mr. David Runciman interviewed the Governor at Rawson on this subject. Promises were made to us, and nothing was done.
We are petitioning the Government here to order their removal, as it is important that the Railway Company should have an uninterrupted view of the anchorage [Is this the reason for the construction of the Manager's house in its present elevated position? Did it also serve as offices?].
LIGHTING OF COACHES ON RAILWAY is very unsatisfactory, and will call for some study.
RAILWAY TARIFF, at present in force, calls for revision. By next mail we hope to send to Trelew for the sake of comparison copies of the actual tariffs and regulations on other Argentine Railways.
LIGHTERAGE CHARGES will also have to be considered, and probably altered to a certain extent.
NEW PIER. London recently cabled asking whether we considered Screw Piles or Pointed Piles the most suitable. [Presumably originating with L S & H; they must have had confidence in E J Willimas' judgement as the choice would depend on the ground conditions of the site.] This matter is in suspense for the time being, and can only be studied on the spot.
STEAM LIGHTER. London have been asked to look out for a Steam Lighter for use in the port of Madryn in view of the probability of our obtaining the Concession for the Railway Extension, which will, of course, bring about a heavy increase in the traffic.
The deadweight capacity suggested is 150 Tons, while the draft should not be more than 8 feet. Engines to be right aft, and the remainder to consist of a long hold with large hatches. Strong derrick masts are indicated, and a steam winch for discharging should be provided.
The tug "Madryn", which, as already mentioned, is the property of the Railway Company, is the only tug in the Bahia Nueva. In case she should meet with a breakdown, the Steam Lighter could be temporarily utilised for towing vessels to and from the Pier.
REQUIREMENTS in the way of ROLLING STOCK. It has been suggested that we require some closed vans and some long, open, low-sided flats for Lumber [Where was the source of the lumber?] and Hay Traffic. No Rolling Stock of this nature has yet been ordered.
In our petition, now being considered, for the RAILWAY EXTENSION to the Paso de los Indios, we have asked for the privilege of purchasing 500 Leagues of Fiscal land in the Territory of Chubut at 0.40 cents gold per League hectare.
Stock-breeders in the Andine regions are hopeful that the Concession will be granted, for the sake of the facilities that will accrue to them in securing a convenient outlet for their products, which, at the present time, they are obliged to send down to Port Madryn by means of carts.
Of vital importance to Chubut in general is the finding of an ADEQUATE WATER SUPPLY, and the solution of this question is absorbing the attention of the inhabitants there, as well as those who are interested in the progress of that Territory. In a marked degree is this the case with the people in the growing townships of Madryn and Trelew, who have been greatly handicapped by its continued scarcity.
My dear Alt,
I have pleasure in handing you herewith a certificate of your services whilst employed with this Company, and take this opportunity of expressing to you the satisfaction which your appointment to the managership of the Chubut Railway has
We are all very sorry to lose you, but wish you every success in your new venture.
This is to certify that Mr Cuthbert Tempest Alt has been employed with this Company since the 1st October 1899 in the following capacities:-
1st October 1899 to 15th December 1901 – Secretary to 2nd Engineer, Western Extension on Construction Works.
15th December 1901 to 10th August 1903 – Assistant Traffic Inspector, Central Line.
10th August 1903 to 30th April 1906 – Traffic Inspector Western Extension.
30th April 1906 to present day – Traffic Inspector, Northern Extension.
He now leaves us to accept the post of General Manager on the Chubut Railway.
During his service with this Company his conduct has been exemplary, and he has fulfilled his duties to the entire satisfaction of his superior officers.
The Welsh-built Central Rly. of Chubut