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Related 75cm. gauge lines

As early as 1925, Dr. E. Pérez, the FCE's Administrator General, had suggested that the vast amount of surplus 75cm gauge stock could be usefully used elsewhere in Argentina, such as in the rapidly-growing Chaco region (6). Over the next few decades this did occur, with locos, rolling stock and rails spread from the Chaco in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south.

Lapachito to El Zapallar
After the first world war Señor Jasmin Hortensio Quijano, (who later became President Peron's vice-president), promoted a private 75cm gauge forestry and farming railway up in the very north of Argentina west of Resistencia. This line was constructed for The Cia. Ganadero y Forestal by the state railways, and it became the El Zapallar branch, breaking away from the broader gauge at Lapachito on the long route from Resistencia to Presidencia Roque Saenz Paena and Jujuy. The new line was 75 km. long.

The line purchased its own Henschel 0-8-0 tender engines, eventually having three of them (Henschel nos. 19628-9 of 1922, and 20603 of 1925 (1)). Whilst at this time there was no connection with the Patagonian lines, it is interesting to see that their tenders, of typical Henschel style, were almost identical to those provided for the Patagonian Henschels. They were a great deal better suited to the wood fuel up in the Chaco than they were to use in barren Patagonia.

The line became part of the FCE system in 1944 and seems to have developed close links with its 75cm gauge counterparts in the south. The three Henschels were renumbered 160-2, which follow fairly logically on from the other Henschels finishing at 150, though no-one seems to have noticed that the Patagonian number series started on '1' rather than '0'.

At some point a small number of Patagonian Henschels were sent north to help out in the Chaco. At this point reports start to get confusing. Jorge Menendez suggested that 137, 138, and 140 went north and this is confirmed by the FCE working timetable appendix stocklist for 1945. Gunter Koch however, reported that the numbers were 134, 146, and 149 (1). The latter three were later recorded in a Ferroclub Argentino stocklist as having gone to the FC General Belgrano (by which the El Zapallar branch was presumably later run). I think it is at least possible that two batches went to the Chaco at different times, perhaps replacing engines which needed repair or overhaul. However, there were seven mixed-traffic tender engines recorded on this line in 1952, 1956, and 1957/8 (2). Their weights do at least correspond with published weights for the Henschel 2-8-2s.

It is worth noting that loco no. 146 later returned to El Maiten, whilst no. 134 was reported plinthed at Villa Maria near Cordoba by the early 1970s. It still remains there.

Rio Grande to Tolhuin, Tierra del Fuego
In 1947 some of the surplus equipment at Puerto Madryn was to be sent south to Rio Grande for the construction of a line from the muelle there southwards across the pampa and into the forests, to terminate near Tolhuin at the eastern end of Lake Fagnano.

This line would have been about 60 miles long, and presumably would have served the sawmills around Tolhuin as well as the estancias further north. A certain amount of rail was stockpiled at the Rio Grande frigorifico before plans changed and all effort was directed to the building of the Rio Turbio coal railway (3).

The Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino
This new 50 cm gauge tourist railway at Ushuaia is built on 17kg/m rail bought second hand from the RFIRT. It originally came from the 1922 Thyssen supply for Puerto Madryn.

Puerto Belgrano
The Review of the River Plate, in June 1927 (4), published a short news item saying that "the Ministry of Public Works has authorised the management of the state railways to hand over to the Ministry of Marine for the extension of the Puerto Belgrano strategic line 50kms. of permanent way of 0.75m gauge from the existing stock at Puerto Madryn."

The strategic railway was a broad gauge line from the Pto. Belgrano naval base near Bahia Blanca, south east for a few kms. to gun emplacements on a promontory which protected the base. Quite how a short broad gauge line could have made sensible use of 50km. worth of lightweight 37 lb (17kg/m) rails is not clear. It is unlikely that any locos or stock were sent there from Pto. Madryn.

Dolores - Ajo, in Buenos Aires Province
During 1926 there was a good deal of delicate political negotiation and lobbying going on in connection with the FC Sud's application to build a broad gauge line between the above two points on the coast south of La Plata (5). The FCE had made a counter-proposal for a 75cm gauge line, presumably to use up some of the surplus Patagonian material, but possibly just as a spoiling tactic or provocatively to lean on the Southern for some reason.

Anywhere else?
There was so much material at Puerto Madryn that it would not be surprising to find that it had gone to other places as well. Any information would be gratefully received.

1 The Industrial Railways of Argentina, revised edition 1998. Loco stock lists by Reg Carter.
2 Info provided by Sylvester Damus, partly from 'Estadistica' data
Conversation with Oscar Domingo Gutierrez, Rio Grande, Jan 2001.
4 The Review of the River Plate 10 June 1927 p33. Buenos Aires.
5 The Review of the River Plate 17 Sept 1926 p19. Buenos Aires.
6 The State Railways Patagonic Lines, a report by the Administrator General of the State Railways, Dr Enrique S. Perez, May 1925. See appendix for English translation.


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Chapter 7

The 1922 75cm gauge empire


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Grandiose plans

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The line to Esquel

Esquel route construction photos

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More Esquel line photos

The Río Negro line

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Other users of equipment


1 List of locos

2 Rolling stock lists

3 The FCCC itinerary

4 The Esquel itinerary

5 The Río Negro itinerary

6 The 1942 FCCC timetable

7 1960 working timetable

8 Plan of Trelew

9 Track layout photos at Ing. Jacobacci

10 Perez report 1925

11 1955 report

12A 1957 report part A

12B 1957 report part B

12C 1957 report part C

12D 1957 report part D

12E 1957 report part E

12F 1957 report part F

13 1959 report

14 Calculos report

15 1961 report

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