Sapucai is intrinsically linked to the history of the steam train – one of the first in Latin America. The name sapucai’ means shout in Guarani, a reference to the train’s loud whistle. In the 1880’s the town became home to the steam train workshop where maintenance was performed on all the trains. The workshop still remains and is a train lover’s dream come true. The road to Sapucai is pleasant, winding past the tree covered hills of Paraguari and through the picturesque town of Escobar. Despite the draw of the train workshop there are no facilities such as restaurants or hotels in Sapucai. However this is sure to change given the recent completion of the paved highway which cuts through the middle of town. Local tour guide Claudio Baez offers a tour of the train station, Villa Inglesa, cemetery and Tape BoH for Gs. 70,000 per group with advance notice. Tel: 0982 847 060
Train Stations of Yesteryear
The newly constructed road linking Paraguari to Villarica follows Paraguay’s historic train route. Alongside the road you can catch a glimpse of the old stations, recognizable by their yellow and brown paint, and station names written in large white letters on wooden signs. Some stations are in better shape than others but for the most part they have been left to the elements and many of the towns themselves disappeared once the train went out of vogue.
Taller de Trenes Train Workshop & Ferrocarril Presidente Carlos Antonio Lopez Museum
From the road the only indication that this tin roofed hangar holds any special value are the rusted train parts outside. But once you step inside the old train workshop it is clear that this is a historic place. Train cars line the tracks on the right-hand side and to the left are a series of work stations. Like the trains it serviced, the entire workshop is steam-powered. To the left, there are three enormous boilers which drive a giant flywheel. This, in turn, spins an axel that runs the length of the entire building powering all the machines in the workshop. Train enthusiasts and the mechanically inclined will be enthralled by this industrial era gem. The icing on the cake is that everything still functions – if you have the luxury of time it is worth timing your visit to coincide with one of the sporadic special occasions during which the whole thing is set in motion (try the museum itself or the Municipal office for specific dates).
Next door is the small Ferrocarril Presidente Carlos Antonio Lopez Museum which houses objects from the train’s history including old schematics used as reference by train technicians until the trains stopped running in the 1990’s. Across the way is the Villa Inglesa where the European train mechanics who serviced the trains lived. These foreigners enjoyed many luxuries such as running water, which, at the time, were unheard of in the countryside. Unfortunately all have fallen into disrepair. Tel: 0539 263 218, coming from Paraguari the workshop is on the right-hand side of the road at the entrance to town. To get to the entrance go past the workshop and make a hairpin turn to the right. Mon-Fri 7am-4pm and weekends upon advanced request to the Municipal office at 0539 263 214 or the main central train station in Asuncion at 021 447 848.
Sapucai Map Paraguay Photo Gallery
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