The old walls of the train station preserve the secrets of the railway branch that gave life to Puerto Deseado at the beginning of the 20th century
Some time ago, the railroad allowed Puerto Deseado to develop and a short-range branch linked it with other Patagonian towns, dreaming that San Carlos de Bariloche would be its other head. Today, the Train Museum shows those times when the rails were active.
When we arrived at the old train station to visit it, we were greeted by a former railway worker willing to be our Cicerone through the museum rooms. He proudly told us that the September 20 Railway Association was formed precisely to pay tribute to those who gave progress, work, and enhancement to the town.
One by one we went through the facilities on the ground floor, where huge old photographs show images from when the tracks were built, along with various communication elements, office furniture, tools, technical components, etc.
All this material is guarded by former railway workers, who are not so distant times carried out the tasks. “We revived the old station and with dedication, we put together the museum, and now we tell you the facts and countless memories while we look at the showcases, models, and different environments of the building,” the guide told us passionately.
A law for the promotion of national territories backed by Ramos Mejía created the branch and the head station in Deseado with a building of great style. The workforce was in charge of Yugoslav and Croatian workers and the stones used were extracted in the area and carved by hand.
On September 20, 1909, it was quite an event and a party for the rail workers, when locomotive No. 163 traveled the first meters of the recently completed railway. Unfortunately, the work only extended 283 kilometers to Colonia Las Heras. The First World War prevented the arrival of the necessary material to continue construction and the project was cut short.
Fourteen stations were built, one every 20 kilometers, which was the estimate for the steam locomotives to supply themselves with water; today they are deteriorated and are not visited.
The railway was closed during the presidency of Jorge Videla, in 1978, during the military government, as it was considered in deficit. Much of the wagons and locomotives were scrapped and the wagon that today is displayed in the central square of Deseado is preserved.
This wagon was used in the period 1920/1921, during the strike known as the Rebel Patagonia, strongly repressed by the military in full democracy with Hipólito Yrigoyen as president.
We live in our skin the feeling of having gone back in time and even a certain musty smell from the walls took us back to the time when that building had a life of its own. We experience a certain nostalgia for the times when the railway united the country from north to south and how important it was for the workers of the railway union to have belonged to it. In addition, the category that the buildings held for the sole fact of having been built by the English is added.
We left the silent rooms with the sound of an old wooden door closing behind us, leaving behind unrepeatable life stories. Its walls will continue to keep the essence of past times that are as fragile as they are important for the people of Desire.