of the Andies
By Brian Fawcett
Published by Plateway Press
235x175mm, 224 pages.
The Andes rank as the world’s longest
uninterrupted mountain range, extending over 4,000 miles parallel
to the wet coast of South America. With summits up to 20,000 ft.
they act as a barrier separating the Pacific seaports from the mineral
riches of Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia. Few areas of the world
can be less promising for the aspiring railway builder … added
to the problems of topography are extremes of climate, regular geological
instability, and continuous political turmoil. So the history of
the railways here is a thrilling saga of man’s technological
conquest of a colossal geographical barrier .. a triumph of engineering
skill and ingenuity over formidable natural obstacles.
Brian Fawcett came to South America as a young man
of 17, and spent almost a quarter of a century in the service of
the Central Railway of Peru. His duties gave him a unique insight
into the workings of that great railroad – which scales the
highest railway summit in the world at 15,848 ft. – and also
enabled him to collect information, hitherto unpublished, about
other Andean railroads. The result was “Railways of the Andes”,
the first major English-language survey of the planning, construction
and operation of the major Andean railroads.
First published in 1963, this new edition incorporates
Fawcett’s original text, plus a new preface and introduction.
122 illustrations and 6 maps.
Review by Andrew Neale appeared in issue 121.