Great Train Graveyard – Uyuni, Bolivia - Atlas Obscura
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Uyuni, Bolivia

Great Train Graveyard

On the outskirts of a desert trading village high on the Andean plain, steel giants have been destroyed by salt winds. 

It’s a cemetery for trains, for locomotives. And it’s so big that it looks as though all of the trains in South America were moved to Uyuni, Bolivia, to chug their last chug.

Filled with hollowed out bodies that have completely rusted over and other remains, the “Great Train Graveyard” can be found on the otherwise deserted outskirts of Uyuni, a small trading region high in the Andean plain.

Uyuni has long been known as an important transportation hub in South America and it connects several major cities. In the early 19th century, big plans were made to build an even bigger network of trains out of Uyuni, but the project was abandoned because of a combination of technical difficulties and tension with neighboring countries. The trains and other equipment were left to rust and fade out of memory.

Most of the trains that can be found in the Graveyard date back to the early 20th century and were imported from Britain. In other places in the world, the mighty steel trains would have held up better. The salt winds that blow over Uyuni, which hosts the world’s largest salt plain, have corroded all of the metal. Without guards or even a fence, these pieces were picked over and vandalized long ago.

Know Before You Go

Since nearly every single salt flat tour company in town visits the Train graveyard at roughly the same time in the late morning to early afternoon, it can easily get drowned out with crowds of people, ultimately disenchanting the abandoned ambiance of the place. It's best to visit in the evening or early morning when the buses full of tourist are long gone/haven't arrived yet. It's in walkable distance from the center of Uyuni or you can take a cab for around 10 bolivianos ( $1,30).