By the late 19th century, Deseado seemed destined to become a rail port, as authorities planned a northwesterly freight-and-passenger line to Bariloche. It never advanced beyond Las Heras, 283 kilometers northwest, and closed in 1977, leaving the stately Estación del Ferrocarril Patagónico (Eufrasia Arias s/n, 4–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat., free) as a surprisingly good museum staffed by former railroad workers.
Several monuments date from this era, most notably the railroad’s Vagón Histórico (1898), an historic railcar in a small plaza at San Martín and Almirante Brown. Immediately across the street, Banco de la Nación has preserved its classic lava-block style, but the supermarket that occupies the former Compañía Argentina del Sud (1919) has concealed its vintage details with hideous painted signs on all sides (pointlessly, as it has no competition in town). One block west stands the Sociedad Española (1915).
Along the waterfront, the Museo Regional Mario Brozoski (Brown and Colón, tel. 0297/487-0673, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. weekdays, 3–7 p.m. weekends, free) holds artifacts from the English corvette Swift, sunk nearby in 1770 and rediscovered in 1982. Several kilometers northeast, Balneario Las Piletas is a volcanic beach area where retreating tides leave pools warm enough for swimming, at least in summer.
At the north end of Almirante Zar, after passing beneath a railroad bridge, the road leads five kilometers into the isolated Cañadon Quitapenas and excellent camping sites (no services). Ten kilometers west of town, a southbound lateral leads to the Gruta de Lourdes, a secluded pilgrimage site where the faithful have left devotional plaques. Rare rainstorms produce ephemeral waterfalls here.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition