Why, in a train cemetery, of course.
It is a strange and almost eerie sight – rivets, old train wheels and miscellaneous metal shards scattered among the rusting skeletal remains of mighty steam engines that once traveled across this stark land.
Just outside the small town of Uyuni in southwest Bolivia, there is a casual cemetery of sorts of abandoned trains. In the past, the town served as a distribution hub for trains carrying minerals to the Pacific Ocean ports. British-sponsored Antofagasta and Bolivia Railway Companies invited British engineers to build the train lines, and the construction lasted from 1888 to 1892.
Until 1879 Bolivia bordered the Pacific Ocean but a war with Chile resulted in Bolivia becoming a landlocked country. Exporting their minerals became a problem, and eventually the mining industry collapsed. There was, practically speaking, no way to maintain the railroad. As a result, the once prosperous hub fell silent, and the trains were simply abandoned.
These were the first locomotives of Bolivia, yet these early-20th-century relics have all but succumbed to the corrosive effects of Salar de Uyuni’s salty winds, the relentless sun and dust. Oddly enough, they have gained something of a renewed life as a minor tourist attraction to those few who travel this arid landscape.
You can explore this unique sight on our newest President’s Pick: Bolivia & Argentina Highland Adventure