South America Living

The Old Patagonia Express in Argentina

Train Conductor - The Old Patagonia Express in Esquel, Argentina

All aboard! Described by Paul Theroux as “the railway almost at the end of the world” the Old Patagonia Express or La Trochita (“The Little Narrow Gauge” in Spanish) is said to be the only long-distance narrow-gauge steam engine in operation today.

Photos of La Trochita or “The Old Patagonia Express”

Running on a 2 foot 5 1/2 inch railway (75 cm between the rails) steam engines (such as the one pictured below) take tourists on an approximate 3 hour journey through the foothills of the Andes from Esquel to the tiny village community of Nahuel Pan and back – an hour each way with a one-hour stop at the village. Some journeys continue the full 402 km to El Maitén – also in Chubut province. It is the southernmost railway in the world.

The line contains 22 steam locomotives, all oil fired. The first fifty locomotives were brought from Germany (Henschel & Sohn) in 1922 and were originally modified to use fuel oil and steam. Later twenty-five locomotives were bought from the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia.

At Nahuel Pan are two museums. One is a history of native crafts and artwork with many items on display (small fee to visit), the other illustrates the weaving & dying process used to create beautiful ponchos, sweaters, rugs etc. Select items are available for purchase.

La Trochita was declared a National Historic Monument by the Argentine government in 1999.

Note: To view full-size images click here.

Heading through the Foothills on La Trochita

At Nahuel Pan Station

Interior of La Trochita

Nahauel Pan - Tiny Village at the Foothills of the Nahuel Pan Volcano

Ready for Tourists at Esquel Train Station

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Photograph of train conductor at top of page by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved.

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