Estancia Cullen, Isla Grande
A beach railway
The wool from the estancia was traditionally carted southwards to the Paramo spit, a shingle bank which stretches south into the big bay. Jetties were built out from the spit, in the sheltered water of the bay. However, getting carts, and the new-fangled lorries, down over the shingle was difficult. In 1922 the management set up three kilometres of 60cm. gauge track to get the wool bales from the end of their road out to the jetties.
These photos, taken by Señor David Guevara of Río Grande, show the remains of the Estancia Cullen railway. The rails and steel sleepers are clearly of Decauville style or similar. It looks as though there was a shed, possibly to accommodate the locos.
This line used at least two small diesels.
One of these, illustrated below, is a single cylinder Deutz. It seems likely that the rails and wagons had been salvaged from the El Paramo gold workings in the area, however, the loco is of more recent date.
The remains of a second loco still lie at the the estancia in 2011. The engine lying beside the chassis bears the Commer name, however, there is also a Ruston engine or gearbox amongst the scrap metal here so there may have been yet another loco used.
The next picture was taken in the 1960s and has recently been unearthed by David Guevara. The wagons clearly have flat wooden platforms suitable for wool bales, but whether they were built using old skip chassis wheelsets and bearings is unclear. The animal in the background is a guanaco, a smaller relative of the llama and common in Patagonia.
This 2011 photo by Señor Guevara shows the wagon construction more clearly. It remains unclear however, how much of the construction dates from the earlier gold workings or whether everything is of a later date.
The line survived until the mid-1950s when the newly-surfaced road made it easier to send the wool out via Río Grande. The Deutz loco was later lent to the Nueva Argentina sawmill further south, but they were unable to make it work. Eventually it was salvaged by the museum at the Salesian Mission in Río Grande, where it now lies as shown above. (1)
A heap of rails also lies at Estancia Cullen in 2011.
The big estancias and 'frigoríficos'