480 km north of Santiago; capital of 4th Region
pop. 1885, 17,230; 1986, 89,998
an tw 1887-1922; 1200 mm; 5 km; 8 pt
Despite its size, population and proximity to the capital, Chile's 4th Region seems to have had street railways in only two towns.
La Serena is one of Chile's oldest towns, founded in 1543, and is one of its most physically attractive today, with handsome old buildings and mansions on tree-lined streets. It was a major stop on the Longitudinal Railroad and is a kilometer inland and 10 kilometers north of the port of Coquimbo. The air around La Serena is said to be the clearest on the planet; astronomical observatories at nearby La Silla and El Tololo are world-famous.
The tramway was constructed by a local company, the Ferrocarril Urbano de La Serena, which was later municipalized as the Compañía de Carros Urbanos. The single known illustration of the line (of poor photographic quality) seems to show a double-deck car. The company states that it carried 182,000 passengers in 1902, but only 40,000 passengers in 1917. La Serena's tramway system is last reported in the Anuario of 1918, but is said to have continued operation until the earthquake of 1922.
A 1435 mm gauge electric
railway operated between El Tofo iron mine and the port of Cruz
Grande, 60 km north of La Serena, between December 1916 and December
1973. The iron mine, owned by Bethlehem Steel Corp. of the USA, was
once the world's largest; the Ferrocarril de Caleta Cruz Grande al
Tofo, 24 km long, is sometimes considered Chile's first electric
railroad. The author found only ballast during his visit in 1991.
470 km north of Santiago
pop. 1895, 7,322; 1982, 86,747
an tw 1895-1929; 1320 mm; 2 km; 2 pt
Ten kilometers south of La Serena is the port city of Coquimbo, which sprawls around the bay of a rocky peninsula. To reach the railroad that runs along the coast, the Sociedad Llano Guayacán constructed a horsecar line from Coquimbo to the station at Guayacán. The line was later absorbed by the Tranvías Urbanos de Coquimbo, which in turn was renamed Ferrocarril Urbano de Coquimbo. The tramway reports that it carried 60,000 passengers in 1901, 103,638 in 1905, and about 30,000 passengers annually thereafter.
In the 1980s an English
locomotive, tender and passenger car, said to be from the FC Caldera
a Copiapó, were displayed at the EFE railroad yard. The
passenger car is of the same type as those displayed in
Copiapó, and, like them, may have originated on the horsedrawn
FC Pabellón a Chañarcillo [see above].
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