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Background Photo Courtesy of Charles Moulton
Site Updated February 04,09
See WAZNEW for updates since then.
From the 1890s until the late 1970s, the Eritrean Railway ran inland from the Red Sea port of Massawa. At first, it only went to Ghinda. Then, it went on to Asmara, the capitol of the then Italian colony. Later, it would go beyond Agordat toward the Sudanese border. After the British took over, in 1942, the line was stripped back to Agordat. This was the form of the line from the mid-1930s until it was tore up in the 1970s.
The newly independent Eritrea is rebuilt the line to Asmara and they have started building towards Keren.
The line has been known under a number of names. The ones that I know of are Eritrean Railway, Eritrean Railway and Cableway, Eritrean Railway and Ropeway, Imperial Ethiopian Railway, Northern Ethiopian Railway, Ferrovie Eritree and Serpente d'acciaio (steel snake). The last name was due to the large number of curves.
Sometime during the Italian era, a separate ropeway ran from Massawa to Asmara. This was rendered inoperable during the British occupation following World War II. While I was there in the 1960s, the towers, cables and buckets were still present. Shortly thereafter, everything was tore out and sold for scrap.
Look for much more material posted soon.
The links below will take you to a variety of information about the line and about Eritrea. It is worth a trip if you have the time.
Jennie Street and Amanuel Ghebreselassie have a new book out on the railway.
Links about Eritrea and
Links about the line
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