Federación, a Tale of Two Cities

The ideal way to see Federación (both the old and the new city) is by going on a train with no rails that leaves from the hot spring resort. This typical tour is a must for visitors.

Opposite the hot springs resort, it is possible to make out a group of historical trains, with the particular feature that none of them needs any rails to set out on a tour around this beautiful city.

In fact, they are small vehicles that pretend to be trains and are used to show the tourist around the most important nooks in the old city and the new Federación.

Without hesitation, we got on one of these beautiful trains which set out towards the old city, the one standing on the other side of the lake, carrying lots of visitors.

Towards the Old City of Federación

The train began to move in the opposite direction along the main access to the city and, after bordering the local waterfront, we reached the starting point on a road with an old iron bridge. A small signpost would read “The Old City”.

  • Bridge over the lake

    Bridge over the lake

  • The local waterfront

    The local waterfront

  • A beautiful blossoming lapacho

    A beautiful blossoming lapacho

  • Beautiful trains

    Beautiful trains

  • The New Federación, Glamour and Hot Springs

    The New Federación, Glamour and Hot Springs

  • The new city

    The new city

The other bank was quite different from the new city. The streets made of dirt and some old constructions quickly caught the attention of everyone on the train.

Our tourist guide began to tell us the story of old Federación and we were fascinated to see what this entire place used to be like before the construction of the Salto Grande Dam (Concordia) flooded everything, including the town, of course.

The old hospital (where all adults over 25 years old were born), the elderly people’s home, the school, the old water tank, a small chapel, the local cemetery and many other buildings that were not torn down are still standing for visitors to see. Painful for those who were forced to move, not only physically but also to leave behind their affections and memories.

The Museum of Images operates in one of these buildings, where it is possible to be surprised by photographs, writs and images portraying what everything used to be like and what it is like today.

One of the so many anecdotes goes that when the river volume decreases and the dam gates are opened, the level of the lake begins to go down and it is possible to see the roofs of many buildings, and even some blocks. According to those who have seen this, the images are impressive.

The story is hard but not untrue. Thus, feeling a little bit sad and trying to assimilate other people’s pain, we began to cross the bridge once again, but this time to enter the new city, the present times. We abandoned the old city.

The New Federación, Glamour and Hot Springs

I do not know whose idea it was but only a train could be the most appropriate vehicle to do this particular tour. From the past to modern times and the train joining what once was modern and then became obsolete. At least around these latitudes.

Feeling deeply thoughtful, we left the old city and entered New Federación, clean, modern, and bewitching from every point of view.

The Civic Center, the local Tourist Office and the church were the first institutions where our eyes stopped. The tour continued. We watched the most beautiful boulevard in the city and the pretty Libertad Square, created in 1991 to become the meeting point and the center of activities for the local population.

The Stella Maris Promenade, in the local port, is one of the most picturesque sites in the local waterfront, with the monument paying tribute to the foundation of the three federations that displays a white figure with three points in the direction of the sky.

El Aromito is a park where a hundred different specimens of flora were planted by a local neighbor (who takes care of them) before the creation of the lake, in order to give shelter to unique specimens.

A beautiful blossoming lapacho is the next stop of our train. It is the object of hundreds of photographs until the driver resolves to start moving again and pass by the local casino.

Opposite Playa Grande, we were surprised by the huge image of the Immaculate Conception: a handmade sculpture carved in wood by the natives from the Jesuit missions settled down in these lands.

Our tour continued around the cabins and hotels surrounding the Hot Springs Resort, until we stopped at the gates of Poblarte Theater, where the Tavajhu theater company has presented a play perfectly featuring the feelings of the people of Federación, their joy and sadness, on stage for the last few years.

Finally, we arrived in the starting point again. As we went off the train, we had a better understanding of the feelings of this people that today enjoy good health thanks to hot springs water, but who had decades of suffering that nothing could heal, not even the water.

Autor Pablo Etchevers Fotografo Pablo Etchevers

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