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10 Bolivia’s Train Graveyard
High in the Andes, in the southwest of Bolivia, lies the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt plain. In 1888, as the local mining industry boomed, British engineers were invited to build a railway network that stretched down to the Pacific. Despite constant sabotage from the local Aymara indigenous people who saw the railway as a threat to their way of life, the lines were completed in 1892.
However, by the 1940s the mining economy had collapsed as mineral deposits became exhausted. As the railway fell into disuse, many of the steam trains were simply abandoned on the salt flats. Even today, it makes for a strange sight: lines of rusting steam engines, many of them manufactured in the UK, baking under the desert sun. Since there are no fences or guards, most of the trains have had metal components stolen from them—some of the gutted parts litter the surrounding area. There are plans to turn the graveyard into a museum, but until then the trains are at the mercy of the locals and the environment.
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