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Ingenious Engineers

Pablo Etchevers Jorge González

Leaving Los Angeles along Route Panamericana 5 towards the South, one of the most impressive works of modern engineering may be reached: the Bridges of Collipulli. A must.

Visit to the Collipulli Bridges

We left the City of Los Ángeles following Route 5, which leads to Temuco and we waited eagerly for the road to lead us to the small community of Collipulli.

Here, man’s ingenuity gave shape to two magnificent masterpieces that make the inhabitants of this village and most of the citizens from this region feel especially proud.

The Malleco River runs deep through high walls in this area. Therefore, it was necessary to build this extraordinary bridge for the railway and the trucks to cross. As time went by, this place would be known as “The Malleco’s Viaduct”.

Visit to the Collipulli Bridges

The Train First

With 400 meters of length and almost 100 meters of height, this yellow railway bridge dazzles the eyes of visitors and it is amazing to see dozens of people walking from one side to the other along its footpath everyday.

Victoriano Aurelio Lastarria was in charge of the design. It was built by Schneider Company, from the village of Le Crousot, in France. Finally, the huge bridge was brought to Collipulli by ship.

It was inaugurated by President J. M. Balmaceda in 1890. It was an essential work for the country to complete the definitive occupation of the Araucana region.

In 1995, the American Engineers’ Association was proud to declare it World Engineering Heritage. Ever since that appointment, tourists and engineers from all over the world have come to Collipulli just to admire it.

Visit to the Collipulli Bridges

Afterwards, the Road Bridge

Another magnificent work stands a few meters away from this structure. Even if it is less visual than the previous one, it is equally exceptional and majestic.

It is a long road bridge that goes across the Malleco River and was built between 1968 and 1973 in order to improve road communications in the country.

Built in concrete and steel, it is 300 meters long and 75 meters high. It is held by extremely high and narrow pillars on which a concrete slab has been assembled to support the weight of the largest trucks in the country.

From this bridge footpath, it is possible to make out a deep canyon crossed by the river and, of course, it is inevitable to lift up our eyes and be delighted by the extravagant silhouette of the railway bridge.

Visit to the Collipulli Bridges

Between them, and to one side of the river, a 4WD circuit catches the eyes of the curious, as a group of youths has fun with these vehicles trying to make various maneuvers. All this under the attentive look of these two giants that have controlled everything that happens around from the heights. With ingenuity, just like they were conceived.

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To have a better view of the viaduct, it is necessary to enter the community of Collipulli and let ourselves be carried away by the road signs that finally lead us to the spot located between the two bridges, the one made of iron and the one made of concrete.


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