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Notes on the Geography of Senegal: Sor

A motorist arriving in Saint-Louis from Dakar might, on arriving at the Pont Faidherbe, turn not left onto the bridge but right into the Sor Market. The name may be unfamiliar, but the suburb of Sor covers several times more ground that Saint-Louis proper. Sor, technically at least, is an island itself, because the Senegal River does have a lazy distributary that wraps around it. All the roads in and out must cross bridges or embankments.

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Senegal: Sor picture 1

Sor is also the site of the old railway station of Saint-Louis. From here, the Faidherbe Bridge is only a minute or two in the distance. (The track was never extended across the Senegal River.) Yes, that's a bit of rail at the lower-left corner.

Senegal: Sor picture 2

Here we've backed up the track 50 meters. You're right: it's narrow-gauge.

Senegal: Sor picture 3

Here's the view toward Dakar, 163 track miles that-a-way.

Senegal: Sor picture 4

We're maybe a ten-minute walk toward Dakar but looking toward Sor. Fills you with expectation, doesn't it?

Senegal: Sor picture 5

Sor was the end of the line, and so it had a freight yard, later converted into a bus stop and garage. The tracks seem to be either pulled or buried.

Senegal: Sor picture 6

We're back at the station, at about the point where old photos show French officers in tropical whites and pith helmets. Dare you to wear one today!

Senegal: Sor picture 7

The track-side view of the station.

Senegal: Sor picture 8

Out to lunch.

Senegal: Sor picture 9

That's what I call customer service.

Senegal: Sor picture 10

The station seen from the other side. Rail service began in 1885. This station opened about 25 years later, in 1909. Rail service ended in 1996.

Senegal: Sor picture 11

Same location, but looking toward what was once bravely or absurdly called Place St. Germain. More recently it's been the Avenue General De Gaulle, but he's nowhere in sight. Maybe it's wiser just to call it the Marché de Sor.

Senegal: Sor picture 12

A driver tries to bull his way through. "This is a public street!" No luck.

Senegal: Sor picture 13

Had he managed to get through, he would have found smooth sailing.

Senegal: Sor picture 14

Sor doesn't have many buildings built to impress, but here's an exception. Governor Faidherbe in 1855 created what became the École des Fils des Chefs et des Interprêtes. The school moved into this building in 1902. Since 1965 the building has served as an elementary school. The faience came from you-know-where.

Senegal: Sor picture 15

A bit farther up the road is Our Lady of Lourdes, from 1891.

Senegal: Sor picture 16

It has its own Lourdian grotto.

Senegal: Sor picture 17

And a full house this Sunday morning.


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