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Decauville

Decauville
When I started this project, I knew little or nothing about European rail practices.  Dave Engstrom found the term Decauville in his translating of Guida dell'Africa Orientale Italiana.  I didn't know what it meant and thanks to Renato Gaudio I got a definition.
The railway system Decauville takes its name from the french engineer P.Decauville (1846-1922) , the inventor. It is a "railway " sytem  suited for mines, yards, etc, with the track ( the gauge is in the range of 50-60 cm) laid directly on the ground.  It is suited for hand pulled carts, or very small locomotives. It can be easily disassembled and transported like a model train.  It is very common in yards, mines and tunnel works,
Recently, I found a site devoted to Decauville and other industrial narrow gauge.


Mauro Bottagal had the above picture from Bengasi in colonial Libya.  I suspect that the Decauville in Eritrea that served the potash mines looked very much like it.


Copyright 1975, GRAF

Le Ferrrovie Coloniali Italiane had this picture captioned (in Italian) "A locomotive of the type 'Montua' used by the Mersa Fatma-Colulli."

The above exerpt from a map in Guida dell'Africa Orientale Italiana.  It shows the laine between Mersa Fatma and Colulli.
[South of Massawa] along the coast at Mersa Fatma., a 65 km 'Decauville' (600 mm) line was constructed inland to Kolulli. Five 0-4-0T locomotives built by Decauville operated on this line, which also had two small 0 & K and Henschel tank engines and three American Porter 0-4-0Ts, built from 1900 to 1919. When this line was closed in 1929, most of the locomotives seem to have been scrapped, although the Porters escaped the torch by being transfcrred to Italian Somaliland in 1924 where, re-gauged to 950 mm, they continued their careers.
Steam in Africa
One of the locomotives seems to have survived until the end of the railroad at Asmara as a steam generator.  I found an image of  a locomotive of the same basic design as that above on Steffano Pettini's excellent site.


As best I can translate his comments, it says:
This photo shows a Tonarelli of the locomotive  boiler that bears on a plate which says "Giuseppina". The photo is part of a series shot in Asmara.

The elders claim that in recent years before the demolition was used to produce the steam necessary for the periodic cleaning of boilers and then once that is done dismembered in a candle factory, now no longer exists in the area of the acres of furnaces.



In Guide to Eritrea, Edward Paice discusses a road that parallels the old railway remnants:
The road from Adaito to Badda runs for part of the way alongside of the remains of the Italian railway which ran to the potash mines to the southwest.

 


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