Tag Archives: history

Paraguayan Rail Map, 1952

1 Feb

Paraguay Rail 1952

Source: World Railways, 1952

What´s with all of these touchy-feely stories Molly? I want some cold, hard facts.

Ok, ok! I never have been anyone´s girl for strictly facts…I just love me a good story!  But, I understand that truths and histories have their time and place, they certainly do!

However, Paraguay is missing a lot of written history, especially in English, and especially on the internet.  Pablo (the author who was interviewed yesterday on my blog) mentioned that he´s looking to publish about his experience internationally in order to raise consciousness about the history of Paraguay.  Lots of particulars about trains, the Triple Alliance War, and just Paraguay in general are very unknown’– both inside of Paraguay and out!

Donating to projects like this train station in Paraguari will ensure that a historic space is reutilized and remains open, creating the environment and correct conditions for people to do research and preserve past histories (Surely there will be fact collectors around and visiting).

A big thank you and shout out to all of the donors so far and especially to a recent, particularly generous one.  He self-identifies as a train buff and says that he´s learned that if you don´t preserve train stations by finding a different way to use them, they´ll just get knocked down.  Closed doors means also closing the door on opportunities to rescue little bits of history floating around out there unrecorded.

Help support the preservation of these facts and these stories! https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-526-009


A Short History of Paraguayan Trains

25 Jan

At the orders of then-president Carlos Antonio Lopez, between 1854 and 1856 Paraguay began to do studies and make plans to lay steam engine rail through out Paraguay.  It took five more years before the first train made its inaugural journey from the station to the port of Asuncion.  A disputed title, the train in Paraguay was among the first to function in South America.  However, according to most Paraguayans they can confidently say they were the first!

The government hired a team of English engineers to head the rail project in Paraguay, with the specific Asuncion-Paraguari leg led by Englishmen George Paddison.  The rails arrived to Paraguari on October 6th of 1864.  Sadly, further extension of the railway was then interrupted by the deadly Triple Alliance War against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay between 1865 and 1870.  During this war 90% of Paraguay’s male population was killed and existing train stations had to be used as makeshift hospitals.  The Triple Alliance War left deep scars that can still be felt culturally today in Paraguay.

According to an article by FEPASA, the current entity managing restoration efforts of the Paraguayan train, they returned to making daily trips between Asuncion and Paraguari after the war.  This trajectory took between 4 and 10 hours, depending on how many stops had to be made for track maintenance along the way.  Today, my bus ride between Asuncion and Paraguari can take anywhere between 1h15min and 4 hours, depending on how many stops have to be made for engine maintenance, traffic jams, or tasks such as moving the inventory of an entire store in the cargo hold of the bus.  Would I be better off taking the train?  It certainly would be more scenic!

To get a better idea of what it looks like, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyFZ_wK_QUQ

So much of Paraguayan culture is the nostalgia for a different time, different place, different government, different transport system.  Help us transform nostalgia for the past into preserved cultural history, as well as create a cultural center with programming and opportunities that give people reasons to look forward to the future:  https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-526-009

Did I mention that this dream is tax-deductible?  

All aboard!



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