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Appendix 5

Two documents from prior to the railway's construction
These have been translated into English here, but are available in the original Spanish at www.ferrocarrilesenelconosur/06Sx5docsbeforec.html

Jorge Heuisler's feasibility study. To a modern reader, familiar with cost-benefit analyses and the like, this is very simplistic. However, this may because this report was prepared as a Chilean contribution to the International Railway Congress in Buenos Aires during 1910 There may well have been a more detailed study for domestic consumption. The later part of the report is more railway related but the earlier sections are merely summaries of geographical and economic aspects of Chiloe.


Ministry of Industries and Public Works

Appendix to the publications for the International Railway Congress in Buenos Aires:

Railway in course of planning between Ancud and Castro

Jorge J. Heuisler

Santiago de Chile
Year 1910

Railway in course of planning between Ancud and Castro



Topography – The external form of the terrestrial globe, in its entirety and in its parts, is nothing more than the final outcome of an infinite series of geological events.

The hydrographic studies carried out in Chiloé have proved the existence of numerous large and small islands; the largest island, called Isla Grande, is at the west of the archipelago, giving shelter to the smaller islands which are to its east.

Isla Grande is nothing more than the continuation of the coastal cordillera broken by the canal de Chacao. Its length measures 186 kilometres from punta Guapacho (41º 45' 50"), which is the most northerly point, to punta Olleta (43º 26' 32"), which is the most southerly. Its maximum width is 70 kilometres, which is between cabo Metalqui and the morro de Quicaví; its minimum width is 27 kilometres, between Cucao and Chonchi; it has a surface area of 8,394 square kilometres.

The relief on the island is, in general, gentle, with modest heights which vary between 100 and 180 metres above sea level; those of the cordillera de Piuhué, in the west exceed this.

The cordillera de Piuhué starts in the heights of Cocotué, sloping downwards to allow the waters of the río Chepu to pass, rising at once to 750 metres in Metalqui to finish in cerro Capitán Maldonaldo with a height of 820 metres. Going south, one reaches the alturas de Cucao, falling again to allow the waters of lago Cucao and lago Huillinco to pass. At once there is a return to a climb to the alturas de Pirulil and continuing always southwards to its definite end on the southern coast of Isla Grande.

The eastern hills are gentler with their heights sloping in a pronounced way. In the middle there is a deep and extensive depression, until recently completely unexplored; this we have called Valle Central, a valley in to which nature has drawn the alignment of the railway line, which will drive the progress of these extensive and fertile lands, with the development of its natural richness presently stagnating for lack of means of communication.

As a natural consequence of the direction of the currents, and the prevailing winds between south west and north west, the west coasts of Isla Grande are precipitous, rocky, full of reefs and inaccessible to shipping. The safe harbours and tranquil bays are located on the opposite, that is east side of the island.

Hydrography – Studying the plan of the area of the departamento de Ancud, it is clear that all the rivers and principal streams of the area in question drain towards the west. Río Nortuhué rises in the massif which extends from Castro to punta Anay, its north south direction keeping it parallel to the cordillera de Piuchué. A third of the way the río Putalcura joins it and it continues with the latter name until it discharges in to Río Grande, which rises in laguna de Coluco, fed by the river of the same name, whose source is on the northern slopes of cerro Capitán Maldonado. Río Grande empties its waters in to the Chepu, into which on the east the río Puntra which as the Putalcura rises in the hills tothe east of the Valle Central, joins.

On the west side of the cordillera there are various fast flowing rivers which discharge directly to the Pacific. Their headwaters flow through very mountainous countryside.

The other rivers of some importance are:– the Negro, San Antonio and Mechaico which discharge towards the north in the estuario de Pudeto.

The río Gamboa, in whose deep gully has been found recently deposits of a mineral containing lead running from west to east and bordering on the south the tableland on which is Castro, discharges its waters into estuario de Gamboa.

Numerous streams discharge into the golfo de Ancud. In the season of heavy rain, they become raging torrents.

The region under discussion has few lagoons, only the laguna de Coluco, merits this description. The remaining lagoons appear only when there is rain water lying in hollows, and disappear during summer.

The big rivers, and the virgin woods, which cover this whole region in a vegetable ocean impose their singular character, which is majestic but at the same time shady and melancholy.

Forests – The timber business of the whole island is insignificant due to the difficulties caused by the lack of roads. It is an industry which has been almost abandoned due to the difficulty of transport along intransitable paths.

The projected railway will allow the working of the magnificent forests of construction woods which the island has in the cordillera de Piuchué and the montañas de Inio.

The alerce [larch] (Fitzroya Patagonica) is the representative in the Southern Hemisphere of the giant trees of the family of conifers of North America and is very like the Wellingtonia Gigantea.

The ciprés [cypress] (Libocedrus tetragona) is found in the same places as the larch, and is used where its resistance to wetness and weather is needed.

In addition to those mentioned, among others, there have been available in quantity for a number of decades the following species of trees:

Coihue [a conifer] (Northofagus Dombeyi) which looks like an oak and with which it is confused.

Mañiu [a conifer] (Podocarpus Chilina and Saxegothea conspicua) is prized for wood working.

Laurel [an evergreen] (Laurelia aromática) is used in the construction of sheds and huts and because of its low price is much asked after by the markets in the north.

Ulmo or Muermo (eucryphya cordifolia) a wood resistant to the effects of salt water, and although a little inferior to oak, it can be used for sleepers and wharfs.

Roble [oak] (Fagus obliqua), this tree, like the coihue and the ulmo, needs fertile soil and has the same applications as the previous.

Luma [myrtle] (Myrtus luma), is a very hard wood, which is used for posts, and sections for carts, etc.

Pelú (Edwardsia microphyllia) is used to advantage in vehicle bodywork.

Tepú (Tepualia stipularis), is a tree of contorted form, it grows in damp boggy places; it produces good fire wood and excellent charcoal.

Teniu is a tree which grows to regular dimensions; its wood is excellent for sleepers which may be used in railway construction.

There are other varieties such as the tiaca and raral, and many more, which have some use in industry and which could be used for making casks for wines, floorboards etc.

[For information about trees see Árboles Nativos at]

The market for woods in Chiloé has an incalculable future, and with a practical and rational system for working its forests, will achieve large scale commercial development in this province.

Agriculture – The land is not inferior in quality to that of the south of the province of Llanquihue, and offers little variety in its composition; the sub soil is clayey, covered with a layer of top soil of greatly varying depth, ranging from a few centimetres up to a metre.

The inhabitants of Chiloé, at the start of the Spanish Conquest, were farmers like the Araucanes, and used wooden implements to till the land, which although primitive, were suitable for their needs.

Generally the wheat which is cultivated is candeal [ie produces white flour], as it is more suited to the damp lands. It was introduced into the archipelago after 1636. Barley and flax were later introductions. These cereals give good quality grain in various parts, and especially in isla de Lemuy; in many other parts wheat is produced, but due to the lack of heat is not of a good quality.

The maize, which the natives prefer to grow, is found only in some vegetable gardens; vegetable growing is as it is further north on the continent.

Some foreign settlers grow oats, cebadilla [fine barley] and rye with very good results.

Forage plants – The province is poorly provided with plants for forage; livestock generally eat chilca [a resinous shrub growing up to 3 metres high, found throughout the Andean region. See] (Boccharis racemosa y glutinosa) and quila [Chilean perennial bamboo] (Chusquea quila) which intertwines itself with the trees of the forest and offers, although of poor nutrition, abundant forage. In areas of cleared woodland, there are natural grasslands, or others introduced along with the wheat and the rye.

Progressive people have sown a variety of seeds which like pasto miel [dallis grass] (Paspalum dilatatum), rye grass and clover grow well, and are harvested to serve for winter fodder for cattle and sheep.

Taking some care, lucerne (Medicago sativa) can produce a good forage for keeping livestock in magnificent condition.

Livestock – Much the same may be said of livestock in Chiloé as is said of agriculture. It is in a backward state, and despite this, it gives good results and shows that this province is good at livestock production.

Some stock-men have taken care to conserve and improve their stock by the introduction of bulls and rams for breeding. Sheep are of an inferior quality. But there is no doubt that with the importation of merino sheep the wool will increase in value from what it is just now.

On this account, the railway may produce magnificent results, opening splendid fields where rearing may be undertaken in exceptional conditions, and through which Chiloé will enter into competition with the other provinces which export livestock, and then may produce ten times more than it needs for its own use.

Ways of communication – With few exceptions, they are so little made-up that we may call them a natural phenomenon, intimately intertwined with the topography.

Chiloé by its topographical configuration undertakes its commerce by sea, taking advantage of its estuaries and numerous channels. The steamer, chata, boat, canoes of all sizes replace the riding and pack animal. This is explained as there are few roads by land and their poor condition and this, up to a point, excusable at least where there is the opportunity of going by water.

The land ways are generally dependant on the natural climatic conditions; in the dry season they are good; in the wet season they are often impassable due to flooding.

The main road from colonial times between Ancud and Castro called camino de Caicumeo, in memory of the native who set it out. It is currently in good condition, thanks to the work of the province's engineer, señor Koch, who, with few resources at his disposal for its improvement and maintenance, and with great effort, has ensured that horseback travel can be undertaken in winter between the principal cities of the island in conditions which are not so abominable as in the past. This road may be used by carts for a few kilometres at each end, but the rest, due to its steep gradients, is only suitable for riding.

.To assist in the export of goods which Quichitué, Tantauco, Putalcura, Pindapulli y Moncopulli, along the way to Castro, can produce, demands a solid cart-road. The rebuilding of a number of bridges, easing of steep gradients, as well as small deviations to the line, would require the expenditure of 40,000 pesos, a relatively small sum for the benefits, a road which would fill a great void in the development and commerce of the areas through which it passes.

The road, which leaves Ancud for Pudeto, is the only road which deserves that description; two other roads, towards Chacao and Linao, leave Pudeto, crossing the estuary of that name by a bridge of 310 metres length, which due to the heavy traffic, requires major repair. The last are solely for horseshoes and also serve the colony of Huillinco.

From Caracoles, on the road to Castro, another leaves for the colony of Mechaico, and like the others, is used only for mounted traffic. All of them are very bad during the rainy season, leaving the colonies isolated from the populated centres on repeated occasions.

Climatology – By the influence which the Antarctic Current exerts on its coasts, the climate of Chiloé is one of the most healthy and pleasant.

An insular climate is always less severe than a continental one at the same latitude. In the polar countries the sea raises the temperature of the islands, and in the more northerly ones, improves its climate.

.The temperature records taken at different altitudes, December to April, are sufficiently separated to be able to deduce accurately from them the mean temperature of the respective places. From the data taken, and with my own observations, I can without doubt say that the mean temperature of the province is 20°C to 22°C at altitudes of 0 to 200 metres, and from 20°C to 14°C in the cordillera de Piuchué from 200 metres to its highest point. In winter the temperature is no lower than 8°C.

After temperature, the relative humidity, in connection with the change between the dry and wet seasons, is what defines the characteristics of a climate.

The exuberant arboreal vegetation, which covers the archipelago, is what determines the physical and climatological conditions of the region with which we are dealing. Due to it, and to the atmospheric currents from the north west, which drag warm air from the tropical region, the downpours in Chiloé, which occur for this reason, with such frequency even in winter, are a bit warmer.

The following table taken from the Annual Report of the Astronomic Observatory in Santiago (1904) give an idea of the number of days of rain and water falling in three of the rainiest provinces of Chile.

(Valdivia) Corral Puerto Montt Ancud
Latitude 39° 53' Latitude 41° 29' Latitude 41° 52'
January to March 28 ds. 461.9mm 41ds. 420,2mm 23ds. 357,0mm
April to September 92 " 1958,0 " 114 " 1432,8 " 113 " 1602,0 "
October to December 30 " 399,5 " 47 " 454,1 " 37 " 444,0 "
Total in twelve months 150 ds. 2819,4mm 202 ds. 2307, mm 173 ds. 2403,0mm

From this we see that in Llanquihué and Valdivia it rains as much or more than in Chiloé. Why is it that this last province cannot reach the extent of industrial and commercial development and well being that the two named ones have? To achieve this there is no other option than protectionism by the State in the ways of communication, movement and transport, with which the Isla Grande of Chiloé will achieve efficient and positive progress.

Fishing – Lack of time has prevented me from entering this most important issue, but through the publications about this which have been issued, we know the vital importance that this branch of industry has for Chiloé as a pertinent choice for the fishing colonists.

Posts and telegraphs – In all the villages of the archipelago there is a good postal service, additionally in the main sites, there is communication by telegraph. Communication with the rest of the Republic is by means of a ferry service across the canal de Chacao, which in times of storms is very deficient. I believe that despite the currents, it would be possible to lay a cable across the channel, avoiding thus the isolation which in general this province experiences during winter.

Population and Education – The Province of Chiloé, established by a law of 30 August 1826, is completely insular and has as its boundaries; to the north the canal de Chacao which separates it from the Province of Llanquihué; to the east the sea which extends between the islands and the continent; to the south the 47th parallel; and to the west the Pacific Ocean.

According to the census of 1895 its population amounted to 77,750 inhabitants, distributed by departments, as follows:
For Ancud............. 25.040 inhabitants
For Castro............... 37.495 "
For Quinchao...........15.215 "

The departments, without including isla Guaitecas and isla Chonos, amount to about 9,000 square kilometres, and we may estimate that the present-day population is not less than 90,000 souls in this area.

From the time that Chiloé became part of the Chilean community, primary instruction developed speedily.

Ancud, its capital, has an academy, a secondary school, a seminary, various primaries for both sexes, and an agricultural college. If this progress in education has helped in the intellectual development of the island, it has not helped the progress of the bulk of the population in a well-reasoned industrial and commercial sense.

The establishment in Ancud of a school of arts and trades has been of great service to the province and the country as a whole. It has an annex for boat-building, a branch for which the inhabitants show a great inclination. This establishment of industrial, instruction called to produce incalculable benefits, merits the effort of being taken in to consideration now that the Supreme Government shows willingness to promote advancement Chiloé.

Istmo de Ofqui – The opening of this isthmus, which at 46° 38 " of south latitude and longitude 74° west of Greenwich joins the península de Taitao to the continent is a work which merits the preferential attention of the Executive Power. The facilities, which this will bring to navigation, will be of incalculable benefit to the southern part of the country and very especially for Chiloé, to whose sheltered harbours the steamers may then reach to load woods for construction and products from the fishing, farming and livestock industries, thus driving forward the commercial advancement of these rich, but isolated, regions.



Triangulation – Due to the complete lack of maps for the region to be traversed, I was obliged to undertake a large closed traverse, which covered the largest area possible to allow me to get to know the area before setting out the route.

The difficulties inherent in a country completely unexplored, and covered with a dense forest, prevented my advancing rapidly which the situation had required; nevertheless, though this extraordinary and indispensable work which it involved, has delayed the completion of the study, I have tried in a different way to draw the map of the departamento de Ancud, indicating, as accurately as possible, the hydrograhic features and the principal typographical features of this area. This is the first mapping of any part of Isla Grande of Chiloé through which the line, 87 kilometres long, of the projected railway between Ancud and Castro is identified.

From some of the points on the triangulation, I have observed the principal continental volcanoes, such as Osorno, Calbuco, Monte Yate, Minchinmavida, Corcovado and Melimoyu. Knowing their geographical location, I was able to determine with sufficient accuracy the co-ordinates of the principal features of the island.

No diastrimétrico angle has been less than one degree, when repeated in the two positions of the telescope. The measurement of the base lines has always been made in good conditions, with wires 120 metres long measured at 17°C, under a tension of 15 kilos, and without any intermediate support.

Line – A glance at the location plan, which accompanies this present report, makes it clear that there are few opportunities for alternative lines. Its starting point is in Ancud at the breakwater, then rising along calle de Prat to continue by the quebrada [gully] de la Toma to reach the portezuelo (sic) [pass] de Pudeto some 33 metres above sea level. From this point two separate lines were followed:

The first is by the quebrada de la Mina, to climb with a gradient of 2.40% [1 in 42] to the portezuelo de Caracoles at an altitude of 94 metres and continuing in a southerly direction through lands which are not steep, till we meet a wide gully, quebrada de los Chaigneaus, which would be crossed by an embankment 12 metres high.

It follows, at a distance of 1,000 metres, the deep canyon of the río Mechaico with vertical sides 55 metres high, which would require a lengthy ramp to drop down and then climb up the opposite side in order to meet the other line in the quebrada de Achrica at Km 15.000.

The second line, which followed the west shore of the estuario de Pudeto, at a distance from a few to two hundred metres, offers fewer difficulties than the one by Caracoles for its study and construction. Here the most difficult problem is the work to overcome the difference in level between the portezuelo del Pudeto and the planes of the same name (at 6 metres above sea level) which was achieved with a gradient of 2.20% [1 in 45] and curves of 100 metres [5 chains] radius.

Leaving the shore of the Pudeto, it follows the llanos de Mehaico, and crossing the river of that name it climbs with a 2.40% [1 in 42] gradient through the quebrada de Achirica to drop down with the same gradient to the llanos de San Antonio (5 metres above sea level). Crossing this river the line continues along the right bank until it reaches the río Collula at Km 22.500, to take from there the Valle Central; that is to Moncopulli at Km 67.500, where a halt is proposed which would serve the community of Dalcahue.

The gradients on this stretch vary between 0.5 to 1.30% [1 in 200 to 1 in 77]; it would cross the rivers Puntra, Litigio and Putalcura and various streams of little importance. The line continues through almost level lands until the lugarejo [locality?] del Pilpid (100 metres altitude) where the line starts to drop towards the city of Castro at a gradient no steeper than 1.25% [1 in 80]. This section, due to its peculiar topography, will require a long and detailed study in the stockade, which I cannot complete before the end of the year for the reasons given.

Between the rivers Collula and Puntra, the line traverses slopes with flat gradients, crossing rivers with a short course. At Km 29 a halt has been proposed, which is called Chepu, to serve the area of that name.

Gauge and formation – This railway, because of its gradients, the radius of its curves, and local interest, will be served by 60 centimetre gauge, with an assigned formation width of 2.50 metres.

Considering some of the standards for the provision of economic railways to be inappropriate for the region, I asked the Primera Sección de la Dirección General de Obras Públicas that others be adopted for rainy regions. This section finding the alterations appropriate sent the following note to the Director General:

Number 347

Santiago, 20 July 1904

Director General

The engineer who is in charge of the studies for the railway line between Ancud and Castro has advised this section that he considers that the minimum dimensions for sleepers, depth of ballast and of drainage ditches which are usual for such a line are deficient. This Section enquired of the Sub-Section on Studies about the report of the original proposals; in that report the following conclusions are reached:

a) Make the sleepers 1.300 metres x 0.200 x 0.125 [4' 4” x 8” x 5”]

b) provide ballast under the sleeper and up to the rail head to a depth of 0.15 m [6”] for a formation of moderate firmness, and 0.20 m [8”] for a formation of inferior firmness

c) make ditches at least, in very wet regions:
0.90 [1 yard] width at surface
0.30 [1 foot] width at bed
0.30 [1 foot] deep
and even increase the dimensions in places where it seems appropriate to do so. This Section accepts all parts of the conclusions reached in the report to the Sub Section on Studies and presents them to you so they may be submitted for consideration by the Council, if you deem it appropriate.

Greetings to You – (signed) LUIS ADÁN MOLINA

Santiago 18 August 1904

Approved by the Council of Public Works – (signed) Arturo Montero Secretary

.Bridges – The río Mechaico and the río San Antonio are tidal to a point farther upstream than the camino de Caicumeo. This situation is taken advatage of by the nearby inhabitants to convey to the mouth of the Pudeto great rafts of timber. For this reason the bridges will be of a single clear span of 20 and 25 metres respectively.

The remaining bridges are of lesser importance such as Collulla, Puntra, Litigio, and Putalcura, and may be built with short spans supported by piles.

Stations – There are two main stations, in Ancud, the headquarters of the railway, and in Castro, its terminus. Water to supply the engines may easily, and a little cost, be supplied to the stations and halts previously mentioned.

Cost of the work – Having only part of the plans and sections completed at the present time, it is not possible for me to estimate the exact cost of the work. Nevertheless, from personal knowledge of the nature of the land, and of the part already pegged-out, I can affirm that the cost per kilometre will not exceed eighteen thousand four hundred and sixty pesos ($18,460.00).

Drawings – The plan, longitudinal section and detailed proposals of this railway line will be submitted for the approval of the Supreme Government in May of next year. This present report is accompanied by a topograhical plan of the area which will be benefited by the railway.

In conclusion, the projected railway is a common link for all the landowners and residents of Chiloé. It will bring a prosperous and active life to a rich and beautiful area, which only needs the arrival into it of the impulse given by steam for it to fully develop the services of colonization, and numerous industries taking advantage of the valuable gifts of nature.



After Señor Heuisler's report had been considered a Belgian syndicate undertook a full survey of the proposed railway. This survey has not yet been unearthed though many of its findings will have been incorporated in the main contract document which follows.


A m
emoria contained within the 'Bases del Contrato para la construcción del Ferrocarril de Ancud a Castro' produced by the 'Inspección Jeneral de Ferrocarriles en Estudio i Construcción' in Santiago 1908. This is a substantial volume but many of the pages contain merely tables of quantities, eg for earthworks, and as such are not really worth transcribing. However, it would be a real find if someone could track down surviving copies of the relevant plans listed as annexes to the document.


Line – The requirements in the folder of specifications concerning gradients show a maximum gradient of 3.5% [1 in 28½]. The minimum radius of 60 metres [3 chains] for the curves has been complied with. We have cancelled the rule requiring radii of not less than 60 metres only at the entrance to the port of Ancud, because between the port and the town of Ancud, the trains will always run slowly, and are better supervised when shunting, than when running normally.

We have kept the radius of 60 metres in the stations, but we believe during construction that it is useful to make the construction of the station facilities easier by allowing a radius of 40 metres [2 chains] and even 30 metres [1½ chains] in the sidings. In practice, main-line engines made for 60 centimetre [1' 11½”] gauge are almost always built to be able to traverse a 40 metres curve, and shunting engines a 30 metres curve.

We have not found any location achieving the desiderata of the specifications folder for the stations at Ancud and Castro. In Ancud especially, to reach the south west of the town, more sheltered than the west, it has been necessary to run through the town, and to run along a long length of street [calle Arturo Prat], to expropriate valuable properties, or else divert from Kilometre 3 by a long tunnel to reach one of the valleys which lead to the sea to the south west of the town. The two solutions are very costly and very constraining.

In Castro, the distancing of the station from the sea shore would, as a consequence, have brought additional difficult operations to get the tree trunks to the sea. Thus we have had to abandon the concept of locating the station on the table land.

As a result, we think that it is best for the large yards for storing timber to be set up outside the towns of Ancud and Castro, but as close as possible, in locations most suitable for providing large areas of almost level ground of low value, which will allow the easy and cheap provision of sidings, and that the stations at Castro and Ancud should not provide for more than the transient storage, for the shortest time, of timber being forwarded to its destination.

Earth movement – The region traversed is hilly, and the amount of earth moving large (10 cubic metres, more or less, per lineal metre of line).

We have not established the amount of rock to be moved, because rock needing gunpowder for removal is rare. The cancagua [a deposited rock of volcanic origin containing quartz and felspar] is a soft rock, which only in a few places is sufficiently compact to require gunpowder when using present-day methods of excavation.

The length of the cuts, their location in the hills, and the steep gradients have lead to having to transport the excavated material along the line. The average distances are long, and considerably increase the cost of earth moving.

The excavation, removal of boulders, removal of tree stumps and the diversion of roads will also increase greatly the cost of the works.

The earth works have been estimated on the basis that the formation covers the whole area of the station. Moreover, without doubt, it is the case that some halts may not be used immediately, and that some of their earthworks may be postponed till later.

Engineering works – The absence of materials for brickwork (clay and lime) has lead to the recommendation that the amount of brickwork should be reduced.

We have followed this recommendation and have limited the work to culverts of from 0.4 to 1.0 metres [16” to 40”] in diameter. The engineering works, on the whole, are bridges made of wood of the following types:
Bridges of 2 m span, with strengthened abutments.
Bridges of 3 m span, with strengthened abutments.
Bridges of 3 m spans, with several spans without abutments.
Bridges of 4 m spans, with several spans without abutments, and with two rows of columns in the gullies.
Bridges of 4.5 m spans, with several spans without abutments, one row of columns over rivers, and of low height.
Bridges of 6 m spans, with several spans without abutments, with one row of columns over rivers and of moderate
Bridges of 10 m spans, with several spans without abutments, with two rows of columns over gullies or river, and of great height.

We have tried to create especially strong structures, because the wooden beams of the bridges will have to be replaced in the near future and will occupy a critical period from the point of view of their strength which will precede their replacement.

The creosoting of the timbers has not been proposed due to its cost and the low value of the wood itself.

Tunnel – The tunnel of 260 metres length was not proposed during the preliminary design of the project.

We have explained elsewhere the circumstances which have brought about changes between the preliminary design and the one to be constructed. The tunnel will be largely constructed in more or less compacted cancaguas. We have anticipated a lining 0.30 metres thick.

Stabilization – The works for stabilization will be:

Retaining walls – They are insignificant, and will consist solely of earth placed at 1 in 1, sometimes with light dry-stane cladding, and consolidated with a ¼ cone pisón [a heavy tool in the shape of a truncated cone with a wooden handle used to consolidate earth or stones].

Retaining walls are located only at Km 0.800 and Km 46.382. They have been reduced as much as possible. But, in Castro and Ancud, we have anticipated the need for sea defence walls to support the formation. This is a costly expense, but indispensable for the ground conditions which exist. These walls have been designed to support the ground, and not to resist the waves. Their construction should be carried out with their stone face brought up at the same time as the backing material is placed.

DeviationsAccommodation worksLevel crossings – The roads cut have been re-established, and it is anticipated that there will be 48 level crossings, of which only one, at the entrance to Ancud town, will be closed by chains. The others will be open, but will be provided with cattle grids to prevent the passage by animals.

There are also four road bridges intended, as well as dealing with gullies and the diversion of private tracks, ditches, etc.

Fences – I have proposed fences made entirely of wood, and as simple as possible. It does not appear impossible to improve them further, making use of the local style.

Telegraph – The line will be of two wires carried on wooden posts. The apparatus will have a transmitter and a receiver in each station and halt.


Location – Halts have been anticipated in places where it appears most likely that they will be able to create centres of population and traffic.

With the object of having the largest space available for stores, we have presented an alternative layout for Castro station.

The need to have workshops for repairs at Ancud has also induced us to propose an extension and modification of Ancud Town station.

The proposals have also been modified.

Buildings – The buildings comprise the railway offices, a waiting room for the public, a small store and the living quarters for the station master. They are wooden with a double-skinned wall, roofed with clay tiles, as is the custom in the island.

Sheds and goods platforms – Only Ancud and Castro need sheds. Goods platforms have not been proposed, as the height of the floors of the wagons is so low. Platforms for loading animals are also not needed for the same reason, and can be replaced by portable ramps. We have not envisaged corrals, because it is probable that the driving of the animals will be over a relatively short distance which will allow them to forage while being driven.

.Engine shed – Engines will over-night at Castro and Ancud. In each of these stations there will be a shunting engine. As a result we have envisaged a shed for two (and up to three engines) in Castro and one for four engines (in fact six) at Ancud.

Carriage sheds – We had envisaged two sheds, but the one at Castro is not needed and we propose one only at Ancud, which we have envisaged as being sufficiently spacious to allow the repair of vehicles within it.

Accommodation for PW staff – We have envisaged accommodation for three PW squads, two of which will be in the outskirts of Ancud and Castro, and the third located about Km 45 in accordance with the maintenance of the line. We also accept that the maintenance of the line will be by three squads covering about 30 kilometres each.

Miscellaneous equipment – The installation of shelters for pointsmen, buffer stops, scotch blocks, various posts, loading gauges etc etc, don't call for any comment on our part.

Turn table – It would be advantageous to reduce them to one at Castro and one in Ancud. It is good enough to achieve this to authorise a radius of 40 m or 30 m in stations. The turn tables envisaged are all of the same type and are 7 m long with a view to turning the timber carrying wagons.

Station furnishings – For Ancud and Castro stations it has been envisaged that there will be ample furnishing, but for the halts it will be a minimum, except for Dalcahue, where it appears that traffic will be important right from the opening.

PW tools – We have included in the contract for the setting up of the railway, the materials and tools needed by four PW squads, of which three will be used at once, and the fourth held in reserve.

Rails and accessories – The rail envisaged will be of 16 kilos per metre due to the 22 ton weight of the engines.

In view of the curves of 60 metre radius, and to avoid the joints getting out of step we have proposed three types of rails.
Long rails of ............................. 9.00 metres
Short rails of ............................. 8.95 metres
Extra short rails of ................... 8.91 metres

The lightest possible rail has been specified for the strength required. We have proposed using coach screws rather than spikes, as they give stronger track, and require less maintenance. Sleepers are of 1.40 to 1.30 metres long by 0.20 x 0.125 metres.

Fifteen sleepers are provided per 9 m length of rail, which gives great stability and solidity to the line, and is the proportion allowed by the Administration.

Turnouts – To maintain the radius of 60 metres we have established a single type of turnout, with a tangent of 0,111 [1 in 9], occupying a length of 10.66 metres.

With a lesser radius it would be advantageous to create a turnout with a tangent of 0.13 to 0.15 [1 in 7.7 to 1 in 6.7], shorter and more easily inserted into the track.

Ballasting – Material for ballasting is scarce, especially in the first 20 kilometres, and in other places the sourcing appears to present some restrictions. We have estimated the volume in accordance with the cross section provided by the Direccion de Obras Públicas. It would be of economic advantage, without detriment to the operation of the line or its robustness, to increase the number of sleepers to 18 per 9 metre rail length, and to reduce, or even do away with, all ballast.

Water supply – The engines can carry 2.100 m.3 [462 gallons] of water and 1.250 tons of coal. Their power output is 120 horse power with a full load, their consumption of water per hour will be about 1.50 m.3 [330 gallons]. In view of the gradient profile of the line, it may be considered that they will be able to go for 1½ hours before taking on water, that is to say, they can travel between 15 and 25 kilometres. As there are considerable advantages in locating water supplies at stations, and it is essential that engines do not run the risk of running-out of water, we have fixed the half-way distance of a full tank as 10 kilometres, and have also envisaged provision at each station. In addition, a distinction is made between the ordinary supplies (for a preference those which can be provided by gravity) and emergency supplies.

Of the eleven supplies proposed, five are supplied by water pipes operating under gravity and six are supplied by wells and pulsometers [A pulsometer is a type of simple pump operated by steam, which doesn't use a piston.]. We have proposed these in place of conventional pumps in view of their economy in installation. The engines, with their supply of 1.250 tons of coal, will normally be able to complete the run between Ancud and Castro without taking coal en route. We have not considered the situation should wood be used as fuel.

Rolling stock – The distance between Ancud and Castro is too long, and there are too many gradients, for the return journey to be undertaken on the same day. This circumstance has required the provision of somewhat more rolling stock, wagons and engines.

Given the cost of the infrastructure of the line, it must be presumed that its construction indicates the probability of sufficient traffic. Moreover, it is known that this traffic will be generated primarily by the transport of timber.

Naturally this has conduced us to propose high capacity material of high performance.

It would be onerous to use 22 ton engines for shunting. We have envisaged a shunting engine of 8.5 tons laden weight for Ancud and Castro.

The coaches for passengers are composite of first and second class. To provide the most seats for the public we have adopted seats without backs and side benches.

The luggage vehicles provide for the transport of mail in a small space, and have a substantial space for goods and luggage. Closed vans have been envisaged for valuable goods, or those liable to damage by rain. They may serve as necessary for the transport of animals.

The wagons for carrying wood are of two types. Flat wagons with stakes for cut timber, planks etc, and bogies, which suitably located [under tree trunks], allow the transport of trees and long lengths of timber.

The open wagons will more specifically serve to carry various loose materials.

In view that a special study may allow the adoption of wood instead of coal as fuel, we have envisaged the provision of tenders for the wood.

Wharfs at Ancud and Castro – The wharfs at Castro are built of old rails as had been called for in the specification.

These wharfs had been envisaged for the loading and unloading of vessels, and we have no comment whatsoever to make about them. The subsoil is clayey sandstone, or compacted calcium carbonate and clay. We draw attention only to some difficulties may be encountered for the driving of the piles made of old rails.

Accordingly the wharf at Ancud has had to be made in U-shaped iron bedded in blocks of concrete. Because the ground is rocky, driving the hard shoe on the tip of piles presented very serious difficulties. Very often the sea is rough, we have presented a sketch for reinforcing and anchoring between the concrete blocks of the first project, which run a significant risk of being moved by the force of the waves. The superstructure of the wharf is light, and if the exigencies of the traffic require loading the wharf with more than 600 kilos per square metre, it will be necessary to reinforce the ironwork and the wooden beams.

Workshops – We think that for an island situation, the Ancud to Castro railway should be provided with a workshop for the repair and maintenance of all locomotives and rolling stock. As a consequence, we have envisaged the installation of a workshop made up of a shop with various indispensable machine tools, offices, gate-keepers lodges, etc, and we have given the proposed detail of the anticipated provision and installations.

We give as appendices to the project the indicative drawings of the various buildings for these workshops, so the detail may be verified, and a succinct estimate presented in respect of them.

Effectively we have not established the precise sizes of these workshops, it having appeared to us that their definitive design had not been defined by the folder of specifications with which we were presented.

Santiago, 23 May 1908.



The contract to build the railway was awarded to Lezaeta i Duran Hermanos, under the supervision of the Direccion de Obras Públicas as was customary. Various reports detailing the problems encountered during the construction period and whilst the railway was being operated initially by the DOP are set out in the next appendix.


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Chapter 6

The Chiloe Island 60cm gauge railway


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Rolling stock


Along the route

Photo album

Surviving relics

Quellon distillery

The other 60cm branches

The Capitan Pastene line

The Chillan to Las Termas line

The Linares to Colbún line

The FC Militar


1 Itinerary of route

2 Route map and profile

3 Analysis of Chilean 60cm gauge locos

4 Loco diagrams

5 Documents from prior to construction

6 Documents during construction

7 Documents from later years

8 Rolling stock purchase

9 Linares - Colbún map

10 Capitan Pastene map

11 Cap Pastene line extras

12 Chillán extra images

13 FC Militar map etc

14 FC Militar surviving relics

15 FC Militar extra images

16 Memories of the FC de Chiloé

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