A grain truck on the road next to an abandoned railroad. The poles for the old telegraph still remain.
Living in the center of the "Bread Basket" for Argentina, one common question asked my many visitors is, "Where are the trains?" Asking that question gets you about the same answer from every person in the area. "The British built a great train system, but the government took it over and ruined it."
This region (southern Santa Fe, southwestern Cordoba and northern Buenos Aires) is the heart of corn and soybean production in Argentina. This year was a great one. Yields were massive. Almost every seed company has a base here. Seed corn is grown here. Venado Tuerto hosts almost all of the farm machinery manufacturers. Harvest was very exciting because of the yields. And the roads were clogged with semi trucks loaded with grain driving the hundred or so miles to Rosario. And that brings rise to one of the greatest seasons for everyone else... passing semi-trucks on the road.
Semi-trucks can only go 50 miles per hour (80 km/hr) while cars can go 68 miles per hour (110 km/hr). The main road from Venado Tuerto to Rosario is a two-lane road. If you are in a car, sooner than later - - usually sooner - - you will be slowed down by a semi-truck only going 50 mph. In some cases, you will be slowed down by a truck going much slower... usually a very old Ford, Chevy, Dodge or Mercedes Benz. In these cases, semis are trying to pass semis. Your challenge is to pass the semi without getting plastered by a semi coming back from Rosario, or by a car trying to pass that semi. You also have to make sure a car behind you isn't trying to pass you as you are trying to pass the semi. This game is not for the faint-of-heart.
You do all of this while driving parallel to an abandoned railroad. While you are stuck behind one of these semis, or getting up the nerve to pass, you ask yourself.... "Why are there no trains?"
As was told by many, the British did come to Argentina to build railroads. However, so did the French. According to people who remember, those railroads were very good. They were credited with helping to improve the economy of the entire country. But, the railroads were foreign-owned and were built to help export products... not necessarily help products move within Argentina. During World War II, Argentine products became very valuable and the country was running a surplus. President Juan Peron purchased the British and French railroad companies and nationalized the railways.
The government was not able to integrate these rail systems or make money with them. Eventually, transport of goods by truck took over. Today, the truck drivers' union is very strong. For the foreseeable future, trains are not going to transport all that grain to port. Maybe someone could convince the government to build an extra lane or two.