Today in Transportation History – 1857: A Railroad For Buenos Aires

The Buenos Aires Western Railway was inaugurated in what was then the State of Buenos Aires. This railway was the first one to be built anywhere in present-day Argentina and helped set the stage over the next several decades for an extensive public transit network in that part of the world. (The republic known as the State of Buenos Aires had been formed five years earlier after the region seceded from the Argentine Confederation; the region rejoined the confederation in 1861.)

Floresta Station, c. 1869

The locomotive La Porteña, which was built in England, pulled along the first train to travel on the new railway line on that sunny Saturday in August. Initially, the Buenos Aires Western Railway covered approximately six miles between the city’s Del Parque station (now the location for the Teatro Colón opera house) and Floresta station (situated in what was the village of San José de Flores).

Valentín Alsina, the governor of the State of Buenos Aires, presided over the opening-day festivities. The events included the celebration of mass and a formal blessing of both La Porteña and another locomotive called La Argentina. Alsina and various other dignitaries subsequently boarded the passenger cars. Someone named Alfonso Corazzi, operating La Porteña drove the train away from Del Parque station and the crowd of well-wishers assembled there. Upon arriving at Floresta station, the train and those on board were welcomed by both another crowd and a band playing a piece entitled “Marcha a Lavalle.” Regular service on the Buenos Aires Western Railway began the following day.

The railway remained in operation until 1948. It is now part of the Domingo Faustino Sarmiento Railway.

For more information on the Buenos Aires Western Railway, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buenos_Aires_Western_Railway

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