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Alemania and its Ghost Train

Alemania Bridge
Entering the village over the old Metal Bridge

Alemania is a beautiful little mountain village, forgotten in the classic tourist routes that still keeps intact its stories of when the train passed.

Located just 100 kilometers from Salta, Alemanía is today almost a ghost town (currently not more than ten families live in it), located between Salta and the wine-growing city of Cafayate. in north-western Argentina. This small place had its time of glory between 1916 and 1920 when the railroad arrived.

Just 17 kilometers southwest of the city of Salta, is the town of Cerrillos, from where two railway branches divide. One is known worldwide as “Tren de las Nubes” or officially “C-14” and the other, not so famous, but much more important and older than the previous one, is the “C-13”. The construction of the C-13 branch was necessary to connect Salta with the main metric gauge network built and operational in 1892.

Alemania Station
End station of the C13 railway line from Güemes-Salta to Aleman

A few years later, the convenience of prolonging this route through the fertile Lerma valley was seen, which meant an essential benefit for the local population and the agrarian livestock production. The project was that the railroad enters the Calchaquies valleys through the “Las Conchas” ravine ending in Cafayate.

The Railway Company “Central – Norte” established that its headquarter would be the centrally located small town of Alemanía, which was quickly accessible from everywhere where new railroads were built in North-Western Argentina. The construction of the railway that linked Alemania to Salta, and all the other tracks that would soon connect the provinces of northern Argentina with Chile, made hundreds of people settle in the small town.

The railway boom in North-Western Argentina came to an end when the First World War broke out, and works were paralyzed. Investors began to look for other projects to invest their money.

Warehouse in Alemania
Warehouse at the Alemania Railway Station

In 1920 the railway activity in Argentina was resumed, but this did not benefit Alemanía and the projected line to the Calchaquíes valleys which was never concluded.

Trains continued arriving in Alemania until 1971, when the Cerrillos-Alemanía branch was definitively interrupted when a river bridge collapsed due to high turbulent waters in a mountain river.

The town passed into oblivion, and most inhabitants abandoned the place. Today is Alemania like a ghost town. Few tourists spend time walking through its streets, its old station and it’s deserted houses while chatting with some of the few people who remain there.

Alemania Valley
View from Alemania upriver towards Cafayate

 

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