Irrigation railways in the Rio Negro valley
60cm gauge temporary track on a jetty during the construction works for the Neuquen barrage.
Two photos showing an O&K loco and a train of skips building up a dyke, with the barrage in the left background.
Construction works underway at the site of the barrage. The río Neuquen is to the right and running away from the camera. The high bridge is actually over the barrage . In the foreground is the smaller viaduct over the sluices governing water flow into the main irrigation canal. It carries a 60cm gauge railway track. Behind the camera would be the entrance channel to Lago Pellagrini, the main store of water for the project.
This photo, from Arturo Coleman's autobiography, shows the completed works at the site of the Neuquen barrage. One of the barrage gates can be seen below the right hand arch. A neatly finished and obviously more permanent 60cm gauge line now crosses the viaduct in the foreground.
A network of irrigation canals eventually stretched downstream from the dam almost as far as Fuerte General Roca 70 km away. These were largely dug by steam excavators running on broad gauge tracks parallel to each side of the ditch and with bucket lines dragging the material up for dropping into 60cm gauge skips running on tracks beyond the broad gauge lines. A map of the irrigated area is available on an appendix page.
Locos and stock
Eventually the FCS, who operated the system, purchased a number of Orenstein & Koppel 0-4-0WTs. Rögind's history of the FCS states that 15 locos were in use in 1913 (2), though not all are identified in the table below.
Above, is O&K no. 1861 of 1906, as seen standing in Neuquen station yard (3).
One of the O & K locos as preserved, possibly no. 5028?
Loco. no. 5367 of 1912 (3).
O&K 0-4-0T no. 5744, ex FCS, as displayed on Preston Services' webpages when for sale in 2005 and before delivery to the Devon Railway Centre at Tiverton.
O&K 0-4-0T no. 5745, ex FCS, as displayed on Preston Services' webpages when for sale in 2005, and before delivery to a new owner in France.
The irrigation lines even had a small steam crane, seen here after it came to grief on some dodgy track. (2A)
A railcar for inspection purposes had been purchased from the agents Donnell and Palmer in 1910 but the maker is unknown (1). We now know that it was in fact a broad gauge trolley and thus must have operated on the FC Sud. We have included a manufacturer's advertising illustration of the type used in the chapter on FC Sud motive power.
A variety of industrial railways