ASUNCION – Paraguay’s old steam locomotives and workshops, relics of what was a state-of-the-art company at the end of the 19th century, are now a draw for tourists in a country that lacks rail service.
A giant steam locomotive welcomes tourists and other visitors to the Living Railroad Workshop Museum in Sapucai, a city located about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southeast of Asuncion.
The museum is home to the still-operational steam locomotives that went into service in this South American country in 1894.
The workshops were used to maintain, manufacture and repair the locomotives, a symbol of past prosperity.
Paraguay, one of the first countries in South America to have railroads, does not currently have a railway network.
The country’s first railroad began operating in October 1861, linking Asuncion and Trinidad, a former municipality that is now a district of the capital.
“What you see in Sapucai is something unique at the regional level. Don’t think you are going to go to any country and you are going to find it, an old workshop that still has a steam system,” Ferrocarriles del Paraguay S.A. chief Marcelo Wagner told Efe.
The railroad workshops in Sapucai are listed as cultural heritage sites in Paraguay and officials are working to win UNESCO recognition for the facility as a World Heritage Site.
Paraguay’s last functioning steam railway line ceased operations in 1999, with the line covering the 38 kilometers (23 miles) between Asuncion and Ypacarai.
The railway line is used occasionally to provide train rides for tourists. EFE