The Ferrocarril de Antioquia in Medellin is the former railroad station that is no longer functional, but still serves as an important monument to the past. This early 20th century edifice was restored to its original grandeur and now houses public/private institutions, banks, an auditorium, a temporary exhibit room, news stands, and a museum that holds memories of the extinct Ferrocarril de Antioquia. A lovely outdoor courtyard with an open-air cafeteria exhibits an old steam locomotive in testimonial to a bygone era when the station was operational.
The Ferrocarril de Antioquia is considered by many to be one of the most important civil engineering projects in Colombian history. The railway project began construction in 1874 in Puerto Berrio and had a deadline of eight years to complete. The Cuban engineer Francisco Javier Cisneros was in charge of the project that was born once the concession was granted to build a railway between the Magdalena River and Barbosa (north of Medellin). In 1875, Francisco Javier Cisneros nailed the first rail to commemorate the Ferrocarril de Antioquia and ten years later the first leg of the railway was opened connecting Puerto Berrio to the slopes of Pavas. The railroad was plagued by many delays and setbacks for various reasons including difficulties with terrain, the thousand day war as well as diseases and sickness that was encountered throughout the construction period.
On March 9, 1914, the Ferrocarril de Antioquia finally reached Medellin. Celebrated as a modern marvel, the train was quickly adapted by the citizens of Medellin and was utilized for not only commercial transport, but cheap personal transport as it opened up the area to travel and tourism. People returned back to the city with their tales of adventure and news began to spread about the amazing landscape that would be encountered on the way to Puerto Berrio and the Magdalena River. The first Ferrocarril de Antioquia locomotives were steam engines fueled by wood, followed by coal and ultimately diesel fuel.
Francisco Javier Cisneros
Cuban engineer Francisco Javier Cisneros was born in Santiago, Cuba in 1836 and graduated from the Troy Polytechnic Institute in the USA. In one of his early projects as an assistant engineer, he was involved in the design of a railroad in his home country of Cuba. He was hired for the implementation of Ferrocarril de Antioquia (Antioquia Railway) and other important works including the Muelle de Puerto Colombia in Barranquilla as well as steam navigation projects on the Cauca and Nechi rivers to name a few. Cisneros returned to the USA where he was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He lived in New York where he worked as a civil engineer, but was deeply involved in the independence of Cuba as both a vocal proponent and financial supporter. Cisneros passed away on July 7, 1898 in New York.
Ferrocarril de Antioquia Video
Here is an educational video about the history of the railway (Spanish)
Location of Ferrocarril de Antioquia:
CARERRA 52 AT CALLE 43
METRO STATION: SAN ANTONIO