AlanCrottypic3
Patagonia,
AlanCrottypic3 Home page Central of Chubut FCS to Neuquén FCE broad gauge EFE broad gauge Chiloe Island FCE 75cm gauge AlanCrottypic3
Estancia railways Coal  railways Ushuaia old & new The South Atlantic Salt railways Industrial lines Resources
AlanCrottypic3

Industrial lines around Comodoro Rivadavia

Steam in the oilfields
The YPF (Argentinean national oil company) appears to have had two 60cm gauge railway systems based around workshop complexes in the area;

The northern system
A network (linked possibly from Astra eastward to Caleta Cordova) possessed four steam locos - 0-4-0T O&K 11246-7 of 1926 (30hp), and 0-4-0 Fireless Henschels 21144/5 of 1929 (4). Whilst this does not show up on a 1:50,000 topographic map from the 1950s, a 60cm gauge track does does appear to run west from Astra station for 1.5 km.

The following two photos, from the Dickinson College archive, show 60cm tracks and wagons carrying long lengths of pipe ready for laying (10). These are supposed to be near Caleta Cordova. This first one shows a trackbed with cutting and embankment, a stack of track panels, and a series of small four-wheeled trucks or bogies supporting a length of pipe.

NGPipetrain1

The second photo from this source shows the bogies and pipe more clearly, in a cutting pointing directly towards what is presumably the sea (10).

NGPipetrain2

 

The southern network
The other network may have been of much greater extent. This had six 60cm. gauge steam engines at one point (4). As the sketch map below shows (5) it ran from the main YPF workshops south to the YPF Muelle. It had 30km of track in total using three 30hp and one 50 hp steam locos, together with three 35hp and one 25hp diesels.

The simplified map shown below covers about two kilometres from top to bottom. 1950s topographic maps discovered more recently show a far greater extent, stretching out north and west for up to five kms. See below for access to these maps.

 

The more detailed topographic maps dating from the 1950s are available on an appendix page. Click here to visit that page.

Jorge Garreta Mendoza suggests that these depots also used several Ruston diesels, O & K steam, petrol & diesel locos and Schoema diesels. One of the latter is preserved in the oil museum though labelled as a Ruston. Along with it is also an American Brookville diesel. Further down this page is a picture of a preserved 20hp Simplex. It is likely that this too work in the oil industry.

The system was centred on the YPF workshops at Km.3. This photo looks down on part of that complex (11). 60cm gauge tracks can be seen in the foreground, whilst broad gauge materials including a set of loco wheels and two 'Patagonico' tank wagons re to the left.

CRKm3YPFworkshops1

The following picture shows the same area from the north (11). The broad gauge mainline, with a pacific and three flats, runs parallel to the sea, whilst the 60cm gauge has run parallel with it from the long YPF muelle in the distance. The narrow gauge track makes a 90 degree curve in the foreground to enter the workshop complex.

CRKm3YPFworkshops2

The postcard below (by courtesy of Jorge Garreta Mendoza) shows the 60cm gauge track running alongside the broad gauge, facing south towards the YPF muelle location. There is strangely no sign of the 75cm gauge in this view, though if taken in the 1960s it might alreeady have been lifted.

 

CR2tracks

 

A number of photos have come to light showing the YPF muelle at Km 3 (7). This one illustrates the seaward end of the muelle and displays a broad gauge crane on an isolated length of track as well as 60cm gauge flat wagons which have arrived via a double track along the length of the muelle.

 

 

A second photo, like the first found in the Archivo General de la Nacion in Buenos Aires, shows the double narrow gauge track along the muelle. At this point they are passing a broad gauge steam crane mounted on a higher platform isolated from any great length of rails.

 

 

This third photo shows the landward end of the muelle, with the tracks curving northward to the main YPF depot a kilometre or so away, and a triangle and sidings at this spot.

 

CRYPFmuelleKm3

YPF locos and rolling stock
The three photos below show YPF locos and trains, but no further details are known. All three pictures come from the Museo de Petroleo at Km 3, on the site of one of the old depots. Click here to visit their website.

This first YPF picture was taken in the southern system loco shed yard. Two 0-4-0T steam engines, almost certainly Orenstein &Koppels, are seen along with three early O&K Montania petrol locos (probably of class S1) (6). These latter locos date from around 1920-25. From left, the locos bear the running numbers 5, ?, 10, 4 and 1. Number 10 is clearly an 0-4-2T.

 

 

CRYPFlocos51041

 

A train of materials crosses a road behind one of the little German steam locos.

 

CRYPFsteamlocoontrain

 

An enlargement of the locomotive in the previous photo, showing it to be YPF N⁰ 3 or 5. The coupling to the first wagon does not look very rigid. One hopes that the wagons loaded with pipes did not overrun the loco. It rather looks as if the engine is fitted with an electric headlamp.

 

YPFlococloseup

 

Another steam loco, this time with a spark-arresting chimney poses with a large number of men.

 

CRYPFngtrainin1932

 

 

MFOKMOntaniainsnow

 

One of the O&K Montania petrol locos in the snow amongst a group of well heads. The lines of rails in the background are too far apart for 60 cm gauge but it is probable that the picture had been retouched by someone not expert in railways. Photo reproduced by courtesy of Señor Miguel Fiordelli.

This picture is placed here merely by virtue of the oil derrick in the background. It may not have been connected to the oil industry. The loco appears to be a Baldwin or other US builder 0-4-2T with a train of skip wagons. The photo appeared in a recent book on Comodoro Rivadavia's history, with the date 1928 attributed to it (1). No further details of this or other locos are known. It may well have been owned by a contractor.

 

 

CRUSnglocoin1928

 

This photo shows an open coach for VIPs, presumably created from a bogie wagon. The date and circumstances are unknown (10)

 

NGopencoach

 

Where once was the west end of the Km.3 network is now the Museo Nacional de Petroleo. In their grounds are a number of large oil industry relics. These two diesels - a Brookville and a Schoema despite the sign - are on display, as is a steam crane from the harbour.

 

SAm2000ComRiv034

 

Further north, on the way to Km. 5, a 20hp Simplex is plinthed on the remains af a bridge between the two carriageways of the coastal highway. This should at least reduce the risk of vandalism.

 

CRSimplexatKm5in2011

At the core of the southern network around Km3 was a very large YPF depot, between Ruta 3 and the coast. This is now largely empty and derelict (2011) but a number of relics of the narrow gauge system remain in place particularly where the tracks were concerted over.

At the hub of the system was the loco shed and yard, whose fan of tracks can be seen on the map above. Amazingly, sixty years after the abandonment of the system, all the tracks survive in 2011 and the full layout has been traced and drawn out.

CRlocoshedYPFatKm3in2011A

One of those tracks has a third rail for several yards (below), giving a larger track gauge of around 90cm. All three rails curve in unison, reducing the possibility that this is a coincidence. Anyone knowing anything of 90cm or 3 foot gauge operations in the area is invited to get in touch with Martin Coombs or David Sinclair (see Homepage for details).

CRlocoshedYPFatKm3in2011B

There remains scope to find out a lot more about these oil lines.

Finally, to illustrate the sort of competition these oilfield railways were up against, here is a picture of an early Caterpillar Sixty crawler tractor hauling pipes (8).

 

MFearlypipetractorlarge

Unknown locations
A number of photos have come to light showing 60cm gauge track in the vicinity of Comodoro Rivadavia but without clues as to a specific purpose or site. One of these is shown below. Any assistance in identifying it would be appreciated.

 

Another line of 60cm gauge contractor's track, possibly in Barrio Km. 3.

 

References:
1 Libro de Oro, Aniversario Comodoro Rivadavia 1901-1997. 1997. Ediciones Atlantico.
2 Photos kindly found by C. Rivadavia Department of Historic Archives.
3 Personal observation in 1975.
4 Industrial Railways of Argentina (loco lists). Revised edition 1998. Reg Carter.
5 Map sketched from a Chubut Province cadastral survey map. The track layout is unlikely to be complete.
6 Identification of the early O&K petrol locos was by Arnaud Bongaards of the Decauville Spoorweg Museum in Harscamp, Netherlands.
7 Photo reproduced by courtesy of the Archivo General de la Nación in Buenos Aires.
8 Photo reproduced by courtesy of Señor Miguel Fiordelli.
9 Information from Industrial Railways of Argentina, 199?, Reg Carter. Kingston upon Thames, UK.
10 Photos found in the Dickinson College Patagonian Mosaic online archive.
11 Photos reproduced by kind permission of Miguel Fiordelli's 'Comodoro Rivadavia - Fotos Antiguas' Facebook group.

Anyone interested in old photos of Comodoro Rivadavia should also visit Miguel Fiordelli's website. A number of his photos are of railway interest and almost all can be viewed in larger sizes by clicking on the thumbnail pictures.

 

An Arthur Koppel advert from an issue of The Review of the River Plate in 1906.

17-8-11

RETURN
to home page

RETURN
to top of page

NEXT PAGE
Harbour operations at Comodoro Rivadavia

NEXT CHAPTER
Resources and links

Chapter 13

A variety of industrial railways

Glossary

Site map

RAILWAYS OF THE FAR
RAILWAYS OF THE FAR

Main pages

Oil at Comodoro Rivadavia

Comodoro Rivadavia port shunters

Gold dredging

Other mines

Lighthouses

Relics at Cabo Raper

Sawmills

Irrigation on the Río Negro

Oil around Neuquén

The Isthmus of Ofqui

Other oddments

Appendices

1 Maps of Com. Rivadavia

2 Rio Negro irrigation map

Home page Central of Chubut FCS to Neuquén FCE broad gauge EFE broad gauge Chiloe Island FCE 75cm gauge Estancia railways Coal  railways Ushuaia old & new The South Atlantic Salt railways Industrial lines Resources