A train graveyard at Uyuni, Bolivia
Most travellers who visit Uyuni, located at an elevation of 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above sea level up in the Andes of Bolivia are probably there for the famous Salar de Uyuni, the word’s largest salt flat which is used for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites.
Another tourist attraction of Uyuni though is the ‘Cementerio de trenes’, the antique train cemetary, 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) outside the town. From the end of the 19th century till this day, Uyuni has been an important transportation hub for trains. The rail lines, constructed between 1888 and 1892, were built by British engineers who were invited by the British-sponsored Antofagasta and Bolivia Railway Companies. For the next decades the trains were used for carrying minerals from the Andes mountains to the Pacific Ocean ports.
During the 1940’s the mining industry collapsed, partly because of mineral deplation. Many trains were abandoned outside Uyuni, forming this mass train cemetary. The train cars and locomotives, many of them dating back to the early 20th century, are now rusted and eroded by the salt winds blowing over Uyuni. Many pieces of metal have been stolen as there is no fence or guards.