2018 World Monuments Watch
The Ramal Talca-Constitución is a 55-mile-long railway branch connecting the city of Talca to the port of Constitución. The branch was part of the railway system that connected all of Chile until its decline at the end of the twentieth century. Built in 1888-1915, Ramal Talca-Constitución was declared a national landmark in 2007, extending protection to the railway, the historic train cars, stations, tunnel, turntables, and bridges, including the Banco de Arena Bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel. As the last narrow gauge railway and the last rural passenger railway left in the country, the Ramal Talca-Constitución is a living testimony of a distinct cultural landscape and identity of the communities in Talca, Constitución, and the eight rural villages in between, that are connected by the railway.
Ongoing plans to restore the railway branch’s stations and improve services took a setback in January 2017 when forest fires—the worst in the country’s history—damaged sections of the rails and several stations, suspending train service and leaving many towns, and the residents who rely on it, temporarily isolated.
The 2018 World Monuments Watch celebrates the historic continuity of the Ramal Talca-Constitución in service to the communities it connects, and supports the strong civic commitment shown by local agencies and organizations who seek improvements to the branch, the livelihood of the communities, and the cultural landscape, through conservation.