Map of Malleco ViaductLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Site visited in November, 2006. Easy stop if you drive a car on Panamericana. It is located around 600 km south of Santiago de Chile, near the town of Collipulli. You cannot miss the object as it is located just near the highway (and well-marked, there are brown signs on Ruta 5, just search for Monumento Nacional Viaducto Malleco). Malleco Viaduct or Puente Malleco is an engineering monument from the end of XIX century.
At first glance it looks as typical work of Gustave Eiffel but it was designed by local Victorino Aurelio Lastarria in 1887 although Eiffel also presented his offer to Chilean government (rejected during contest). Instead of Eiffel, Chileans chose other French engineering bureau Schneider et Cie. O Le Creusot. Therefore, the bridge was made of steel, manufactured in pieces in France, shipped to Chile and constructed on the spot. At that time, it was the highest railway bridge in the world (96 meters – I did not measure that but some sources also point that it was 101 meters – you will have to judge for yourself what is the truth).
Malleco Viaduct can be visited free of charge, the site is not fenced so you can just place the car somewhere after passing modern bridge (there were no official parking next to the bridge but leaving the car in the close area was quite common) and take few minutes’ walk to reach the monument. Although still in use the trains are not very frequent. Painted in yellow the bridge looks quite spectacular in surrounding green area and small river (Malleco) down there. Especially the view of the river through railway sleepers is impressive.
Practicalities: Malleco Viaduct is accessible from Ruta 5 (the easiest if you head south of Santiago de Chile), mind that all Panamericana in Chile is a toll road (payment only in Chilean peso). If you want to explore the area it is better to leave the car somewhere in the town (use exit Collipulli or A Mirador Maleco por Collipulli). As I saw the place on a way to the south, I did not stay overnight in Collipulli but there are many possibilities if you want on a way, before and after. Personally I stayed in a motel near Talca but it was a kind of budget, near-the-road accommodation, nevertheless still maintaining certain level like most places in Chile.