• American Baldwins in Guatemala

  • Discussion of steam locomotives from all manufacturers and railroads
Discussion of steam locomotives from all manufacturers and railroads

Moderators: slide rules, Typewriters

  by 3rdrail
 
I thought that I would share some of my pictures from a 1988 trip on Guatemala's Ferrocarriles de Guatemala (FEGUA), which used American made Baldwin three-foot gauge locomotives. The railroad was of vital importance to the country but was in poor condition, even when we were there, soon afterwards falling into total disarray. An American, Henry Posner, recently attempted to resurrect the railroad, but unfortunately was met with considerable political sabotage, and has since backed off his plans. Rather than narrate each photo, if you have any questions, just post them and I will be happy to answer. The trip consisted of travel on much of the country's rail system at the time, utilizing the railroads three-foot gauge Baldwins, 2-8-0's and 2-8-2's. The locomotives pictured in my photos are all out of service today, no longer running. One particular photo should be explained. It is the photo with a crowd looking up at the headlight at night in the middle of the jungle. One night, on the way back to Guatemala City, our 2-8-2, Number 205, lost it's headlight. An attempt was made to repair but to no avail. In America, our train would have been put on hold until which time a repair could be made. However, this was Guatemala, so no problemo ! On we went - dark ! I don't need to tell you that more than one passenger on that train cringed everytime that we barrelled through unguarded crossings during that long trip that night ! Enjoy !

(A link to a full expandable view is underneath each pic.)
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  by 3rdrail
 
Triker wrote:Were these like tourist/chartered trips or regularly scheduled trains?
They were both chartered and regular revenue runs. This was no tourist railroad. It was a vital part of their national economy and transportation of freight and passengers. It was a combination of booking a charter through a charter company, who coupled a few cars onto a regular consist during part of our journey, as well as jumping on a few freight runs. FEGUA was hopping in those days and although there were areas that you could not reach by train (we had to charter a four seat prop plane to Tikal), the rail network went from coast to coast. We experienced no major difficulties, however I was warned by the State Department before I went that the area was in a state of civil unrest and could blow up at any time, and advised not to go. That just made it more fun. Kidnappings for ransom were/are common in Guatemala also. I did get shot at up on my caboose while I was there, but the shooter must have been a lousy shot. I threw a bottle of Gallo beer in the direction that the shot came from. (It didn't get me off the caboose - no big deal.)
  by Engineer Spike
 
I'd just stick to my Gallo! I was there, but twice in '07, and did not get to see it. I had some Gallo though! I'll bet Guilford looked at those to replace some of the engines OOS in Waterville.
  by 3rdrail
 
Oh yeah, that Gallo is good stuff ! We had a combine that probably carried Gallo's total production for a whole day, iced ! (Then, at the next station we re-filled it ! hahaha!!!)
When you were down there, did you see any of Henry Posner's efforts ? I guessed it reached the point where they would lay rail and come back the following day to find it stolen the night before by scrap dealers. Then, the government stepped in with their hocus-pocus manipulation, so he said "enough is enough". I'm glad that he did. They don't make hostile take-overs of corporations down there- they have a more direct and permanent way of handling things in their banana repuplic. From our perspective however, it was a great trip. Nobody wanted to come home. I do still suffer from nightmares about being on-board our train completely dark with no lights running through the jungle and village grade crossings at speed ! hahaha!!!
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  by 3rdrail
 
Thanks everybody for the kind words. I didn't realize that so many of you would be interested in this stuff. I also didn't realize when I shot these that it was all headed for obsoletion, unfortunately. Here's a few more of FEGUA on the Pacific Coast and a nice plate that I purchased from them for $5. I'm kicking myself that I didn't buy 20 ! Does anyone know what happened to all this equipment ? Is it all gone after Posners attempt at bringing it back ?
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  by Aa3rt
 
Great stuff Paul, thanks for sharing!
  by 3rdrail
 
Glad that your enjoying them, Art.
  by RussNelson
 
Well, it's not *all* been destroyed. I saw some rails in Guatemala City, on the line heading up to Puerto Barrio, and a high bridge over a gorge, still in the city.