background of the Kitson Meyer Locomotives in Chile.
Chile lies on the Pacific
coast of South America and is a long narrow country running down
a coastline that in places allowed a narrow band of populated
areas between the sea and the high desert plains. During the
latter part of the 1800s and up to the middle of the 1900s,
Chile was a source of Sodium Nitrate used as a fertilizer and
also as a constituent of some explosives. To reach the nitrate
mining and refining areas the railways faced a difficult climb
up the Western slope of the Andes. In the case of the Anglo
Chilean Nitrate and Railway Company, their locomotives faced a
climb of17 miles of continuous 1 in 25 gradients combined with
curves as tight as 181 ft minimum radius. Adding to the
difficulties, these lines ran where it very seldom rains, and
water was mainly obtained by distillation of sea water.
The Anglo Chilean Nitrate and Railway Company later became the
FerroCarril de Tocopilla al Toco (FCTT), and the other railway
was the FerroCarril Taltal (FCT). These two companies used 3' 6"
gauge Kitson Meyer articulated locomotives, very capable
machines that could haul 125 ton trains up-grade. These were not
small operations; the FCTT is reported to have had a total of 38
locomotives of varying types including 13 Kitson Meyers. The
Taltal reportedly had 15 Kitson Meyers and ran 15 trains a day
to the nitrate fields.
The Kitson Meyer form of articulation was very popular in South
America for work in difficult terrain. Kitson made 78 of this
type of locomotive and the greater majority was used in South
America. The prototype for the FCTT was made in 1894 and is
represented by the locomotive in works grey livery. The other
two were made later although it is considered possible that
Taltal #61 may have been one of the earlier deliveries to the
These locomotives would be very
much at home on a route with steep grades with tight curves,
sandy rocky countryside, very few trees and sparse vegetation.
The passenger cars were used to connect to the Chilean
Longitudinal Railway (FCNG), a metre gauge line which ran almost
the length of Chile on the high 'pampa'.
Comments. The Bagged nitrate
models are very high poly and are not suited to long trains in
populated areas, use them wisely. The tank cars and freight car
are imagineered as being most likely to have been made locally
using the basic gondola frame and wheels. The caboose was made
from a very long distance photograph. I have no information
about what the FCTT would have used but I expect that the stock
would probably have been similar. There are interiors with cab
views in the green Taltal locomotives, the passenger cars and
To answer the inevitable
question, the rear stack is only for steam from the rear
unit. The ones I have modelled were oil fired.
Finally, my gratitude to Ben
Neal who so capably dirtied-up the #54 locomotive. Thanks, Ben,
better than I could do.