Which was the first country in South America to have a railway in the region? | ANSWERS

Which was the first country in South America to have a railway in the region? | ANSWERS
Which was the first country in South America to have a railway in the region? | ANSWERS

For many years there was a debate around railways in South AmericaThese means of transport, which were so important for the economic development of the region during the 19th century, emerged at a time when it is often difficult to obtain exact information to clarify the dates and events surrounding them. However, after various investigations it seems that it has finally been revealed which South American country built the first railway region of.

Where was the first railway in South America built?

It is not about any other place than our country: Peru. This was revealed by Elio Galessio, author of the book ‘Peruvian Railways. A journey through its history’In a conversation with EFE, the researcher told the story of what would be the pioneering line in all of South America: a railway that was built in the mid-19th century to link the Peruvian capital, Lima, with the port of Callao.

According to his research, almost three decades after General José de San Martín proclaimed Peru’s independence, there was already a train running through the streets of Lima. This railway was built with the support of a British company and, in addition, was inaugurated during the mandate of President José Rufino Echenique, who governed from 1851 to 1855.

This railway line was 14 kilometres long and linked the San Juan de Dios station, which was located where Plaza San Martín is today, with a station in the port of Callao. Unfortunately, only a few old photographs of these historic stations and the railway remain, and for a long time, the exact details of its foundation and operation were difficult to clarify, giving rise to a debate about whether it really was the first railway in South America.

A photo of the locomotive that ran on the Lima-Callao line. Photo: EFE

What was the debate surrounding the region’s first railway?

For example, a train had been running in British Guiana since 1837. This was a line that linked its capital, Georgetown, with Plaisace. However, as it was a British colony, experts decided not to consider it as the first train in Latin South America. Later, it was discovered that in the Chincha Islands, near Ica, there was a railway line that was used to transport guano during 1840. However, the cars were moved by animal traction, so it was not taken into consideration either.

Now, the Lima-Callao line would have started operating in 1851, but there were many discussions about the exact date of its inauguration. After various investigations, it was finally determined that it had been inaugurated on May 17, 1851thanks to a publication by Trade of that day in which the railroad is discussed.

In this way, it can be confirmed that the first railway in South America belonged to Peru. Although it no longer exists today, the photos of the locomotive and the stations are already part of the railway history of the country and the entire region.

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