2004 World Monuments Watch
As the last steam-powered train of the Paraguay Railway came to a halt at the Sapucaí train yard in 1999, an era came to an end. Paraguay’s steam-powered railway system played a significant role in the modern development of the country. Although no longer in service, the company has a unique collection of wood-fired and steam-operated locomotives, six of which date to 1910 and are still operational. The system includes several nineteenth-century railway stations, wooden box cars, turntables, and steam-powered maintenance workshops. Although the Asuncion Station was restored with the help of Spanish funds a few years ago, the rest of the system has been maintained by a skeleton crew. The rail line itself, however, has deteriorated due to neglect and vandalism. A proposal has been put forth to return the trains to service for the purposes of tourism, running groups from Asunción to the Ypacaraí Lake Resort and the Sapucaí train yard, where an industrial museum may be developed. However, greater support for the initiative is needed if this witness of Paraguay’s past is to be preserved for future generations.
Since the Watch
A large number of components of the historic railway system have been dismantled and sold for scrap. January 2011