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Port operations at Comodoro Rivadavia

Harbour construction

Whilst the 75cm gauge has been dealt with in Chapter 7, the 1928 harbour construction works also used 60cm gauge temporary tracks. Little has been recorded about them, but the photos which follow do show some aspects of the work.

This photo shows the land reclamation works south-west of the new breakwater. Whilst the 75cm gauge brought in the landfill material, it looks as though 60cm gauge was used for more local works such as distributing concrete along the sea wall (2).

 

 

Below are skips wagons being used to bring in concrete during the late 1920s construction of the initial 'dique viaducto' which would eventually carry the hammerhead or 'Titan' crane for the new Comodoro Rivadavia port (12).

 

CRtwocranesskipsondique

 

A rather later view showing the complete 'dique viaducto' and taken from the Skoda 'titan' crane that it was built to support (12).

 

A15CRportpics012

 

An interesting shot showing reclamation works adjacent to the new port jetty. The French-built Pinguely crane is lifting three skip wagons at once, one above the other (12).

 

A15CRportpics011

 

A photo of broad rather than narrow gauge interest, but most appropriately displayed here. Whilst a number of steam cranes were employed upon the port works, this Pinguely crane built in France, was the largest. Here it is seen as its new longer jib is being fitted (12). This enabled it to stretch further out over the construction works, though clearly the maximum load would have been reduced at large radii. The crane seems later to have been transferred - with its original jib - to work in a fixed location on the YPF muelle at Km. 3.

 

 

A15CRportpics003

 

An unusual steam-worked device - a concrete mixer - with a 60cm gauge skip wagon waiting to be loaded.

 

CRsteamcementmixer

 

Comodoro Rivadavia port shunters
The harbour, although partly constructed with 75cm. gauge equipment, and possessing broad gauge track shunted by ex- Port of Buenos Aires tank engines, retained some 60cm. track for many years. By 1975 this was much reduced but still carried two Planet diesels (including no. 2823) (3).

 

Several broad gauge tank engines were purchased second-hand from the Port of Buenos Aires. They belonged to the Agencia General de los Puertos At least six tank engines were derelict here in 1975. The broad gauge locos included the following:

 

Running number

Wheel arrangement

Builder

Builder's number

Date of building

Notes

8

0-6-0T

Manning Wardle

1351

1897

ex Puerto de Buenos Aires
Derelict 1975, now preserved

10

Manning Wardle

1607

1903

Arrived 1936-7?

?

0-6-0T

Manning Wardle

?

?

The photos of derelict locos in the port during the 1970s suggest that at least three of these MW side tanks had worked at this location.

16

0-6-0T

Batignolles

1203

1890

ex Beltran Cavalry Depot ex NW Argentine Railway no 6. Owned by FCE but clearly worked in the port. Removed from FCE stock by 1934 but might have been transferred to port ownership.

17

0-6-0T

Batignolles

1204

1890

ex Beltran Cavalry Depot ex NW Argentine Railway no 7. Owned by FCE but clearly worked in the port. Removed from FCE stock by 1934 but might have been transferred to port ownership.

20

0-6-0T

Henschel

8060

1907

ex Puerto de Buenos Aires
Derelict 1975

24

0-6-0T

Henschel

8064 or 8069?

1907 or 1909

ex Puerto de Buenos Aires
Derelict 1975

0-6-0ST

Manning Wardle?

Derelict 1975. A large number of MW 0-6-0STs were used by the BAGS and by Buenos Aires port construction works; this loco may have come from either of these sources.

One of the Henschel 0-6-0Ts ex Puerto de Buenos Aires (11). The loco is bringing a string of wagons off the main pier towards the land.

CRlocoworkinginport2

 

A similar view, possible taken on the same occasion (11).

 

CRshunterworkinginport1

 

One of the FCE Batignolles 0-6-0Ts, no. 16 or 17, ex Beltran Cavalry Depot ex NW Argentine Railway, clearly in the port area and with the Pinguely crane on the left (11). These locos were removed from FCE stock by 1934 but might possibly have been transferred to port ownership.

 

CRlocoPinguellycrane

 

The lines of derelict locos after the end of steam in the port (11).

 

CRlineofderelicttanks

 

One of the ex Buenos Aires Henschel lies derelict (11).

 

CRderelictHenschel

 

An 0-6-0ST lies derelict (11). Whilst the identity of this loco is unknown, a large number of Manning Wardle saddle tanks were employed on construction works in the port of Buenos Aires and elsewhere and this loco may have come from such a source.

 

CRsaddletankderelict

 

Manning Wardle 0-6-0 side tank no. 10, with Henschel 0-6-0T 8060 (Puerto de la Capital no. 20) behind (11).

 

CRtwoderelicttanks

 

These photos were taken in 1975. Henschel no. 24 is in the foreground, whilst Manning Wardle no. 8 is behind.

 

SAm220ComRivharbourscrapline375

 

SAm224ComRivharbourPtodeBsAsplate375

 

The picture below, also taken in 1975, shows four other tank engines. The one on the far right appears to be similar to Manning Wardle no. 8 and may be another of the many of this design originally at the Pto. de Buenos Aires. The loco immediately beyond the crane is Henschel no. 8060, Puerto de la Capital no. 20.

 

SAm219ComRivharbourscrapline375

 

One of the Manning Wardle side-tanks, ex Puerto de Buenos Aires no. 8.

 

SAm221ComRivharbourscrapline375

 

Sole survivor
Manning Wardle no. 8 was later preserved in the town near the port entrance, though in the usual vandalised condition. One of the mainline coaches stands with it. Since 2001 it seems that both have been moved to the newly restored station, though obviously the loco never worked on the mainline.

 

 

The various pier railways
A number of piers or 'muelles' were built in the area of Comodoro Rivadavia for the import and export of materials and goods. Working northward from the town's main port (whose construction is largely covered in Chapter 7 as it used 75cm gauge track), there were four muelles. These all carried railway tracks of one gauge or another.

 

1 The early 'Maciel' pier serving Comodoro Rivadavia town centre. This muelle was probably dismantled after the construction of the new Comodoro Rivadavia port in the 1920s.

 

The Maciel muelle, just north of the site later chosen for Comodoro Rivadavia's port.

 

Macielmuelle

 

The muelle appears to carry broad gauge track, though how it was linked to the adjacent mainline running at right angles to it is unclear (10). There may have been a wagon turntable. Two small steam cranes are visible (10).

 

CRearlypier3

 

A view from the south during a storm. One steam crane is visible far left, and the mainline track or an adjacent siding.

 

CRpierinstorm3

 

The Maciel muelle is seen being dismantled in the early 1930s. The big hammerhead crane can be seen in the distance on the new port works.

 

A15CRportpics005

 

2 The enormously long YPF pier at Km. 3. See the section below on the YPF 60cm gauge systems.

3 A shorter pier at Km. 5. This was near the FCE railway workshops.

 

These two photos appear to have been taken at around the same date (10). A bogie wagon is seen at the end of the pier, suggesting that there must have been a curving link from the mainline at this point, rather than a turntable as mentioned above.

 

CRKm5pier4

 

This time there are two bogie 'plataformas' with a small steam crane sandwiched between them (10).

 

CRKm5pier2c
 

4 A short YPF pier at Caleta Cordova. This has since been replaced by a long steel fishing boat pier with a curving concrete breakwater and jetty at the far end. Caleta Cordova is a sheltered bay north east of Comodoro Rivadavia and it is easy to see why port facilities here might have seemed attractive.

 

Early days at Caleta Cordova, showing the pier in the distance and the few buildings at that stage (10).

 

CaletaCordoba3

 

A relatively large steam crane is seen on the usual single track, presumably of normal broad gauge (10).

 

CaletaCordobapier3

 

Two steam cranes are shown here, just inland from the pier itself. As far as is known therewas never any broad gauge trackage on the land at this location, so presumably the pier line stopped at the left of the picture (10).

 

CaletaCordobacranes3

An old muelle steam crane now preserved at the Museo de Petroleo in Barrio Gral. Mosconi at Km. 3. It is not clear which of the above locations this machine came from.

SAm2000ComRiv024

 

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 the Fundación Museo Ferroviario in Buenos Aires.
12 Photos reproduced by kind permission of the Museo Ferroportuario in Comodoro Rivadavia.

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.

17-8-11

 

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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

Chapter 13

A variety of industrial railways

Glossary

Site map

RAILWAYS OF THE FAR
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