Kitson Meyer Locomotive – Taltal, Chile - Atlas Obscura

Kitson Meyer Locomotive

Taltal, Chile

The antique vehicle is a preserved relic of Chile's nitrate mining industry.  


Taltal is a quaint fishing town in the north of Chile, about halfway along the highway between Caldera and Antofagasta. The town is an old one, as evidenced by all the colonial buildings, scattered canons near the port, and the antique locomotive parked within one of the squares. 

The locomotive is a Kitson Meyer, which was a popular locomotive brand in South America at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. These were more powerful than contemporary American models, as they had to traverse steep, curvy tracks at high altitudes.  The locomotives were mostly used to cart nitrate between the country’s “Nitrate Towns.” 

But as with many industrial things, the locomotives became obsolete and fell out of use. Most were scrapped or left in the desert to slowly rust away.

Fortunately for the one in Taltal, it was spared and parked in a small square with two passenger trains and a little cargo train. The locomotive does not run anymore, but it does commemorate the industry that was the town’s former lifeblood.

Know Before You Go

The locomotive is freely accessible.

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July 5, 2019

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