Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

Chile: Through the Andes by Train

Ian Birch

Fall 2021 - Chile Through the Andes by Train


The train was still climbing, rocking gently at a speed not much quicker than a brisk walk. Our progress seemed impossibly slow; the slope was surely steeper than it looked, or maybe, due to the altitude, the locomotive was being starved of oxygen. As the train followed the contours of the landscape, moving through a series of curves, the climb seemed to take forever. But the view was incredible: a broad panoply of yet more dark mountains and volcanoes, yellow plateaus, black and blue lakes under a still bright sky. I felt sure we had to be close to the highest point of the journey – 4,750 metres – but still we were climbing …


Ian Birch taught business and finance at universities in British Columbia and Ontario before retiring onto a wooded acreage in the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands to pursue diverse projects. This article is an excerpt from the author’s book The Last Train through the Heart of the Americas: By Rail and Road across Two Hemispheres for which he is currently seeking an agent/publisher (ianbbirch@hotmail.com).