TPO -> The TPOs of Paraguay

The TPOs of Paraguay

By Jay Walmsley

Start and finish dates: not known

Map of the Paraguay Rail Network © Jay Walmsley The first section, 72km, of railway in Paraguay opened in 1861 to Paraguari. Built by British engineers, it was constructed to 5' 6" gauge, consistent with Argentina. The railway reached its destination, Villa Rica, in 1864. In 1865 Paraguay fought the horrific War of the Triple Alliance against Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, in which Paraguay lost 90% of her male population. The railway was torn up and devastated by the war, as was much of the country.

The occupiers then set to work to rebuild the railway for their purposes and slowly slowly the rails extended, reaching Villa Rica again in 1889. Although most of the railways in Argentina were broad gauge, those in Entre Ríos Province reaching towards Paraguay were standard gauge 4' 8½". Through running was the aim and it was decided to convert to standard gauge which was done by 1913 when the rails reached Encarnación. Train ferries took the trains over the Río Alto Paraná to Posadas from where they ran on through Entre Ríos to the south and by river ferry to reach Buenos Aires. The opening of through running speeded travel between Paraguay and Buenos Aires and thus access to the world by ocean.

1916 Ultima H(ora) F(erro) Carril Asuncion TPO cancellation
1916 Ultima H(ora) F(erro) Carril Asuncion cancellation on a cover from Asuncion

Trains continued to run over what was a fairly ramshackle system until 1999 when operation finally ceased.

There is little known about Paraguayan railway and TPO markings; much remains to be ascertained. There is also some evidence for an Argentinean TPO working into Paraguay. Some cancellations appear to be railway related rather than actual TPOs. This is a country where more research is required.

Railway Postmarks on stamps
Some Railway Postmarks

The Railways of South America by D Trevor Rowe, published by Paul Catchpole Ltd in 2000 provides much information about the railways.
For TPOs please see Paraguay - Railway Markings by D G Bayliss first published in 1982 in the Spanish Main Volume 7 no. 29, and reprinted in the TPO Journal Volume 37.

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