Río Turbio is the result of the first mining exploitation works by Yacimientos Carboníferos Fiscales in 1943. Featuring five coal layers, it is estimated to have a reserve of 450,000,000 tons. When the activities began, this area boomed and the railway was inaugurated in 1951. It was a 258-kilometer-long industrial gauge train, whose rails joined Río Turbio and Río Gallegos to the shipment port.
It was the railway which provided a thriving growth to the region, fostering self-sufficiency of solid fuel and heavy industry. This railway, which has become a true historical and cultural heritage and whose particular features -small gauge, steam locomotives, 60-car trains- turn it into a special branch, performed tasks only for the company. It transported machinery and materials, coal and the like. Only occasionally did it transport a few passengers.
The local climate is cold, typical of the mountain, and 50 centimeters of snow may be accumulated in the winter.
Here is a curious fact: Miners' day is celebrated on December 4 to pay tribute to Saint Barbara, patron saint of miners. This is the only day when women are allowed inside the mines. Access is forbidden the rest of the year based on the belief that the entrance of the female to the center of the earth will result in disgrace.