Machacamarca, Impressive Bolivian Railway History

Written by Peter Lauffer
May 22, 2020
The railway museum "Museo Ferroviario Machacamarca" is a located 30km south of Oruro in Bolivia. The village of Machacamarca was the junction where the private railway "Ferrocarril Machacamarca-Uncía (FCMU)" joined the railway-line Oruro-Uyuni-Antofagasta.

The mining tycoon Simón I. Patiño built the FCMU railway in 1911.  Patiño constructed the railroad to transport minerals from his mining centers of Llallagua, Catavi, Siglo XX, Uncía, and Huanuni to Oruro. It was the first railway in service in the Ouro area.

The area of Oruro contributed hugely to the development of the mining industry in the Bolivian Andes. The Museum showcases the history of the railways and their importance for the mining business in the region.

In the Museum, you discover a collection of historical railway vehicles documenting Oruro's industrial and social history.

Buick on Rails "Al Capone", Machacamarca

Among the attractions is the German-built steam locomotive "Luzmilla." The locomotive carries the name of Patiño's youngest daughter. The engine arrived in Oruro in 1913, pulling trains between the "La Salvadora Mine" and the city of Oruro.

Another attraction is a "Buick car on rails" from 1938. This railcar was imported into Bolivia in 1940. The luxury car is better known as "Al Capone" and was used to transport Patiño between Machacamarca and his mines in the mountains.

You can also explore a speedy black steam locomotive with red and yellow stripes, manufactured in the US in 1944. This locomotive can reach a maximum speed of 60 kilometers.

Swiss built Diesel Crocodile from Sulzer

The main highlight (from a Swiss point of view) are the two so-called diesel crocodiles No. 20 and 22 (later LDE 846 and LDE 847) from the Swiss manufacturer Sulzer.

Have a look inside a 3rd class passenger carriage experiencing how ordinary miners traveled to their mines. On the other hand, you can get a glimpse inside the 1st Class carriage that the managers and administrative staff used to travel between Oruro and the mines.

Inside the Railway Museum Machacamarca

The Museum is located in the old railway depot of the FCMU. The railway museum was inaugurated in 2009. It can easily be reached from the city of Ouro,  taking the road in the direction of Potosí for 30 km. The Museum cannot be missed, its grounds make nearly half of the village of Macacamarca.

The Railway Museum in Machacamarca and the railroad to Uncia is part of our tour "Majestic Andean Rail Adventures."