Influences from Central and South America

There are many Central and South American Narrow Gauge railroads that I find interesting. I really like the 76cm/ 30 inch Gauge railways in Brazil and Argentina. The Estrada de Ferro Oeste de Minas (EFOM) in Brazil and the Ferrocarriles de Argentinos (an interesting video-turn the sound down) in the Patagonia region of Argentina were both built to that gauge.

Bachmann’s outside frame American is based on the EFOM’s engines. Many years ago, Trains magazine had an article about the EFOM and the museum at São João del Rei. This article was “the seed” that has grown to be a desire to model a “South of the Border” railway that was built as an agricultural feeder line. Since that first glimpse of narrow gauge in Central and South America, I have gone on to discover other railroads of various gauges that I have found interesting. As an aside, Mexican Narrow Gauge railroads are interesting as well, but I’m going to save them for another day.

The Ferrocarriles de Argentinos is another 30 inch/76cm railway in the wild and wide open expanses of Patagonian. Today the railroad is a tourist line, in its common carrier days it was home to the Patagonian express. From what information I have collected, it moved mostly agricultural products and people. Not a lot of traffic, but interesting steam locomotives built by both Baldwin and Henschel as well as very interesting rolling stock. The scenery is unbelievable, wide open plains with rugged snow covered mountains in the background. Would be nice if Bachmann would make the outside frame ten wheeler. It is a nice looking engine. I do like the FdA’s “bordes altos”, or high sided open cars. Once loaded, a tarp was thrown over to protect the contents from weather, dirt, and oil smoke. In the below photograph, you can see one of these unique cars behind and on the track beside the locomotive.

The International Railways of Central America (IRCA) is another interesting 3 foot gauge railroad. Primarily a transporter of United Fruit Companies agricultural products such as Bananas, the railroad hauled other freight as well across Guatemala and into El Salvador. The Unitah’s articulated locomotives as well as some equipment from Oahu Land and Transportation ended up on the IRCA. The freight cars, especially the steel frame, outside ribbed boxes cars, interest me as well. The IRCA was built through a rugged tropical route over the mountains, something for any narrow gauge fan to appreciate.

The  Ferrocarriles del Ecuador Empress Publica (FE EP) or as I call it the Guayaquil and Quito Railway (G&Q) in Ecuador is an interesting 42 inch gauge railroad as well. What really struck me, that some passengers rode on the roofs of converted boxcars. The G&Q never had enough money to purchase many  proper passenger cars, so they converted outside frame boxcars to passenger cars. Many farmers ride in the cars with their baskets of produce to sell at the larger city markets. The railroad also had quite an interesting switchback in its mainline to climb into the Andes to reach the capital of Quito.

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