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Railroads of Mexico 


THE STRATFORD CO., Publishers 


Oopjright, 1921 

The STRATFORD 00., Pnbliiheri 

Boiton, Mass. 

The Alpine Preis, Boston, Mais., U. S. A. 



I. Introduction v 


n. The Diaz Policy of Encouragement . . . 1 

m. The Permanent Way and Structures ... 7 

IV. The Equipment Situation . . . . . 19 

V. Operation Under Difficulties . . . .25 

VI. Service . 43 

I vn. The Claims of Investors 63 

: vm. The Outlook 69 


I. IX. Mexican Topography .83 

X. Before the Railroads 91 

XI. Railroads Introduced 99 

xn. The Original Diaz Policy 109 

xm. Early American Attitude Toward Mexican 

J Railroad Investments . . . . . 115 

XIV. Influx of American Capital 123 

XV. Mexican Central 127 

XVI. Mexican National 133 

xvn. Mexican International 137 

xvm. Interoceanic 139 

XIX. Mexican Southern 145 

XX. Tehuantepec 149 

XXI. Tehuantepec Connections, North and South . 153 

xxn. Western Sierra Madre Projects .... 157 

xxm. Southern Pacific 161 


4-v o o \ 5 




XXV. Relations With the Government .... 167 
XXVI. Results, Political and Economic .... 189 

Bibliography 197 

Index 223 




MEXICO'S centennial year, 1910, marked the end of nor- 
mal conditions throughout the country. Porfirio Diaz, 
who had brought order out of chaos, was an old man. The 
voices of discontent were no longer quiet, and the world was 
asking with renewed interest the question, ** After Diaz, 
what?" Hardly had the great anniversary celebration been 
concluded when insurrection broke out in the north, and a 
reign of disorder set in which has continued with varying 
degrees of violence until the present. 

When the power that maintains public order breaks down, 
property interests suffer; and railroads are peculiarly liable 
to loss and destruction. The regularly constituted govern- 
ment avails itself of its right to take over the lines for military 
use; equipment is seized for the transportation of troops, 
munitions, and supplies ; and the service essential to the main- 
tenance of commerce and industry is disorganized if not 
brought to a complete -standstill. Revenues fall off, outlays 
for construction and maintenance are curtailed, and the re- 
turn to investors is suspended. 

More serious still is the effect of the activities of the forces 
of rebellion and disorder. Bridges are destroyed and tracks 
are torn up to prevent the movement of trains ; equipment is 
seized and buildings are burned. All varieties of railroad 
property are destroyed, sometimes purely for the sake of des- 
truction. Employees are killed, driven from their posts, and 


impressed into military service. Industrial operations are 
suspended, and the flow of traffic is stopped. Thus the great 
organism which is essential to economic development and 
national stability becomes incapable of function if not wholly 

This in general terms is what has occurred in Mexico within 
the last ten years. To present an orderly statement of the 
progress of the disaster is impossible under existing con- 
ditions; for the facilities for obtaining information have 
broken down. To measure it in terms of statistics is also im- 
possible; for while fragmentary data have been assembled, 
they have not always been published, and publication has 
been long delayed. Reports, official and unofficial, are in 
hopeless disagreement. Under the circumstances the most 
that can be done is to set forth the results of a study of all 
available information which will contribute to the evidence 
necessary to an understanding of the situation and to a con- 
sideration of its remedy. 

Part I of this study is mainly concerned with the present 
and with the period following the Diaz regime. It is addressed 
to those who already know something of the historical aspects 
of transportation in Mexico; its purpose being to set forth 
some of the facts upon which may be based an answer to the 
question ''What is the matter with Mexico to-day f 

There is an abundance of fragmentary materials on the 
transportation history of Mexico. Much of it is in English ; for 
most of the financing and construction and, until recent years, 
much of the operation of Mexican railroads have been in 
American or British hands. No attempt has yet been made, 
however, to assemble those materials and to present the result 
in a detailed, systematic treatise. That is a task for the fu- 
ture. Yet it is possible to give a brief summary account of 



the development of that great system of land transportation 

which so rapidly brought Mexico out of a long period of eco- 
nomic stagnation ; and that is the purpose of Part II. In Part 

III are presented certain background considerations and con- 
clusions. The bibliography, while far from complete, is per- 
haps the most extensive list yet to appear. 





MEXICAN railroad development was the result of foreign 
capital and enterprise, attracted by national franchises 
or *' concessions'' and encouraged by subsidies. This policy 
was adopted by President Diaz in 1880 after the failure of an 
attempt to promote railroad building by Mexicans under 
state concessions. It was continued by his successor, Manuel 
Gonzales, during the years 1880-1884, and taken up with re- 
newed zeal at the beginning of the long Diaz regime which 
continued from 1884 to 1911. 

In 1876 when Diaz first assumed control, the Mexican rail- 
way, British built, was in operation between the Capital City 
and the port of Vera Cruz. There was also a small number of 
lines under state concessions, but the total extent of track in 
the country was only 416 miles. In 1880, at the end of Diaz' 
first term, the number of miles had increased to 674. From 
1884 to 1910 the system developed from 3682 to 15,360 miles, 
of which 3025 miles represented small local lines constructed 
under state concessions.^ 

The result of the Diaz policy in terms of foreign investment 
can only be stated in general terms and for years for which 
estimates are available. A careful estimate of American capi- 
tal in Mexico was made in 1902 by United States Consul 
Andrew D. Barlow : 

^'Five hundred million dollars gold is in round figures the 
American capital invested in Mexico. . . . This amount has 

^ Gonzales Roa, "El problema ferrocarrilero,*' 30 (1915). 



practically all been invested in the past quarter of a century, 
and about one-half of it has been invested within the past five 
years. . . . More American capital is invested in the railroads 
of Mexico than in any other single line — about 70 per cent of 
the total. In this line American capital dominates. All of the 
important railroads in Mexico (except the Interoceanie, . . . 
the Mexican Railway, . . . and the National Tehuantepec 
Railway . . . )> ^'^e owned by American capital. . . . 

''Since the construction of the Mexican Central by Ameri- 
cans, some twenty years ago. United States capital has always 
been the strongest factor in Mexican railroads, and at present 
it constitutes about 80 per cent of the total capital invested 
in railroads in this country.''* 

In 1907 it was estimated by the United States Bureau of 
Manufactures that ''American investments in Mexico aggre- 
gate probably more than $750,000,000.'' By use of Barlow's 
total of 1902 as a base, the new figure was arrived at by esti- 
mating that "the increase since that time has probably aver- 
aged over 50 millions annually." "About half of this," it 
was declared, "has been invested since 1898. About two- 
thirds of this total is invested in railroads. Of the total in- 
vestments in Mexican railways 80 per cent belongs to Ameri- 

A third estimate from an official source was that made in 
1912 by Marion Letcher, United States Consul at Chihuahua. 
This gave ,the total of American investments as $1,057,770,000 
and the total of British investments as $321,303,000. The 
capital invested in railroad shares was declared to be : Ameri- 
can $235,464,000, British $81,238,000, and Mexican $125,- 

* n. S. Department of State, Oommeroial relations, 1902-3 : I, 433-5. 

* U. S. Department of Commerce and Labor, Commercial America, 1907:44. 


440,000; in railroad bonds: American $408,926,000, British 
$87,680,000, and Mexican $12,275,000/ 

A New York financial journal in 1913 presented estimates 
of foreign capital in Mexico which it had obtained from weU- 
informed sources. Estimates of American investments ranged 
from $600,000,000 to $1,000,000,000. One gave the source of 
foreign capital as follows: United States, $1,000,000,000; 
Great Britian, $320,000,000 ; Prance, $143,000,000 ; other for- 
eign countries, $118,000,000. These figure substantially agree 
with those prepared about the same time by a British financial 
writer who was familiar with Mexican conditions: United 
States, £211,554,000 ; Great Britian, £64,260,720 ; Prance, £28,- 

These estimates measure roughly the stake of foreigners 
in Mexico. They show the grounds for concern in the United 
States, particularly, as to the condition and prospects of 
Mexican railroads. But great as is the interest of foreigners, 
the interest of the Mexican people is greater. With them it 
is not a question of possible loss of invested surplus ; their con- 
cern is the prevention of the demoralization of their whole 
economic system. Their slogan, ** Mexico for the Mexcians", 
need not carry with it any menace to the interests of foreign 
investors as such; for no intelligent or responsible Mexican 
can hope to see his country prosper without foreign capital. 

This fact was recognized by Diaz; and while he pursued a 
policy of encouragement, he also took good care that the terms 
of all concessions to foreigners should be such as to protect the 
present and future interests of the country. He furthered 
development, but not exploitation. "When in 1899 he was in- 

*U. S. "OonBtdar Reports," July 18, 1912:316. 

" ''New York Jonrnal of Commerce,** February 15, 1913; Martin, Invest 
ments in Mexico, "Financial Review of Reviews,*' no. 89:21 (1913). 



duced by Limantour to adopt the more restrictive policy em- 
bodied in the general railroad law, it was because he had been 
led to believe that the time had come to build and operate 
railroads as parts of a comprehensive system, serving all sec- 
tions of the country to the mutual benefit of the people and the 
investors. When during 1902-9 Limantour put through his 
plan for national control of the bulk of the railroad mileage 
of the country through share ownership, it was not because of 
hostility to foreign capital as such It was because of the pro- 
fessed fear that one or the other of the two great trunk lines 
would pass into the control of an American system and be 
operated in a spirit of exploitation within the limits of their 
underlying concessions. 

Limantour, himself a man of foreign blood, favored the in- 
vestment of foreign capital in Mexico, although he preferred 
to have it come from Europe so as to prevent the financial 
domination of Mexico by the capitalists of the United States. 
That his anti- American attitude was not shared by his chief 
is indicated by the fact that Diaz himself was induced in 1905 
to favor the construction of the Southern Pacific line from 
Guaymas to a connection with the City of Mexico at Guadala- 

Limantour 's nationalization plan involved the formation of 
a new corporation, the National Railways of Mexico, in which 
the government should own a majority of the shares. This 
plan was carried out in 1909; and in 1910 the new corpora- 
tion controlled the following standard lines: 

Mexican Central Railway; American, British, and Ger- 
man capital. 

•Diaz Dufoo, *' Limantour, »» 129-37 (1910); Gonzales Roa, 20-9, 36-40 
(1915). The latter criticises the restrictive policy of Limantour as one which 
retarded the development of railroads, a result which, he says, "the Constitu- 
tional Government of Mr. Madero attempted to remedy.'* — p. 40. 



National Railroad of Mexico; American, British, and 

Mexican capital. 
Mexican International Railroad; American capitaL 
Pan-American Railroad; American capital. 
Vera Cruz and Isthmus Railroad; American and Mexi- 
can capital. 
It also controlled the following narrow-gauge lines: 
National Railroad of Mexico, Morelia Branch ; American, 

British, and German capital. 
Hidalgo and Northeastern Railroad; Mexican capital. 
Michoacan and Pacific Railway ; British capital. 
Interoceanic Railway ; British capital. 
Mexican Southern Railway; British capital. 
The system included 6212 miles of standard-gauge line and 
1545 miles of narrow-gauge line. With yards and sidings the 
total trackage was 8392 miles. It touched the Texas frontier 
at Juarez, Piedras Negras, Nuevo Laredo, and Matamoros; 
the Gulf coast at Tampico and Vera Cruz; the Pacific coast 
at Manzanillo ; and the Guatemala frontier at Suchiate, on 
the river of that name.' 

At the same time the government controlled the Tehuan- 
tepec National railway through a partnership agreement with 
S. Pearson and Son, Ltd., entered into in 1902. This standard- 
gauge line of 220 miles, extending from Salina Cruz on the 
Pacific to Puerto Mexico on the Gulf, served to connect the 
Pan-American railroad and the Vera Cruz and Isthmus rail- 

Among the larger independent railroads were the follow- 

Southern Pacific Railroad of Mexico ; American capital. 

7 The Texas-Mexican, Laredo to Oorpns Cfhristi, 162 miles, is here omitted, 
since it is wholly in the state of Texas. 



Mexico North Western Railway; British and Canadian 

Mexican Railway; British capital. 
Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient Railway; American, 

British, and Dutch capital. 
Mexican Northern Railway; American capital. 
Nacozari Railway; American capital. 
Parral and Durango Railroad; American capital. Part 

narrow gauge. 
United Railways of Yucatan; Mexican capital. Mostly 

narrow gauge. 
Coahuila and Zacatecas Railway; British capital. Nar- 
row gauge. 
The total extension of all such lines, excluding those built 
under state concessions, was 3883 miles. The national gov- 
ernment exercised direct control over more than half of the 
railroad mileage of the country and over two-thirds of the 
lines of primary importance. This was the situation at thf 
outbreak of the long period of revolution and banditry.' 

' Mexican year book, 1911:168. 



AS set forth in the general railroad law of 1899 or in sub- 
sequent declarations, it was the policy of the Diaz gov- 
ernment to favor the construction of railroads projected along 
eight general routes, all of national importance. Before the 
end of the Diaz regime three of these routes had been opened, 
— hy the Vera Cruz and Isthmus, the Pan-American, and the 
Mexican Pacific extension of the old Mexican Central; and 
plans for the development of the other routes were in various 
stages of progress. These routes were : 

From the city of Chihuahua to a port in Sonora or north- 
em Sinaloa, 

From the City of Mexico to a port in Guerrero, 

From Guadalajara to Mazatlan, 

From the Tehuantepec line to Campeche, and 

From the City of Mexico to Tampico. 
In the years since 1910 railroad construction has been at- 
tended with great difficulty, due to military operations, ac- 
tivities of bandits, shortage of materials, and lack of funds. 
Indeed, after 1914 the new mileage was negligible ; and it was 
not until 1919 that really serious efforts at construction were 
resumed. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, the record of con- 
struction during the last decade is not unimpressive; and 
some of the plans for additional construction are worthy of 

Those plans contemplate the completion of the parts of the 
Diaz program that are unfinished and the construction of new 



lines which are designed either to link up isolated parts of the 
national system, to open up new territory, or to facilitate the 
movement of military forces in the restoration and mainte- 
nance of order. 

Railroad communication between the central plateau of 
northern Mexico and the west coast is still barred by the 
western Sierra Madre range, despite the efforts of several 
groups of promoters extending over a period of forty years. In 
the early eighties three lines were projected through that 
range; but of these the Texas, Topolobampo, and Pacific had 
only a paper existence, and the Sinaloa and Durango is repre- 
sented to-day only by the unimportant line from the port of 
Altata to Culiacan, now known as the Occidental railway. The 
Mexican International was projected as a line to the port of 
Mazatlan ; but it reached no further than Tepehuanes, where 
work was stopped in 1902. 

In the meantime two other projects had been launched; 
the Rio Grande, Sierra Madre, and Pacific and the Chihuahua 
and Pacific. These in 1909 passed from American to Canadian 
control under the name of the Mexico North Western, and 
through connections were established between Juarez and 
Chihuahua by 1912. 

Before the Chihuahua and Pacific passed from the control 
of its original owners, it had granted trackage rights over that 
parts of its line from Chihuahua to Minaca and surrendered 
its franchise across the mountains to the Kansas City, Mexico, 
and Orient railway, which was forced into receivership in 1912 
before any attempt had been made to pierce the mountain 
barrier. In 1919 the Mexican government announced that 
work would soon be resumed, under military protection, on 
that part of the route between Falomir and the Rio Grande. 

In the last years of Diaz rule, a short line was begun from 



Durango to Llano-Grande to open up a rich timber region and 
also with the idea of ultimately extending westward to 
Mazatlan. This line was completed in 1913, and in 1919 a 
further extension of some thirty miles to El Salto was con- 
structed ; but no attempt has been made to cross the range to 
Mazatlan, nor is such an attempt likely for many years. 

The Sierra Madre range also blocks the way between the City 
of Mexico and the port of Acapulco, although a railroad over 
that route has been the dream of promoters for three-quarters 
of a century. Acapulco was the western goal of the pioneer 
Mexican railway which stopped at the City of Mexico, of the 
Interoceanic railway which reached the Amacusac river in 
Morelos, and of the Mexico, Cuernavaca, and Pacific which 
halted at the Balsas river in eastern Guerrero in 1899. In 
1912 the project was revived and work was begun on a line 
from Acapulco up the coast toward Zihuatenejos, but sus- 
pended after the completion of three miles because of the 
activity of bandits. 

Better results have been obtained over the route between 
the City of Mexico and Mazatlan. In 1905 Southern Pacific 
interests obtained a concession for a railroad from Guadalajara 
to Mazatlan and also to Guaymas, the southern terminus of 
the Sonora railway. Construction was pushed with vigor until 
1912, when the disturbed condition of the country made fur- 
ther work impossible on the final section through the Sierra 
Madre between Orendain and LaQuemada. This is an ex- 
tremely difficult route, and it is possible that the route from 
Orendain to San Marcos, on the Pacific extension of the Mexi- 
can Central, will be chosen instead. 

A direct line from the Rio Grande at Matamoros through 
Tampico and across the eastern Sierra Madre to the City of 
Mexico was the aim of Count Telfener, whose New York, Texas, 



and Mexico project received some prominence in the eighties. 
It was also the desire of President Diaz, who in 1904 urged the 
construction of a railroad from the Capital to Tampico. With 
the development of the rich oil fields in the Tampico-Tuxpam 
district, the need for better railroad connections became more 
urgent, and in 1912 work was begun on a line from Tampico 
to San Francisco, on the Interoceanic railway, with a branch 
to Honey. Such a line would effect connections with two rail- 
roads running out of the City of Mexico, but there is no im- 
mediate likelihood of the construction of the branch to Honey. 
In 1914 work was supended after some twenty miles had been 
built, and little progress has been made since that time. 

This completes the record of actual accomplishment upon 
the more important routes included in the Diaz program. 
There are other lines, however, which should receive attention. 
In 1919 a line was under construction in Coahuila, between 
Cuatro Cienegas and Sierra Mojada to connect the old Mexi- 
can International with the Mexican Northern. From Sierra 
Mojada a further extension is planned to a connection with 
the Mexico North Western and the Kansas City, Mexico, and 
Orient at Chihuahua, but the diflSculty of the route makes the 
construction of such a line a remote possibility. In 1919 also 
the Mexican government ordered the resumption of work — 
begun in 1911 and suspended in 1913 — ^upon another line in 
Coahuila, designed to connect Allende, on the Mexican Inter- 
national, with a projected branch of the Kansas City, Mexico, 
and Orient. 

After ten years of intermittent construction a line was 
opened in 1919 between Canitas, on the Mexican Central, and 
the city of Durango, putting that city in more direct communi- 
cation with Capital and opening a region rich in minerals. In 
1918-19 work was begun on an extension of the Mexican Inter- 



national from Tepehuanes to Guanacevi. The ultimate goal is 
El Oro, where a connection would be made with the Pairal 
branch of the Mexican Central. The Pacific extension of the 
Mexican Central was connected with the Morelia branch of the 
old Mexican National by a line built from Penjamo to Aguno 
in 1910-14. 

In 1911 the Mexican Southern opened a branch from Oaxaca 
to Taviche and in 1912, a branch from Oaxaca to Tlacolula. 
In 1913 the Vera Cruz and Isthmus completed a branch from 
Burro to San Andres Tuxtla and another branch from Tres 
Valles to Cerro Colorado, both in the state of Vera Cruz. In 
1917 the state of Coahuila began the construction of a short 
line from Saltillo towards the east, with the immediate pur- 
pose of opening mineral lands. This was under construction 
in 1919. Work was also completed in 1920 on a short line from 
LaCapilla, on the Pacific extension of the Mexican Central, to 
Chapala on the northern shore of the lake of that name. 

In 1920 the reported railroad mileage in the entire country 
was 16,726, excluding purely local lines under state juris- 

The railroads of Mexico were constructed under competitive 
conditions, with the result that parallel lines were laid down in 
regions which could not produce enough traffic to make profit- 
able operation possible. One of the arguments advanced in 
favor of the formation of the great merger and the organiza- 
tion of the National Railways of Mexico was that under the 
new company such unnecessary and wasteful lines might be 

The first step in this direction was taken in 1910-11 when 
operation was suspended on three branch lines aggregating 
forty-five miles. In 1911-12 one of these branches, twelve 

iDe la Huexta, *'Informe presidenoial/* Sept. 1, 1920:51. 



miles in length, was taken up ; and operations were suspended 
on 131 miles' of the old Mexican International. The lines not 
in operation during that year aggregated 164 miles; and a 
total trackage of 289 miles was scheduled for abandonment. 
During 1912-13 a total trackage of 111 miles was taken up, 
and fifty-eight miles were reported not in operation. No 
changes were reported during the following year, and the 
reports for subsequent years give no information on the sub- 

Under normal conditions it is the practice of railroad com- 
panies everywhere to improve their physical properties and 
thus make possible more economical operation and a larger 
net revenue. Tracks are relaid with heavier rails, new side 
and passing tracks are built, permanent ballast is placed in 
the track, grades and curves are reduced, and narrow-gauge 
track is relaid at standard width. Bridges, trestles, and cul- 
verts are replaced by more permanent types of structures, and 
stations and shops are built and enlarged. Provision for work 
of this nature is generally made out of capital funds. Such 
work is impossible in times of disorder. Thus it is not sur- 
prising to find in the annual report of the National Railways 
of Mexico for 1914-15 the statement : 

**As the Company was losing its control over its property, 
being gradually deprived of its source of revenues, and its 
financial situation becoming extremely difficult, it is logical 
to imagine that for the short period [six weeks] of operation 
under review, there would not perhaps be any important work 
of betterment, addition or replacement to report. ..." 

In the four preceding years such work has been carried on to 
the extent of 13,700,000 pesos. Over half of this amount was 
expended in 1910-11 ; in 1913-14 the outlay was less than a 



million pesos. In 1911-12 the Interoceanie completed its 
Metepec-San Lorenzo deviation, eliminating heavy grades and 
sharp curves. The record of the last half-dozen years is one, 
not of betterments, but rather of attempts at maintenance and 

Mexico is a country in which railroad property is subject 
to rapid deterioration through action of the elements, except 
in the arid sections of the north. There are occasional 
torrential rains which cause landslides, wash out or soften the 
roadway, and carry away bridges. Steel bridges and rails are 
less liable to rust than in the United States, but bridge timbers, 
piles, and ties wear out rapidly. On the Mexican railway 
extensive use has been made of steel ties. Ties of Mexican oak 
are laid when they can be obtained, but pine ties are in general 
use throughout the country. They are soft and are easily cut 
by the rails ; they crack in the dry seasons and decay rapidly in 
the rainy months. In their natural state they wiU last from 
eighteen months to two years, and when ''treated" they will 
last from four to six years. 

It is obvious that when the work of maintenance is neglected, 
as it has been during the recent years of political upheaval, a 
great part of the trackage must be renewed. One of the offi- 
cers of the National Railways of Mexico has estimated that at 
least half of the lines must be renewed, and his estimate has 
no reference to the damage suffered through violence. 

When one considers the extent to which the permanent way 
deteriorates in Mexico through natural causes and the known 
fact that ordinary maintenance work has been generally sus- 
pended, it would appear that the actual destruction of track 
through the activity of rebels and bandits has been less than 
the amount indicated by the press reports. However, few lines 
have escaped such destruction. On the Kansas City, Mexico, 


and Orient, the road between Marquez and San Sostenes has 
been practically destroyed. Miles of track on the Mexican rail- 
way have been torn up, necessitating extensive renewals. Con- 
siderable track has been destroyed on the Southern Pacific, 
particularly on that part of the line between Acaponeta and 
Tepic. The Mexico North Western has suffered relatively more 
damage than any other railroad in Mexico. 

An American engineer thus described the methods of track 
destruction observed by him in Coahuila in 1913 : 

**Up to the past six months track destruction has been 
accomplished either by the use of a wrecking crane, which 
lifted sections of rails and ties bodily and piled them up ready 
for burning, or by the slower process of the claw-bar, wrench 
and pick. But a Constitutionalist expert devised a new 
system. . . . 

**A trench is dug between two ties, through which a heavy 
chain is passed around two opposite rails and made fast in 
the center of the track . To this one end of a heavy steel cable 
is hooked, the other end being made fast to the coupling on the 
engine pilot. At the signal the engineer starts his locomotive 
slowly backward. . . . The rails are torn loose from the spikes 
that hold them to the ties and are dragged closely together 
in the center of the roadbed. The ties are loosened from the 
ballast and dragged into piles, while in many cases the rails 
are badly bent and twisted by the force applied. A gang of 
men follows the engine, piling ties on top of the rails and leav- 
ing others beneath them. These are then saturated with oil 
and a match applied. In a short time the ties are consumed 
and the rails are left lying on the ground twisted and con- 
torted into all sorts of shapes, and of no further use until they 
have been re-rolled/'* 

•Weeks, How Mexican rebels destroy railways and bridges, "Scientific 
American," (n. s.) OIX, 209 (1918). 



Another witness has declared that on the line of the old 
Mexican Central, **In some places the rebels have even taken 
scrapers and scraped away the roadbed.' 

Bridges and trestles are the most vulnerable parts of a line 
of railroad; for, unlike a track, they can be destroyed with 
little difficulty, and once destroyed, they are difficult to replace. 
All accounts agree as to the large number of bridges destroyed 
in Mexico. Says a Vice-President of the Southern Pacific : 

**The normal method of procedure included the burning of 
all wooden bridges in the theatre of operations. The smaller 
the band, the greater seems its conception of the importance 
of preventing pursuit by destroying railway bridges. The 
topography and climatology of Mexico are such that provision 
must be made for adequate drainage in cases of sudden and 
severe rainfall. The greater part of these openings are as yet 
bridged by wooden structures. Traffic, can, therefore, easily 
be tied up and operations nullified by a few bridge burners. 
The Southern Pacific of Mexico alone has found 300 bridges 
burned in the last three years."* 

On the lines of the National Railways, according to the 
annual report for 1915-16, **it is estimated that from thirty- 
five to forty per cent of the bridges have been destroyed. Out 
of these sixty per cent were due to the war and forty per cent 
to lack of adequate maintenance. ' ' In the annual report of the 
Southern Pacific company for 1911-12 we are told: 

**0n the main line from Empalme to Tepic, twenty-three 
wooden trestles, having a total length of 2,985 lineal feet, and 
on the Corral-Tonichi Branch, four wooden trestles, having a 

s n. S. Senate Oommittee on Foreign Relations, Hearings ... to investi- 
icate whether any interests in the United States have been or are now engaged 
in inoitinic rebellion in Ouba or Mexico. 854 (1918). 

*Hine, Wartime railroading in Mexico, * 'Railway Age Gazette,'* rv, 722 



total length of 240 lineal feet, were destroyed by the insur- 
reetos between February 14th and June 30th, 1912." 

All of the bridges on the Nacozari railroad have been des- 

Like bridges, stations and other buildings are easily des- 
troyed; and all reports coming out of Mexico agree that the 
destruction has been widespread. Says one press report: 
** Hardly a station has not been burned between Monterey 
and Mexico City.'' An American reporter who entered 
Mexico at Piedras Negras late in 1915 and traveled by rail 
southward through San Luis Potosi wrote: ** Every station 
was gone, and every freight shed, and most of the miserable 
little section houses which had sheltered a poor family. Tele- 
graph wires were down. Water tanks had been blasted to 
pieces; one that we passed standing full 200 feet, and right 
side up, from its ruined foundations." Tanks have been 
riddled with bullets and shops have been destroyed. 

In the year 1912-13 the Interoceanic reported the loss or 
damage of fifteen stations. The annual report of the National 
Railways of Mexico for 1915-16 says: 

**The buildings, signals, water and fuel stations, and other 
similar structures have also suffered considerably because of 
the war, especially on the San Luis Potosi, Aguascalientes and 
Northern divisions, and along the lines of the Interoceanic 
and Mexican Southern Railways." 

Information as to the extent to which railroad property has 
been restored or replaced is quite as difficult to obtain as in- 
formation as to the extent of destruction, and for similar 
reasons. Unofficial statements are incomplete and in conflict 
with each other and also with the* official reports, which are 
admittedly no more than careful estimates. Unquestionably 



some of the optimistic statements as to work done include 
work that is in progress as well as work that is proposed. 

In general, it may be said that, although many lines have 
been out of service for considerable periods, the work of re- 
pair of roadway, superstructures, and bridges has closely 
followed destruction. In some cases this work has been done 
by the companies themselves ; in others the military authorities 
have done such work as was necessary to make possible the 
movement of troop trains. Thus metal bridges have been 
replaced by wooden bridges, trestles have been restored, and 
rails have been relaid. In some places this has had to be done 
several times, as the conflicting forces alternately came into 
control. The Southern Pacific rebuilt one bridge nine times, 
five times in a single month. Work of this nature, done under 
limitations both of time and of materials, is likely to be inferior 
and temporary in character ; and we learn of the loss through 
floods of wooden bridges which had been built as substitutes 
for the steel structures that were destroyed. 

The main line of the old Mexican National, all accounts 
agree, is in good condition. The same seems to be true of the 
lines from Matamoros to Monterey, from Paredon to Saltillo, 
from Tampico to San Luis Potosi, from Mexico to Toluca, and 
from Mexico to Irapuato, Guadalajara, ancf Aguascalientes. 
The lines of the Mexican railway, the Vera Cruz (Mexico) 
railway, the Mexican Southern, the United Railways of 
Yucatan, the Tehuantepec, and a part of the Southern Pacific 
are reported to be in good or fair condition. This list is not 
inclusive. A work program of the National Railways appeared 
in the annual report for 1915-16 under the title ** Estimate of 



the probable cost of repairing and reconstructing the proper- 
ties. ' ' A summary of totals follows : 

Tracks 27,393,617 pesos 

Bridges 8,558,048 

Buildings 3,922,000 

Equipment 9,000,000 



Total 48,873,665 

These figures will have to be considerably increased on 
account of the rise in prices and the wear and tear of sub- 
sequent years. In 1919 a commissioner was appointed to pre- 
pare a new official estimate. His report, made public in 
February 1921, estimated that immediate reconstruction needs 
of the railroads under government operation would call for 
an outlay of 15,000,000 pesos. In view of the figures given 
above this would seem to be an understatement. Annual main- 
tenance requirements were estimated at 14,000,000 pesos.* 

To restore the Mexican railway to its former condition it 
has been estimated than an outlay of £2,000,000 will be re- 
quired.* The Southern Pacific estimated that on December 
31, 1919 the value in pesos of property destroyed since 1910 
was 4,898,700. As early at 1913 the damage wrought to the 
property of the Mexico North Western was estimated at 
£1,000,000. A recent estimate of the cost of restoring the 
Tehuantepec line is $15,000,000. 

The Fall sub-committee of the United States senate com- 
mittee on foreign relations estimated that the damage to Ameri- 
can railroad property in Mexico amounts to $112,000,000. 

» "El Excelsior," February 14, 1921. 

< In 1920 the Mexican government agreed to pay 200,000 pesos monthly 
on account of damage claims to this road. 




STATEMENTS, official and unofficial, as to the destruc- 
tion of railroad equipment are in hopeless conflict and 
confusion. It is known that all lines have suffered, but the 
evidence is fragmentary and misleading. From the annual 
reports of the National Eailways of Mexico it would appear 
that the number of cars of all varieties lost, destroyed, or 
condemned in the years 1911-17 was about 9250. In other 
words, over 40 per cent of the rolling stock owned on June 
30, 1911, or purchased within the next six years, was out of 
service. The loss of locomotives was several hundred. 

This estimate is presented for what it is worth. It is 
based upon figures which, in the light of subsequent returns, 
would appear to understate the loss. Conservative as it cer- 
tainly is, it shows a most serious shrinkage in facilities. It 
agrees roughly with the recent estimates of representatives 
of the National Railways, which places the loss in cars alone 
at 10,000. Similar estimates for the controlled and inde- 
pendent lines would be equally impressive. 

Lack of data makes it impossible to present estimates 
of the losses of the controlled lines, but some significant facts 
are available. On the Interoceanic there were 1304 cars in 
1911 and 1102 in 1917: on the Mexican Southern the num- 
ber of cars shrunk from 335 to 274 in that period. The 
equipment figures of the Vera Cruz and Isthmus and the 
Pan-American railroads are lumped in the official reports. 
They show that in 1913 there was a total of 695 cars and 



thirty-five locomotives. The corresponding figures for 1917 
were 548 and twenty. There has been enough shifting about 
of the equipment of the lines operated by the government to 
make the figures for subsequent years of no value. Little 
can be said of the equipment of the independent lines, most 
of which are located in regions where the disturbance has 
been greatest ; but that the losses have been heavy, both from 
destruction and seizure, is certain. Some of the equipment 
of the Mexican railway, especially sleeping cars, has been 
taken and distributed over the government lines. 

American railroads also have suffered loss of their equip- 
ment in Mexico. In 1916 it was reported that the Southern 
Pacific system had 1,200 freight cars lost ** somewhere in 
Mexico." Late in 1920 it was announced that the Mexican 
government had agreed to pay $388,000 (and had made an 
initial payment of $120,000) for 468 American cars delivered 
prior to January 1, 1918 and interest thereon to January 1, 
1921 amounting to $98,000. 

As to the methods employed in the destruction of rolling 
stock, a description is hardly necessary. The following ac- 
count is perhaps exceptional, but it is presented as a perti- 
nent piece of evidence : 

''Among the worst of the innumerable acts of vandalism 
committed by the different warring factions in Mexico, the 
destruction wrought on the property of the National Rail- 
ways in Monterey by Carrancistas on the eve of their recent 
evacuation of the city probably caps the climax. When the 
near approach of the Villa forces made it apparent to the 
Carranza followers that they would have to abandon the 
town, it was decided to celebrate their coming departure 
with an orgy of anarchy. Locomotives were sent out to 
gather up all the box cars of the adjacent divisions of the 



railway and bring them to Monterey for the purpose of mak- 
ing a bonfire of them. These ears — more than 600 in number 
— ^were hauled into town and lined up on the extensive divi- 
sion terminal tracks. On the last night the Carrancista offi- 
cers gave an elaborate ball in the handsome passenger station 
of the National Eailways, which ended with a mock ceremony 
in which the torch was applied to the costly passenger station 
and to the 600 box cars. Within a few hours all of this 
property was in ruins. "^ 

As to the condition of the rolling stock that has escaped 
destruction, all accounts agree that it is poor. ''The remain- 
ing rolling stock is generally in poor condition and a good 
part of it — ^principally the locomotives — can hardly continue 
in service unless properly repaired/' says the annual report 
of the National Railways for 1915-16. Again, ''Much of the 
equipment [recovered from the military chiefs] had to be 
submitted to costly and important repairs, not only because 
of rough handling received in the campaign, but of the 
defacements and mutilations, so to speak, to which much of 
it had been subjected to adapt them for dwelling purposes. 
For instance^ many of the box cars had windows cut in them, 
the seats of many passenger cars were missing, and in their 
stead were constructed grotesque wooden partitions to trans- 
form them into special or ambulance cars, etc.'' As a bit 
of detailed description, the following is presented from the 
account of an American reporter : 

"Our car was a wonder. Every seat had been stripped 
clean of its upholstery, the patriots having taken it to use 
for saddle cloths or for dresses for their women. Some of 
the seats had been removed altogether. Every window was 
kicked out. It was especially interesting to nervous people 

1 "Railway A^e Gazette," LVIH. 857 (1915). 



to note that the bell rope was gone. . . . There were no 
lamps in the cars/' 

Efforts have been made to replace lost equipment and to 

*^.*^repair such equipment as is capable of repair. This has been 
difficult on account of the rise in prices of materials and the 
embargo on shipments from the United States, both caused 
by the European war. The shops of the National Railways 
at Piedraj Negras, Monterey, Aguascalientes, and Mexico 
City have been busy on repairs to rolling stock; and some 
locomotives have been repaired under contract at shops in 
the United States. 
Except during the years 1910-11 purchases of new equip- 

\ ment by the National Railways during the revolutionary 
period were small. In that year 3888 cars and twenty loco- 
motives were acquired at a cost of over 7,000,000 pesos. Dur- 
ing the next five years less than 800 cars were added, at a 
cost of about 1,375,000 pesos. Late in 1916, 560 cars and 
twenty locomotives were bought. Information as to more re- 
cent activity is fragmentary. ** Within the last six months,'' 
said the Mexican News Bureau under date of November, 
1917, ''there have been purchased 600 freight cars, 80 pas- 
senger cars and 60 locomotives. Three thousand cars are now 
under repair in the company's own shops, which when com- 
pleted will bring the equipment practically to the same point 
as in 1913 — in fact, it is already larger, so far as regards 
locomotives and passenger coaches, but a trifle less in regard 
to freight cars." It is known that in that year the Delaware, 
Lackawanna, and Western railroad sold to Mexican agents a 
large number of wooden passenger cars. In a message sub- 
mitted by President Carranza in September, 1917, is this 
statement : 
**Por all the work of the railways we have 364 locomotives, 



including some which belong to private individuals. This 
number represents approximately 50 per cent of what was 
used by the former National Railways at the beginning of 
1913. Materials have been ordered from the United States 
and are already beginning to be received, with which 270 
locomotives will be repaired. There will also be repaired an- 
other 190 locomotives withia a short time, these being loco- 
motives which at all times have been in use but which are in 
poor condition, due to hard service. Contracts have also 
been made with the great locomotive shops of Houston and 
Kingsville for the periodical repair of locomotives in groups 
of five with the object of pushing ahead the work of repair 
which cannot be done so quickly in the Mexican shops, and 
thus there will be obtained a monthly increase in the number 
of locomotives in use. The number of cars at present in use 
for commercial traffic is 13,326. The number in 1912 was 
19,523. This makes an appreciable difference, owing to the 
number of cars destroyed during the revolutionary period, 
but there remain approximately 3,000 cars which may be 
reconstructed, and up to date there have been repaired 800 
of these."" 

In 1919 representatives of the national lines were again in 
the American market negotiating for passenger and freight 
cars. That the need was pressing is evident from the figures 
given in the presidential message of September, 1919. At 
that time the national system had 443 locomotives, 10,780 
freight cars, and 417 passenger, express, and baggage cars.* 
In 1920 there were 512 locomotives in service, 103 under 
repair, and 326 awaiting materials for repair ; 489 passenger. 

« "El Universal," Sept. 8, 1917. 

.* Oarranza, "Informe presidencial," Sept. 1, 1010:78-9. 



express, and baggage ears, and 13,256 freight cars/ 

This means that there is need in Mexico for a great variety 
and amount of railroad materials and supplies' for repairs 
and also for equipment at a time when the world is passing 
through a period of economic readjustment which is char- 
acterized by an urgent demand for the depleted stock of 

According to one estimate there is now a shortage of 
240,000 cars on the railroads of the United States, and 
235,000 in addition will be required for replacements in the 
next three years. Another estimate is 100,000 freight cars, 
4000 passenger cars, and 2000 locomotives for immediate 
use. Either estimate is sufficiently large to indicate the extent 
of the competition which the railroads to Mexico must meet. 
They may be able to obtain some equipment from European 
sources, but it would seem as if they must place chief reliance 
upon the possibility of obtaining second-hand equipment 
from the United States. In any event, they must face the 
fact that railroad equipment has tripled in price within the 
last six years. 

* De la Huerta, "Informe presidencial, ' * Sept. 1, 1920:51. 

•For an estimate, see "Railway Age," LXVI, 1874-5 (1910). 




ARTICLE 145 of the general railroad law provides : 
**The Nation shall have the following rights: 

**1. A reduction of fifty per cent in the maximum rates, 
provided for by the law of concession, for Federal army men 
and employees, agents and commissioners, traveling on offi- 
cial business. . . . 

**3. For the transportation of military forces or of the 
police, of siege trains, ammunition, equipment, provisions, 
horses, mules, and any other object or article destined for 
the public service, a rebate of fifty per cent in the same maxi- 
mum rate shall be granted. 

**4. Whenever the Government needs special trains for the 
transportation of troops and freight, the cost of said trains 
shall only be fifty per cent of the average value per kilometer 
of the proceeds, respectively, of passenger and freight trains 
in the previous years according to the local tariflE. 

*'5. The transmission of telegraph messages, and in gen- 
eral any other services done for the Federal Government, 
shall cost half of the maximum rate for each service as deter- 
mined by the concession. . . . 

**11. In the event of war or of extraordinary circum- 
stance, the Executive may take measures to render unserv- 
iceable either the whole or part of the line, also the bridges, 
telegraph lines and signals forming part of the road. 

**12. In case the Executive orders the suspension of the 
service, for the sake of the country's defence of the public 



peace, it may also order that all the rolling stock and any 
other material shall be removed. In such cases the War 
Department will determine the places to which said material 
is to be taken. "^ 

While it is known that the various factions that have been 
in control of the government of Mexico within the last ten 
years have taken full advantage of these sections of the law, 
detailed information on the subject has not been given out. 
The Southern Pacific in its annual report for 1919 showed 
a cumulative claim of 8,947,000 pesos against the government 
**for service, rental of road and equipment and for material 
furnished or confiscated by military authorities.'' 

Military service not only jeopardizes the physical property 
of railroad companies, it diverts equipment from its normal 
use, thus preventing the carrying on of ordinary commercial 
business ; it congests the terminals, stations, and right of way 
both with military materials and with ordinary traffic which 
cannot be moved; it overworks and demoralizes the per- 
sonnel ; and it reduces the operating revenues. Even when 
military activities are confined to the operation of troop cars 
or trains and to the suppression of scattered groups of ban- 
dits and insurrectos, there is much loss, particularly through 
the diversion of equipment. In June, 1917, a period of com- 
parative quiet, there were forty-three locomotives, fifty-one 
passenger cars, and 453 freight cars in the control of the 
military authorities.* 

During the greater part of the presidency of Victoriano 
Huerta the railroads were operated through their own organ- 
izations, but subject to the direction of the government. 
Upon the outbreak of hostilities with the United States, 

1 Ley sobre ferrocarriles, "Diario Oflcial," May 13, 1899; Mexican year 
book, 1908:658. 

« ••£! Pueblo," June 12, 1917. 



April 21, 1914, Huerta assumed control of and commenced 
to operate the National Railways of Mexico and the Mexican 
railway, to the extent that those lines were within his juris- 
diction. This was a regular procedure under the provision 
of the general railroad law: 

' * The Nation will have the following rights : . . . 

* * 10. The Federal authorities are entitled in case, in their 
opinion, the interests of the country require it, to make 
requisition on the railroads, their personnel and all their 
operating material and to use them as they may consider 
advisable. In this case the Nation shall indemnify the rail- 
road companies. ..." 

When, after Huerta 's resignation, the ''Constitutionalist" 
forces under Carranza entered the Capital on August 14, 
1914, the property of the National Railways was seized, in- 
cluding the general offices of the company. Then followed a 
period of confusion, which has been described in the follow- 
ing official terms : 

**The Board of Directors, which was elected on the 13th 
of October, 1914, and on assuming charge, counted firmly 
upon the fact that the Constitutionalist Government was 
going to effect immediate delivery of the lines and properties 
of the Company, which it had taken over by virtue of the 
necessities of the war, because, in fact, information to the 
effect that such were the Government's intentions had 
reached the Directors. Unfortunately hostilities began in a 
new campaign. . . . Shortly afterwards, we were confronted 
with an ^embarrassing situation, as every military chief who 
entered or left the city had more or less troublesome demands 
to make." 

The Mexican railway was taken over on November 18, 
1914. The reason for this action was declared to be, ''After 



the Capital of the Republic was evacuated and the Constitu- 
tionalist Government was established in the Port of Vera 
Cruz, the General Manager of the Mexican Railway ordered 
the suspension of all traffic and laid oflf all the employees in 
the zone occupied by the Constitutionalist forces, that is, 
from Ometusoo to Vera Cruz." The statement continues, 
** Confronted by the urgency of operating this line and those 
of such regions as might be regained, for commercial and 
military purposes the Citizen First Chief of the Constitu- 
tionalist Army Entrusted with the Executive Power of the 
Union, issued at Vera Cruz on December 4, 1914, the Decree 
of Seizure of the Railway, Telegraph, and Telephone lines of 
the Republic, based on Section X of Article 145 of the Rail- 
way Law. . . . 

''The lines in the territory controlled by the Constitu- 
tionalist Forces were: that part of the Mexican Railway 
between Apizaco and Vera Cruz; that of the Interoceanic 
Railway from said port to Perote; the Vera Cruz and 
Isthmus Railway; the Pan-American Railway; the Tehuan- 
tepec National Railway; the United Railways of Yucatan, 
and small branch railways with terminals at the various 
ports with the exception of the Guaymas Railway. . . . The 
military requirements did not necessitate the seizure of the 
Tehuantepec Railway.'" 

The preamble shows that the decree was issued as a tem- 
porary measure, and such it must be under the terms of the 
law. Its declared purpose was to meet ''the requirements of 
the present campaign and of the public service," and its 
contents was as follows: 

"The Constitutionalist Government assumes from this date 
the direction, management and administration of all the rail- 

s National Railways, Annual report, 1915-16 :14-15; "Chronicle," XOIX, 
1678 (1914), O. 229 (1915). 



way lines, their way stations, terminal stations and other de- 
pendencies, whether they belong to them or to any companies 
or concerns connected with the same, as well as all the tele- 
graph, telephone or other lines of communication, whatsoever 
their nature, situated in territory controlled by this Gov- 

Notwithstanding its general terms, this decree was not 
immediately put into effect with reference to all the lines 
within the territory then controlled, as appears from the 
exceptions noted in a preceding paragraph and also from 
action taken subsequently and to be considered later in the 
course of this discussion. 

To operate the lines to be taken over by the government 
the ''Direction General of the Constitutionalist Railways of 
Mexico'' was created, reporting to Carranza as ''Citizen 
First Chief of the Constitutionalist Army Entrusted with the 
Executive Power of the Union."" 

Meanwhile the control of the Capital passed temporarily 
to the forces of the opposition (Zapata), and the National 
Railways were subjected to further embarrassment : 

"About the middle of January last [1915] there was taken 
out of our building at Bolivar Street, as well as of the sta- 
tions of Colonia and Buenavista, practically the whole of the 
furniture and fixtures. We figure that the value of the 
extracted outfit is over one hundred thousand pesos. . . . 
In those days officials and employees of the Company were 
prevented access to the offices. There were also taken away 
books, documents and papers which are indispensable to 
all the departments, and especially to the Accounting 

*• "Godiflcacion de los decretos del 0. Venustiano Carranza, sobierno pro- 
visional de la Republica Mexicana," 126 (1915): National Railways, Annual 
report, 1915-16:31. 

(^National Railways, Annual report, 1915-16:14. 




Department, this being the reason why the accounts have not 
been kept up to date, and for inability to close same af the 
date of the occupation of our properties." ' 

During the first seven months of 1915 the decree was made 
applicable to other lines: ''The branches from Apizaco to 
Pueblo, and from Ometusco to Pachuca (Mexican Railway) 
and a part of the Mexican Railway." This increased the 
extent of lines operated by the government to about 2300 

'*The lines forming that system, beside the commercial 
service . . . carried on the transportation of troops and of 
all kinds of foodstuffs, and of war material for the armies in 
the field, which were extending the Government's control, 
or for the forces putting down banditti in the regions already 
conquered. On the other hand, the lines running through 
the centre of the Republic and through the North, were 
assigned exclusively for campaign purposes, under immediate 
charge of the Respective Chiefs.'" 

In August, 1915, the Constitutionalist forces effected final 
occupation of the City of Mexico, and on September 1st the 
Mexican railway was returned to its owners, in view of the 
fact that communications were about to be reestablished be- 
tween Vera Cruz and the City of Mexico over the line of the 
Interoceanic railway.® 

On September 28 the Constitutionalist railways were trans- 
ferred from a military to a civil status by a decree which 
reads : 

''Management of the commercial traffic throughout the 
Republic is intrusted exclusively to the General Direction of 
the Railways ... in accordance with regulations approved 

•Ibid., 1914-15:8. 

T Ibid., 1915-16:15. 

• Ibid., 15, 20. 



by the First Chieftancy. Proceed, therefore, to order that 
civil and military authorities shall no longer intervene in 
said service beyond furnishing the moral and material co- 
operation which the Direction may require to facilitate ful- 
fillment of the said regulations." 

In more specific terms, this involved the lines of the 
National Railways and their subsidiaries, having a total 
extent of 10,932 miles/ 

The reason for this transfer of authority was the difficulty 
which the Direction General had encountered in the task of 
restoring the lines to normal operation, — a matter of im- 
mediate urgency in view of the extraordinary scarcity of 
commodities due to military activities. The nature of these 
difficulties as officially described was as follows : 

'*The campaign had placed in the hands of the * Military 
Chiefs' the greater part of the rolling stock, not only such 
as was assigned for the military service, in keeping with the 
requirements of the military conflict, but also such as had 
been taken from the enemy and which was considered spoils 
of war. Most of these Military Chiefs used this rolling stock 
not only to transport troops and their provisions, but as bar- 
racks and permanent dwellings for the soldiers and their 
families, and frequently for freight transportation within 
their jurisdiction for personal profit. These exceptional con- 
ditions of comfort and profit for the masters of the situation 
became a formidable obstruction to the reopening and nor- 
malization of traffic and added to the other difficulties of 
reconstructing the track, bridges, buildings, equipment, and 
so forth, and to the general reorganization of the railway 

''Many of the efforts of the Direction General of the Con- 

•Ibid., 81, 45; • 'Chronicle," 01, 1597. 



stitutionalist Railways of Mexico, therefore, had to be de- 
voted to recovering the rolling stock which was not legiti- 
mately employed in military work and to devise and enforce 
regulations for the discipline of the personnel. Much of the 
equipment thus recovered before placing it in the public 
service had to be submitted to costly and important repairs. 
. . . The personnel in charge of the train movements, besides 
being entirely under the orders of the Military Chiefs, was 
incompetent. The officers and principal employees had mili- 
tary ranks and many of them — simple brakemen or firemen 
— ^had become superintendents or train-masters, for merit in 
the military campaign, but in no sense because of their rail- 
road efficiency. 

**In short, the poor condition of the tracks and of the equip- 
ment, the lack of efficiency and discipline on the part of the 
personnel, the constant and unwarranted meddlings of the 
military element in the railways — especially in the northern 
part of the Republic — and the depredations of the bandits 
not yet suppressed, frequently produced accidents most ex- 
pensive in loss of life and money, and very serious obstacles 
to the normalization of commercial traffic. . . . 

''The chaos of the month of August [1915] did not permit, 
in the limited lines newly opened for operation, assurance 
that any train would reach its destination, much less at a 
fixed day or hour. Two months thereafter, the 15th of 
October, for instance, among other improvements, daily pas- 
senger service between Mexico City and Laredo was resumed 
— 1,300 kilometers (800 miles), and the trains ran with safety 
and regularity. 

**In order to improve the condition of the people who were 
suflEering from the extraordinary scarcity of commodities, the 
military authorities — directly or through provosts or special 



governing bodies — committed the error of trying to regulate 
commerce by stipulating certain fixed prices on merchandise 
and restricting its withdrawal outside the limit of their re- 
spective jurisdiction. This mistake, besides producing re- 
sults quite contrary to those sought, gave rise — since the dis- 
tribution of empty cars among the interested parties could 
not be made subject to definite and equitable laws — to the 
occurrence that the speculators proceeded to extend their 
corrupting action to the railway personnel and even to the 
authorities themselves. To give an idea of the margin exist- 
ing to warrant their practices from their point of view, it 
will suffice to point out that the arrival of one carload of 
com at Mexico City, in view of the distortion of prices due 
to transportation difficulties, frequently meant a profit of 
from fifteen to twenty thousand pesos. ''*° 

Various additional decrees were issued from time to time 
to strengthen the authority of the Direction General. Two 
of these were designed to give force to regulations for the 
distribution of empty cars; another declared railroad and 
military services to be incompatible, thereby eliminating 
members of the army from railroad interference or control ; 
another created a reserve corps for revolutionary railroad 
employees who had rendered service to the Constitutionalist 
Government, thereby providing for a ** civilian railroad 

Military service was organized under two classifications: 
**that of the Railroad Protection Forces, to escort passenger 
trains ; and that of Military Transportation, for service in the 

The government again took over the operation of the 
Mexican railway on April 3, 1917; and during the same 

^^ National Railways, Annual report, 1915-16:16*17. 



month it also seized the Vera Cniz (Mexico) railway, the 
Vera Cruz Terminal, and the Tehuantepec National railway. 
The seizure of the Tehuantepec line made necessary the disso- 
lution of the partnership between the government and the 
Pearson interests, and this was eflEected on January 19, 1918. 
This line then took the name of ''National Railway of 
Tehuantepec."" It was reported, after the fall of Carranza, 
that Congress would be asked to cancel the Pearson settle- 
ment and thus revive the old arrangement. 

In 1917 it was rumored that the Constitutionalist railways 
would be soon turned over to the Ministry of Communica- 
tions, action which would result in returning the various 
lines to their original status. This was not done, however. 
Instead, in June of that year the operation of the Vera Cruz 
and Isthmus, the Vera Cruz (Mexico), the National Tehuan- 
tepec, and the Pan-American lines was consolidated under a 
single management, subject to the Direction General of the 
Constitutionalist railways ; and the operation of the lines of 
the National Railways of Mexico and their subsidiaries (ex- 
cept the Vera Cruz and Isthmus and the Pan-American) was 
continued by the Constitutionalist railways. 

EflEective January 1, 1919, the name ''Constitutionalist" 
was abandoned, and the government-operated lines became 
known as National Railways of Mexico and Southeastern 
Lines in Mexico.^* 

From time to time the owners of the Mexican railway 
urged the government to surrender the property, but the 
reply was that it would not be "convenient" to do so. In 
October, 1919, press reports indicated the possibility of the 
return of the National Railways of Mexico to the share- 
holders, but they only served to bring out the declaration 

11 "Diario Oficial," VIII, 197, H15 (1918), 

i» Ibid., X, 855. 



that **The railway lines will not be returned to their former 
owners until the service has been entirely normalized."^* 
The Mexican railway, however, was returned to its owners 
on June 18, 1920. 

Because of its isolation, Yucatan was able to exercise a 
considerable degree of independence of the central govern- 
ment under Huerta. In 1914 the state government in con- 
junction with the Compania de Fomento del Sureste assumed 
the direct operation of the United Railways of Yucatan, 
which became known as the *' Constitutionalist Railways of 
Yucatan." In 1919 the national government was attempting 
to obtain the majority of the share capital of this company. 

In Sonora state operation was attempted with less success : 

*'0n March 5, 1913, the state of Sonora revolted against 
the newly established Huerta government, and seized that 
part of the Southern Pacific of Mexico lying north of 
Empalme. For six weeks the officials of the road were 
powerless. Operation was carried on from Hermosillo, the 
capital of the state of Sonora, by the state officials, with 
six locomotives and other equipment forcibly seized. . . . 
Six weeks of such operation gave the state officials their fill. 
Outgo so exceeded income that the road was unconditionally 
returned to its owners.''^* 

The Southern Pacific Railroad of Mexico is the longest 
line that has been left in the control of its owners. The 
incomplete Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient is in the hands 
of a receiver. The other independently operated lines are 
generally those which serve some particular industry — ^lum- 
ber or mining — and the most important of them are in the 
northern states. Such are: the Mexico North Western (con- 

i» "El Excelsior," Nov. 12, 1919. 

^^Hine, Wartime railroadine: in Mexico, "Railway Age Oazette," LV, 703 



trolling a large lumber company), the Mexican Northern 
(leased and operated by the American Metals company), the 
Nacozari (owned by the Phelps-Dodge mining interests), the 
Parral and Durango, the Coahuila and Zacatecas (owned by 
the Mazapil Copper company), and the Potosi and Rio Verde 
and the Mexican Mineral (both owned by the American Cam- 
pania Metalurgica Mexicana) . 

The Mexican government in 1918 ordered the Southern 
Pacific to reopen its branch from Navojoa to Alamos in 
Sonora, which had been partially destroyed by revolution- 
ists, and threatened to take over the line if its order were 
not carried out. No action was taken by either party. The 
Mexico North Western was also threatened with seizure be- 
cause of failure to operate over a line on which the bridges 
have been destroyed. 

Railroad directors are unlikely to exaggerate when re- 
porting to their shareholders conditions which adversely 
aflEect their property and income. It is proper, therefore, to 
make liberal use of the statements made in their annual 

In the report of the National Railways for 1911-12 condi- 
tions were thus described: 

** Unfortunately, as the shareholders know, a state of revo- 
lution has continued in the Republic, principally in the 
northern part of the country and in the States of Morelos 
and Guerrero, which has been the cause of attacks upon and 
damage to transportation lines, resulting in the interruption 
and suspension of traffic for a greater or less time.'' The 
situation in 1912-13 was similar : 

**The conditions which have prevailed throughout the 
country have aflEected principally the railway lines. In addi- 
tion to the damage done to your physical properties, the 



disturbances and interruptions had a marked effect on 
the gross earnings of the company, while at the same time 
the constant reconstruction work made necessary to keep the 
lines in operation increased materially the ordinary oper- 
ating expenses." 

In the course of an interview published in March, 1913, 
the president of the National Railways said: 

* * The fact that our line all the way from the capital to El 
Paso is open after more or less interruption for a year is 
significant. The other main line northward from Mexico City, 
namely to Laredo, was to have been opened this afternoon. 
It is expected that the Eagle Pass route will be ready for 
operation its entire length shortly. Most of the line is ready 
now. South of Mexico City railroad traffic has not been 
resumed on all our lines. The Cuemavaca division will be 
ready for operation soon. Most of the Interoceanic Railway 
is already open. . . . Our losses in earnings have not been so 
much from destruction of property as from the necessity of 
using circuitous routes in order to keep traffic moving. . . . 
The local traffic at Mexico is excellent. The closing of the 
northern gateways temporarily has interrupted the movement 
of foreign business, but that is not large in proportion to the 
local. Business in Mexico has by no means stopped because 
of the various revolutions. In spite of all the traffic we moved 
during the periods of greatest trouble there is now a con- 
siderable accumulation of loaded freight cars at the principal 
centres in the recently disturbed districts."" 

The next annual report, that for 1913-14, gave a less favor- 
able picture : 

''Owing to the revolutionary conditions, at times whole 
districts and sometimes whole divisions were taken from our 

18 ''Ohromcle," XLVI, 790. 



control. We lost the earnings from them and frequently could 
not communicate with our division oflScers as to rigid economic 
administration when we were still liable for expenses. The 
very best was done that could be done under the circumstances. 
It is doubtful if a set of operating officers were ever called upon 
to face such extraordinary conditions in the operation of a 
railway, as were your officers in the year under review. . . . 

** Disturbed conditions throughout the country were worse 
than during the previous year, and sadly interrupted our 
construction and improvement work, and also our general 
operations. At times various divisions of our railway lines 
were entirely out of our control, and, owing to changes in 
the management at Mexico City, and in division officers, 
caused by reasons beyond our control, the records which were 
made covering these interruptions are not available, and, as a 
consequence no detailed report can be made now. . . . 

**Our general offices in Mexico City have been occupied 
twice since August 1914 by forces in the employ of different 
Governments appointed to operate the railways. We thereby 
lost control of many of our records, and at this time they are 
not all available." 

Whole divisions have been out of operation for long periods, 
notably the Cuemavaca division, the Coahuila and Pacific 
division, the line from Juarez to Chihuahua and the line 
from Guadalajara to the Pacific coast. Tampico has been 
repeatedly cut off from the interior, and this has meant the 
shutting off of the supply of fuel oil needed for locomotives. 
At times all four of the northern gateways into Texas have 
been closed. 

The Interoceanic report for 1910-11 said : 

**The company's business suffered through the political 
disturbances in Mexico, which commenced toward the end of 



the year 1910; certain sections of the line had to be closed 
for some time and there was considerable falling off in the 
volume of traflSc through the Port of Vera Cruz.'' During 
the next year the experience was the same : 

* * Our business has to some extent been adversely affected by 
the unsettled condition of affairs in Mexico, although the 
actual damage to property has not been great. The disturb- 
ances caused suspension of traflSc on portions of the line for 
considerable periods and increased the cost of operating. . . . 

* * On account of the unsettled state of the country there was 
a large decrease in revenue from imported goods. . . . 

**This portion of the system [Mexican Southern] suffered 
severely from the revolutionary disturbances, which caused 
the complete suspension of traffic on numerous occasions." 

In 1912-13 the report said : 

**The results of the year's workings have again been ad- 
versely affected by the continuation of revolutionary disturb- 
ances, in consequence of which certain sections of the line, 
representing 14 per cent of the total mileage, had to be closed 
to traffic for practically the whole twelve months. . . . 

'*The disturbed condition of Mexico is accountable for the 
decrease of 80,431 tons, or 7.95 per cent in the amount of 
goods carried. . . . 

**The traffic of this [Mexican Southern] railway was also 
adversely affected by the revolutionary disturbances, and 
consequently the net profits of that line were. . . . less than 
the rental." 

The reports of the Mexico North Western give similar 
testimony : 

''At the end of 1910 political disturbances occurred in 
Mexico which subsequently developed into a serious condition 
of affairs, but except for interference with the operation of the 



railway to prevent the movement of troops, very little trouble 
has been caused to this company.'' Conditions in 1911 are 
thus described : 

** Political disturbances continued during the greater part 
of the year, although there was a temporary cessation for a 
few months after the victory of the revolutionists headed by 
Francisco Madero, who was then elected President of the 
Republic. The company suffered little physical loss or dam- 
ages from these troubles, although a serious loss of revenue 
resulted, due to the interference with the operations of the 
railway and lumber business. . . . The interruptions to rail- 
way traffic were frequent, and lasted in many cases for days 
at a time.'' 

The fact that neither the Mexico North Western nor the 
Interoceanic has issued any reports for succeeding years is of 
itself sufficient evidence that conditions became worse rather 
than better. As to the experience of the Southern Pacific of 
Mexico in 1910-11, we have this report : 

* * The revolutionary movement in tiie Republic of Mexico. . . 
did not extend to the Company's lines in the State of Sinaloa 
until April, 1911. The bridges and trestles then destroyed 
were replaced, but during the month of May the interruption 
from this cause became so frequent that the traffic over the 
line was practically suspended. . . . The bridges and struct- 
ures destroyed were replaced and traffic was resumed on the 
13th day of June following." 

In 1912-13 the situation was described as follows : 

The Southern Pacific Railroad Company of Mexico during 
the year continued to suffer from revolutionary disturbances. 
Not only were structures and equipment destroyed, but busi- 
ness was practically suspended and development of prospective 



traffic retarded. ' ' Similar statements appear in the reports for 
the three succeeding years: 

The Southern Pacific experience was further described in 
October, 1914 by a vice-president : 

**In the 20 months since February, 1912 when the second 
of recent Mexican revolutions was started, the Southern Pacific 
of Mexico has been in full operation only six months. During 
the other fourteen months from 10 per cent to 80 per cent of 
the mileage has been out of commission at various times and in 
various places. At first the officials, who are all Americans, 
and the employees who are nearly 90 per cent Mexicans, 
strained every nerve to crib bridges and to resume traffic. 
As time wore on, however^ all reserve energy has naturally 
been dissipated, the abnormal has become the normal, and the 
exceptional has lapsed into the routine. A train despatcher 
is not startled if his wire suddenly goes down before the 
orders are completed. He knows from experience that the 
wire may not come up until perhaps tomorrow, next week, or 
mayhap next month or next year. Occasionally the attacking 
band will take possession of the locomotive and bum some or 
all of the cars in the train. Usually, however, in the course 
of a week or two the wire comes up and a conductor asks for 
running orders from an office many miles from where last 
located. . . . 

*'In May, 1912, after operation of the Sinaloa division had 
been suspended for over three weeks, it was deemed advisable 
to move all obtainable equipment north to Empalme, Sonora, 
near Guaymas. . . . Regular traffic was not resumed for 
several weeks. Meantime a cruiser train was put on. 
Passengers rode in the caboose. No cars were left at stations, 
but freight offered was loaded in empties in the train. After 
cruising all day, the train tied wherever night overtook it. 



The danger of encountering a hole instead of a bridge pre- 
cludes much night running in times like these. "^* 

Early in 1920 the Mexican press was giving attention to 
the possibility of the resumption of operation on the line 
south of Acapometa. 

The operation of the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient has 
been irregular for years, and this can be said also of many 
other lines. The Mexican Northern was inactive from April 
1913 to January 1915. During 1917 the Vera Cruz and 
Isthmus was out of operation, and the only connection be- 
tween the National Railways and the Tehuantepec line was 
by boat from Vera Cruz to Puerto Mexico. 

Enough has been said to indicate that railroading in Mexico 
has been a hazardous pursuit for a decade. Within the last 
few years there has been considerable improvement, but 
conditions are still far from normal. Indeed, we were recently 
told by a former United States consul- general **In all Mexico 
there is just one railroad line that is open. It runs from 
Laredo, Tex. to Mexico City." This statement may be subject 
to exception, but equally extreme are the statements of those 
who would have us believe that at their best conditions of 
operation in Mexico to-day are other than chaotic. 

^ * Hine, as above, 702-3. 




IN normal times the railroads of Mexico gave satisfactory- 
freight service; now they give such service as they can. 
Shipments in less than car lots are not desired, and such traflSfc 
is generally handled through the express or parcel post services 
and at high rates. 

Various causes have contributed to this result. The use 
of roundabout routes is often necessary, and the movement of 
trains is generally confined to daylight hours. The condition 
of the roadway and bridges is such as to reduce speed and 
to cause frequent accidents. A disorganized railroad per- 
sonnel has also been in part responsible for poor service and 
for train wrecks. But the greatest cause is lack of motive 
power and rolling stock. In addition to the large amount of 
equipment destroyed, there were in 1919 about 5000 cars laid 
up for repairs as well as several hundred locomotives. Repairs 
have been delayed on account of the diflSculty of obtaining 
materials from the United States, although vigorous attempts 
have been made to do all that could be done in the shops 
within the country. 

Shortage of equipment has given rise to a system of graft 
in connection with the obtaining of cars and the forwarding of 
cars that have been received and presented for shipment. Of 
this system there are reports from enough different sources to 
give them credibility. The following will serve as samples : 

''Gratification to railroad employees and Government offi- 
cials in order to be permitted to operate has now become a 



fixed expense. This is necessary in order that these people 
may live, for while the Government collects all freight and 
taxes in gold, all railroad and Government employees are paid 
in *fiat' paper money, and the business interests must make up 
the difference/ 

**Take the Carranza run railways for instance. The mer- 
chant who wants to ship a carload must first pay the superin- 
tendent of the road up to six thousand bilimbiques before he 
will be able to get a car. Then the yard master must be tipped 
about two hundred bilimbiques to move the car. Then the 
agent of the merchant must follow up the road — the trains 
run only in daylight these days — and watch for the car on 
the sidings. If it has been cut out, he must pay another local 
patriot to get the car attached to another train. And so he 
follows it on to its destination. Thus the merchant through 
tips and graft pays the railroad more than ever before."* 

That these statements are not exaggerated is evident from 
the testimony of Mexicans themselves : 

**Some of the most detestable abuses committed on our rail- 
road lines can be prevented by the Department of Communi- 
cations issuing strict injunctions to the railroad men under 
no circumstances whatsoever to change the order in which 
freight cars shall be furnished to merchants. . . . The regu- 
lative circular should be made applicable to engine drivers and 
to all other employees of the railroads, who, when not given 
gratuities or tips, abandon the trains on the road. ... It is 
absolutely necessary that the merchants . . . should strictly 
abstain from offering tips. ... % 

'* There are two marked defects in the railroad service at 

^ Memorandum submitted on behalf of forty-five companies to the American- 
Mexican Commission, September, 1916:15-16. 

' Whitney, What's the matter with Mexico? 150-51 (1916). 



present. The want of efficiency on the part of the employees 
to improve the service and the want of impartiality in the 
distribution of cars. . . . 

''A great many thefts are now being committed in the rail- 
road transportation of merchandise from one city to another 
in the Eepublic, and in order io be able to obtain empty cars 
it is necessary to deal out undue gratuities. . . . Such pro- 
ceedings are highly immoral. ... It is absolutely necessary 
therefore to moralize the personnel of the railroads and to 
recommend that merchants refrain from offering gratuities 
in order to be served preferentially in the transportation of 
their merchandise. ... 

** Merchants are compelled to give gratuities, to pay tips, 
and to perform other immoral acts of criminal complicity; 
otherwise they cannot get their goods transported to their 
destination. Merchants on a small scale, who are unable to 
pay such gratuities, ship their goods by express and thereby 
suffer a loss of at least 50 per cent, of which they are arbi- 
trarily robbed. . . . Merchants make no complaint for fear of 
being persecuted. . . . The functionaries now in charge of 
our National lines are altogether lacking in competence and 
are absolutely void of honesty and patriotism.'" 

In this connection it must be borne in mind that the element 
of graft is not wholly absent in other countries ; and there is 
evidence that when a car is once obtained and presented for 
shipment the payment of gratuities to keep it in motion is be- 
coming less and less necessary. 

One of the reasons for the scarcity of cars in Mexico has been 
the refusal of the companies in the United States to allow their 
equipment to go over the border. Thus when in the summer 

» First National Congress of Merchants, Summary of transactions and pro- 
ceedings. 1917:69. 101. 103. 



of 1914 arrangements were made between the National Rail- 
ways of Mexico and the Texas and Pacific, the International 
and Great Northern, and the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and 
Southern for an interchange of traffic, it was required that all 
freight in both directions be transferred in the International 
and Great Northern yards at Laredo. Late in 1915 arrange- 
ments were made with the Southern Pacific for through ser- 
vice through Eagle Pass and with the above mentioned com- 
panies for through service to Laredo. Six months later, how- 
ever, the American lines were refusing to permit freight cars 
to cross into Mexico on account of heavy losses of equipment. 
It was not until January 1, 1921 that free interchange of cars 
over the international boundary was reestablished. 

In the course of an interview published in June, 1917, in a 
Mexican newspaper, the general manager of the Constitutional- 
ist Railways said : 

** Neither the Government nor the Contitutionalist Railways 
can solve the problem in this economic crisis. The only re- 
course is that agriculturists, men interested in industries, and 
business men shall acquire on their own account a sufficient 
amount of rolling stock to haul away their products under 
terms providing that such rolling stock shall be the property 
of the Government lines after they shall have paid for it.*'* 

The charge has been made by Americans interested in 
corporations in Mexico that railroad officers have adopted the 
policy of refusing cars to American corporations with the 
idea of forcing them to bring cars for their use from north of 
the border, but certainly not all American corporations have 
been coerced in this manner. 

On their own initiative several American corporations have 
purchased cars in the United States which had been discarded 

* **B1 Pueblo," June 12, 1917, 



because they were too small to conform to the standards con- 
sidered necessary for economical operation. Some of these 
cars were obtained from the New York, New Haven, and Hart- 
ford The American Smelting and Refining company and 
the American Metals company each have several hundred 
cars and many locomotives. Smaller companies like the 
Cusihuirichic Mining company and the Tezuitlan Copper 
company also own their own railroad equipment; and many 
other industrial concerns, haciendados, and even commercial 
houses have adopted the practice. There are now ninety- 
eight locomotives and 2446 freight cars held in private owner- 
ship.*^ In 1919 it was announced that the operation of private 
equipment would be prohibited as soon as the railroads obtain 
an adequate supply, but there is no immediate prospect of 
such action. 

The contracts between the railroad and the owners of private 
equipment are of two sorts, differing mainly in the provisions 
as to ownership at the expiration of the agreement. They 
generally provide that the railroad shall bear the cost of labor, 
fuel, and water, and all operating expenses, and that the 
owners shall keep the equipment in repair and pay the regular 
transportation charges. The term is two years. All contracts 
contain provisions to the effect that engines shall be used to 
full capacity, and that if the number of loaded cars presented 
for shipment is not sufficient to tax the hauling capacity of the 
locomotive to within 15 per cent of its limit, the railroad 
officers may attach other cars, charging therefor rates 25 per 
cent in excess of the regular tariff. This is a measure of 
economy, and it is of advantage to the small shipper in that 
it makes it possible to move his products. 

These contracts put heavy burdens upon the owners of 

■De la Huerta, "Informe presidencial, " Sept. 1. 1920:51. 



equipment in the form of wages of extra personnel, interest 
on the investment, and repairs, but they provide the only 
means of moving freight without delay. The advantage to 
the railroads in the form of full rates for partial service and 
extra rates for full service is obvious. 

There is another type of contract under which private in- 
dividuals repair cars at their own expense, receiving in return 
a reimbursement to the amount of half their outlay and an 
exclusive right to the use of the cars thus repaired for one 
year, during which time they pay full freight charges. 

The unsatisfactory nature of railroad service was one of the 
topics of discussion at the First National Congress of Mer- 
chants held in Mexico City in July, 1917, and the following 
resolutions set forth the opinion of responsible Mexicans as 
to the situation and its remedy: 

** Resolved: that the First National Congress of Merchants 
shall ask the Government to endeavor that the following 
measures be instituted. . . for the purpose of remedying the 
shortage of rolling stock and of reducing freight charges : — 
**I. — Measures for remedying the shortage of rolling stock. 
**lst. To urge shippers to load cars to their full capac- 

**2nd. To urge consignors and consignees to employ the 
least possible time in loading and unloading cars, for 
which purpose the railroad should establish a service 
through which due notice shall be sent the consignee of 
the arrival of cars, the party interested having previously 
given his address. 

**3rd. To urge the railroads to have local freight cars 
(with the exception of cars loaded to their full capacity) 
loaded to their full cubic capacity ; for which purpose they 
should appoint inspectors to see that their orders are 
carried out. [^g] 


**4th. Cars repaired at the expense of private parties 
shall be handled by the railroads themselves. 

**5th. Private car owners wishing to avoid the expense 
of hauling empty cars should permit the railroads to 
handle their cars. 
II. Measures tending to reduce freight charges, 

1st. To allow 10 per cent discount on freight in excess 
* of the minimum weight or on any excess over the mini- 
mum in cars loaded to full capacity, when those cars are 
loaded within their capacity with a weight greater than 
the minimum fixed by the circulars. 

* * 2nd. Express rates on the car loads should be modified 
so as to make them more equitable, those now in force 
being relatively high. 

**3rd. To abolish as immoral the surcharge of 25 per 
cent on freight charges, which certain railroads have 
established for the preferential granting of cars. 

**4th. Freight charges should be applicable to 'doc- 
umentary express shipments if goods are not delivered to 
the consignee within five days from the date on which 
they are due to arrive at their destination, according to the 
passenger schedule, cases of force majeure being of course 

**5th. To abolish the system of embargo such as is now 
in use on the Mexican Railway under which shippers are 
forbidden to ship goods by freight, and compelled to have 
their goods receipted and forwarded by express. 

**6th. The * Railroad rules and regulations' on car 
traffic, establishing a preference in the assignment of 
cars for cattle, fruit, and articles of prime necessity, and 
in general of things which easily decay, should be strictly 
observed. If this were done many shippers could avoid 



. . . forwarding their goods by express, as they would 
have a right to preference in regard to cars and traffic. 

**7th. The circular relative to special freight trains 
should be amended, so as to provide that the railroad may 
require a minimum of 250 tons from each consignor to 
each consignee as a perequisite to the furnishing of 
special train service ; and the existing rate for such ser- 
vice — $2.00 per kilometer per locomotive in case the roll- 
ing stock is the property of the company and $1.00 per 
kilometer per locomotive in case it is private property — 
should be revoked. 

**8th. To prohibit the operation of private shipping 
companies within the railroads; express companies ex- 

**9th. To ask the National Railways to make such 
preparation as may be necessary so that, as soon as they 
again receive control of their lines, they may reestablish 
through service with the United States and thus give 
the public the benefit of through rates. 

* * 10th. To revoke, if it has not already been done, the 
order under which the railroads shall take posssesssion 
of all cars belonging to private concerns. 

**llth. To call through the Department of Industry 
and Commerce a meeting of railroad representatives, 
whereat shall be present delegates from the Congress of 
Merchants and experts to be appointed by the Department, 

* This would seem to substantiate the report that two forwarding companies 
had been organized by persons high in government circles, which were operating 
in harmony with the railroad administration. It is said that when a prospective 
shipper applied to the railroad for cars, his application was likely to be unsuc- 
cessful. A representative of one of these companies would then offer to furnish 
the needed equipment. If the products were of a perishable nature or if the 
shipper were in urgent need of money, there was no alternative but to accent 
the onerous terms. By this method the companies profited not only through their 
service charges, but also through their control over the merchandise itself. 



to consider what methods will be most beneficial to the 
interests of all parties concerned. . . . 

** Resolved: that the First National Congress submit: — 

**lst. That the Executive of the Union instruct the Man- 
agement of the Constitutionalist Railways that, as long as 
the rolling stock controlled by them is inadequate for their 
own needs, they shall accept privately-owned cars, and pro- 
vide for the purchase thereof by reserving for that purpose 
10 per cent of the amounts collected for freight. 

**2nd. To order the strict enforcement of existing regu- 
lations relative to the receipt, shipment, and re-shipment of 
merchandise; to the order in which the cars shall be fur- 
nished ; to the aggregate number of kilometers to be covered 
daily; and also to order that freight rates shall be in con- 
formity with the regular tariff. 

**3rd. That it grant legal capacity to the Chambers of 
Commerce already established, and to the delegations from 
the said Chambers; and that it authorizes them to see to it 
that the railroad rules and regulations are strictly complied 
with, especially regarding the following points : 

**A. — the receipt and re-shipment of merchandise at sta- 
tions in such a manner that the available rolling stock may 
furnish full service ; 

'*B. — The furnishing of cars strictly according to the order 
of registration of application ; 

'*C. — The aggregate number of kilometers or the minimum 
kilometrage to be covered daily ; especially under the regu- 
lations ; 

''D. — The forwarding of small freight shipments without 
delay ; 

<<E. — The reporting to the Department of Industry and 
Commerce of all derelictions of railroad employees. 




4th. That the RaUroad Management be ordered to abol- 
ish the additional charge for hauling empty cars, also the 
requirement that freight payments be made in advance."^ 

United States consuls are required to prepare annual state- 
ments of economic conditions in their districts, and in their 
reports for 1918 we find the following information as to rail- 
road service : 

*'The railroad traffic on this [Southern Pacific] road from 
Nogales, Ariz., via Hermosillo and Guaymas, State of Sonora, 
and San Bias, Culiacan, Mazatlan, Rosario, and Acaponeta 
has been very satisfactory, both in the matter of passenger 
and freight service in so far as the regularity of trains was 
concerned with the exception of one delay of a few days 
during the late summer when a bridge was washed out. The 
restoration of sleeping and dining car service is under con- 
sideration by the railway officials. . . . 

** Goods intended for this [Matamoros] consular district 
are sent by rail to the most convenient port in the United 
States, where they are received by the consignee and taken 
across the border, usually in drays ; or they may be sent by 
steamship to Galveston, Tex., and thence by rail to the bor- 
der port through which they are taken to Mexico. The St. 
Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad connects Browns- 
ville with Houston and Galveston. The Mexican National 
Railway, which connects Matamoros with Tampico via Mon- 
terey, is not deemed a practicable route at present for goods 
consigned to this district from the United States. . . . 

**The lack of adequate rolling stock and the bad condition 
of the available motive power has made it impossible to meet 
the demands in railway traffic, and this has been one of the 
chief impediments to economic progress in the district. 


"^ First National Ooncrress, as above, 140-2. 

8 "Commerce Reports," 1919, sup. 32c, 12, 15, 22. 



** There was no interchange of ears between Mexican and 
American railways during 1918 ; consequently, it was neces- 
sary to transfer freight, at an added cost, either at El Paso, 
Tex., or at Ciudad Juarez. Only upon furnishing the Ameri- 
can railroad company with a large bond could a car be 
brought into this state. Passenger and freight trains were 
run in this [Chihuahua] district only during the daytime, 
greatly delaying transportation. . . . 

**The Mexican National Railways, operated by the Govern- 
ment, afford daily passenger service south from the interna- 
tional border at this point, through Chihuahua, the capital 
of the state, to Mexico City, although most people prefer to 
make the journey by way of Laredo or Eagle Pass, Tex. The 
other railroad running from this city [Juarez] is the Mexico 
Northwestern, operated by a Canadian corporation and pri- 
marily built to transport to the United States lumber pro- 
duced at Pearson. The company carries a few passengers 
by a mixed train once or twice a week. This railroad origi- 
nally extended beyond the lumber mill and thence to 
Chihuahua City, but through travel to the latter point has 
been discontinued in recent years and is not likely to be 
resumed until more capital is available and conditions are 
safer. . . . 

'*The Southern Pacific de Mexico Railroad is the only line 
of any consequence operating in Nogales. This road runs tri- 
weekly trains from Nogales to Guaymas, a distance of 245 
miles. The same system operates a branch line running 
tri-weekly trains from Nogales to Naco via Cananea, a dis- 
tance of 120 miles. The Nacozari Railroad runs trains from 
Agua Prieta to Pilares, Sonora, a distance of 65 miles. These 
are the only railroads in the district. The property of both 



these companies has greatly deteriorated, owing to the fact 
that they have been compelled on several occasions to with- 
draw all trains and practically abandon their roadbed. All 
of the bridges on these two railways have been destroyed, 
and all rolling stock, the roadbed, terminals, and buildings 
will have to be renewed at an early period if the roads are 
to continue to operate. . . . 

** Transportation facilities in this [Piedras Negras] dis- 
trict, as well as in all northern Mexico, have been hampered 
by the lack of motive power, thus greatly reducing commer- 
cial activity in the Republic. It has been possible for busi- 
ness to be kept in operation only by the running of privately 
owned trains, of which there are about 27 in Mexico. 

**The freight rates have been increased, the revenues being 
collected on a Mexican gold basis, but as no part thereof is 
devoted to a sinking fund for the payment of interest on 
bonds, capital, and improvements, the revenue from the rail- 
roads has been used in the payment of the general Govern- 
ment expenses, leaving nothing over the operating expenses 
for the improvement of the roadbeds or the rolling stock. 
As a consequence, rolling stock, tracks, and bridges are in 
urgent need of improvement and repairs. 

'*At the present time there are 421 engines in the service 
of the Mexican railroads, not including privately owned en- 
gines being operated under the supervision of the Railroad 
Management, making them a part of the system. It is due 
to these privately owned locomotives that it is possible to 
handle the major part of the freight. . . . 

'*The most serious obstacle to be overcome in the resump- 
tion of trade is the lack of transportation facilities, as there 
has been no upkeep of railway lines and equipment. At the 
end of 1918 there were actually but three passenger and two 



freight locomotives on the San Luis Potosi division of the 
line from Mexico City to the United States border, a distance 
of 375 miles, extending from Gonzales to Saltillo. For re- 
liable service shippers are dependent on private trains. From 
the American border to San Luis Potosi, a distance of 475 
miles, freight coming by private trains takes about ten days. 
By the regular Government service it takes from one to 
three months. But even the private trains are irregular and 
infrequent. Shippers by private trains pay the regular Gov- 
ernment rate and 50 per cent additional. As freight is not 
received on private trains in less than carload lots, shippers 
of smaller quantities who require regular, quick service must 
ship by express or pay insurance. Freight insured against 
loss reaches San Luis Potosi from the American border in a 
week's time; by express the time is about the same. There 
are special express trains leaving New Laredo for Mexican 
points twice a week.* 

Better conditions were reported in 1919 : 

**The salient factor of industrial progress in Mexico was 
the sufficient restraint of banditry throughout the Republic 
to permit a general return to industry, except in limited 
areas. In no part of the country did the outlaws extend 
their operations, their depredations being limited to raids. 
Railway lines previously in regular operation have been 
maintained, subject to less and less interruption, and regular 
service'has been resumed on lines where service had been sus- 
pended or subject to frequent interruption. . . . 

**The most important railway line upon which service was 
maintained with regularity throughout the year 1919 was 
that from Mexico City to New Laredo, passing through the 
important cities of Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Saltillo, ^tnd 

• Ibid., 1919, SUP. 82a, 3-4, 6, R, 10, 16. 

» » 



Monterey. Trains were attacked by bandits on this line, 
generally in one locality, in the northern part of the State 
of San Luis Potosi and the southern part of the State of 
Coahuila. But these attacks resulted in nothing more than 
the delay of trains. Bandits did not occupy the line, nor even 
remain to follow up their attacks. Passenger trains on this 
part of the line are protected by guards, and run only in 
daytime. Interference with traffic on this line has steadily 

** Train service on the line from Tampico to San Luis 
Potosi, which had been entirely suspended during the revo- 
lutionary troubles until the latter part of 1917, was resumed 
by degrees in 1918, two trains a week running half the dis- 
tance a day and making the entire run in two days. Through- 
out 1919 there were trains daily making the run in twelve 
hours. Although this line was subject to bandit attacks of 
a serious nature, communication was steadily maintained 
and traffic was as heavy as the rolling stock available could 
handle. The bandits along this line were kept back suffi- 
ciently to permit a general resumption of agricultural pur- 
suits within easy reach of the railroad. The lines westward 
to Guadalajara from Mexico City and points farther north 
connecting with San Luis Potosi and Aguascalientes, were 
generally free from interruption. One of the lines between 
Mexico City and Vera Cruz was in continuous operation, sub- 
ject to infrequent attacks. 

**The most important railway line to be seriously inter- 
fered with by bandits during 1919 was the line from Mexico 
City to Ciudad Juarez, opposite El Paso, passing through 
Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Torreon, and Chihuahua, with 
rcOnnection to Durango. During the year protection was 
^feadily extended to the territory served by this line, so that 



by the close of the year a through service of passenger trains 
was organized from Mexico City to Ciudad Juarez. This 
service is now (March, 1920) in regular operation, but its 
success has been set back recently by one of the worst attacks 
yet made by bandits. . . . 

* * Commerce and industry were seriously retarded through- 
out 1919 by deterioration and lack of upkeep of railroad 
equipment, and, in the north, by damages from floods. . . . 

**The railways [in Yucatan] remained under the indirect 
control of the Comision Reguladora subject to the final liqui- 
dation of that institution. The trackage and equipment re- 
ceived reasonable maintenance, considerable new equipment 
was added, a storage battery electric car service was estab- 
lished between Progreso and Merida, but no extensions were 
planned or made. . . . 

**Saltillo is important as a railroad center. It has two 
direct connections with the United States, one via Paredon, 
Anhelo, Reata, and Monclova to Eagle Pass, Tex., the other 
via Monterey to Laredo, Tex. Both of these lines have daily 
trains both ways, the Laredo connection operating Pullmans 
and having through trains to Mexico City. 

**From Saltillo westward a tri-weekly train connects with 
Torreon and Gomez Palacio over what used to be the Coa- 
huila and Pacifico Railway. This road is in rather bad condi- 
tion. This line brings cotton to Saltillo from the Laguna 
district, handling also the vineyard products of the Parras 
section, and the wheat, com, and beans around General 

**A line via Paredon, Sauceda, Brisa, Venus, and San 
Pedro Colonia connects Monterey with the Laguna district, 
passing through a section of comparatively unimportant cul- 
tivation. There are daily trains on this road which usually 



connect with the Saltillo-Eagle Pass train at Paredon. This 
was the old Mexican Central line. The line from Beata to 
Sauceda via Trevino, running through a valley between 
mountain ranges, is in use for freight traffic only. There is 
a line from Saltillo to Arteaga. All of the above lines belong 
to the Mexican National Railways. Tie renewals are the 
repairs most needed. 

**From Saltillo southward the Coahuila and Zacatecas, be- 
longing to the Mazapil Copper Co., runs to Concepcion del 
Oro in Zacatecas, with a branch at Avalos westward to the 
mining town of San Pedro Ocampo. There are daily trains 
on this line and it is in good condition. The Coahuila and 
Zacatecas has completely equipped shops and roundhouse at 
Saltillo. . . . 

** There are four railways running out of Vera Cruz, two 
of which are trunk lines to Mexico City, one a short line to 
Alvarado, and the fourth running to the Isthmus of Tehuan- 
tepec. The only one of these operating with any sort of 
regularity is the road to Mexico City.''^° 

Early in 1919 the general manager of the National Rail- 
ways issued a statement which gave information as to traffic 
conditions on the lines controlled by the government : 

**To pretend that railroad service in Mexico is given with 
the accommodation of former days would be a statement de- 
void of reflection. Many passenger coaches are lacking in 
the usual interior equipment; in some the window glass is 
broken, in many the seats are worn out, and it is impossible 
to get prompt repairs. Coaches which have been used in the 
military service are in a dilapidated condition. Train sched- 
ules are difficult to maintain, as precautions have to be taken 

10 Ibid., 1920. SUP. 35a, 1-2, 16, 22, 24. 



against rebel bands. Generally speaking, however, the serv- 
ice is normal and accidents are not frequent. 

'*0n the Interoceanic we have not been able to control the 
situation. The rebels have frequently torn up the rails and 
attacked the trains. They have been very bad between 
Puebla and Jalapa, destroying the road, thus requiring 
guards of 100 or more soldiers to protect each repair gang. 
Often we find newly repaired track again destroyed before 
a train can be gotten over it. 

**The Mexican Central from Mexico City to La Colorada 
in Zacatecas may be said to be open. North of the latter 
point repairs of the road have been made only as the military 
situation would permit work to be done. Between Torreoil 
and Chihuahua City and north of the latter place there have 
been frequent interruptions of that line by Villa rebels. 

*'0n the Mexican Central gulf line, which runs from Mon- 
terey to Tampico, the roadbed is in bad condition, and repair 
work has been effected only with great difficulty. That is 
on account of the scarcity of laborers and danger from rebels 
which infest that section. A tri-weekly service is main- 
tained, however. Also tri-weekly trains are run each way 
between San Luis Potosi and Tampico. ''^^ 

Of passenger service there is little to be said. One through 
train a day in either direction is the rule. Night service is 
offered on but few lines because of the risk and also because 
of the shortage of sleeping cars. Some cars of British make 
are available and some Pullmans ; and these are used on the 
Mexican railway and on the main lines of the old Mexican 
National and Mexican Central. Pullman service was resumed 
between Torreon and Juarez on January 1, 1920, after sev- 
eral years' suspension. Through Pullman service between 

11 "Railway Age," LXVI, 470 (1919). 



Tampico and the City of Mexico was reestablished December 
1, 1920. 

Ordinary passenger equipment is scarce, and there have 
been times when box cars and even steel gondola cars have 
been used in passenger service. 

Train wrecks have been frequent in Mexico during the last 
few years. The substitution of Mexican engineers for trained 
Americans and other foreigners introduced an element of 
risk ; and the demoralization of personnel as the result of the 
long period of unrest has increased the number of wrecks 
that are due to simple carelessness. Military operation has 
also been productive of wrecks. The poor condition of tracks 
and locomotives and the temporary nature of many of the 
bridges also tend to increase the hazard of normal railroad 

The activity of bandits is not a new feature in Mexico. 
There have always been train hold-ups, as there have been 
in the United States. In Mexico, however, the traveler runs 
a risk of losing his life as well as his valuables. On February 
7, 1914, at Madera on the line of the Mexico North "Western, 
a freight train was held up by bandits, and the crew com- 
pelled to back it into a tunnel where it was set on fire. An 
approaching passenger train collided with the burning cars, 
and the death of the passengers and the destruction of the 
tunnel was the result. On September 24, 1915, a Southern 
Pacific passenger train was burned at Torres by a band of 
Yaqui Indians, and eighty passengers who were forced to 
remain in the cars were killed. 

For the protection of trains, detachments of troops are now 
stationed along the lines, and regular trains are preceded by 

exploring *' trains in the nature of a convoy. In many cases 




special troop cars are attached to regular trains. Even these 
precautions are not always sufficient. On May 27, 1918, ban- 
dits wrecked a passenger train at Las Olas and killed the 
train guard and several passengers. On August 10, 1918, 
twenty-six passengers and forty soldiers were killed by ban- 
dits at Consuelo. 

Early in 1919 a Mexican cabinet minister gave out a state- 
ment calculated to reassure those who had read dispatches 
telling of attacks on railroad trains. In this he said : 

**I am aware that many persons in the United States are 
misinformed about the real conditions in Mexico. They hear 
that a train has been blown up or a bridge has been burned. 
Perhaps life has been lost. 

**Take the railroad from Mexico City to Vera Cruz, the 
line from San Luis to Tampico, or that on the Isthmus of 
Tehuantepec, to Salina Cruz. These railroads cross a country 
densely wooded. Two or three men can approach to within 
ten or fifteen yards of the railroad track with no one aware 
of their presence. They can easily reach, place a bomb, and 
the train when it passes is blown up. 

**"When the people of the United States read of this they 
think Mexico is not settled and pass judgment on the whole 
country. They do not know that those bandits or train 
wreckers exist mainly due to topographical conditions. In 
rugged mountains and in practically trackless forest they 
have their hiding places and it is almost impossible to pick 
up their trail once they have disappeared. They are in small 
groups, and eventually must succumb to the law."^* 

There is no doubt that the Mexican government has ex- 
erted itself to avert this danger. It has constructed block 
houses along the line of the Mexican railway and on sections 

i« Ibid., LXVI, 518 (1919). 



of the Interoceanic and the Vera Cruz and Isthmus. It has 
also obtained armored ears from American shops and eon- 
verted steel gondola cars to military use, but the outrages 
continue. Indeed, despite the censorship, Mexican news- 
papers reported seventy-two Tailroad attacks and suspen- 
sions in eighteen states between April 10 and July 31, 1919." 

^* n. S. Senate Oommittee on Foreifm Relations, Hearin«:8 before a sub- 
committee on the matter of outraffos on citizens of the United States in Mexico, 
715-25 (1919). 




SOMETHING has been said in earlier chapters as to the 
claims of railroad corporations against the Mexican gov- 
ernment on account of destruction or seizure of property. 
There are also intercorporate claims which need not be con- 
sidered here. It remains to consider the claims of security 
holders against the corporations themselves; claims which 
the corporations can pay only as they may be able to recover 
from the government. These claims are of two sorts. Secured 
creditors — ^holders of receivers' certificates, bonds or deben- 
tures, and secured notes — ^have preferred claims to the 
amount of the principal of their holdings and of the arrears 
of interest thereon; claims which in some cases are guaran- 
teed by the Mexican government. Holders of unsecured 
notes or certificates of indebtedness and of income bonds 
have claims which are next in rank. And shareholders have 
claims to any surplus, whether applied to betterments or dis- 
tributed in the form of dividends. In the pages that follow 
are set forth some of the salient facts as to the claims of 
investors, the principal sums involved, and the extent to 
which interest and dividend-payments have been made. 

The outstanding share capital of the National Railways of 
Mexico on June 30, 1919, amounted to 448,148,917 pesos, of 
which 149,606,933 pesos was represented by common shares, 
57,662,000 pesos by first preferred shares, and 240,879,983 
pesos by second preferred shares. Dividends were paid on 
the first preferred shares through 1913. The secured debt, 



direct and assumed, was 474,415,556 pesos, distributed as 
follows : 
Bonds : Pesos 

Prior Lien 4y2S 169,608,230 

General 4s (guaranteed principal 
and interest by Mexican gov- 
ernment) 101,497,150 
N. R. R. Prior Lien 4y2S 46,000,000 
N. R. R. First Consolidated 4s 49,480,000 
M. Int. R. R. Prior Lien 4s 11,700,000 
M. Int. R. R. First Consolidated 4s 8,413,000 
V. C. and P. R. R. First 4y2S 14,000,000 
P.-A. R. R. First 5s 4,006,000 
P.-A. R. R. General 5s 2,968,000 
M. C. Ry. Equipment and Collateral 5s 900,000 
M. C. Ry. Car and Locomotive 

Rental Notes 1,324,913 

Secured Notes : 

Two-yr. 6% (due June 1, 1915) 53,460,000 

Three-yr. 6% (due Jan. 1, 1917) 4,920,650 

Series B, 6% (due Jan. 1, 1917) 3,019,504 

Series C, 6% (due Jan. 1, 1917) 1,626,109 

Three-mo. 6% (due June 1, 1915) 1,492,000 

The company was also liable for the payment of principal 
and interest charges on the securities of the old Mexican 
Central railway which had not been presented for conver- 
sion, of which there were outstanding on June 30, 1919, a 
total of 3,056,845 pesos. It was further liable to the amount 
of 651,200 pesos, representing shares of the Mexican Central, 
Mexican National, and Mexican International still in the 
hands of the public. 
According to the balance sheet as of June 30, 1919, the 



company was indebted for interest on bonds and notes 
95,481,000 pesos, for secured notes payable 64,518,263 pesos 
(as above), for unsecured notes 2,806,000 pesos, and for ac- 
counts payable 16,025,552 pesos. The five issues of secured 
notes represent obligations incurred in 1913 and 1914 to pro- 
vide for interest charges prior to October 1, 1914, while the 
unsecured notes were issued in connection with the purchase 
of Pan-American railroad notes. 

The finances of two of the subsidiary companies, the 
Michoacan and Pacific and the Interoceanic, are reported 
separately. The Michoacan and Pacific railway, a leased line 
of the National Railways, has a share capital of £60,000. It 
also has a funded debt of £75,100, of which £15,100 are Prior 
Lien Debenture 6s and £60,000 Registered Debenture 6s. 
Interest on the former was last paid in July, 1903, and on 
the latter in July, 1914. The amount of interest due on 
December 31, 1916, was £50,865. 

The National Railways of Mexico controls the Interoceanic 
railway through ownership of about £2,500,000 of its capital 
issues. The share capital of the Interoceanic amounts to 
£4,100,000, of which £1,700,000 is ordinary stock, £1,400,000 
non-cumulative first preference 5 per cent stock, and £1,000,- 
000, non-cumulative second preference 4 per cent stock. The 
secured debt is £2,919,459, represented by £1,150,000 Deben- 
ture 4s, £1,300,000 Second Debenture 4y2S, and £469,459 
Series **B" Debenture 7s. Dividends were paid on the first 
preference shares in 1913 and on the second preference 
shares in November, 1912. No interest has been paid since 
1913 on the Debenture 7s, which are contingent upon earn- 
ings. Deferred warrants, bearing 5 per cent interest, have 
been issued in lieu of interest payments on the Debenture 
4^s since 1914 and on the Debenture 4s since 1915 under 



a moratorium granted by the debenture holders and extend- 
ing to May 29, 1922. As of June 30, 1918, the company had 
an unfavorable balance **net revenue account" to the extent 
of £1,034,801. 

The Interoceanic railway controls the Mexican Eastern 
railway through ownership of its entire capital stock of 
£10,000. Interest payments due since June 15, 1914, on the 
outstanding £400,000 debentures have been made in the form 
of 5 per cent certificates of indebtedness, under a mora- 
torium agreement that was last extended to May 29, 1922. 

The Mexican Southern railway, operated by the Inter- 
oceanic under a lease, has a share capital of £1,000,000, on 
which dividends were paid in 1913. There is also an issue of 
£861,775 Debenture 4s, on which 5 per cent certificates have 
been issued since 1915 in lieu of interest. As no rentals were 
received after June 30, 1914, the moratorium was extended 
to April 27, 1920. Further information is lacking. 
, Both the National Railways and the Interoceanic are inter- 
ested in the Vera Cruz Terminal Company. Control of the 
Vera Cruz Terminal is represented by shares to the amount 
of £90 held by the Mexican, Interoceanic, Vera Cruz and 
Isthmus, and Vera Cruz (Mexico) railways and the Mexican 
government. There are £1,080,000 in bonds outstanding, of 
which £992,500 are Debenture 4^s, and £87,500, Second 
Debenture 5s. Interest is guaranteed by the four railroads 
using the property, but no payments have been made since 
July 15, 1915. 

Many of the smaller independent railroads in Mexico are 
owned by mining interests, and their finances if reported 
have no general interest. Information as to the more im- 
portant of the independent companies is given below : 

The Southern Pacific Railroad of Mexico has no bonded 



debt. Its entire capital stock, $75,000,000, is owned by the 
Southern Pacific company, to which it was indebted for ad- 
vances, largely for construction, and for accrued interest 
thereon to December 31, 1919, to the amount of $77,089,563. 

The Mexico North Western railway has a share capital of 
$25,000,000, upon which no dividends have ever been paid. 
Its outstanding bonds amount to £8,021,000, divided into 
three classes : Prior Lien 5s, £1,671,000 ; First 5s, £5,600,000, 
and Cumulative Convertible Income 6s, £750,000. The In- 
come bonds were issued July 1, 1912, and no interest has 
been paid on them. The Prior Lien bonds, issued in 1913 and 
1914, have been in default as to interest since September 1, 
1914 ; and the interest on the First 5s has been unpaid since 
March, 1913. Receivers' certificates to the amount of $400,- 
000 were outstanding at the end of 1920. 

The Mexican railway has three classes of shares outstand- 
ing, the total being £5,820,760. They are as follows: ordi- 
nary, £2,254,720: first preference 8%, £2,554,100; and second 
preference 6%, £1,011,960. No dividends have been paid 
since 1915. The funded debt amounts to £2,480,700, of which 
£2,000,000 are Perpetual Debentures, and £477,400 Second 
Debentures. Interest payments since 1914 have been de- 
ferred under moratoria which have been extended respec- 
tively to January 1, 1922, and April 1, 1922. The amount of 
deferred interest certificates outstanding on January 1, 1920, 
was £805,820. 

That part of the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient railway 
located in Mexico was placed in the hands of receivers in 
March, 1912, as an incident to the receivership of the line 
in the United States. It was not included in the unsuccessful 
plan of reorganization of the latter in 1913, and no informa- 
tion has been made public as to its finances. 



The Mexican Northern railway has a share capital of 
$3,000,000, the latest dividend on which was paid in 1913. 
Its bonded debt is $677,000. Interest payments have been 
regularly made, but the sinking fund has not been operative 
since 1913. 

The Parral and Durango railroad's share capital is $1,000,- 

000, and it has outstanding $574,000 in General 6 per cent 
bonds. No dividends have been paid on the shares and no 
reports have been made public since 1915. Under an agree- 
ment with the bondholders, sinking fund payments on the 
bonds were suspended for a five-year period ending January 

1, 1921, the term of the bonds being extending correspond- 

The share capital of the United Railways of Yucatan is 
23,000,000 pesos. There is outstanding £825,000 First 5s, 
interest on which was paid through April 1, 1917. The latest 
dividend on the shares was paid in 1912. 




MEXICO'S railroad problem, important as it is, can 
hardly be solved until after the restoration of approxi- 
mate economic stability in Europe ; and the methods to be ap- 
plied to its solution must necessarily depend upon the inter- 
national situation, diplomatic and financial, then existing. To 
prophesy or even to anticipate would be futile. It is possible, 
however, to present some aspects of the situation in Mexico 
itself which must be considered when the time shall have 
arrived for decision. 

In the case of the railroads which have been taken over by 
the government for military reasons under Article 145, Sec- 
tion 10, of the general railroad law of 1899, the shareholders' 
interest is protected by the provision in that section to the 
effect that **In this case the Nation shall indemnify the rail- 
road companies. If no agreement is reached as to the amount 
of the indemnification, the latter shall be based on the average 
gross earnings in the last five years, plus ten per cent, all ex- 
penses being paid by the company." In the case of the rail- 
roads which have suffered loss or damage, the shareholders 
stand to recover through acts of appropriation passed by the 
Mexican congress. Such an act, providing 15,000,000 pesos, 
was passed on May 31, 1911. Furthermore, the shareholders' 
interest is being conserved to some extent on the railroads 
under government operation by the practice of appropriating 
revenues for the purpose of rehabilitation. 

The bondholder is likewise concerned in the work of 



rehabilitation, since his equity it thereby conserved. He stiU 
has his lien, which is enforceable in the Mexican courts. The 
secured noteholder has the same rights in the American courts, 
as the collateral behind his notes is in the custody of American 
trustees ; but as the collateral in question consists of notes of 
the Mexican government, his security is as good as the promise 
of that government to pay. 

All holders of railroad securities are vitally interested in the 
attitude of the Mexican government and in the loan of 
$150,000,000 which that government has long been desirous of 
obtaining in New York or London '*to rehabilitate the Con- 
stitutionalist Railways completely and to construct new 
branches in districts needing them for proper development."^ 
They wish to know of the plans of that government in the 
matter of returning to their owners lines no longer needed for 
military operation. In view of the acquisition by the nation 
of the full title to the Tehuantepec line, they may well be con- 
cerned as to the future of the lines which are now being oper- 
ated by the government on a provisional basis. 

If it is fair to judge the attitude of a government by its 
acts, the investor had good grounds for the belief that the 
Carranza government was disposed to enforce the laws in a 
spirit hostile to foreign interests. Thus Article 31 of the 
railroad law provides : 
' * A concession shall lapse for any of the following reasons : — 
'*2. — The total or partial interruption of the public 
service of the road, save in the case of fortuitous circum- 
stances of force majeur. . . . 

''3. — ^Failure to construct in a year the number of 
kilometers required by the concession or to complete the 
line within the period of time allowed by said concession. ' ' 

^ "Mexican Review/' April, 1918; * •Economist/* LXXXVIH, 209 (1919). 



Despite the protection afforded by the law in its definition 
of ''force majeur'', threats were made to seize Mexico North 
Western and the Alamos branch of the Southern Pacific for 
failure to resume operation on lines which had been injured 
by forces which the government itself could not control. And 
in July 1918 the government declared its intention of for- 
feiting the concession of the Southern Pacific for failure to 
complete the construction of its line to Guadalajara and 
Mexico City. 

There was also cause for concern in the proposed revision 
of the railroad laws and regulations as recommended by the 
commission appointed for that purpose by the Secretary of 
Communications and Public Works in 1917. The recommenda- 
tions of this commission have not yet been published, but 
according to report it was proposed **to withdraw every kind 
of subvention hitherto enjoyed by the railroads under long- 
existent guarantees, and at the same time to impose certain 
new regulations and restrictions framed entirely in favor of 
the National Treasury and the travelling public, but destined 
to act prejudicially to the companies."* Upon one point the 
investor may be confident : that his property will not be ''com- 
mandeered in the interest of the common good,'' if the Mexi- 
can constitution means what it says. • Article 27 along with its 
drastic provisions declares : 

"Private property shall not be expropriated except for 
reasons of public utility and by means of indemnification.'' 

The attitude of the Mexican people is no less important ; and 
to the extent that it was expressed before the downfall of 
Carranza it was hostile to the interest of the foreign investor. 
Thus at a meeting of railroad employees held in Mexico City 
on October 17, 1914, it was proposed that all members of the 

« ••Economist," LXXXV, 528. 




Union of Railway Employees contribute one day's wages each 
month to a fund to be used to purchase the shares held by 
foreigners. That such contribution would be inadequate was 
acknowledged, and it was further proposed **to obtain addi- 
tions from other sources/' not specified, in order '*to put the 
plan in effect at the earliest possible time."* That the only 
way to obtain suflBcient funds to make this possible would be 
to borrow from foreign interests does not seem to have occurred 
to the men who would thus easily effect the complete **Mexi- 
canization" of the railroads in the country. 

A further suggestion along this line has been made by 
Fernando Gonzales Roa, who has been a member of the board 
of directors of the National Railways since October 1914. 

**The independence of our railroad system depends, as it is 
only logical to suppose, upon our political situation. We must 
always keep in mind the great interests of the North Ameri- 
cans, and we must never take our eyes off them. If we take 
from our Northern neighbors methods, examples, railroad 
employees, tools, machines and capital, we shall fatally weaken 
our railroad organization. 

**A11 our hopes and our strength must be directed toward 
the substituting of our own elements for those of foreign 
countries, gradually and judicially but with insistence and 
firmness. Perseverance in this attitude is the thing that 
should be the basis of our National policy. We have seen that 
nearly all of our resources have been pledged through trustee 
companies. The board of directors itself at times has had no 
further function than merely to validate the orders of the 
executive, an oflBce for a long time held by an American serving 
as an agent for financial interests rather than as a functionary 
of a national enterprise. The reorganization of the system 

• "Ohronicle,** XOIX, 1800 (1914). 



with a new administration policy, therefore, will be difficult, 
and the management of the National Lines will meet at every 
step with obstacles and be subjected to grave responsibilities 
through lack of precedents and perhaps through lack of 
support. . . . This difficult problem we can solve only through 
prudence, patriotism, and above all integrity."* 

The foreign investor can have no just basis of complaint 
against a policy of **Mexicanization" that is characterized by 
prudence, patriotism, and integrity. It is no concern of his 
that this policy means the supplanting of foreign employees 
by Mexicans, so long as his interests as shareholder or as cred- 
itor are not jeopardized. Nor need he fear the assumption 
of sole proprietorship by the nation so long as he can count 
upon just compensation. Certainly, the time is far distant 
when Mexico can be independent of foreign capital; though 
it may well be that the foreign investor's relation to the 
railroads of the country will be limited to that of a secured 
creditor, whether of the railroad companies or of the nation 

The situation is one of great importance to the United 
States. The world war has seriously affected the creditor 
countries of Europe, and the resumption of peace has brought 
with it a demand for all available capital. The United States 
now has the world's greatest credit capacity, and American 
capital does not need to seek investment in Mexico. Instead, 
Mexico must bid for American capital in competition with 
other countries, as it did without success in 1919. 

But it is necessary to bear in mind that nothing is so craven 
as capital. Capital seeks the protection that goes with a stable 
government; it requires the preservation of public order, 
which none but a stable government can secure, and it demands 

« Gonzales Boa, "El problema ferrocarrilero," 822-4 (1915) 



equitable treatment at the hands of the executive, the legisla- 
tive, and the judicial branches of government. ** Prudence, 
patriotism, and above all integrity'', upon the part of the 
Mexican government will give rise to a situation in which 
these requirements can be met. 

From time to time statements, apparently authoritative, 
were made by representatives of the Carranza government 
which indicated a change of attitude toward foreigners who 
had already invested in Mexico, but they were not followed by 
performance. Early in 1920 such a statement was given out 
at the Mexican consulate in London, only to be repudiated 
after the English press made a demand for substantial 
guarantees. Said the London Times : 

'*The question of financial assistance to Mexico is largely 
bound up with politics. Before serious steps can be taken to 
put her house in order effective guarantees will be required 
from the Government of which General Carranza is the head 
that it is willing and able to establish and maintain a form of 
government that will safeguard the interests of the for- 
eigner. . . . 

** Since the default of Mexico, six years ago, the affairs of 
most foreign companies operating there have got into a deplor- 
able state. The railways have been 'nationalized' by the primi- 
tive process of Government confiscation of the properties and 
the revenues, and such information as can be gathered leaves 
too much ground for fearing that the physical condition of 
the lines has suffered badly from neglect, as well as from 
damage inflicted wantonly or from alleged 'military needs'. . . 

''It may be taken as reasonably certain that if any financial 
assistance is to be given to Mexico it will be subject to an 
undertaking, backed by effective guarantees, that not only 
will interest arrears and current obligations on the External 



debt be honored, but that the railways be returned to their 
rightful owners, plus compensation for the damage inflicted.''' 

In view of the acknowledged importance of the Mexican 
problem, it may seem surprising that so little constructive 
thought has been given to the question of financial rehabilita- 
tion of the railroads, but the attention of the world has been 
fiixed upon an issue of greater importance. After that issue 
was determined by the signing of the armistice, the situation 
was changed; and early in 1919 a refinancing plan was put 
forth by the late T. W. Osterheld, long a student of Mexican 
affairs. This plan, which was concerned only with the National 
system, was as follows : 

* * The general outline of the plan is to have the Government 
of Mexico transfer by contract to the National Railways of 
Mexico, or if it should be thought advisable, to a separate 
commission ... oil, mining, and agricultural lands of a 
value great enough to return an income both from the initial 
payment made on rights granted and from the subsequent 
royalties from the said rights, and to take care of the interest 
and to create a sinking fund for all of the debts of the Govern- 
ment of Mexico and of the subsidiary states, and such bonds 
of the National Railways of Mexico as it may be deemed advis- 
able under the circumstances to take care of. 

** Under the terms of the transfer agreement the entire 
income from these rights should go to the Government of 
Mexico except so much thereof as may be necessary to pay 
interest or create a sinking fund on all Gt>vemment and 
State debts, and to put the National Railways of Mexico in 
first-class condition as to rolling stock and roadbed, and to 
finance extensions of the said Railways or its branches which 
will be necessary to give first class service to all those who 

s "London Times." Jan. 8. 1920. 



invest their money in the rights granted in the properties 
turned over to the Railways by the Government, and to pay 
interest on such bonds of the said Railways as it shall be 
deemed advisable under the circumstances. . . . 

** Rights will be granted in these oil, mining, and agricul- 
tural lands, to holders of any of the securities covered by this 
plan, which rights may be paid for by them partly in cash 
and partly in bonds of the Mexican Government or of the 
National Railways of Mexico, or any of the subsidiary- 
States ... in proportions, and at prices deemed advisable 
under the circumstances by the commission and the Mexican 

**The management of this plan shall be . . . under the 
direction of the bankers to be selected subject to the approval 
of the Government of Mexico, and a fixed fee and expenses 
shall be paid to the said bankers by the National Railways of 
Mexico in return for the benefits to be received by the Rail- 
ways by reason of increased business and facilities. In return 
for the benefits which the National Railways of Mexico would 
receive from the transfer agreement of all properties, the 
National Railways of Mexico would have to agree to waive any 
and all claims which it had or might have against the Mexican 
Government by reason of damage through the recent revolu- 
tion, or the taking over of the property by the Government. . . 

**The commission tentatively is to consist of five bankers, 
acceptable to the Mexican Government as managers of both 
the granting of the rights and the carrying out of the terms 
under which the rights are granted, and five members 
appointed by the Government of Mexico, these ten to appoint 
one member as chairman."* 

* Osterheld, The debt of the United States of Mexico and of the National 
Railways of Mexico, as of 1919. 82p.; "Annalist," XIU, 316-7 (1919). 



That this plan is seriously defective is apparent even after 
a superficial examination. Its scope is both too wide and too 
narrow; for while it includes not only the finances of the 
national lines but those of the nation and states as well, it 
ignores the independent lines altogether. It also leaves out 
of consideration, unless by implication, the complex inter- 
corporate relationships of the national lines themselves. 

It assumes that the nation is possessed of ample oil, mineral, 
and agricultural lands; but the public lands of Mexico are 
not extensive. True, under the constitution of 1917, the 
nation assumes the title to subsurface wealth not already in 
private ownership ; but to involve this unexploited wealth in 
any scheme of financial rehabilitation would only tend to 
jeopardize the subsurface rights now legitimately in private 
ownership. Unexploited deposits of oil or of minerals require 
capital for their development and additional capital to pro- 
vide means of transportation of the output to a market.. To 
create a demand for capital at a time when the railroads so 
urgently need funds for rehabilitation would certainly post- 
pone the time when the existing economic system can be re- 
stored to a productive basis, and it would add immensely to 
the cost. 

The plan also assumes that a contractual relationship be- 
tween the government and the railroad is desirable; but this 
is debatable, and there is one piece of concrete evidence — ^the 
Tehuantepec partnership — ^which may be cited in opposition. 
Mexican railroads already have claims for compensation for 
the use and destruction of their facilities, and these claims 
have all the validity of a contract, but these they are now 
asked to forego. Thus far they have shown no willingness to 

do so. 

Another assumption that is questionable is that order is 
somehow to be restored immediately, whereas it is certain to be 



a long and arduous undertaking to reestablish the authority 
of the most efl&eient government over so extensive and so 
rugged a country as Mexico. 

It is the persistence of disorder that makes the financial 
problem difficult; for Mexico's heaviest liability is its habit 
^of disorder and its consequent lack of good will among the 
financial interests of the world. Its debt, measured by the 
standard of nations of the old world, is small ; and measured 
by the resources of the country it is relatively insignificant. 
Mexico is the world's second largest producer of silver, while 
its potential oil production cannot even be estimated ; and the 
demand for these two commodities to-day is world wide. 
But before a bankrupt nation's debts may be paid, funds must 
be accumulated. This can be done only through the restora- 
tion of conditions favorable to normal economic activity, 
which is contingent upon the rehabilitation of the facilities 
for production and distribution. 

To start the process it is necessary to resort to further 
borrowing for immediate requirements, but before responding 
to requests for loans, creditors must receive assurance that 
their loans will contribute to the remedying of the existing 
situation and not to its complexity. 

The first requirement is evidence of good faith upon the 
part of the government ; and this can be given by the present 
government of Mexico by immediately restoring to their 
corporate owners all those railroads which are now held by the 
government. The next step is the adjustment of claims, which 
will necessitate an independent audit of accounts and an in- 
ventory of the physical property of the claimants. "With the 
information obtained through the audit and otherwise 
obtainable, terms of settlement between the government and 
the railroad corporations could be formulated and deter- 



mined; and upon the security of their acknowledged claims 
the railroads could raise some of the funds for the physical 
rehabilitation which the inventory showed to be necessary. 
To raise all the funds needed for this purpose would be un- 
necessary; for the greatest need of Mexican railroads to-day 
is motive power and rolling stock. Given assurance of reason- 
able safety, such equipment could be obtained upon the in- 
stalment plan, i. e., the ** car trust '* basis. 

The acknowledged claims of the government, however, 
would have little or no value as collateral, and to give them 
such value, the government would need to back them up with 
guarantees of a substantial order. The nation already possesses 
assets which are available for this purpose. It owns 50.2 per 
cent of the stock of the National Railways of Mexico, repre- 
senting control of a property which under proper conditions 
could be made to produce bountifully without exploiting the 
interests of the people (which are amply protected by the 
terms of the underlying concessions). It also owns outright 
the Tehuantepec line, which has no superior in Latin America 
and few elsewhere. These it could pledge as security of its 
obligations to its railroad claimants. 

If this plan were carried out, the railroads would have a 
chance to show what they could do toward settling inter- 
corporate claims and meeting the requirements of their 
secured creditors. Dividends need not be considered here, 
since the concern of the shareholders is not the immediate 
return upon their holdings but the restoration and develop- 
ment of the productive capacity of the properties in which they 
are interested. 

The question arises as to the possibility of raising additional 
capital for Mexican railroads at a time when, with few excep- 
tions, the countries of the world are clamoring for help. 



Devastated and prostrate Europe has first claim in the name 
of humanity; but since the great need of the present is in- 
creased production it would be folly to exhaust the surplus 
of creditor countries through loans to countries whose pro- 
ducing capacity is but little above the needs of their own 
peoples. If the world is to be restored to a stable basis, it will 
be through increasing the production of the undeveloped and 
underdeveloped parts of it ; and therein lies Mexico's claim. It 
is a claim that will be honored only when there is evidence that 
wise counsels prevail in the government, and when the interests 
of native and foreign investors are dealt with in a spirit of 
fairness and impartiality 

Distrust of foreigners has always been a characteristic of 
Mexicans. There have been too many incidents in the history of 
the United States which have tended to justify this attitude ; 
but without them it is certain that the Mexican mind would 
have sometimes clashed with the best-intentioned Anglo-Saxon. 
Xn their dealings with foreign capitalists, which means British 
and American capitalists, they have learned to play the interest 
of one against the interest of the other. The end of the world 
war finds Great Britain with a reduced lending capacity, and 
with a disposition to advance sums primarily for imperial 
benefit. It is undesirable that the United States should be 
the sole reliance of Mexico in matters of finance. It is ex- 
tremely desirable that Latin American interests should be 
more closely knit together. Argentine, Brazil, Chili, and 
Cuba have all profited from the events of the last seven years ; 
and they should be given an opportunity to participate in the 
refinancing of a country with which they are related by ties 
of blood. Financially their help might be small, but sentimen- 
tally it would be great ; and he who would disregard sentiment 
in matters of international relations has much to learn. 





LAND transportation cannot be considered apart from 
topographical characteristics; hence any discussion of 
the railroads of Mexico must be prefaced with a description 
of the natural features of the country which facilitate or 
retard the efforts of the engineer. This is a subject, how- 
ever, which has been left in comparative neglect by writers 
whose treatment of less important matters has been most 
ample. Humboldt is an exception, but he wrote at a time 
when much remained to be learned. Others have given us 
various fragments of information to the effect that Mexico 
is a country of exceedingly rugged surface, with massive 
mountains of abrupt ascent enclosing a plateau of great alti- 
tude, and with a few rivers of irregular flow cutting their 
way through to the sea; but Herbert M. Wilson alone has 
adequately described the country as a whole. From his 
description the following extended quotation is presented : 

**A study of the topography of Mexico is a study of her 
Sierra Madre. Of these mother mountains there are two, 
the Sierra Madre of the East, and the Sierra Madre of the 
West, and between them lies a great, elevated and irregularly 
eroded plain, the central basin of Mexico. At the southern 
extremity of the peninsula these features unite and terminate 
in a giant group of volcanoes, among which are the highest 
mountains on the North American continent. . . . 

**Both the topographic and geologic features of Mexico are 
an extension of the Cordilleran systems of the United States. 



The ranges of the Rocky Mountains continue across the Rio 
Grande as the Sierra Madre of the East, and find their ulti- 
mate terminus in the neighborhood of Tampico, midway of 
the eastern Mexican coast. The Sierra Nevada of California 
and the Basin Ranges of Arizona, after merging and almost 
disappearing in the deserts about Mojave and Yuma, gain 
magnitude as they continue in the Sierra Madre of the West 
to the Rio Lerma, near San Bias, midway of the Pacific 
Coast. Between the two great Sierra Madres is the southern 
extension of the Cordilleran Plateau of the United States. 
These two mountain systems unite in Southern Mexico in 
the group of gigantic volcanoes which extends from the 
Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. . . . 

**The general level of the basin region is between four and 
six thousand feet in altitude, and . . . the sierras which rib 
it are from two to four thousand feet higher. The summits 
of the Sierra Madre of the West attain altitudes of ten thou- 
sand to twelve thousand feet ; those of the Sierra Madre of 
the East reach altitudes of seven thousand to nine thousand 
feet; and farther south the valleys are seven thousand to 
eight thousand feet in altitude, while the higher summits 
tower to elevations of fourteen thousand to eighteen thou- 
sand feet. South of these is the deep trough of the Rio de 
las Balsas, but little above sea level ; and south of this again, 
near Oaxaca, the mountain summits attain altitudes of ten 
thousand to twelve thousand feet. ... 

** Central Mexico . . . is a great basin or depression ribbed 
with many irregularly disposed and disconnected mountain 
ranges, buttes and isolated ridges which are separated by 
broad valleys and plains. Many of these plains are the beds 
of ancient lakes . . . and have no drainage outlet to the sea. 
The basin-like character of this central region is accentuated 



by the mighty barrier of the Sierra Madre which towers 
above it on the west; and by the lesser and more discon- 
nected Sierra Madre of the Bast; and by the gigantic vol- 
canic cones which dominate'it on the south. . . . 

**The basin valleys of Mexico, near the northern borders 
of the Republic . . . have their least altitude and greatest 
area. Like the neighboring portions of the United States, 
this region consists of vast desert plains relieved by narrow 
mountain ridges or the rugged outlines of faulted mesa 
edges, cut by the many canons and barrancas which mark 
the drainage lines of the country. . . . Southward the plains 
of the Basin region diminish in area, while its desert moun- 
tains increase in number and altitude. Toward the geo- 
graphic centre of Mexico the plains have dwindled to large 
intra-montaine valleys, until finally, in the neighborhood of 
Zacatecas and Queretaro they are but narrow valleys separ- 
ating giant mountain ranges. 

** Toward the northern boundary of Mexico the Sierra 
Madre mountains of the East attain their least height and 
are entirely devoid of cordilleran aspect, consisting of iso- 
lated ranges and lost mountains, and merging near the 
neighborhood of the Rio Grande into the desert plains and 
mesas of western Texas and southern New Mexico. South- 
ward near Monterey they begin to lose their disconnected 
character and to form a more united and conspicuous moun- 
tain mass, and but one hundred and fifty miles further south, 
below Victoria, they unite in a superb elevated mass where 
culminate all the topographic characteristics of the west. To 
the north the cordilleran type is lost in isolated cerros, the 
peculiar forms of which are typified by *la Silla' or *the 
Saddle ' near Monterey, which is by far the most conspicuous 
feature in a mixture of desert plain and jagged hills. The 



general character of these desert sierras is bold and 
striking. . . . 

''To the eastward is an extensive and rugged decline which 
slopes for fifty miles and terminates in the coastal plain of 
the Gulf of Mexico, over a mile vertically below. To the 
south the Sierra Madre of the Bast continues to rise in 
stupendous mountain masses which culminate in the volcanic 
cones of Orizaba and Popocatepetl. To the west are the 
vast arid deserts of the central basin region, glistening with 
huge patches of dazzling white, the dried and alkali-incrusted 
beds of ancient lakes, bristling with a scanty growth of sage 
brush and cactus, and mottled with rugged mountain 
forms. . . . 

''The Sierra Madre of the West, like those of the east and 
the central basin region, are least conspicuous, and attain 
the least altitude near the northern border of Mexico. Along 
the international boundary the hills are disconnected and 
without regular system, the highest summits rarely reaching 
six thousand feet in altitude; thence southward these hills 
mass together in most irregular and confusing manner, in- 
creasing in height and number until in northern Durango 
and Sinaloa they have assumed cordilleran proportion and 

"Of this system of mountains there is known less, perhaps, 
than of any other on our continent. . . . Parts of its area 
are to-day considered inaccessible, and constitute the great 
topographic terra incogmia of North America. These moun- 
tains are much higher and more extensive in area than are 
the Sierra Madre of the East, and culminate midway of the 
length of Mexico in summits exceeding eleven thousand feet 
in altitude ; Frailcitos, near Batopilas, is 9,900 feet in height ; 
La Cuesta Blanca, east of Culiacan, is 11,200 feet in height ; 



and La Cumbre Pinal attains an altitude exceeding 12,000 
feet. As they increase in height the crests of the Sierra 
Madre gradually approach the coast until in the neighbor- 
hood of San Bias rugged mountain faces rise sheer above the 
ocean to altitudes of two to seven thousand feet. In this 
neighborhood the mountain groups lose all apparent regu- 
larity, and are connected together by passes at different ele- 
vations, and have no longer a uniform direction. Still farther 
south the whole system is interrupted by the deep gorge of 
the Rio Lerma, the valley of which forms the northern base 
of the volcanic scarp. This stream drains Lake Chapala, the 
largest body of water in the Republic, and its ultimate source 
is in the Valley of Toluca, within a few miles of the city 
of Mexico. . . . 

**The line of volcanic peaks in which the two Sierra Madres 
terminate and which forms the southern rim of the Basin 
region, may be likened to the apex of the letter V, the two 
arms of which correspond to the general outline of the Mexi- 
can Cordillera, and here these mountains extend in unbroken 
mass from sea to sea, terminating precipitately to the south 
in great escarpments facing the coast and the Valley of the 
Rio de las Balsas. . . . 

** South of the Rio Balsas is a narrow and precipitous 
mountain range attaining altitudes of ten to twelve thousand 
feet and separating the Valley of the Balsas from the Pacific 
Coast. This range of mountains is fairly homogeneous and 
continuous to its culmination in Oaxaca, near the Isthmus 
of Tehuantepec, whence a northern spur connects it around 
the head of Balsas Valley with the volcanic scarp. At the 
Isthmus of Tehuantepec this mountain mass falls suddenly to 
within a few hundred feet of the level of the sea, beyond 
which the great Antillean system rapidly assumes cordilleran 



proportions, culminating in a summit exceeding fourteen 
thousand feet in altitude on the boundary line between 
Mexico and Guatamela. . . . 

**The Coastal Plain at the base of the western Sierra Madre 
in Sonora is much wider than farther south. It is broken by 
rugged and precipitous mountain ridges separated by broad 
deserts, and these are traversed by the boulder-strewn paths 
and dry washes of the streams which drain the western 
cordilleran slopes."^ 

We have here an excellent physiographical sketch of Mexico 
in bold outline which in itself is sufficient to indicate the 
obstacles to railroad construction. The difficulties appear 
even more striking when a specific engineering problem is 
presented, as in the following paragraph, which has to do 
with the location of the line of the Mexican Central through 
the Tamasapo canon between San Luis Potosi and Tampico : 

**This canyon is eighteen miles long with perpendicular 
cliffs many hundred feet high on both sides. When the first 
surveys were made, the canyon was devoid of roads or trails, 
and indescribably gloomy and picturesque. The sun hardly 
ever penetrated to its rocky bed where the engineers camped 
and where a sudden rain, in a few hours and without previous 
warning, might create a torrent that would fill the bottom of 
the canyon from side to side many feet deep and carry away 
every vestige of the camp outfit and survey already accom- 
plished. At night, the noise of the rocks, becoming detached 
from the cliff above and falling into the canyon, made sleep 
a succession of nightmares. When the actual location was 
made it was found that, in order to obtain proper grades, the 
road would have to intersect the cliffs at about half their 

^ Wilson, Topography of Mexico, American Geographical Society, ' 'Bul- 
letin," XXIX, 249-56; hypsometric map facing p. 249. See also Hill, Geographic 
and geologic features and their relation to the mineral products of Mexico, 
Amencan Institute of Mining Engineers, "Transactions," 1901 ;XXXTT, 168-78. 



heights. The difl&culties then began in earnest. All camp 
comforts had to be abandoned, and night would find the 
engineers camping on the cliffs, near the last stake, swinging 
their hammocks over rocks and precipices and securing what 
little rest they could under the circumstances. The roadbed 
as now finished is nearly all carved out of the solid rock; 
the total track curvature is 12,248 degrees, and in the aggre- 
gate only about one-fifth of distance is on tangents."* 

Even to-day there is but a single line of railroad directly 
connecting the central plateau of Mexico with the Pacific 
coast, although a project was launched in the early fifties 
and several attempts to construct such a line through the 
intervening range have been made within the last forty 
years. To go by rail from Guaymas to Chihuahua, 275 miles 
distant, it is necessary to travel over a thousand miles. Rail 
communication between Mazatlan and Durango, 135 miles 
apart, is possible only over ^ route that extends nearly two 
thousand miles. 

It has been the practice of railroad builders in all unde- 
veloped countries to follow the routes used by packers and 
wagoners which had their beginning in the trails of the 
natives, who generally sought the easiest ascents and the 
lowest altitudes. Therefore, before considering the begin- 
ning of the railroad system of Mexico, it is necessary to 
give some attention to pre-existing systems of transportation. 

* Schmidt, An engineer's reminiscences of Mexican railway building, "Engi- 
neering Magazine," XLV, 684-5 (1918). 




BEFORE the coming of the railroad, inland transpor- 
tation in all countries has been limited to waterways, 
trails, and highways. In Mexico, however, because of the 
peculiar topographical conditions, inland water transporta- 
tion has always been insignificant, and such it will continue 
to be. Old Mexico was pre-eminently a country of trails and 
primitive roads; and its transportation agencies were the 
Indian porter, the pack animal, and the two-wheeled cart. 
This is also true of Modem Mexico in those parts of the 
country which have not yet been reached by the extending 
lines of railroads. True, many highways have been con- 
structed, one of the most notable examples — ^from Vera Cruz 
to the City of Mexico — Shaving been laid down by the Span- 
iards ; but despite the attempts of the government — as indi- 
cated by the many references to highway development in 
the ofl&cial reports — ^Mexico's land transportation needs to- 
day are largely served by trails and dirt roads and by rail- 

^ "Oontinnons payed highways, as American eni^lneers understand the term, 
do not exist in the Republic of Mexico, except for a few short stretches in the 
immediate yicinity of some of the larger towns. Engineers who have been over 
the roads from Mexico City to Toluca on the west and Ouernavaca to the south 
— consnicuously the best roads running to the capital — ^will remember them as 
distinctly second-rate highways. This unimproved condition of the roads exists 
throughout all rural Mexico, although even the smaller towns are usually well 
paved with cobblestones, while the asphalted city streets compare favorably with 
the boulevards of the United States and Europe." — ^Borden and Henderson, 
Boads between Vera Oruz and Mexico City, "Engineering Record," LXIX, 576 

"The automobile road between Iguala and the capital, Ohilpancingo, con- 
structed a few years ago, has, through neglect and the lack of repair, deteriorated 
and is at present useless. There are no highways in the State, and the narrow 
trails leading through the mountains afford the only means of traveling from 



For this situation there are two explanations. One has 
been well expressed by Professor Bernard Moses, who says : 

''We have to take account of the fact the Spaniards ac- 
quired from the Moors, during their long association with 
them in the Peninsula, an indifference to roads suited to 
vehicles with wheels, and that the colonists who went out 
from Spain, in the sixteenth century carried this indifference 
to the New World. Settlements were made and cities grew 
to importance, with no other means of communicating with 
the world at large than that offered by the Indian trail or 
the mule path. 

''This was not a matter of great moment so long as Spain's 
colonial restrictions on trade were maintained. A few 
Indians or a few donkeys would carry at a single trip all 
that any town received from Spain in the course of a year ; 
and the colonists were thus thrown back upon their immedi- 
ate efforts for the satisfaction of their wants ; and the king, 
by prohibiting their trade with the colonies, emphasized their 
isolation, and indicated the uselessness of means of com- 
munication. This restrictive policy of Spain with regard to 
her colonies tended to place the European settlers on the 
economic basis of the Indians.'" 

The other reason lies in the fact that deterioration from 
natural causes is so rapid in Mexico that the maintenance of 
a highway requires constant vigilance and heavy outlays of 

one town to another. Since these trails are not considered safe at present there 
is no regular overland mail service." — Consul Edwards (Acapulco), U. S. 
"Oommerce Reports," 1916, Sup. 32a. 3. 

"Automobiles, even in normal times, are not marketable here, the condi- 
tion of the streets and hii^hways throui^hout this district beine unfavorable." — 
Consul Canada (Vera Cruz). Ibid., 27. 

'Moses, The railway revolution in Mexico, 7-8 (1895). "When one has 
traveled in old Spain, one can imajrine that the colonists did not brine over 
very enlii^htened ideas on the subject; and as the Mexicans were not allowed to 
hold intercourse with any other country, it is easy to explain why Mexico is all 
but impossible for carriages." — Tylor, Anahuac, 76 (1861). 



money; in fact, there is little difference in cost of upkeep 
between a highway and a railroad. 

Early Mexican travel books contain many references to 
the inadequate transportation facilities. Albert M. Gilliam, 
an American who visited Mexico in 1843 and 1844, thus de- 
scribed the typical Mexican wagon: 

''Without exception, the Mexican-constructed wagon has 
but two wheels, and is manufactured, generally, without the 
use of iron. The hub is a single cut from a tree, about 
twenty-eight inches in length and fifteen in diameter. There 
are but four spokes to a wheel, four inches through ; while 
the felloes are twelve inches thick and as many broad. The 
whole is made of the heavy, strong wood of the country, and, 
from its solidity, is difficult to break. The body of the wagon 
is about equally balanced over the axletree, the front resting 
upon the tongue. . . . The body is never planked, but 
thatched with straw, as also the sharp roof to it. 

''From eight to twelve oxen are at a time yoked by the 
horns, and not with a bow over the neck; while the driver 
carries a stout pole, from ten to fifteen feet in length, having 
a sharp metal spur affixed to the smaller end, by the cruel 
use of which they prick and goad the animals along. It is 
true that there are some lighter wagons used in the cities, 
which have two sets of shafts, so that the whole weight of 
the body of the wagon rests upon the backs of the horses. 
However, as transportation is carried on the back of mules, 
they have had but little use of wagons in Mexico.*'* 

An English traveler, Charles Lempriere, who was in 
Mexico in 1861 and 1862, gave a similar report : 

"The conveyance of all kinds of merchandise throughout 
the Republic of Mexico is effected by pack-mules and oxen. 

* Gilliam, Travels over the table lands and Cordilleras of Mexico, 205. 



With this system, and the bad state of the roads generally, 
it will be easily understood that transportation is not only 
slow but costly, and forms one of the chief obstacles in the 
way of the development of the great resources of the country. 
The average distance performed by mules and wagons is 
from fifteen to eighteen miles per day/'* 

As to the more primitive transportation agencies, we have 
ihlH Htatoment made by a writer of the present generation: 

** Until the railroads, Mexico was the paradise of the 
'packer.' From prehistoric days down, the human back was 
the corner-stone of commerce ; and it did not disappear from 
the edifice even when the Conquest introduced beasts of 
burden. Even the interior trade with Durango, Chihuahua, 
and New Mexico occupied 60,000 pack-mules. From Vera 
Cruz to the capital, over wonderful and costly roads . . . 
more than $20,000 worth a year was 'packed.' Indeed, every- 
thing of the enormous imported luxury of New Spain came 
by the same painful process. Even the cacao of Guayaquil 
and the copper of Coquimbo were shipped to Acapulco, and 
thence crossed the mountains by muleback clear to Vera 
Cruz — at $2 a carga of 81 pounds. As for human loads — 
and the Indians still carry their own burdens mostly, instead 
of employing quadrupeds — the individual achievement is 
almost as startling as the aggregate. ... To this day it is 
a common thing to see a Mexican Indian carrying a back- 
load of 150 pounds twenty miles to market.'"' 

The principal trade routes in pre-railroad Mexico were 
as follows: Vera Cruz to Mexico, via Jalapa; Vera Cruz to 
Mexico, via Orizaba ; Tampico to Mexico, via Pachuca or via 
San Luis Potosi, Guanajunato, and Queretaro ; Natchitoches 

* Lampriere, Notes in Mexico, 204. 

8 Liunmis, The awakeninf: of a nation, 80 (1898), 



to Mexico, via San Antonio, Presidio de Rio Grande (or 
Piedras Negras), or via Laredo, Monterey, Saltillo, and San 
Luis Potosi; Santa Fe to Mexico, via Paso del Norte (or El 
Paso), Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, and Guanajuato; 
Mazatlan to Mexico, via Durango ; San Bias to Mexico, via 
Guadalajara and Queretaro; Acapulco to Mexico, via Chil- 
pancingo and Cuernavaca; and Mexico to Guatamela, via 
Oaxaca.* These routes indicate the location of the passes 
through the mountains which encircle the great central 

Early travelers in Mexico proceeded upon the backs of 
animals or in some instances in a heavy four-wheeled car- 
riage (volant e),"" Litters (lit eras) borne by mules were also 
available for travelers on the two highways between Vera 
Cruz and Mexico, and their use continued long after the 
introduction of stages.® One of the best contemporary de- 
scriptions is here reproduced : 

*'The Mexican littera is a kind of oblong box, about a foot 
deep, three feet wide, and six feet long, — ^unfortunately more 
frequently shorter than longer. Two long poles passing 
down and fastened to the sides, project fore and aft, and 
serve as shafts for two mules, to whose pack-saddle the ends 
are attached by straps. In short, — a long box instead of an 
upright one, — a recumbent and supine position, instead of a 
sitting one, and two four-footed porters instead of two biped 
ones — are the main points of difference between the littera 
and the sedan chair. It is furnished with a leather awning 

• Humboldt. New Spain, 11, 7-8, III, 492, IV, 1-2 (1811) ; Folsom, Mexico 
in 1842, 108-26; Castro, The republic of Mexico in 1882:210-33. See also 
Borden and Henderson, as above, 577-8, as to modem hi^rhway conditions. 

"" Poinsett, Notes on Mexico, 18 (1824) ; Bullock, Six months in Mexico, 
249 (1824). 

 Ohappe D'Auteroche, Voyage to California, 27 (1778); Bullock, 486; 
Ward, Mexico in 1827, II, 264; Forbes, A trip to Mexico, 40-1 (1851). 



and cotton curtains, and ordinarily with a well-worn mat- 
tress, through which you may feel the rough boards upon 
which you recline/" 

The first stage line was established between Vera Cruz and 
the City of Mexico over the Jalapa route in 1830 by three 
men from New England whose names have not come down to 
us. Their coaches, of the ''Concord'* type, were built in the 
United States, and their drivers were Americans. In 1833 
the business was purchased by Manuel Escandon, who after 
a number of years sold it to Anselmo Zurutuza, a Spaniard. 
Ujider Zurutuza a vast system was developed, and stages or 
diligencies were put in service in all the populated centers of 
the country. Upon the advent of the railroads the business 
fell off, but until the Madero revolution there were still many 
stage lines in Mexico. ^° A composite description of the early 
diligence follows : 

''The body of the carriage . . . rests upon two broad 
leather straps, fastened before and behind to wooden pro- 
jections rising from the bed. They are very strong, and the 
whole contrivance, admirably adapted for Mexican roads. . . . 
The Diligence has three seats, and three persons sit upon 
each seat, those in the middle row having a leather strap 
for their backs^ moveable for the convenience of the passen- 
gers behind them. The doors are like ordinary carriage 
doors in England, and the seats placed across the vehicle. 
The rain and dust are kept out by means of leather curtains 
rolled up at the pleasure of the passenger. "^^ 

The body is quite independent of the wheels and axles. 


* Latrobe. The rambler in Mexico. 294-5 (1836). 

^^ Kelley, History of the settlement of Orejcon, 37n (1868); Macedo, "Iia 
eyolucion mercantil," 194 (1905); Thompson, Recollections of Mexico. 10-1 
(1846): Forbes. 44-7. 

^1 Forbes, 45. 



and is so placed that when the vehicle turns over the upper 
part immediately separates itself from the lower. "^* 

''Four seats are on the top, while the cochero and his 
assistant occupy the box. . . . Two stout mules occupy the 
shafts ; then four abreast in splinter bars ; and in front of all 
a pair, or sometimes three more.''^* 

Upon one point all early accounts agree ; that traveling in 
Mexico was attended by great risk and discomfort. An Eng- 
lish traveler who went in a diligence from Vera Cruz to 
Mexico before the opening of the railroad, gave a vivid de- 
scription of the trip, from which the following excerpt is 
presented : 

''I have travelled on rough roads in my time, but on such 
a road as this never. My companion refused for a time to 
award the premium to our thoroughfare ; but, just while we 
were discussing the question and recounting our experience 
of bone-smashing highways, we reached a pass where the 
road consisted of a series of steps, nearly a foot in depth, 
down which steps we went at a swinging trot, holding on 
for our lives, in terror lest the next jerk should fairly wrench 
our arms out of their sockets, while we could plainly hear the 
inside passengers howling for mercy, as they were shot up 
against the roof which knocked them back into their seats. 
Aching all over, we reached level ground again, and Mr. 
Christy withdrew his claims, and agreed that no road any- 
where else could possibly be so bad as a Mexican road; a 
decision which later experiences only served to confirm. 

*'Our start, every time we changed horses, was a sight 
to see. Nine half -broken horses and mules, in a furious state 
of excitement, were harnessed to our unwieldy machine ; the 
helpers let go, and off they went, kicking, plunging, rearing. 

IS Hill, Travels in Peru and Mexico. 11. 210 (1860). 

!• Lempriere, 63. 



biting, and screaming, into ruts and water-courses that were 
like the trenches they make for gaspipes in London streets, 
with their wheels on one side on a stone wall, and in a pit 
on the other, and Black Sam leaning back with his feet on 
the board, waiting with perfect tranquillity until the animals 
had got rid of their superfluous energy and he could hold 
them in. We were always just going to have some frightful 
accident, and always just missed it. 


i*Tylor, 87. 




IN considering the introduction of railroads into Mexico it 
is well to bear in mind that the first important railroad 
company in the United States — the Baltimore and Ohio — ^was 
*" chartered in 1827, and that the experiments which demon- 
strated the practicability of Stephenson's locomotive were 
conducted in England in 1829. During the next few years 
many projects were started in the United States; but it is 
somewhat surprising that as early as 1833 the feasibility of a 
line from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico was being con- 
sidered. That such is the fact we know from the narrative of 
Hall Jackson Kelly, the eccentric Boston schoolmaster and 
engineer, who in that year crossed Mexico en route to Oregon. 
** While exploring the country between Vera Cruz and the 
City of Mexico, I became satisfied of the feasibility of a rail- 
road route between one and the other of these places. Desirous 
of seeing Mexico benefited with the same kind of institutions 
as those effecting such great things for my native New Eng- 
land, I planned and advised that improvement — especially 
would I have internal improvements commenced without the 
least possible delay, in a country where the common people 
were but little in advance of the heathen ; where most of the 
roads were in a state of nature, and the earth bore but few 
marks and evidence of civilization dwelling there. 

''The improvement suggested by me was a topic of frequent 
conversation with [James S.] Wilcox, the American consul, 
and with other enterprising foreigners. It was one of the 


J ■^ \ 


subjects of a communication to President Santa Anna, describ- 
ing, according to my apprehension, what would be the utility 
of railroads.''^ 

Santa Anna, it appears, was opposed to the idea, '* giving 
as his reason the harm that would accrue to the raisers of 
mules and the owners of wagons as well as to the muleteers 
and drivers who carried on the wretched traflSe between the 
capital and the coast/'* 

Yet four years later, August 22, 1837, under the adminis- 
tration of President Bustamante, a concession was granted to 
Francisco Arillaga, a merchant of Vera Cruz, for a railroad 
from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico with a branch to Puebla.' 
Under this concession a preliminary survey was made, but 
nothing further was done and the concession was forfeited.* 

On May 31, 1842, General Santa Anna, again in the presi- 
dency, issued a decree ** imposing on the creditors of the high- 
way from Perote to Vera Cruz the obligation of constructing 
a railroad from the city of Vera Cruz to the Rio de San Juan'' 
in the state of Vera Cruz. This decree re-established a tax 
{de averia) of two per cent in excess of the import duties at 
Vera Cruz (originally established for highway repairs), and 
dedicated the proceeds to the repair of the Perote highway 
and to the construction of the projected railroad. The rail- 
road work was intrusted to Joseph Faure, under whose direc- 
tion about three miles of track were laid. A section of this 
line, from Vera Cruz to El Molino, was opened in 1850, and a 

^ Kelley, Narrative of events and difficulties in the colonization of Oregon, 
74-6, 89-92 (1852). 

s Macedo, "La evolucion mercantil," 196 (1905). 

* Secretaria de Fomento, "Leffislacion sobre f errocarriles : coleccion de 
leyes, decretos. dispociones, resolnciones y documentos sobre caminos de fierro 
(hereinafter cited as Fomento," Legislacion) , I, no. 2. 

;: ^ *• Baz and Gallo, History of the Mexican railway, 18-4 (1876). 


further section in 1851 when the government took over the 
project. The line was completed to Tejeria in 1857/ 

On October 31, 1853, a concession was issued to Juan Laurie 
Rickards for a railroad from Vera Cruz to Mexico via Puebla, 
and on November 28, 1853, a concession was issued to the same 
person for a railroad from Mexico to a port on the Pacific. 
These concessions were declared forfeited on August 2, 1855." 
A concession for a railroad from San Juan to Acapulco was 
issued on the same day to Mosso Brothers. Work was begun 
in 1856 between Mexico and Guadalupe Hidalgo under the 
supervision of Robert B. Gorsuch of New York, and the line, 
three miles in length, was opened in 1857.^ 

On February 24, 1856, a concession was issued to Francisco 
Havarez for a railroad from Chilpancingo to Acapulco or 
another point on the Pacific; and on August 2 of the same 
year a concession was granted to Albert C. Ramsey for a 
railroad from Anton Lizardo (between Vera Cruz and Al- 
varado on the Gulf coast) to Acapulco on the Pacific.® 

The Mosso Brothers in 1857 sold the Guadalupe Hidalgo line 
to Antonio Escandon (brother of Manuel Escandon) who also 
purchased the Vera Cruz-San Juan line from the govern- 
ment; and on August 31 of that year Escandon received a 
concession for a railroad from Vera Cruz to Acapulco. The 
revolution of 1857 then made further construction impossible. 

8 Fomento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 15, 18, 19, 23, 28, 31, 32, 
41; Baz and Gallo, 14; Macedo, 196-7; Ferguson's Anecdotical «:uide to Mexico, 
23-4 (1876); Romero, Railways in Mexico, "International Review," XIII, 480n 

• Fomento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 36, 37, 39, 40, 46; Secretaria de 
Fomento, "Memoria," 1857; 20. 

T Fomento, "Legislacion," I, no. 47; Secretaria de Fomento, "Memoria," 
1857; 21; Baz and Gallo, 14; Ferguson, 24; Shepard, The land of the Aztecs, 
67-9 (1859). 

B Fomento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 49, 51; Secretaria de Fomento, 
"Memoria," 1857:20. 



In 1858 under the direction of Captain Andrew Talcott, a 
careful survey was made of the Orizaba route, while M. Alma- 
zan, a Mexican engineer, surveyed the Jalapa route. Captain 
Talcott, a graduate of West Point, was assisted by a party 
recruited in New York, his chief assistants being Robert B. 
Gtorsuch, and M. E. Lyons of Reading, Pa.* 

On April 5, 1861, after the re-establishment of constitutional 
government, Escandon received another concession for a rail- 
road from Vera Cruz to Acapulco or any other port on the 
Pacific, and in view of the fact that the Orizaba route had 
been chosen, he was now required to build a branch to 

The French invaders on October 23, 1862 entered into a con- 
tract with M. E. Lyons, the American director of Escandon 's 
line, for construction from Tejeria to Chiquihuite, and on 
September 8, 1863 a contract was entered into for the exten- 
sion of the line to Soledad. 

Escandon on August 19, 1864 transferred his concession to 
the Imperial Mexican railway company, which was registered 
in London in September of that year. Work was resumed in 
February, 1865 at both ends of the line by Smith, Knight, and 
company, who soon transferred the contract to another English 
firm, Crawley and company. Two sections were completed: 
from Vera Cruz to Paso del Macho — 47^ miles — and from 
Mexico to Apizaco — 86^A miles — ^by the end of the Maximilian 
regime, and some preliminary work was done in the inter- 
vening section." 


* Fomento, "Legislacion," I, uos. 57, 58; Secretaria de Fomento, 
"Memoria," 1857:22-3; Baz and Gallo, 14; Ferguson, 24; Low, Review of 
the report of Oaptain Andrew Talcott, Amer. Soc. of Civil Engineers, "Pro- 
ceedings," XLI, 2569-2634 (1915); The Mexican Railway, "Engineering 
News," LXXIV, 1016 (1915). 

^0 Fomento, "Legislacion," I, no. 74; Baz and Gallo, 14; Ferguson, 24. 

i^Fomento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 101, 105, 107, 121, 146; The Im- 
perial Mexican railway, "Merchants' Magazine," LV, 20-4 (1866). 



Upon the restoration of the Republic the company's con- 
cession was exempted from forfeiture by a decree of November 
27, 1867, upon condition that construction work be con- 
tinued, and the concession was again confirmed on November 
11, 1868. The name of the company was then changed to ' 'Mexi- 
can railway'' {Ferrocarril Mexicano), and work was continued 
under the direction of English engineers. The branch from 
Apizaco to Puebla was completed in 1869. At the Vera Cruz 
end of the line, work was completed from Paso del Macho to 
Atoyac in 1870, to Fortin in 1871, and to Orizaba in 1872. 
The railheads of the two sections met near Maltrata, Dec- 
ember 20, 1872 ; and on January 1, 1873, the entire line was 
formally inaugurated by President Lerdo de Tejada.** 

Meanwhile two additional concessions for a railroad from 
the Gulf to the Pacific had been issued. On December 8, 1866, 
a concession was granted to Numa Dousdebes, Julius Ziegler, 
and Ramon Zangroniz for the construction of a railroad from 
Puebla to the Pacific, passing through Atlixco, Matamoros 
Izucar, and Valle de Atoyac, Zangroniz having already re- 
ceived a concession for a line from Puebla to Vera Cruz via 
Jalapa on December 24, 1865.** On December 14, 1870, Rene 
Masson and Felix Wyatt received a concession for a line in 
three sections, from Vera Cruz to the Tehuantpec line, from 
Anton Lizardo to Cuemavaca, and from Cuernavaca to 

The Mexican of the last generation had vivid recollections 
of the war with the United States, and in consequence a reluc- 
tance to give support to projects that might facilitate invasion 

i«Fomento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 174, 188, 203, 204, 219, 220, H, 
nos. 229, 231, 233, 245, 257, 258; Baz and Oallo, 15-6; Ferguson, 25; Janvier, 
Mexican guide, 340-3; U. S. Foreign relations, 1877:426-9. 

i» Fomento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 137-9, 179. 

i*Ibid., no. 227. 



from the north. The need for railroads was acknowledged, 
but only such projects were favored as would open up com- 
munication between the Gulf and the Pacific ocean, or would 
contribute to the development of the interior. It was obvious, 
however, that a line from the American border to a point on the 
remote northwest coast of Mexico would carry with it no 
menace to Mexico, and on July 15, 1854 a concession was 
granted to Alejandro Jose Atocha for a railroad and telegraph 
line from Presidio del Norte (or Piedras Negras) to Guaymas.^" 
On November 23 of the same year J. B. Moore and company also 
received a concession for a railroad from the northern frontier 
to a point on the west coast between Altata and Manzanillo. 
This was forfeited in 1857.^' The state of Chihuahua on 
August 27, 1859 granted to General Angel Trias, as represent- 
ative of James Whiting, president of the American-Mexican 
company of New York, a concession for a railroad from 
Presidio del Norte via Villa del Paso (or Juarez) to Guaymas, 
and the state of Sonora on March 17, 1861, granted a like 
concession.^'' These state grants were supplemented by a 
national concession of April 15, 1865. On August 6, 1866 
the national congress declared this concession void, but the 
action was not final ; for on November 7, 1871 the concession- 
naire was asked to show cause why work should not be carried 
out, and it was not until January 14, 1873, that forfeiture 
was finally declared.*' 

Meanwhile, in 1868, the '* Mexico and United States railway 
company*' was incorporated by the Mexican congress, the in- 

iBFomento, "LegrisUcion," I, no. 42; Secretaiia de Fomento^ "Memoria," 

leFoxnento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 44, 56; Secretaria de Fomenta, 
"Memoria/* 1857:20. 

iTFomento, "Legislacion,*' I, nos. 65, 72. 

18 Ibid., nos. 116, 154, H, no8. 244, 259. 



corporators being three Mexicans and the following Ameri- 
cans: Columbus C. Douglass, Jesse Hoyt, Cyrus H. Mc- 
Cormick, Anson Bangs, A. H. Barney, and William B. Ogden. 
This company was to build a railroad from Presidio del Norte 
to the Pacific at a point between Guaymas and Mazatlan and 
also from Mexico to a point on that line. Beyond this nothing 
is known of the project, which is remarkable only as the first 
organized movement to establish direct railroad communication 
between the Capital of Mexico and the northern boundary/' 

On January 14, 1869, another concession for a railroad over 
the Guaymas route was granted to a company represented by 
Julius A. Skilton, United States consul general in Mexico, 
and this was declared void on January 14, 1873.*" 

The second American attempt to obtain a concession through 
the heart of Mexico was made by General William S. Rose- 
crans, who in 1868 became United States minister to Mexico. 
While in Mexico, Rosecrans sought to allay the fears of the 
authorities and to induce them to give their support to projects 
for lines extending through the country ; and he attempted to 
obtain from the United States congress a charter for a company 
to further the economic development of Mexico. He also pub- 
lished a pamphlet in 1870 — ** Manifest destiny; the Monroe 
doctrine, and our relations with Mexico *' — in which he em- 
phasized the need for a policy of ''Complete political, com- 
mercial and industrial fraternity among the republics of the 
New World."" 

As a result on December 10, 1870, a concession was granted 
to a company formed in Rosecrans' interest by Anthony D. 

^* Act of the government of Mexico incorporating the Mexico and United 
States railway company. U. S., 40 cong. 2 sess., S. misc. doc. 104. 

•oFomento, "Legislacion," I, no. 194, 11, no. 259. 

'1 Bosecrans, Memorial to the congress of the United States, 10 p. (1868t) ; 
and Manifest destiny, 23 p. 



Richards, James Smith, and Joseph Brennan for a line from 
a point on the Gulf between Teealutla (in the state of Vera 
Cruz) and Tampico to a point on the Pacific coast between 
Zacatula (Guerrero) and San Bias. Provision was made for 
branch lines which should touch Pachuca, Queretaro, Morelia, 
and Guadalajara. This concession was amended in 1872 and 
declared void in 1873," 

Edward Lee Plumb, United States charge d' affaires prior 
to the appointment of Rosecrans, was also an advocate of rail- 
road development.** As the representative of the Inter- 
national railroad of Texas (International and Great Northern) 
he applied on September 26, 1872, for a concession for a rail- 
road from Mexico to the Pacific and to the Rio Grande. Under 
date of May 29, 1873, he entered into a contract with the 
Secretary of Fomento for the construction of such a line. 
This was disapproved on November 11, 1873, by the Mexican 
congress which, however, authorized the government to make a 
contract with any other petitioner.'* 

During this period there were many others in the field seek- 
ing concessions. In April, 1872, we are told, ** A large number 
of Americans were at this time in Mexico City, inquiring into 
railway and other interests in the Republic.*'*'' Among them 
was Robert B. Gorsuch, and also James Sullivan representing 

s 3 Fomento, * 'Legislation,*' I, nos. 225, 256, 276; Appleton's annual 
cyclopedia, 1872:532-3; Biva Palacio, "Historia de la administracion de Don 
Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada," 104-12, 187, 227-49, 804 (1875). See also 
Fomento, "Legislacion," I, no. 247, ' 'Concession of December 28, 1871, 
awarding to General W. Rosecrans the right to establish a line of interoceanie 
communication from a point on the Gulf of Mexico to another on the Pacific 
ocean." Biva Palacio makes no reference to such a concession. 

ssU. S. Foreign relations, 1868:11, 890. 

s« Fomento, "Legislacion," 11, nos. 254, 275, 280; Biva Palacio, 104-12, 
252-7, 277-333; Appleton's annual cyclopedia, 1872; 582-3; U. S. Foreign 
relations, 1873-4 :673-89. 1874: 723-4; Foster, Trade with Mexico, 10 (1878). 

'B Appleton's annual cyclopedia, 1872:582. 



Rosecrans' Union Contract company of Pennsylvania. These 
men, as well as representatives of the ** Mexican company, 
Limited'', desired concessions for a line from Mexico to the 
Pacific ocean and the Rio Grande. These were the* companies 
indirectly referred to in the resolution of November 11, 1873, 
in which congress refused to approve the first contract with 

On November 20, 1873, a contract was made with the 
Mexican company. Limited. The route specified in this con- 
tract was from Mexico to the Pacific ocean and to the Rio 
Grande **and from a point on the line of the Vera Cruz rail- 
road to the said ocean." The additional clause, in conjunc- 
tion with the similarity of name, would seem to indicate that 
the concessionnaires represented English interests who were 
connected, if not identical, with those who were interested in 
the Mexican railway from Mexico to Vera Cruz; and such 
was the fact. United States Minister John W. Poster de- 
scribed the company as one ''claiming to be Mexican in its 
organization and interests, but which in fact is composed 
of six Mexicans and eight foreigners.'' This concession was 
forfeited. May 4, 1874, because of failure of the promoters to 
raise capital in Europe." 

Before this action had been taken, a contract for the con- 
struction of an international and interoceanie railroad was 
made by the Mexican government with Angel G. D. Lascurian, 
Stephen Benecke, and Sebastian Camacho, representing the 
same interests, and this was approved on January 17, 1874.*^ 

'•Fomento, "Lesrislacion," 11, nos. 282, 294; U. S. Foreign relations, 
1874:718-9, 728-6, 751-2, 766; Macedo, 200-1; This company, commonly known 
as "The Fourteen," was made up of Antonio Mier y Oelis, Pedro del Valle, 
Esteban Benecke, Angel Lascurian, Ouillermo Barron, Miguel Bui, Oayetano 
Bubio, Miguel Lizardi, Pio Mermejillo, David Fergusson, Sebastian Oamacho, 
Oarlos Felix, Manuel Mendoza Oortina, and J. M. Landa. — Biva Palacio, 819. 
The foreign names had obviously been "Mexicanized." 

'^Fomento, "Legislacion," II, no. 288. 



This was followed, on December 5, 1874, by a concession 
which was granted to Sebastian Camacho, Jose Antonio 
Mendizabal, and company for a railroad from Mexico to Leon 
in the state of Guanajuato, passing through Queretaro, Celaya, 
Salamanca, and Guanajuato.*** This company, ''representing a 
mixed Mexican and English interest'', took the name ''Cen- 
tral Railroad of Mexico'', and to it was granted the exclusive 
lottery privilege for the entire republic. The financial backers 
of this project, which was none other than the Mexican com- 
pany. Limited, in a new guise, were Barron, Forbes, and 
company, an English firm resident in Mexico.** 

Plumb also renewed his efforts, and on December 12, 1874, 
he entered into a second contract for a line from Leon to the 
Rio Grande, passing through Lagos, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, 
Durango, San Luis Potosi, Saltillo, and Monterey; and this 
was approved on June 5, 1875.*® 

The Guaymas project now reappeared. On June 17, 1875, 
David Boyle Blair, "the representative of a joint American 
and English interest", received a concession for a railroad 
from Guaymas to the northern frontier of Sonora in the direc- 
tion of Tuscon, Arizona. This concession was amended on 
November 3 of the same year.' 


» 8 Ibid., nos. 298, 299, 804, 824. 

«»U. S. Foreign relations, 1875-6:853, 950; 1877:429; 1879:775, 781-2; 
Biya Palacio, 442-4. 

•oPomento, "Legislation,*' II, nos. 300, 313; Riva Palacio,451-3; U. S. 
Foreign relations, 1875-6:858, 898, 927-86. 

s^Fomento, "Legislacion,** II, nos. 315, 328; U. S. Foreign relations 




IN 1876 Lerdo de Tejada, who succeeded Juarez in the 
presidency in 1872, was forced from office through a 
revolution, and Porfirio Diaz became provisional president. 
He at once attacked the railroad policy of his predecessor 
as unduly influenced by foreign interests. In his revolution- 
ary program, issued on March 21, 1876, he objected par- 
ticularly to the '* Central'' railroad concession upon the 
ground that it had been granted in the interest of the Mexi- 
can railway company and the English creditors of the gov- 
ernment. On September 26, 1876, he issued a decree nulli- 
fying any contract made by his predecessor ''which may re- 
sult in any burden to the nation." The ''Central" conces- 
sionnaires thereupon lost their concession through arbitrary 
forfeiture on December 26, 1876, and this involved the loss 
of the amount expended on the road and the return of the 
proceeds of the lottery. In view of these circumstances, 
Edward Lee Plumb abandoned his project and left the 

The Diaz government on June 19, 1877, transferred the 
Guaymas concession, originally granted to David Boyle Blair, 
to Sebastian Camacho, representing Robert R. Symon, an 
Englishman, and David Ferguson, an American. The con- 
cessionnaires on October 17 of the same year entered into a 
contract with the Secretary of Fomento, the new agreement 

1 U. S. Foreign relations, 1877:886-7, 892-8; 1879:774-81; U. S. Message 
of the president communicating . . . information in relation to the construction 
of railroads in Mexico, 1-10 (1879); Fomento, "Legislacion," II, nos. 326-7. 



providing that the northern terminus of the line might be 
located in either Sonora or Chihuahua ; but when this came 
up for approval of congress in 1878 it was defeated. This 
action, however, did not aflfect the concession in the form in 
which it had been originally granted to Blair.* 

On November 12, 1877, the Secretary of Fomento entered 
into a contract with William J. Palmer, James Sullivan, and 
company for the construction of a railroad from the Ameri- 
can border to Mexico with a branch to San Bias or Man- 
zanillo, with a provision that the line to the Pacific should 
be completed before the one to the frontier was commenced.* 
What followed may be stated in the words of John W. 
Poster, United States Minister : 

''Notwithstanding this provision the charter was defeated 
in Congress by a decided majority; after which the Lower 
House voted almost unanimously to confer upon the Execu- 
tive, authority to contract for a line to the Pacific only. The 
reasons given for this action were the bad policy and danger 
to the country of conferring such privileges upon an American 
company, and of extending railroad connections to the 
United States. The arguments presented by the principal 
speaker, Hon. Alfredo Chavero, one of the most experienced 
and influential men in the Republic, were that 'It was very 
poor policy, very injudicious to establish within our country a 
powerful American company,' that 'it is a natural law of 
history that border nations are enemies,' that 'nations of the 
North generally invade the nations of the South,' hence, 'we 
should always fear the United States'; and he closed with 
the following appeal, 'You, the Deputies of the States, would 

'Fomento, "Legislacion," II, nos. 849-50, 859; U. S. Foreign relations, 
1879:789-90; Message of the president, as above, 16-7; "Railroad Gazette," 
XI, 147-8 (1879). 

•Fomento, "Legislaoion," n, no. 863. 


you exchange your poor but beautiful liberty of the present 
for the rich subjection which the railroad could give yout 
Go and propose to the lion of the desert to exchange his cave 
of rocks for a golden cage, and the lion of the desert will 
answer you with a roar of liberty.' . . . 

** After the defeat of the American charter referred to, the 
Congress conferred upon the Executive the power to make 
contracts with the Governors of States, or other authorities, 
for the construction of railroads within their respective 
limits. Under this authority the Federal Government has 
made thirteen different contracts and charters, and pledged 
Government subsidies thereto. These charters cover the 
most important and valuable portions of the route to the 
frontier of the United States."* 

The record as given thus far shows that except for a desire 
to protect the interests of the nation from exploitation at the 
hands of foreigners, the government had no railroad policy. 
In fact, such a consistent attitude was not to be expected 
in view of the frequent changes of government that preceded 
the advent of Diaz, and the internal disorder and external 
distrust that characterized the early years of the Diaz regime. 
By the end of Diaz' first term, however, the situation was 
changed, and the country entered upon a period of active 
railroad development. 

Several events contributed to the change. One was the 
belated recognition of the Diaz government by the United 
States, thus removing the grounds for prejudice against 

* n. S. Foreiirn relations, 1878:640. See also 650-2, 1879:776-7, 838, 
and Message of the president, as above, 10-6; Fomento, "Legislacion," II, 
nos. 872, 374, 383, HI, nos. 489-90, 502. 

No. 424, under date of December 6, 1878, is worthy of passing notice. 
It is a project for a "contract entered into between the United Mexican States 
and the creditors of the Republic for the construction of a railroad from the 
Oity of Mexico to the Pacific, and for the adjustment of the national debt and 
the payment of interest thereon.*' — Foreign relations, 1879:767-70. This was 
rejected by congress. — Macedo, 200-1. 



Americans seeking concessions in Mexico. Another was the 
publication of a report on ** Trade with Mexico," written by 
the American Minister in 1878 in the form of a letter to 
Carlisle Mason of Chicago, president of the Manufacturers' 
Association of the Northwest. 

This association had recently entertained the Mexican 
Minister at a banquet, to which Foster himself had been 
invited. Foster could not attend, but when he learned of 
the optimistic nature of the discussion and the resolution 
on the matter of trade relations between the two countries, 
he prepared a letter setting forth the results of his observa- 
tions. This letter and its consequences can be best described 
in his own words : 

**In the letter I discussed especially the impediments to 
such freer relations, which I found in the revolutionary char- 
acter of the country, the want of protection to American 
citizens and capital, and the opposition manifested to rail- 
road connection with the United States. 

'*My letter was sent to the Department of State, with the 
request that, if approved by the Secretary of State, it be 
forwarded to the Association, which was done. It was pub- 
lished in full in the Chicago papers, was reproduced in the 
annual volume of diplomatic correspondence,*' and by reso- 
lution of Congress it was printed as a public document.* It 
thus had a wide circulation in the United States and was 
commended or criticized according to the views entertained 
as to the Mexican policy of our government. 

**It reached Mexico at a time when the political excitement 
against the United States was at its height, and the criticism 

B n. S. Foreign relations, 1878:686-54. 

* It was also published by the association under the title "Trade with 
Mexico — correspondence between the Manufacturers' Association and Hon. 
John W. Poster," Ohicago, 1878. 44 p. 



of the press was almost universally unfavorable. So much 
importance was attached to it by the government that Senor 
Matias Romero was employed to write a refutation, sections 
of which appeared daily for several weeks in the 'Official 
Journal/ and it was printed in book form, filling three hun- 
dred and fifty double-column full folio pages/ It was an 
able document, abounding in valuable statistics, but lost 
much of its usefulness for the purpose of its compilation by 
its prolixity/ 

The preparation and publication of this letter of Foster's, 
far from being '*a diplomatic mistake'', as some critics have 
charged, was extremely fortunate ; for it brought matters to 
an issue, and the discussion that followed served to bring 
out all the essential facts and arguments in the case. 

"^ Secretaria de Hacienda, "Exposicion de 15 de Enero 1879, sobre la 
condicion actual de Mexico, y el aumento del comercio con los Estados Unidos; 
rectificando el informe dirigido por el Honorable John W. Foster el 9 Octobre, 
1878 al Oarlile Mason de Ohicago.'* Mexico, 1879, 849 p. Also in "Memoria>" 
1878-9:415-678. English version, New York, 1880, 325 p. 

"Foster, Diplomatic memoirs, I, 115 (1909). 





WHEN in 1825 Joel Poinsett was sent to Mexico as the 
first United States minister he was instructed to ob- 
tain the co-operation of the Mexican government in the con- 
struction of an international highway from St. Louis to 
Mexico via Santa Fe. Thus improved overland communica- 
tions, which would facilitate intercourse and trade between 
the two countries, early became the policy of the American 

Half a century later, when the period of railroad building 
was at its height in the West, it seemed as if this policy could 
be made eflfective. It was a time when men of energy and 
daring were active in the movement that was soon to result 
in the elimination of the western frontier, and the removal 
of **The Great American Deserf from the map of the United 
States. These men had pushed lines of railroad out into un- 
inhabited regions in which soon appeared flourishing towns 
and growing crops. With the gains resulting from one ven- 
ture they embarked upon the next. Others like them were 
attracted to the pursuit of immediate wealth through the 
construction of railroads. It was a period in which optimism 
held sway, and fortunes were made through extensive rather 
than intensive development. At such a time, with such men, 
it was only natural that attention should have been directed 
to Mexico. 

Nor were railroad promoters and builders alone in their 



interest in Mexico. The merchants of St. Louis and Chicago, 
who had profited from the opening up of the territory to 
the west, were active in encouraging the extension of lines 
which would put them in touch with new markets beyond the 
Rio Grande. The Chicago banquet, to which reference has 
been made, is evidence of such interest, which was so great 
as to impel John W. Foster to issue a word of warning. 

Foster's letter is a statement of facts and tendencies as he 
saw them, unrelieved by any touch of faith in the statesman- 
like capacity of the men in control in Mexico. In later years 
he admitted that his picture had been overdrawn. However, 
it failed to counteract the spirit of enterprise that prompted 
the railroad invasion of Mexico. When he pointed out the 
ungenerous terms of the concessions that were proposed and 
the hostility of the legislative authority, he failed to discour- 
age promoters who were not without experience with legis- 
latures and whose hope was to sell out their concessions or 
their railroads before the objectionable terms should become 
embarrassing. His contrast between the proposed subsidies 
and the revenues of the Mexican treasury was equally un- 
convincing to those who had witnessed the great internal 
development which had resulted from the introduction of 
railroads in the United States. 

Within three years after the Foster episode American in- 
terests had obtained concessions providing for the construc- 
tion of five railroads aggregating over 2500 miles and sub- 
sidies amounting to $32,000,000. Again counsels of prudence 
were urged, this time by F. E. Prendergast, who said : 

''Unless Mexican revenues increase at a prodigious rate, 
it looks as if she were incurring obligations which it may be 
difficult to fulfill. . . . 

*'To those accustomed to the rapid progress of our West- 
ern States, it might appear that the opening up by railroads 



of a great productive region, already possessing a consider- 
able population, must result in the rapid development of a 
large and profitable business. But it is not a parallel case. 

**The country to be opened up is old, and its population 
widely different from the energetic and enterprising races 
to whom that rapid progress is due. We are told of the vast 
resources and extent of Mexico, the business that must spring 
up, the favors granted by the government to projected rail- 
roads, and people point to the great capitalists whose names 
head the subscription lists, and whose fortunes are largely 
due to successful railroad management. . . . 

**We believe in the ultimate development of Mexico, but 
we dread to see our citizens investing vast sums in schemes 
rather because, like Colonel Sellers, they think there must be 
millions in them, than from any careful consideration of their 
probable returns."^ 

During the year in which this article appeared, John Bige- 
low visited Mexico at the request of Samuel J. Tilden, who 
had become attracted by the idea of railroad promotion in 
that country. Upon his return he published the results of 
his observations in an article which was quite as pessimistic 
as the conclusions of Foster and Prendergast, which he re- 
stated and elaborated in convincing terms. 

He admitted there was much wealth in Mexico, but he 
added, *'the temptation to embark in railway enterprises in 
Mexico which have intoxicated many of the coolest heads in 
Wall Street and Threadneedle Street can hardly be said to 
have opened the purse of a single Mexican.'' He called 
attention to the lack of public lands in the country which 
could be offered as an inducement to immigration or as 
grants in aid of railroad construction. Subsidies, he pointed 

^Prendergast, Railroads in Mexico, "Harpers' Magazine," LXIII, 276-81 



out, were payable not in money but in revenue bonds whose 
yield was contingent upon the activity of foreign commerce, 
and they were coupled with such conditions as to make them of 
doubtful advantage. He declared: 

**0n general principles subsidies do not form the founda- 
tion on which to construct a sound railway system, but it is 
no doubt a wise policy for Mexico to make use of them to 
get roads built through her territory by foreign capital for 
one-third their actual cost. In oflfering subsidies, therefore, 
at the rate of six to eight thousand dollars a kilometer, she 
takes no risks ; the more miles built at that rate in her terri- 
tory the better for her. The risk is with the capitalist who 
places his money where the business that is to make his in- 
vestment profitable is yet to be developed ; where he is liable 
to have competing lines constructed faster than they can be 
needed ; where, in case the government should become finan- 
cially embarrassed, it would naturally begin its economies 
by suspending its subsidies, and in case of war, appropriate 
the road to its own uses at unremunerative rates. . . . 

*'It is feared by many that the Mexican government has 
already incurred more obligations of this sort than she has 
any fair prospect of being able to make good. If we do not 
share this opinion entirely, it is because we expect that the 
greater portion of the grants already issued will be forfeited. 
. . . There remains to be paid as subsidies under existing 
and still valid charters about ninety millions of dollars. Tms 
is a large liability for a government whose annual revenues 
are esteemed eminently prosperous when they reach twenty 
millions a year.'' 

His general conclusion, therefore, was, ''There are so many 
elements of uncertainty to be reckoned with in these invest- 
ments, especially if made under the auspices and in the 



special interest of foreigners, that while they would unques- 
tionably prove highly advantageous to Mexico, and might 
ultimately prove highly remunerative to stockholders, they 
should be caviare to all who have not money to invest which 
they can aflford to lose."* 

Those in favor of American investments in Mexican rail- 
roads were also active in presenting optimistic statements. 
Matias Romero, remembered as Mexico's ablest minister to 
the United States, replied to Bigelow as he had done to 
Foster.* And Joseph Nimmo, a statistician at Washington, 
ably served as a propagandist in the interest of American 
railroad promoters ; perhaps his most remarkable production 
was the pamphlet '* Commerce between the United States 
and Mexico," which was issued as a government document. 
The financial press, always interested in new ventures, gave 
liberal attention to the various projects. Thus the pros- 
pective investor was amply supplied with the facts and argu- 
ments that were needed as a basis for decision. 

The early eighties were years of optimism, and American 
capital flowed in increasing currents into Mexican railroads. 
The source of these funds was generally the larger financial 
interests, however ; for it does not appear that the securities 
were generally taken by small investors. For such an exten- 
sive distribution, time is needed ; and before the necessary 
time had elapsed, it became apparent that original estimates 
were inadequate and that too much reliance had been placed 
upon subsidies. In 1885 the Mexican government found it 
necessary to suspend the payment of subsidies, and although 

'Bigelow, The railway invasion of Mexico, "Harpers' Mazazine," LXV, 
745-57 (1882). 

* Romero, Railways in Mexico, "International Review," Xm, 477-506 



it made a partial resumption of payments a year later/ the 
American investor had become dubious about the possibility 
of obtaining great returns from money placed in a country 
where uncertainty was the general rule. Solomon GriflSn 
reflected the general opinion when he said: 

*'Too much has been expected in Mexico and the United 
States from the introduction of railroads. The generous 
government concessions to the new lines were held to be a 
sort of patent plaster to draw Mexico into the front rank of 
progress. The result has been generally disappointing, but 
it is not in the least a surprise to any thoughtful person who 
is at all conversant with the local conditions. ... It is clear 
that railroads are going to have a profitable career here, but 
it will have to be on a reasonable business basis.'" 

The field, therefore, was left to the interests already com- 
mitted to the venture and to investors in Europe who were 
able and willing to place their funds with a view to a slow 
development and deferred returns. 

Before proceeding to trace the actual construction of rail- 
roads in Mexico by Americans, it will be well to give some 
facts as to the extension of American railroads to the Mexi- 
can border. The Southern Pacific was completed eastward to 
Yuma, Arizona, in 1877, and to Deming, New Mexico, and 
El Paso in 1881. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe con- 
nected with the Southern Pacific at Deming in 1881. It ob- 
tained trackage rights over the line of the Southern Pacific 
from Deming to Benson, Arizona, and built a branch from 
Benson to Nogales, Arizona, which was reached in 1882. 
From Rincon, New Mexico, it built a line to El Paso, which 

A "Ohronicle,** XL, 752-3 (1885), XLIH, 88-90 (1886). 

B Griffin, Mexico of today, 46 (1886). 



was reached in 1881. The Texas and Pacific in 1882 eflfected 
a junction kt Sierra Blanca, Texas, with the Southern Pacific, 
which had been pushed eastward from El Paso. The Inter- 
national and Great Northern was built to Laredo in 1882. 
The Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio in 1883 connected 
with the Southern Pacific, and also extended a branch from 
Spoflford, Texas, to Eagle Pass the same year. These lines 
were all of standard gauge. The Texas-Mexican, a narrow- 
gauge line, was opened between Corpus Christi, Texas, and 
Laredo in 1881. The Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific 
reached El Paso in 1900. 




THE first American railroad in Mexico was built not with 
any idea of a ** railroad invasion of Mexico" but as an 
incident in the attempt of Boston capitalists to extend the 
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe to the Pacific coast and thus 
break the territorial monopoly of Collis P. Huntington and his 
associates in the Southern Pacific railroad. As the line of the 
Atchison was pushed westward it had come into conflict with 
William J. Palmer's Denver and Rio Grande project, with the 
result that by 1878 it was determined that while Palmer 
would be unable to build toward the Mexican border, the At- 
chison could not build into western Colorado. This meant 
that the future extension of the Atchison would be toward the 
southwest. !f' % 

To Sebastian Camacho and his associates this situation pre- 
sented an opportunity to obtain funds with which to utilize 
the Blair concession for a railroad from Guaymas to El Paso, 
with a branch to the Arizona border. This concession they 
offered to share with the Atchison interests, who in 1879 in- 
corporated the Sonora railway company (Ferrocarril de 
Sonora) under an amendment to the Massachusetts laws 
passed for this particular purpose.^ 

Construction work was begun at Guaymas in 1880, and in 
1882 the line was completed to the Arizona border at Nogales. 
In the meantime the Atchison had reached El Paso and Dem- 
ing, at the latter point connecting with the Southern Pacific, 

^ L. Mass. 1879, c. 274. 



which was being built toward the east. From Deming to 
Nogales the Atchison had planned to build a line of its own ; 
but, instead, it accepted a ''satisfactory proposal'' made by 
Huntington for the joint use of the Southern Pacific track 
between Deming and Benson, and built the short connecting 
line from Benson to Nogales in 1881-2. This was more satis- 
factory to Huntington than to the Atchison interests, who at 
that time suffered the first of a series of defeats at the hands 
of that dominating figure among American railroad builders. 

On September 14, 1880 the concession was amended so as to 
provide for a cash subsidy instead of a land grant;* but it 
still provided that the main line should run to El Paso. When, 
therefore, construction was continued to the north of Hermo- 
sillo instead of up the valley of the Sonora river, the Mexican 
government ordered the work stopped. This order was re- 
voked, however, in view of the great difficulty of the El Paso 
route. In 1881 the Atchison acquired complete control of the 

Before the Sonora was open to Nogales, an attempt was made 
to obtain a further modification in the terms of the concession, 
so as to extend to six years the time within which the El Paso 
line should be built. This was accomplished in 1883,* but the 
line was never built. 

The leading spirit in the Sonora project was Thomas 
Nickerson, and Daniel B. Robinson was in charge of con- 
struction. These men were experienced railroad builders, 
well qualified to meet the difficulties that constantly arise in 
pioneer enterprises. In Mexico, however, they found diffi- 
culties new to them. Under the terms of their concession they 

• Pomento, "Legislacion," m, no. 517, IV, no. 766. 

• A. T. and S. P., Report, 1880. 

*Ibid., 1888; "Chronicle," XXXVH, 128 (1888). 



were compelled to begin work at Guaymas, and so they had to 
ship most of their rails and equipment around Cape Horn. 
Native labor was employed, but the supply was limited, and 
an adequate working force was recruited with difSculty. 
Skilled laborers and mechanics were brought in from the 
United States, as well as many negroes. '*Not all the negroes 
had characters, ' ' wrote Cy Warman. ' ' Many of them had two 
names and a razor, and when they distributed themselves among 
the natives on the night that followed pay day, thoughtful 
men slept in cellars. Idle Mexicans, jealous of the Americans, 
created or incited a riot at every opportunity."* 

As a revenue-producer the Sonora was a disappointment, 
and as an outlet to the Pacific ocean it proved less valuable to 
the Atchison than the line which was soon extended to San 
Francisco under terms dictated by the Southern Pacific 
interests. Aside from its record as the first American railroad 
in Mexico, the sole importance of the Sonora is that it later 
served as the nucleus of the Southern Pacific Railroad of 

* Warman, The story of the railroad, 214. 




THE year 1880 is memorable not only for the beginning of 
railroad construction in Mexico by Americans ; it marked 
the change of the attitude of the Mexican government toward 
Americans as concessionnaires, as well as the organization of 
the Mexican Central railway company (FerrocarrU Central 
Mexicano) under the laws of Massachusetts. The incorpora- 
tors represented the same interests as those behind the Atchi- 
son and Sonora projects, and Thomas Nickerson was the first 
president. On April 3, 1880, the Mexican government trans- 
ferred to Robert R. Symon, agent of the company, the forfeited 
concession for a railroad from Mexico to Leon, originally 
granted to the Mexican Company, Ltd. (Camacho-Mendi- 
zabal) interests in 1874.^ With the idea of bringing into har- 
mony the various contracts that had been entered into between 
the national and state governments and of facilitating the 
construction of through lines, the Mexican congress on June 
1, 1880, authorized the president to modify these contracts." 
By this means unification of gauge was made possible. 

When the transfer of the Mexico-Leon concession was made 
to Symon, it was with the understanding that it should be 
amended so as to provide for a line to extend to Paso del 
Norte (or Jaurez), Laredo, and Guadalajara. The Palmer- 
Sullivan interests now attempted to outbid the Mexican Cen- 
tral for favor and to obtain a concession that would give them 

^ Fomento, "Legislacion," III, nos. 470, 475, 500. 

' Ibid., no. 495. 



this privilege. Another competitor appeared in the person of 
Nathaniel S. Reneau, who claimed to represent a Washington 
company backed by Jay Gould, Russell Sage, Thomas A. Scott, 
and others. Southern Pacific interests, led by CoUis P. Hunt- 
ington, were also active. Meanwhile the Mexican Central 
interests purchased a Guanajuato state concession, thus extend- 
ing their right from Leon to Celaya. By this means they 
obtained an advantage; for while under the general law of 
June 1, 1880, the president could transfer state concessions 
to whomever he might wish, he was bound not to grant a con- 
cession that would parallel a route for which a concession was 
already in force. They had a further advantage in the support 
of Ramon Guzman, a leading banker and owner of the local 
traction lines in the City of Mexico, and of Sebastian Camacho, 
whose influence is evident from the number of concessions that 
he had already obtained from the Mexican government. To 
secure their existing concessions they began work on the line 
between Mexico and Celaya. 

On September 8, 1880, Diaz awarded to the Mexican Central 
the desired concession for the construction of a line from 
Mexico to Leon and from Leon to Paso del Norte, uniting the 
cities of Queretaro, Celaya, Salamanca, Irapuato, Guanajuato, 
Silao, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, and Guadalajara, 
and this was confirmed by congress on November 8.* 

The Mexican Central then took over concessions from the 
states of Chihuahua, Aguascalientes, and San Luis Potosi, and 
on July 6, 1881,* received a concession for a line extending to 
Tampico. By an act of April 12, 1883, these concessions were 

Construction work was carried on in four divisions, and 

• Ibid., m, no8. 511, 588. 

* Ibid., rV., no. 682. 



track-laying was begun on September 15, 1880. The track 
was opened to operation from Mexico to San Juan del Rio in 
1881 ; to Lagos in 1882. At the northern end of the line work 
was begun in 1881, and regular trains were in operation as far 
as Chihuahua by the end of 1882. The entire line was corn- 
completed on March 8, 1884.' 

Construction of the Tampico line was begun in 1881, but 
progress was slow, and it was not completed until 1890.' The 
Guadalajara line was begun in 1884 and completed to Irapuato 
in 1888. Work was also begun at San Bias on a line to Guad- 
alajara in 1882, but this part of the project was abandoned. 
Contrary to general practice the Mexican Central handled its 
construction work without the aid of a construction company.'' 

In 1905 the idea of a Pacific extension was revived, and in 
1908 a line known as the Mexican Pacific was opened between 
Manzanillo and Tuxpan ( J ft l is oo ), connecting with main line 
through Guadalajara. V,/4/i "^^r^aa-w^ 

The system was also extended through a series of mergers. 
In 1901 it took over the Monterey and Mexican Gulf, which 
had been opened in 1891 between Venadito or Reata, on the 
Mexican International, through Monterey to Tampico. In 
1902 it absorbed the Mexico, Cuemavaca, and Pacific, which 
in 1899 had abandoned, at the Balsas river, the attempt to 
extend a line from Mexico to Acapulco. In 1905 it acquired 

^ Brandt, Railway invasion of Mexico, Ms., 78-100 ; Bradford, Railroad 
building in Mexico, Association of Engineering Societies, "Journal," IV, 845-50 

< Garden, Report on the Tampico branch of the Mexican Oentral railway, 
London, 1897, 10 p. 

f "Ohronicle," XXXV, 516 (1882). 

•Archiv fttr Eisenbahnwesen," XXXII, 1569-72 (1909); "Engineering 
News," LVn, 376-7 (1907); Martin, Railways of Mexico, "Railway News,'^ 
LXXXVI, 47980, 582-8, 616-7 (1906). 



the Coahuila and Pacific, extending from Saltillo to Toireon, 
which had been completed in 1903. In 1905, also, it purchased 
a controlling interest in the Mexican National Construction 
company, which owned a line from Ojocaliente to Zacatecas 
and another from Manzanillo to Colima. It was this Manzan- 
illo-Colima line which formed the basis for the extension to 
the Pacific coast. 

The Mexican Central was Mexico's greatest railroad. It 
spread over the country from the Capital to the northern 
border and from the Pacific to the Gulf. There were few cities 
of importance which it did not touch. It was heavily capital- 
ized, however, and it failed to develop traflSc to the extent that 
its promoters had expected, and it eventually passed out of 
Boston control. Mr. Clarence "W. Barron, who was familiar 
with the project from the beginning, records the failure of the 
Atchison group as follows : 

''When a generation ago the Boston people ploughed the 
railroad line from Atchison to Santa Fe and across the great 
American desert into California they had great hopes of traflSc 
from the Mexican Central line they built from El Paso to 
connect with the City of Mexico, a thousand miles distant. 
They believed it would be a great feeder to the Atchison. 

**In this they were disappointed, but they still had the 
courage to build a branch to Tampico, hoping therefrom to 
make a new port for the development of the interior of 
Mexico. . . . 

**For years the Atchison folders printed the Mexican lines 
almost as their own. Today on the Atchison folders connec- 
tions north even into Canada may be traced, but Mexico is a 
foreign country upon which the railroads need not waste paper 
in maps or timetables. A thumbnail comer in the Santa Fe 
map shows Mexico and on it from Mexico City to the Eio 



Grande on the coast is a wilderness broken only by the harbor 
of Tampico. 

' ' To all American lines meeting at El Paso the business in 
and out of Mexico has been for more than thirty years a dis- 

In 1906 the Mexican government obtained an option on the 
controlling shares held by H. Clay Pierce, and in 1909 the 
Mexican Central became a part of the government system of 

> Barron, The Mexican problem, 22 (1917). 

The Atchison group was also interested in the Sinaloa and Dnrango rail- 
road company, incorporated in Massachusetts in March, 1881, to operate under 
a concession obtained by Robert B. Symon on August 16, 1880. — Fomento, 
"Legislacion," III, no. 506. This concession was extended on September 26, 
1881. — Ibid., IV, no. 728. Construction was begun in 1882 at Altata and 
continued to Culiacan, where it stopped in 1883. The Occidental railway 
company, organized in London, bought the property in 1892. — Poor's Manual, 





WITHIN the week in which the Mexican Central received 
its concession, Diaz, with the idea that there was 
room enough in Mexico for more than one longitudinal line, 
also granted a concession to the Palmer-Sullivan interests 
operating under the name of the ** Mexican National Con- 
struction company" (Compania constructora Nacional Mexi- 
cana).^ The date of this concession was September 13, 1880. 

General Palmer, the head of this enterprise and the builder 
of the Denver and Rio Grande railroad, was an advocate of 
narrow-gauge railroads, particularly as a means of reaching 
mines in a rugged country. The name chosen for his Col- 
orado line indicates his plan to extend to the Mexican border, 
— ^a plan which was frustrated by the Atchison interests, who 
obtained possession of the Raton pass after a contest that is 
memorable in American railroad history. 

The route covered by the Mexican National concession was 
from Mexico through Toluca, Acambaro, Celaya, San Luis 
Potosi, Saltillo, and Monterey to Laredo, and from Mexico 
through Acambaro, Morelia, Zamora, Guadalajara, and 
Colima to the port of Manzanillo. By subsequent purchases 
of state concessions, the route was extended from Monterey 
to Matamoros, from San Luis Potosi to Lagos and Zacatecas, 
from Zacatecas to Guadalupe Hidalgo, and from Mexico to 
El Salto. The Texas-Mexican was also acquired in 1883.* 

1 Fomento, "Legislacion," m, noB. 508, 512. 

* Ibid., n, nos. 894, 407, 428, HI, nos. 484, 487, 497, 508, 518, 528-4, 
548, 560. 



Work of construction was carried on simultaneously at 
different points, and as sections were completed they were 
taken over by the operating company, the Mexican National 
railway (Ferrocarril Nacional Mexicano), incorporated in 
Colorado, with General Palmer as president. The line from 
Laredo was opened to Monterey in 1882 and extended to 
Saltillo in 1883. From Mexico the line was >open to Toluca 
in 1880, and through Acambro and Celaya to San Miguel 
de AUende in 1883. Work between Saltillo and San Miguel 
was not begun until 1886, and the main line from Mexico to 
Laredo was not completed until September 28, 1888. The 
line from Monterey to Matamoros was finished in 1905. 

On the Pacific line work was also carried on from both 
ends. The section from Acambaro was carried through 
Morelia to Patzcuaro in 1886, and stopped at Uruapan. From 
Manzanillo the line was built as far as Colima by 1889, after 
which the project was abandoned.* 

Financial difficulties attended the construction of this sys- 
tem; and in 1882 arrangements were made with Mattheson 
and company of London which resulted in bringing in Eng- 
lish and French capital.* In 1887 the Construction com- 
pany's concessions were consolidated.' 

In 1887 the Mexican National railway company was re- 
organized as the Mexican National railroad company, and 
control passed to the English holders of the bonds of the 
original company. It was the new company that completed 
the main line.' Title to the unfinished Manzanillo-Colima 

* Brandt, Railway invasion of Mexico, Ms., 103-12; Bigelow, Railway 
invasion of Mexico, "Harpers' Magazine," LXY, 763-6 (1882). 

* ••Chronicle," XXXV, 108 (1882). 

«Ibid., XXXVI, 81 (1888). 

«Ibid., XUn, 108, 698, XLTV, 869, 681, XLVH, 464 (1886-8). 



line and to a short line between Zaeatecas and Ojocaliente 
was retained by the Construction company/ 

In 1901 the work of converting the main line to standard 
gauge was begun, but the financial condition of the com- 
pany was such that in 1902 there was a second reorgani- 
zation, and the control passed to an American company, the 
National Railroad company of Mexico, incorporated in Utah. 
The new company continued the work of reconstruction, 
which was completed in 1903/ 

In 1900 the Mexican National leased the ICchoacan and 
Pacific {Ferrocarril Michoacan y Pacifico), extending from 
Moravatia to Acampo with a branch to Anguagueo, which 
had been built in the early nineties by the Michoacan Rail- 
way and Mining company. In 1901 it acquired a controlling 
interest in the Mexican International. In 1903 it acquired 
control of the Interoceanic, but only under terms by which 
the Mexican government acquired control of the National 
itself. In 1906 the Hidalgo and Northeastern (Ferrocarril 
Hidalgo y Nordeste), extending from Mexico to Tortugas 
with branches to Pachuca and Irolo, was taken into the 

The Mexican National in 1909 was merged in the National 
Railways of Mexico. 

T)id., XLVn, 709 (1888). 

•Ibid., LXXIII, 784-5, 1112, LXXIV, 650, LXXV, 981, 1147, LXXVI. 
694, LXXVn, 1747 (1901-8); Martin, Railways of Mexico, "Railway News," 
LXXXV, 990-1 (1906). 




ON June 7, 1881, General John B. Frisbie, representing 
CoUis P. Huntington and the Southern Pacific inter- 
ests, acquired from the Mexican government in the name of 
the International Construction company, a concession for a 
railroad from Piedras Negras to Durango and from Durango 
through Zacatecas and Guanajuato to Mexico, with a branch 
through Nieves (Zacatecas) to a point on the Pacific coast 
between Mazatlan and Zihuatanejos (Guerrero), and another 
branch through San Luis Potosi to a point on the Gulf coast 
between Matamoros and Vera Cruz. This concession, when 
approved, was transferred to Huntington, acting for the 
construction company which was organized in Connecticut 
in March, 1881. Further concessions were obtained on 
November 4, 1881 and April 21, 1882. None of these con- 
cessions contained any provision for a subsidy, and their 
terms were correspondingly liberal.^ 

On April 26, 1882, the company was reorganized as the 
International Railroad company {Ferrocarril Internacional 
Mexicano) and a charter was obtained from the Connecticut 
legislature under date of April 26, 1882.* 

Construction work was begun in earnest after the com- 
pletion of the line of the Galveston, Houston, and San 
Antonio to Eagle Pass in 1883. In January, 1884, the track 
was laid as far as Monclova. The line was slowly extended. 

^Fomento, "LegiBlacion," IV, nos. 657, 672, 759, V, no. 822. 

« Conn. Special acts, IX, 668-72. 



reaching Torreon in 1888, thus connecting with the Mexican 
Central. On October 1, 1892, the line was opened to Durango. 
From Durango construction continued parallel to the west- 
em Sierra Madre as far as Tepehuanas, which was reached 
in 1902. 

In the meantime, Huntington, the leading spirit in the 
project, died, and control passed to the Mexican National 
in 1901.' _ 

The fact that this railroad was built without government 
aid accounts for the length of time required for its construc- 
tion. It provided an outlet for the extensive coal deposits 
of Coahuila, and it contributed to the upbuilding of Mexico's 
iron smelting industry. 

In 1910 the National Railways of Mexico, already in con- 
trol of the Mexican National, acquired from the Southern 
Pacific company a large block of Mexican International 
shares, and the International as a company ceased to exist. 

•Brandt, Railway invasion of Mexico, Ms. 112-5; "Chronicle,*' XLVI, 
75, 820 (1888), LXXIII. 533, (1901); Mexican International Railroad. Annual 
report, 1892; 3-5; Bigelow, Railway invasion of Mexico, "Harpers' Magazine^'* 
LXV, 753-5 (1882); Martin, Railways of Mexico, "Railway News," LXXXV, 
952-3, (1906); U. S. Department of War, Monograph on Mexico, 165-6 (1914). 




THE high rates charged by the Mexican railway in con- 
junction with its indifferent service finally had its 
natural result in the construction of the competing Inter- 
oceanic railway through Jalapa. This was not accomplished 
until after many persons had made attempts to construct 
segments of lines which should ultimately be connected into 
a great system. This is not surprising to one who recalls the 
efforts of the Mexican railway interests to pre-empt the con- 
cession for the first line from the Valley of Mexico toward the 
northern border and to interest men high in government favor 
in their enterprises. 

The early history of the Interoceanic project is a narrative 
of petty concessions and of the construction of petty lines ; of 
small corporations, which failing in their purpose, consol- 
idated with others of like nature, which failed in turn. Little 
of this appears in the materials that are readily available. The 
facts are buried in the oflScial documents and reports, and 
there they are presented with little regard to their inter- 

The earliest of these concessions dates from April 16, 1878. 
This was granted to the state of Morelos for a railroad from 
Mexico to Morelos and Cuemavaca and from one of those 
points to the Amacusac river. On October 5, 1878, this con- 
cession was transferred to the Mexico and Morelos railway 
company, the head of which was Manuel Mendoza Cortina.* 

^ Fomento, "Legislacion,** 11, no. 898; Secretaria de Fomento, "Memoria," 
1877-82, m, 654-5. 



On November 27, 1880, the national government entered 
into a contract with the state of Morelos for the construction 
of a railroad from Los Reyes on the Morelos line to a connec- 
tion with the Mexican railway at Irolo. This concession was 
transferred to Delfin Sanchez, who completed the line in 1882. 
Under a concession granted to Sanchez on December 23, 1881, 
a line from Los Reyes to Mexico was completed, also in 1882 ; 
and through communications were established between the 
Capital City and Irolo. In the meantime, a line had been ex- 
tended from Irolo Calpulalpam (Tlaxcala) under a concession 
granted on January 21, 1882 to Francisco Arteaga for a rail- 
road from Irolo to Puebla and thence to Matamoros Izucar 
and a connection with either the Acapulco or Morelos lines. 
This concession also was transferred to Delfin Sanchez on 
February 21, 1882.* 

On July 9, 1880, the national government entered into a con- 
tract with the state of Guerrero for a line from Acapulco to 
Mexico through Chilpancingo and Iguala, and this concession 
was transferred to Sanchez on February 12, 1881. The Sanchez 
projects were united October 19, 1882, under the name of the 
United Morelos, Irolo, and Acapulco railways.* 

Under date of September 6, 1880, the states of Puebla and 
Vera Cruz entered into a contract with the national govern- 
ment for a railroad from Jalapa to San Andres Chalchicomula. 
This was then transferred to Ramon Zangroniz, who on Dec- 
ember 11, 1880, also received a concession for a railroad from 
Jalapa to a port on the Gulf. An extension to the westward 
was provided for on June 27, 1881, when Francisco M. Prida, 
representing the same interests, received a national concession 

« Fomento, ••Legislacion," III, nos. 581, 538, IV, nos. 769, 782, 802, V. 
no. 807; Secretaria de Pomento, ••Memoria," 1877-82, m, 673-8. 

« Fomento. "Legislacion." Ill, nos. 501, 525, V, nos. 819, 888, 893; 
Secretaria de Fomento, "Memoria," 1877-82, in, 655, 690-1. 



for a railroad from San Andres Chalchicomula to a point on 
the line of the Morelos railway. On November 21, 1881, the 
three concessions were consolidated, and the National Inter- 
oceanic railway company, was organized by Zangroniz and 
Prida. On October 23, 1882, this company was consolidated 
with the United Morelos, Irolo, and Acapulco railways under 
the name of the Acapulco, Morelos, Irolo, and Vera Cruz 
Interoceanic railway.* This consolidated company in 1886 
purchased from the national government the national railway 
of San Martin Texemelucan, extending from Puebla to San 
Martin in the direction of Irolo." 

Provision for another section of the line was made on Sept- 
ember 14, 1880, when the state of Puebla entered into a con- 
tract with the national government for the construction of a 
railroad from Puebla eastward to a junction with the Mexican 
railway at San Marcos, and on September 30 of that year the 
state legislature authorized the transfer of the concession to 
Luis Garcia Feruel and Jacobo Ortiz BorbaUa.' 

As early as 1881 the Jalapa route between Mexico and Vera 
Cruz was surveyed under the direction of Arthur M. Welling- 
ton, the celebrated American engineer,^ but sufficient capital 
could be raised only for operations on a small scale. A com- 
pany was * organized in France to take up the project, but 
nothing was accomplished.® 

* Fomento, "Legislacion," III, nos. 504, 509, 519, 551, IV, nos. 676, 749; 
Secretaria de Fomento, "Memoria," 1877-82, III, 681-2. 

B Secretaria de Fomento, "Memoria," 1877-82, III, 767-8; Poor's Manual, 

•Fomento, "Legislacion," HI, nos. 515, 520, 521, 537; Secretaria de 
Fomento, "Memoria," 1877-82, III, 694-5. 

f Wellington, The American line from Vera Omz to the Oity of Mexico 
via Jalapa, Amer. Soc. of Oivil Engineers, "Transactions," 1886 :XV, 791-848. 

> U. S. Consular reports, XXXI, 90 (1889). 



On February 13, 1883 the several concessions were consol- 
idated in one which was granted to Arteaga/ At that time 
255 miles had been constructed. The new concessions, were 
amended on July 3, 1886/' 

In 1888 the **Interoceanic Railway of Mexico (Acapulco to 
Vera Cruz)'' {FerrocarrU Interocecmico) was chartered in 
England, and the new company took over the uncompleted 
sections between Mexico and Puebla, via Irolo and San Mar- 
tin ; Puebla and Jalapa, via San Marcos ; and Jalapa and Vera 
Cruz ; and options on the lines between Los Arcos and Mata- 
moros Izucar and Mexico and Amacusac via Yautepec, which 
were purchased a few years later/ ^ 

In the interest of the company, Arteaga on July 1, 1889 
obtained a concession for a railroad from Matamoros Izucar 
to Acapulco to join the Interoceanic at some convenient 

The line between Mexico and Vera Cruz was opened in 1891, 
and the other parts of the system were reconstructed and com- 
pleted. In 1903 the Matamoras and Morelos branches were 
connected by a line extending from Atencingo and Cuautla; 
but the system has not been extended in the direction of 
Acapulco beyond Puente de Ixtle on the Amacusac river." 

In 1902 the Interoceanic acquired the San Marcos and Nautla 
railway, extending from San Marcos to Tezuitlan, and organ- 
ized the subsidiary Mexican Eastern railway company {Ferro- 

• Dublah, "Legislacion Mexicana," XVT, 453. 

10 Ibid, XVn, 549. 

11 Poor's Manual. 1889:76; 1893:1189; "Economist," LIX, 1368-9 

1' Great Britain, Diplomatic and consular reports, Misc. series, no. 170:2 
(1890); U. S. Consular reports, XXXI, 91 (1889). 

i« Martin, Railways of Mexico, "Railway News," LXXXV, 877-8, LXXXVI, 
766-7 (1906). 



carrU Oriental Mexicano) to take over the control. In 1909 it 
obtained a lease of the Mexican Southern railway. In the 
meantime, in 1903, the Mexican government acquired control 
of the Interoceanic, which it turned over to the Mexican 
National in exchange for a controlling interest in the National. 
In 1909 the Interoceanic control passed to the National Rail- 
ways of Mexico, but the corporate identity of the company has 
been maintained. 




THE- Mexican Southern railway {Ferrocarril Mexicano del 
8ur), now a subsidiary of the Interoceanic, as a project 
dates back to August 25, 1880, when the government of the 
state of Oaxaca received a concession for a railroad — the Mexi- 
can Meridional — from the port of Anton Lizardo on the Gulf 
through Tehuacan, Oaxaca, and Tehuantepec to Port Angel on 
the Pacific/ As agent of the state of Oaxaca, Matias Romero 
transferred this concession to the Mexican Southern railroad 
company, incorporated in New York by General U. S. Grant 
in 1881.* 

Grant had visited Mexico early in 1880. While in Mexico 
and after his return to New York he advocated the construc- 
tion of railroads as the best means of developing the resources 
of the country To Romero came the idea that this could be 
best accomplished by bringing the rival American interests 
into harmony and in association with a man of Grant's great 
prestige and strong financial backing. This was found to be 
impossible, and the Mexican Southern project was launched 
as a separate enterprise. 

The list of incorporators included the names of representa- 
tives of the Atchison, Southern Pacific, and Gould interests, 
but there was no aflSliation with the Palmer-Sullivan group. 

1 Pomento, "Legislacion," HI, no. IV, 641, V, no. 778. 

' L. N. Y. 1881, c. 86; Nimmo, Trade between Mexico and the United 
States, 89-40 (1884); Romero, "Informe respecto el ferrocarril de Oaxaca" 




Gould was planning a Mexican extension to serve as a feeder 
for his Southwestern system, the corporate name being the 
Mexican Oriental, Interoceanic, and International railroad 
company. His concession, granted to Francis De Gress on 
November 5, 1881, provided for a line from the Rio Grande, 
through Victoria, to the City of Mexico, as well as several 
branches.* With the consent of the Mexican government this 
project became affliated with that of the Mexican Southern 
in May 1883, but a receiver was appointed in March 1884 and 
the concession was soon forfeited.* 

In the meantime Grant had obtained an amendment to his 
concession which provided for a line from Tehuantepec to the 
Guatemala border and also a concession for an extension into 
Guatemala, but in May 1884 came the Grant and Ward failure 
in New York, and with it the collapse of the original Mexican 
Southern project.* 

The Grant concession then passed to General Joaquin de 
Mier y Teran of Oaxaca. On April 21, 1886, it was amended so 
as to provide for a route from Puebla to Oaxaca. In May, 1888, 
it was acquired in the name of H. Rudston Read, of the British 
contracting firm of Read and Campbell, who obtained amend- 
ments in 1889 and 1891. On May 9, 1889, the Mexican 
Southern railway company was incorporated in London. 

Construction was begun without delay, and the line was 
completed from Puebla to Oaxaca in November 1892. Two 
short branches out of Oaxaca were constructed, one as late as 
1911 ; and the tramline between Tehuacan and Esperanza was 

> U. S. Foreign Relations, 1881:780. 

« ••Chronicle,'* XXXVI, 623, XXXVH. 99 (1888), XXWIH, 859 (1884). 

* Brandt, Railway invasion of Mexico, Ms. 28-36, 116-20; Romero, Speech 
on the 65 anniversary of U. S. Grant (1887). 



acquired from the state of Puebla in settlement of a claim for 
an unpaid susbidy/ 

In 1909 the Interoceanic obtained a lease of the property 
from January 1910 to the expiration of the concession in 1982.' 

•"Mexican Financier/' XVin, 432-6 (1891); "Engineering News," 
XXVI, 174-5 (1891); Martin, Railways of Mexico, "Railway News," LXXXV, 
1030-1, 1072-3 (1906). 

•"South American Journal," LXVII 98 (1909); Mexican year book 
1914:48-9; Martin, Mexico as a field for investment, "Financial Review of 
Reviews," no. 46:33-5, (1909). 




THE opening of a line of communication across the Isthmus 
of Tehuantepec was proposed in the time of Cortez, and a 
survey of a route for a canal was made in the eighteenth cen- 
tury. As early as November 4, 1824, the Mexican government 
took steps to attract proposals/ and on March 1, 1842, a con- 
cession was granted to Jose Garay for a railroad line. This was 
amended in 1846.* 

Garay 's concession was sold in 1848 to the English firm of 
Manning and Mackintosh, who, unable to finance the project, 
assigned it to Peter A. Hargous of New York in 1849. The 
Tehuantepec railroad company was then incorporated in 
Louisiana, and a survey was made in 1850 under the direction 
of General John G. Barnard. An elaborate report of this 
survey was published in 1852.* Before construction work 
could be begun, the Mexican government, fearful of American 
influence, declared the concession void in 1851.* The result 
of this action was to divert the attention of promoters to a 
rival line, and a railroad was constructed across the Isthmus 
of Panama during 1850-5, thus making it more difficult to 
obtain capital for the Tehuantepec project.' 

^ Fomento, "Legislacion,** I, no. 1. 

> Ibid., no8. 8, 6. (See also nos. 8, 11-2, 14). 

* Barnard, The Isthmus of T ehua ntepec, (1852) ; Oorthell, The Tehuantepec 
route, "Railroad Gazette," XXXVTL 154 (1904); Martin, Railways of Mexico, 
"Railway News," LXXXV, 879, LXXXVI, 167-8 (1906). 

^ Fomento, "Legislacion." I, no. 16; Seward, Relations with Mexico, and 
the transcontinental railroad (1868). 

" Oorthell, as above, 164-6. [149I 


Further attempts were made by the government to solicit 
proposals in 1842,* and on February 5, 1853, a second con- 
cession was issued to A. G. Sloo and company, composed of 
Americans and Mexicans. This was declared forfeited in 

A third concession was granted, September 7, 1857, to the 
Louisiana Tehuantepec company. This was amended in 1859 
and 1860; and on October 12, 1866, the eoncessionnaire 
corporation got permission from the Maximilian government 
to change its name to the New York-Tehuantepec Steamship 
and Railroad company.® 

On October 15, 1866, following the fall of Maximilian, the 
concession was forfeited and transferred to the Tehuantepec 
Transit company, controlled in the United States, which in 
turn lost it through forfeiture in 1867.* 

The next concession was granted on October 6, 1867, to 
Emile La Sere, an American, as agent of the Tehuantepec 
railway company, incorporated by Simon Stevens in Vermont. 
This was amended in 1869, and on December 14, 1870, the 
construction of a canal was authorized/® However, construc- 
tion work on a railroad was begun in 1870. Both the railroad 
and canal concessions were revalidated on May 22, 1872, and 
a subsidy was granted in 1874 to the Tehuantepec railroad 

• Fomento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 22, 24-6. 

7 Ibid., nos. 29, 69. (See also no. 80); Secretaria de Fomento, "Memoria," 
1857:21; Oorthell, as above, 155. 

> Fomento, "Legislacion,** I, nos. 60, 64, 70, 159-60; Oorthell, as aboye, 
155; Rippy, Diplomacy of the United States and Mexico regarding the Isthmus 
of Tehuantepec, "Mississippi Valley Historical Beyiew," VI, 603-81 (1920). 

• Fomento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 161, 168; U. S. Message of the president 
communicating . . . correspondence on the subject of grants to American citizens 
for railroad and telegraph lines across the territory of the Republic of Mexico 
(1867) ; Oorthell, as aboye, 155. 

3^0 Fomento, "Legislacion," I, nos. 169, 192, 228. (See also nos. 198, 196); 
The Tehuantepec railway (1869) ; Oorthell, as aboye, 155. 



company/^ In 1879, both La Sere concessions were declared 

Edward Learned of New York received from the Diaz gov- 
ernment the next concession, June 2, 1879, through the activity 
of Hayden H. Hall. He constructed about twenty-two miles 
of railroad on the Atlantic side, but his concession was for- 
feited in 1882 because of expiration of the time limit/* 

The Gonzales government settled with Learned, and pro- 
ceeded to construct the railroad through a contract with Delfin 
Sanchez in 1882/* In this way abouty sixty-six miles of track 
were constructed in two sections, most of the mileage being on 
the Pacific side. This contract was abrogated in 1888. Resort 
was now had to a foreign loan, and government bonds were 
sold to a German syndicate which disposed of them in Berlin, 
Amsterdam, and London. The government entered into a 
contract with Edward McMurdo of London, who died within 
the year, and the contract was abrogated in 1892." 

On February 27, 1892, the government made a second con- 
tract for the work ; this time with Joseph H. Hampson, Chan- 
dos S. Stanhope, and Elmer L. Corthell. The proceeds of the 
loan were insufficient, and the contract was dissolved by 
mutual agreement in 1892. A new loan was negotiated in 
1893, and the work was continued. On December 6, 1893, a 
new contract was made with Stanhope, who completed the 
railroad on October 15, 1894.' 


11 Ibid., II, nos. 230, 232, 252, 801. (See also nos. 416, 426). 

i« Ibid., ni, nos. 441-2. 

i» Ibid., Ill, no. 444, V, no. 868; U. S. Foreign relations, 1879; 778, 790-9; 
Oorthell, as above, 155. 

i*Pomento, "Legislacion," V, nos. 888, 887. 

IB Oorthell, as above, 155: Martin, as above, LXXXV, 379 (1906);. 
•'Chronicle," XXXV, 557 (1882). 

i« Oorthell. as above, 155; Martin, as above, LXXXV, 879; Terry, The 
Tehnantepec railway, "Engineering Magazine," XXXTI, 535-50. 


The operation of the railroad was assumed by the govern- 
ment. It was found, however, that the construction work had 
been poorly done, and that adequate terminal facilities would 
be required to bring the enterprise to a paying basis. In 1898 
and 1899 the government entered into contracts with S. Pear- 
son and Son, Ltd., to reconstruct the railroad and to build 
harbor works and port terminals at Salina Cruz and Coatza- 
coalcos (or Puerto Mexico). The line was formally opened to 
traffic on January 1, 1907. 

For the operation of the railroad and terminals a partner- 
ship agreement was entered into by the government and the 
Pearson interests under the name of the National Railway 
Company of Tehuantepec {Ferrocarril Nacional de Tehuan- 
tepee). The contracts were dated. May 16, 1902; May 20, 
1904 ; and May 7, 1908, and the arrangement was for a term 
expiring in 1953.'^ 

In 1905 a traffic contract was arranged between the National 
Railway of Tehuantepec and the American-Hawaiian Steam- 
ship company, for the handling of sugar to the amount of 
250,000 to 300,000 tons annually, but with the opening of the 
Panama canal traffic fell off.^* 

17 Oorthell, as above, 155-7; Martin, as above, LXXXV, 437-9; "Modern 
Mexico," VII, 18-9 (1899); XIX, 21 (1909); "South American Journal," 
LXV, 178-9 (1908); U. S. Senate Oommittee on Foreign Relations, Hearings 
... to investigate whether any interests have been or are now engaged in in- 
citing rebellion in Cuba and Mexico; 778-80 (1913) See also MuUer, Report 
on the Mexican Isthmus (Tehuantepec) railway, (1907); and Peimbert, "Fer- 
rocarril nacional de Tehuantepec," Secretaria de Fomento, "Boletin," VI, 87-152 

i« "Chronicle," LXXX, 560 (1905); "Railroad Gazette," XXXIX, 74 
(1905); "South American Journal," LXII, 106, (1907). 

No attention has been paid here to the ship-railway project of Captain 
J. B. Eads, which received much publicity but no support during the eighties. 




LONG before the Tehuantepec was more than a project, 
plans were under way for a rail and river connection 
between the Isthmus line and the City of Mexico; and on 
March 26, 1875 the state of Vera Cruz received a concession 
for a narrow-gauge railroad from Vera Cruz to the port of 
Alvarado and from the San Juan river to Minatitlan/ The 
line to Alvarado was built, but the other line was not. Instead, 
the Tehuantepec built a branch from Juile to San Juan 
Evangelista on the San Juan river. The Alvarado line, known 
as the Vera Cruz (Mexico) railway {FerrocarU Veracruz y 
Alvarado) , completed the connection by means of steamboats. 
This line is owned by S. Pearson and Son, Ltd. 

To link up the Tehuantepec line with the railroads to the 
north was also the purpose of the Vera Cruz and Pacific rail- 
road company {Ferrocarril Veracruz al Pacifko), which was 
incorporated in West Virginia on February 28, 1898. The 
concession, dated March 15, 1898, provided for a line from 
Cordoba, on the Mexican railway, to a junction with the Te- 
huantepec at Santa Lucrecia, and a branch from the main line 
to Vera Cruz." This branch joins the main line at Tierra 
Blanca. On account of the difficulties involved in construction, 
the company became embarrassed, and control passed from the 
original concessionnaires to the Maryland Trust company. 
Upon the receivership of that company, the Mexican govem- 

1 Fomento, "Legislacion," II, nos. 891, 410, 430, III, nos. 452, 541. 

'Dublan, "Leglislacion Mezicana," XXXI, 167-9. 



ment in 1904 acquired the property in return for a small out- 
lay in cash and a guarantee of the outstanding bonds. The Vera 
Cruz and Isthmus railroad company {FerrocarrH Veracruz al 
Istmo) was then organized under Mexican laws as an operating 
company, the corporate existence of the original company 
being continued.' In 1910 the National Railways of Mexico 
took over the controlling shares which had been held by the 
government, and in 1913 the Vera Cruz and Isthmus was 
merged in the National system.* 

On the Pacific side of the Isthmus the Tehuantepec connects 
with the line of the Pan-American railroad company (Ferro- 
carrH Pan-Americano) at San Qeronimo. This company, in- 
corporated in New Jersey in 1901, has a concession, dated 
September 11, 1901, for a line from San Qeronimo to Puerto 
Arista and the Guatemala boundary.' The line was completed 
on April 1, 1909. Its importance is largely prospective, for a 
satisfactory arrangement for crossing the Suchiate river and 
effecting a direct connection with the Guatemala Central is 
yet to be made. 

Interests affiliated with the Pan-American obtained a con- 
cession for a line north-eastward through the State of Chiapas 
to Yucatan, where a connection would be effected with the 
United Railways of Yucatan. 

In 1910 the Pan-American control was purchased by the 
National Railways of Mexico from David E. Thompson, former 
United States ambassador to Mexico and chief promoter of the 

•"Economist," LXII, 988 (1904); Martin, Railways of Mexico, "Bail- 
way News," LXXXV, 610-1 (1906); Mexican year book, 1914:58. 

^ National Railways, Annual reports, 1910-14. 

» Verdugo, "Coleccion legislacion," XXX, pt. 2:117-21. 

Oonley, Making a system of Mexican railroads, "Railway Age," XUI, 
344-5 (1906); Enock, Mexico, 848 (1909); National Railways, Annual reports. 



Between the Tehuantepec line and the Yucatan system of 
railroads a connection has yet to be made, though there have 
been several attempts to launch such an undertaking. 

The Yucatan system itself is a group of small railroads 
dgskned to put the sisal plantations in touch with the coast. 
There is little in its history that is of interest. The oldest line 
is that which connects Merida, the state capital, with the port 
of Progreso. It was built in 1881 under a concession dated 
April 22, 1874,^ and reconstructed in 1903. It was extended 
inland from Merida to Zagmal in 1890 under a concession 
granted on May 15, 1884.* It is of standard gauge. 

The other Yucatan lines are of narrow gauge. Of these the 
Merida and Valladolid was authorized December 15, 1880,* and 
completed in 1906. This line also has a branch from Merida 
to Progreso. The Peninsula line, connecting Merida with the 
port of Campeche, is based upon two concessions granted Dec- 
ember 20, 1880 and February 23, 1881,'" and consolidated in 
1889. It was completed in 1898. 

In 1902 the United Railways of Yucatan (FerrocarrUes 
Unidos de Yucatan), a Mexican corporation, was organized to 
take over these three lines, together with two pier companies 
at Progreso. This company in 1908 absorbed the Merida and 
Peto line, which had been built under a concession dated March 
27, 1878." 

Under consolidated management service was greatly ex- 
tended and improved, new equipment installed, and much of 

7 Fomento, "Legislacion," II, nos. 298, 806. 

• Dublan, XVI, 727. 

* Fomento, "Lesrislacion," IH, no. 557. 

10 Ibid., in, nOB. 516, 559, IV, no. 592. 

11 Ibid., II, no. 892, HI, 449, 468. 


the roadway reconstructed. It was only after the consolidar 
tion that separate trains were run for passengers and pas- 
senger cars equipped with air brakes. 

The system was largely built by Mexicans, and it is owned 
by Mexicans, though foreign investors are largely interested in 
its securities. ** 

i> "Modern Mexico," XXI, 39-40 (1906); Mexican year book, 1914:56-7. 




SOMETHING has been said already of the early projects 
for railroads across the Western Sierra Madre. It re- 
mains to present in summary form the history of later 
attempts. In 1897 the Rio Grande, Sierra Madre, and Pacific 
railroad company {Ferrocarril Bio Orcmde, Sierra Madre, y 
Pacifico) was organized in New York by E. D. Morgan, Levi 
P. Morton, and associates, to operate under a concession, 
granted March 24, 1896, for a line from Juarez to Corralitos, 
with an extension to Magdalena on the Sonora railway/ 
The line from Juarez to Corralitos was opened in 1897 and 
later extended to Terrazas. 

In 1897 the Chihuahua and Pacific {Ferrocarril Chihuahua 
al Pacifico) was incorporated in New Jersey by Grant B. 
Schley and associates to build westward from Chihuahua 
under a concession confirmed June 6, 1892.* This company 
in 1899 completed a line from Chihuahua to Minaca, near the 
foot of the mountains,' and in 1905 extended a branch north- 
westerly from a point near Minaca to Temosachic* 

Control of the Rio Grande, Sierra Madre, and Pacific 
passed in 1905 to the Greene mining and lumber interests, 
who organized the Sierra Madre and Pacific (Ferrocarril 

iDublan, • 'Legislacion Mexicana," XXVI, 74; " Chronicle," LXIII, 459 
(1896), LXrV, 611, 1138 (1897). 

•Dublan, XXII, 189-99; "Chronicle," LXVI, 573 (1898). 

* "Chronicle," LXXI, 181; Lavis, Construction of the Chihuahua and 
Pacific. "Engineering Record," IV, 241-8 (1907). 

« Martin, Railways of Mexico, "Railway News," LXXXVI, 122 (1906). 



Sierra Madre y Pacifico) and acquired concessions designed 
to link up the Rio Grande, Sierra Madre, and Pacific and the 
Chihuahua and Pacific, and also to extend to Guaymas and 
Agiabampo on the Sonora coast.' 

In 1909 a group of Canadians, led by Dr. F. S. Pearson, 
acquired all three undertakings and incorporated in Canada 
the Mexico North Western railway company {Ferrocarril Nor- 
Oeste de Mexico) . The new interests also acquired the Sierra 
Madre Land and Lumber company, and obtained from the 
Mexican government a consolidated concession.* The gap 
between Terrazas and Madera was closed in 1912, thus opening 
a new through route between Juarez and Chihuahua/ 

In 1902, before the control of the Chihuahua and Pacific 
passed from the original owners, trackage rights over that 
part of the line from Chihuahua to Minaca were obtained 
by the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient railroad company 
(Ferrocarril Kansas City, Mexico, y Oriente) . This company 
had been incorporated in Kansas in 1900 by Arthur E. Stil- 
well to build from Kansas City to Topolobampo (Sinaloa), 
crossing the Rio Grande at Presidio del Norte, Texas, and 
El Oro (Chihuahua) under concessions granted July 27, 1900. 
On July 27, 1906, these concessions were consolidated.* 

Construction was begun on three different sections of the 
route, and when in March, 1912, work was suspended, three 
disconnected segments had been completed in Mexico. These 
run from Topolobampo to El Fuerte in Sinaloa, from Sanchez 

» "Railway Age," XLTV, 808 (1907). 

•Verdugo, ••Ooleccion liegislativa, * * XLI, pt. 2:570-6; "Chronicle, " 
LXXXIX, 476 (1909); "Statist," LXIII, 503-4 (1909). 

f "Chronicle," XCIV, 1627, XCV, 478 (1912), XCVI, 286, 1229, XCVH, 
595, (1913). 

•Dublan, XXXII, 230-2; Verdugo, XXXVH, pt. 2:1194-8. 



to Minaca,. and from Tolopobampo to Marquez in Chihuahua, 
altogether 226 miles.* 

» ' •Chronicle/' LXXIII, 662 (1901). LXXV, 1258-4 (1902), LXXXI, 559 
(1905), XOni, 1105 (1911), XOIV. 698, XCV, 297, 1123 (1918); "Engineer- 
ing News," XLIX, 80-1 (1908); •'Railway Age," XXXV, 441-4 (1908), 
XLTVr, 808 (1907), XLY, 759-62 (1908); "Engineering and Mining Journal," 
LXXXVII, 712 (1909). 




IN 1898 the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe leased the 
Sonora railway to the Southern Pacific company, which 
thus obtained access to the port of Guaymas. In 1903 the 
Southern Pacific acquired control of the Cananea, Yaqui 
River, and Pacific {Ferrocarril Cananea, Bio Yaqui, y Pa- 
cifico), which had built a short line from Naco on the Sonora- 
Arizona boundary to the mining camp of Cananea under a 
concession granted in 1900. 

On October 27, 1905, the Southern Pacific interests ob- 
tained a concession for a line from Guaymas to Guadalajara/ 
In 1909 the Southern Pacifico Railroad of Mexico {Ferro- 
carril Sud-Pacifico de Mexico) was incorporated to take over 
the lease of the Sonora and the operation of the Cananea, 
Yaqui River, and Pacific. Two years later it obtained owner- 
ship of the Sonora in exchange for the Needles-Mojave line 
in California, — a transaction that is unique in railroad his- 
tory ; and it assumed operation of the Sonora in 1912.* 

The extension from Guaymas was begun in 1905 and com- 
pleted to Mazatlan in 1909. When in 1913 construction work 
was suspended, it had been pushed southward to Tepic. 
From Orendain an isolated section had also been built as far 
north as La Quemada (Jalisco), leaving a gap of about one 
hundred miles through an extremely difficult terrian. At 
Orendain a connection was made with the Guadalajara-San 

iVerdugo, "Ooleccion Legislativa, * * XXXV, pt. 2:1501-7. 

« "Ohronicle," LXXXVIH, 1622 (1909), XOVI, 560 (1918). 



Marcos extension of the old Mexican Central, thus preparing 
the way for through communication between northwestern 
Mexico and the City of Mexico. On November 3, 1910, how- 
ever, the Southern Pacific interests received a concession 
for an independent line from Guadalajara to Mexico City.* 
In 1909 provision was made for an extension from Guadala- 
jara to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, through concessions ob- 
tained from the states of Jalisco, Michoacan, and Oaxaca.* 

Branch lines have been constructed from Quila to El 
Dorado in Sinaloa and from Navajoa to Alamos and from 
Corral to Tonichi in Sonora, the last designed to connect 
ultimately with the original line of the Cananea, Yaqui River, 
and Pacific. The only connection now between the two parts 
of the system is through a branch that has been constructed 
from Nogales to Del Rio.' 

•Verdugo, XLI, pt. 2:255-68; •'Chronicle," XCI, 1770 (1910). 

* "South American Journal," LXVI, 150 (1909). 

» "Ohronicle." LXIV, 609, LXV, 518 (1897) LXVn, 642 (1898), LXXXI, 
1736 (1905), XOVI, 568 (1913); "Railroad Gazette," XLII, 458-9 (1907); 
"Railway Age," XLTV, 802-3 (1907); Tays, The new railroad for the west 
coast of Mexico, "Engineering and Mining Journal," LXXXI, 661-3(1906). 




THERE are many short lines in Mexico concerning which 
little is known. Some of them are of only local impor- 
tance, some are vestiges of projects that failed, and some are 
elongated spurs which have been built to serve particular 
industries. Their importance cannot be measured by their 
mileage ; for some of them undoubtedly will serve as the basis 
of more ambitious projects as the country develops, and 
many of them provide the means for getting to market the 
products of the rich mines with which the country abounds. 

Not only is there little available information about these 
small railroads, but such information as we have is generally 
conflicting. Their concessions, of course, are matters of 
official record, but one who would attempt to prepare a com- 
plete and accurate statement as to the identity of their 
builders, the history of their construction, their cost, capi- 
talization, investment returns, or even their mileage, would 
soon find that his efforts might well be directed to more im- 
portant and productive fields of research. 

One of these lines is the Mexican Northern (Ftrrocarril 
Mexicano del Norte), standard gauge, which was opened in 
1891 between Escalon (Chihuahua), on the main line of the 
Mexican Central, and the mining camp of Sierra Mojada 
(Coahuila). The company was incorporated in New York 
in 1890 by Robert S. Towne, George Foster Peabody, and 
associates, and its concession was granted March 20, 1890. 
The line is operated under lease by the American Metals 



Company. It promises to become more important with the 
opening of the new extension of the National Railways from 
Cuatro Cienegas to Sierra Mojada. 

Another short line is the Nacozari railroad {Ferrocarril de 
Nacozari)y the Mexican extension of the El Paso and South 
Western from Agua Prieta to Nacozari (Sonora). It was 
built in 1901 under a concession dated August 30, 1899, and 
it is owned by the Phelps, Dodge mining interests. In time 
it may be connected with the branch of the Southern Pacific 
which now stops at Tonichi. 

The Parral and Durango {Ferrocarril Parral y Durango), 
incorporated in Colorado in 1898, owns a standard gauge line 
from Minas Nuevas (Chihuahua), to Paraje Seco (Durango) ' 
built under a concession granted June 29, 1898. From Rincon 
there is a narrow gauge branch to Parral, where connection is 
made with the Parral branch of the old Mexican Central. 

The Potosi and Rio Verde (Ferrocarril Potosi y Bio Verde) y 
narrow gauge, was built from San Luis Potosi to Ahuacatal 
in 1899-1902 by a company incorporated in New York in 
1888 to operate under a concession granted November 4, 
1886. It is owned by the Compania Metalurgia Mexicam^a, an 
American corporation. 

Little has found its way into print concerning the Coahuila 
and Zacatecas railway {Ferrocarril Coahuila y Zacatecds), 
which is a narrow-gauge line, built 1900-1, between Saltillo 
and a mining camp at Concepcion del Oro. It is owned out- 
right by the Mazapil Copper company, a British close cor- 
poration, and its afifairs are without interest to outsiders.^ 

^ For information, generally fragmentary, on these and other minor lines, 
see: Martin. Railways of Mexico, "Railway New8,'» LXXXV, 819-20, LXXXVI, 
122-3 (1906) ; Bntman, Report on trade conditions in Mexico, 20-1 (1908) ; 
Mexican year book, 1914:44-58. 





TO understand the Mexican concession one must put out 
of mind assumptions based upon the English system of 
law. Mexican law is Spanish in origin, and Spanish legal 
institutions are an inheritance from ancient Rome. In the 
United States when the public authority grants a charter for 
the construction and operation of a railroad over private 
land to be condemned for the purpose, it neither acquires nor 
retains any proprietary interest in the easement. In Mexico 
a railroad concessionnaire receives what is in effect a lease, 
for a definite term of years, of the line which he proposes to 
build, largely or wholly out of private funds ; and the public 
authority in the end automatically assumes proprietorship 
over all fixed properties and an option upon those of a move- 
able nature. 

One analogy in the English law is the terminable leasehold 
system, which is common in London and not unknown in 
some of the older American cities; but the analogy is im- 
perfect, for the ground rent comes within the scope of pri- 
vate law. Another is the franchise granted to the builders 
of certain public utilities in the United States, such as the 
subways in the City of New York. 

A concession is not a corporate charter ; nor is it a grant 
of funds or other public property. It is rather a contract 
providing for undertakings by both parties, and conferring 
certain benefits and imposing certain obligations. Its terms, 
within limits which may be prescribed by statute, are matters 



for negotiation and agreement; and they are subject to 
modification only as agreed upon by the contracting parties 
or their successors. 

The motive underlying the granting of a concession is to 
promote economic development by encouraging the introduc- 
tion of new industries, by fostering colonizing and agricul- 
tural enterprises, by facilitating the opening of new ways of 
communication and transportation, and by authorizing the 
exploitation of natural resources in a manner conducive to 
the public welfare. 

An enterprise that is not concerned with the public service 
may, and many do, operate without a concession ; but a rail- 
road as a public utility cannot be built or operated without 
one. Railroad concessions have been granted in Mexico by 
state as well as national authority, but as only a single line 
— the Hidalgo — ^has developed beyond local importance un- 
der a state concession, such concessions need not be con- 
sidered here. 

The benefits derived, or at least anticipated, from a con- 
cession, are mutual, and the obligations are reciprocal. This 
becomes apparent upon examination of the documents them- 
selves. These concessions have varied in their general terms, 
but as the system has developed the tendency has been 
toward uniformity; and this tendency has been accelerated 
through general legislation. As to their detailed terms, of 
course, there has always been great variety. 

A Mexican railroad concession confers upon the recipient 
or his assigns authority to condemn private property and to 
locate, build, and operate a railroad and telegraph line over 
a certain route, and to fix rates for various classes of service 
within the prescribed limits. It exempts from customs duties, 
materials brought into the country for purposes of construc- 



tion and equipment within a period of five to twenty-five 
years; and it exempts the property and capital of the con- 
cessionnaire from all direct taxes for a period generally of 
fifteen years. It may, and almost invariably does, provide 
for a subsidy. 

On the other hand, the concession reserves to the nation 
certain rights and imposes certain limits and obligations 
upon the concessionnaire. Among the rights commonly 
reserved are : to the transportation at reduced rates — ^usually 
one-half — of government employees on official business, of 
colonists and immigrants, of military forces with their sup- 
plies, munitions, ordinance, and equipment, and of articles 
to be used in the public service ; to free transportation of the 
mails and of postal employees ; to run government telegraph, 
and sometimes telephone, wires upon the fixtures erected by 
the concessionnaires ; to assume direct operation of the line 
and to take over the personnel when in the opinion of the 
national authorities the public safety requires, subject to 
proper indemnification; and to suspend service or to render 
the property unserviceable in the event of war or other 
extraordinary circumstance, subject to indemnification or 
replacement. Most important of all is the right to assume 
full title to all fixed properties at the expiration of the 
concession, the term of which is forty to ninety-nine years. 

Corporations may be organized in foreign countries to 
operate railroads, but they must be considered as wholly 
Mexican and subject to Mexican law alone ; and no foreign 
government may acquire an interest in any concession or in 
any mortgage, share, or property subject thereto. Many of 
the older concessions provided that the national government 
should have representation upon the boards of directors of 
concessionnaire corporations, and some of them restricted 



the ownership of property within a certain distance from 
the national boundaries. Others required the construction 
of non-railroad properties for government use. 

As summarized above, it would appear that the terms of 
these concessions greatly favored the nation, — ^particularly 
in view of the fact that Latin peoples are disposed to insist 
upon a strict interpretation and rigid enforcement of written 
agreements. The necessary equilibrium was maintained, 
however, through the grants of subsidies, without which, 
Mexicans themselves agree, few railroads of importance 
would have been built. 

Subsidies have been granted to practically all Mexican 
railroads, the Mexican International, the Mexican Northern, 
and the Southern Pacific being the only important excep- 
tions. They have been paid in .cash, in securities, and in 
customs certificates; and they have been generally figured 
on a mileage basis, with reference to difficulty of construc- 
tion or national importance, although the Mexican railway 
received a fixed sum per annum. The proportion of the 
subsidy to the total cost has varied from one-third to two- 
thirds, the former being more nearly representative. In the 
case of the unsubsidized railroads, the terms of the conces- 
sions were made more liberal so that an equitable balance of 
benefit might be maintained. 

Altogether, Mexico has paid out over 100,000,000 pesos in 
the form of railroad subsidies, not counting the 45,000,000 
pesos granted in aid of the Tehuantepec, which is now na- 
tionl property. The history of these subsidies has yet to be 
written as a part of the financial history of Mexico itself. 
It will not be attempted here. For the purpose of this dis- 
cussion it is enough to say that subsidies were promised in 
excess of the financial capacity of the national treasury, that 



payments have been too generally delayed and sometimes 
suspended, and that some of the larger grants have been 
compromised as a matter of necessity. On the whole, how- 
ever, the record of Mexico in the matter of meeting subsidy 
claims is a creditable one, considering the extent of its other 
obligations and the pioneer nature of the work which it 
undertook to aid. 

Government control of railroads has been the policy in 
Mexico from the beginning. The period from 1837 to 1880 
was one of special legislation, the respective rights of the 
nation (or state) and the concessionnaires being set forth 
in detail in the concessions. During this period concessions 
were granted, but only a single important line — the Mexican 
railway — ^was brought to completion. 

In 1880 the period of general legislation was inaugurated. 
On June 1 of that year an act was passed ''Authorizing the 
president to amend contracts made for the construction of 
interoceanic and international railroads." In this act an 
attempt was made to establish a consistent principle which 
should govern all future concessions to be granted by the 
national government for the construction and operation of 
railroads. This was the principle of standardization, set 
forth in terms of maximum conditions. The most important 
provisions of this act were : that the term of a concession should 
not exceed 99 years, and upon the expiration of that con- 
cession the title to all fixed property should pass to the nation ; 
that the conditions of existing concessions should be observed 
until modified by mutual consent, provided no modifications 
should be made except such as would redound to the benefit 
of the nation ; that sufficient guarantees as to the reliability of 
persons seeking concessions should be required; that certain 
maximum rates for freight and passenger traffic should be 



fixed ; that rates should be subject to revision at intervals of 
five years, and that rebates should be forbidden; that mails 
should be carried free of charge; that all concessionnaire 
companies should be deemed Mexican as to nationality; that 
the method of payment of subsidies should be left to the 
executive; that the states should retain all rights hitherto 
acquired through any railroad concessions which they may 
have granted; that concessionnaire companies should take 
advantage of lines already built wherever possible ; and that in 
case of forfeiture of a concession, the title to the fixed property 
should pass to the nation free of encumbrance and at a valua- 
tion to be determined by appraisers named by the parties in 

Next came the act of December 16, 1881, which for the first 
time defined the term ** general means of communication'', as 
used in the constitution of 1857, as applying to ' * all railroads, 
telegraph and telephone lines in the Federal district and the 
Territory of Lower California ; those connecting two or more 
states ; and those touching any port situated on the boundaries 
of the Republic." These, it was declared, should be subject 
exclusively to the national government in all matters relating 
to taxation ; enforcement of terms of concession and national 
laws; forfeiture; expropriation; rates; general service regu- 
lations; construction and repairs; safety; accidents; national 
contraband; interference with mail service; and liens.* 

Railroad affairs were at first under the jurisdiction of the 
Department of FomentOy and as early as 1877 the office of 
Inspector of Railroads was created in this department. To 
this department was entrusted the duty of formulating the 

1 Dublan, "Legislacion Mexicana," XIV. 273; Fomento, '•Legislacion," 
III, no. 495; IV, nos. 741. 765; Robinson, The railroads of Mexico, "Railroad 
Gazette," XLIII, 233 (1907). 

* Nufiez, "Instituciones de credito," 197-200. 

[172] _ . 


rules and regulations to govern the operation and service of 
railroads and the matter of inspection. With the develop- 
ment of the country and of the system of national transporta- 
tion, a new Department of Communications and Public Works 
was created on May 13, 1891, and to it was assigned jurisdic- 
tion in the matter of mails, telegraphs, telephones, railroads, 
water transportation, ports, highways, and other subjects with 
which this study is not concerned. 

Through this department the government almost at once 
began to exercise a more conservative and restrictive policy in 
the matter of granting railroad concessions. This was largely 
due to the growing power of Jose Y. Limantour, who in 
1892-93, became secretary of the Department of Finance, and 
as such became the dominant member of the Diaz government 
and the initiator of its policies. The new attitude was not 
stated in express terms, however, until September 8, 1898, 
when Limantour presented to the President a special report on 
the relations of the government to the railroads. ''Interesting 
from every standpoint was this document'', says Macedo, 
''which marks the precise moment in our railroad history in 
which we paused to consider the ground covered, the methods 
which we had employed, and above* all what was left to be 
done and how to do it within the scope of a well defined 
national plan.'" 

In his report Limantour pointed out the necessity of modify- 
ing the government's practice in the matter of concessions and 
subsidies to the end that the financial strength of the nation 
might be conserved and that lines to be authorized should be 
only such as would round out the transportation routes of the 
country into a great system designed to serve the country as 
a whole rather than to promote purely local or special interests. 

• Macedo, "La eyolucion mercantil, " 207 (1905). 



He then proceeded to specify those routes over which construc- 
tion should be encouraged and to emphasize the need for the 
explicit definition of the respective rights of the government 
and the concessionnaire.* 

To make this plan effective Congress on December 17, 1898, 
authorized the president to issue a decree subject to conditions 
which it specified to the extent of 37 articles. The result 
was a voluminous act of 187 articles divided into fourteen 
chapters containing detailed provisions governing: Classifica- 
tion of railroads; concessions; forfeiture of concessions; 
nationality and legal status; franchises and exemptions; 
reconnoissance and construction; operation; rights reserved 
to the nation ; government inspection ; concessions prior to the 
law ; port works ; penal responsibility ; jurisdiction over rail- 
roads; and general enactments. This was issued by decree 
under date of April 29, 1899.' 

Among the notable provisions of this law are : the specifica- 
tion of ** routes of prime importance'' over which no Railroad 
lines had yet been built (Art.6) ; the limitation on the con- 
struction of parallel lines (Art. 29) ; the limitation of sub- 
sidies to lines built along routes of prime importance (Art. 
77) ; and the granting of the privilege of 'Spooling'' traffic and 
earnings (Art. 114).' 

The execution of the railroad law was entrusted to the 

* Secretaria de Hacienda, "Memoria," 1898-9 :401-15; Macedo, 208-23; 
Diaz Dufoo, "Limantour," 129 (1910). 

t < 

B "Diario Oficial," no. 12, May 13, 1899; Secretaria de Oomunicaciones, 
Ley sobre f errocarriles, " Mexico, 1905, 61_p. Nufiez, 255-337; Dublan, XXXI, 
89-122; Verdugo, "Ooleccion legislativa, ' * XXXI, pt. 1:709-57; English text: 
Mexican year book, 1908:653-85, and 1909-10:331-64; French text: "Annales 
des Fonts et Ohauss6es," 2e Partie: "Lois decr6ts," etc., Paris, 1901, (8e 
serie) I, 550-69, 644-72. 

•See Gonzalez Roa, "El problema ferrocarrilero,** 35-40 (1915); Robin- 
son, Railroad regulation by law in Mexico, "Engineering News," LVI, 242-3 
(1906), also The railroads of Mexico, "Railroad Gazette," XUII, 233 (1907). 


Department of Comnninieations and Public Works. To advise 
it in the matter of railroad rates a revisory Tariff Commission 
was created on January 1, 1900. This conunission consisted of 
a president and four other regular members, nominated by the 
department, all with private occupations, two representatives 
of the railroads, one representative of the associated chambers 
of conunerce, and one representative of the agricultural soci- 
eties. Daily meetings were held in the City of Mexico, and 
questions referred by the Department of Communications 
were considered and acted upon, only the regular members 
being allowed to vote. The plan appears to have worked 
smoothly under stable conditions of government, and the 
recommendations of the commission were almost invariably 
followed by the Department.'' 

In Mexico as in the United States it was found that the 
tendency toward railroad consolidation created new problems. 
Here the problem was complicated by the fear that foreign 
interests would become predominant in the country through 
the acquisition of control of the shares of its railroads. The 
lines to the north — ^the Mexican National and the Mexican 
Central — ^were in the control of rival American interests led by 
the house of Speyer and H. Clay Pierce, and each endeavored 
to spread out to strategic points and to absorb smaller lines. 
To Limantour's mind this situation could have but one result; 
the rivals would compose their differences and enter into 
agreements which might be prejudicial to the welfare of the 
country. Says his biographer : 

* * It was necessary to bear in mind, that though the railroad 

7 Barker, Mexican railroads and railroad traffic, * 'Railroad Gazette," XLI, 
264 (1906); Martin. Mexico of the twentieth century, I, 267 (1907); Mexican 
year book, 1914:43; "Railway Age Gazette," XLVII, 8 (1909); "South 
American Journal," LXII, 596 (1907). See also Oamara de Oomercio y la 
Sociadad Agricola Mexicana^ "Estudio sobre el estado economico de los fer- 
rocarriles Mexicanas." 76 p. (1900); also "Economista Mexicana," XXX, 213 
(1900), XXXIV, 868-9 (1902). 



rates might seem high to the public, they had not yet reached 
the maximum indicated by the concessions. Until then the 
fear of an increase had been prevented by the balance result- 
ing from the diversity of interests. Would the same thing 
occur when there was only one interest? In such a case the 
Government and the public wotild be subject to a power exer- 
cised by an insurmountable authority over all the sources of 
public wealth.'" 

The action taken was to buy securities that would give the 
government a voice, and ultimately a controlling voice, in the 
management. One of the rival lines — ^the Mexican National — 
desired an outlet to the Gulf. This could have been effected 
through acquiring control of the Interoceanic. Limantour in 
1903 forestalled this by getting control of the Interoceanic 
through successful open bidding for a new issue of its securi- 
ties. He then came to terms with the National interests in an 
agreement which gave to the National its desired control of the 
Interoceanic but gave to the government control of the Na- 
tional. At the same time the National received a territorial 
monopoly in the North which effectually prevented the Mexi- 
can Central from building a short line extension from its 
main line toward the northeast which would have intensified 
the competition for through traflSic' 

In 1906 the Mexican Central was in financial need, and a 
change of control seemed imminent. Limantour entered into 
negotiations with the company and acquired a controlling 
interest in its shares The next step was the organization of 
the National Railways of Mexico, a gigantic operating com- 

s Diaz Dufoo, 129. 

* Mexican year book, 1908:848-51; Didapp, *'Explotadore8 politicos de 
Mexico," 450-92 (1904). 



pany in which the nation held a majority interest. The new 
company began operations in 1909/° 

Although much has been written of the great merger, there 
is much about the deal that is still unknown to anyone except 
those who were immediately concerned. Bankers are not 
given to loquacity ; Limantour, now in retirement in France, 
maintains his own counsel, and his former political and finan- 
cial associates are spattered. Whatever the merits in the case, 
the National Railways had but two years of normal existence 
before the revolution broke out, and any conclusions based 
upon the experience of the system would be of little value. 
Viewed solely in its larger aspects the merger has been highly 
commended by Mr. William M. Acworth, the British railroad 
authority who says : 

*^I believe the relation between the State and the national 
railways is one of the most difficult and important questions 
of modem politics, and that the one valuable and original con- 
tribution to that question which has been made in the present 
generation is due to the President of the Mexican Republic 
and his Finance Minister, Senor Limantour. . . . 

^^ Whereas under the old system the final appeal was to a 
body of shareholders with no interests beyond their own divi- 

^^ Secretaria de Hacienda, "Informe sobre ... Is consolidacion de los 
Ferrocarriles Nacional de Mexico y Central Mexicano" Mexico, 1908. 152 p.; 
same in "Memoria,*' 1907-8:490-528. English text of the report: *'The rail- 
way merger,'* translated by L. 0. Simonds, Mexico, 1908, 39 p.; of the first 
three appendices: Mexican year book, 1908:693-706. The remaining seven ap- 
pendices contain the text of the agreement with the banking houses and a 
variety of statistical material. 

The best account of the merger in English appears in the Mexican year 
book, 1908:689-714. See also Bell, The political shame of Mexico, 3-5, 8-18 
(1914); Starr, Mexico and the United States, 222-3, 229, 249-51 (1914); Diaz 
Dufoo, "Limantour," 129-37 (1910); Osterheld, History of the nationalization 
of the railroads of Mexico, "Journal of the American Bankers' Association," 
VIII, 997-1003 (1916); Speare, The finances of Mexico, "American Review of 
Reviews," XXXIX, 722, 725-6 (1909); U. S. Department of War, Monograph 
on Mexico, 158-63 (1914); "Economist," LXV, 12, 453-4 (1907), LXXI, 
1125-6 (1910); "Railroad Gazette," XLIII, 56-7 (1909); "South American 
Journal," LXII, 38, LXIII, 448, 534 (1907), LXIV, 434, 502 (1908), LXVI. 
21 (1909); "Statist," LXI, 715-6 (1908), LXIII, 1121-2 (1909). 



dend, the majority shareholder is now the (Jovemment of 
Mexico, with every inducement to regard the interests, both 
present and prospective, of the country as a whole. . . . 

*^ Faced with a powerful but local and temporary demand, 
the Government may be able to reply that this is a matter to 
be dealt with on commercial lines by the board of directors. 
If, on the other hand, permanent national interests are in- 
volved, the Government can exercise its reserve power as a 
shareholder, can vote the directors out of office, and so prevent 
the continuance of a policy which would in its judgment be 
prejudicial to those interests, however much it might be to the 
advantage of the railway as a mere commercial concern. ''^^ 

The government has not failed to ''exercise its reserve 
power'' to change the personnel of the board of directors. One 
of the aims of President Madero was to rid the National Rail- 
ways of directors representing interests friendly to the Diaz 
regime, and this was accomplished.^* His successors have 
acted likewise, and the personnel has shifted materially during 
recent years. ^* 

That representative Mexicans are themselves dissatisfied 
with the present working of the railroad law is evident fi:t)m 
the transactions of the First National Congress of Merchants, 
held in July, 1917. The following excerpts indicate the 
nature of the reforms proposed : 

''The railroad service at present does not answer the needs 
of the public. The law on railroads, Article 153 whereof pro- 
vides for the offijce of representative inspectors and lays down 

11 Acworth, The relation of railways to the state, British Assoc, for the 
Advancement of Science, "Report," 1908: LXXVIII, 777-8. 

i« U. S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings before a sub- 
committee ... to investigate whether any interests in the United States have 
been or are now engaged in inciting rebellion in Cuba and Mexico, 746-85 

i» ••Chronicle," XCIX, 816 (1914). 



the duties thereof, should again be enforced with all due 
severity. The Department of Industry and Commerce always 
possesses the best statistical data and it is in a position to know 
at any time whether a given section of the country is becoming 
enfamished or prosperous in consequence of the railroad 
tariffs. Thus it behooves this Department closely to watch 
the conduct of railroad affairs, and great advantage would be 
derived from the Department's assuming of functions pre- 
scribed under the above mentioned article. If the employees 
know that the Government is watching their every act, irregu- 
larities will cease or at least diminish very considerably. More- 
over, all the duties imposed on the representative inspectors 
would be discharged to great advantage by this Department 
because, for special reasons, it would be in a much better 
position than anybody else to investigate as to the damages 
thereby occasioned. In England, France and the United States 
the railroads are subject to offices similar to our Department 
of Industry' and Commerce. For this reason it would be ad- 
visable to establish in this Department a railroad section under 
an Executive Board, a committee for the revision of tariffs, 
contracts, agreements, etc.; a section for inspectors; another 
for statistics; and another for advisory, for claims and com- 

**The Executive Board of the railroad section should be 
made up of ^even persons, three of whom should represent the 
Department of Industry and Commerce, two the railroads, and 
two to be appointed by the assembly of Chambers of industry 
and commerce. . . . 

**In Mexico the railroads have not cooperated in the advance- 
ment of our commerce; they have established their tariffs 
under the protection of benevolent administrations to the 
benefit of North American commercial firms. The Tariff Com- 



mission in the Department of Communications and Public 
Works does not fulfill its purpose ; it ought to work systematic- 
ally and independently and it should constantly be given com- 
plete statistical information which only the Department of 
Industry and Commerce is in a position to furnish. It is only 
through intimate contact with the varying needs of our com- 
merce that matters relating to tariffs can be governed to the 
real benefit of our national interests. The Commission, more- 
over, should not be solely an advisory body, but it should be 
vested with certain executive powers. Such a commission 
(composed, if it be so desired, of five members. ... to repre- 
sent commerce, industry, agriculture and other sources of 
public wealth) should also be able to count upon a competent 
body of inspectors and supervisors. The railroad service would 
greatly improve, and what in normal times is only one of so 
many necessities, under prevailing conditions constitutes a 
most pressing one 

^* Politics in Mexico, as in all countries, have always done 
great injury to the railroad service. With us the Government 
is the principal shareholder, but the Boards of Directors op- 
erate independently. Unfortunately foreigners are not ex- 
cluded from the personnel of the railroads, which need a very 
thorough cleaning out. Our railroad legislation is wise and 
clearly defines the intervention of the State. To begin with it 
is absolutely necessary to inspect the acts of the railroad 
Executive Board, which is at present not responsible for its 
acts and renders no accounts to the Q-ovemment, and as a 
matter of fact is altogether independent. Its present manage- 
ment may cause our public debt to increase very considerably. 
Nor is this Executive Board of the National Lines even sub- 
ject to the limitations which are imposed upon private com- 
panies. It is therefore necessary that the Department of 



Communications should keep a strict watch on its work ; that 
the Finance Department should inspect all its acts as is done 
in all other offices that handle public funds ; and finally that 
the Department of Industry and Commerce should prevent 
arbitrary alterations in the tariffs and remedy the very grave 
deficiencies to be found in the matter of freight. . . . 

''In order to promote commerce and to facilitate the trans- 
portation of merchandise, it would be well to establish a 
'Technical Freight Office' to serve as an intermediary be- 
tween merchants and the railroad compaaies; to furnish all 
kinds of information, statistical data, etc., to the public, all of 
which would tend to simplify and to expedite the purchase 
and sale of merchandise ; to endeavor to obtain from the high 
railroad officers a consistent equitable attitude, especially in 
the matter of contracts for cars; to organize an 'Association 
of Railroad Train and Car Owners'; and finally to concern 
itself particularly with the matter of car shortage which is 
now so seriously interfering with commercial transactions. 

"The authors of this project undertake to organize such an 
office, and they believe that the reorganization of the Revisory 
Tariff Commission under the jurisdiction of the Department 
of Industry and Commerce is a matter that is most urgently 

"This Tariff Commission could at once consider the uniform 
bills of lading ; the revision of the stipulations of such bills ; the 
elimination of the note, now to be found on all receipts issued, 
which nullifies the rights of the merchants against the com- 
pany ; the reorganization of the express departments so as to 
reform the methods followed in those offices and to prescribe 
more equitable regulations with reference to freight, tariffs, 
the classification of goods, etc. ; and the elimination of certain 



unjust stipulations to be found at the foot of bills of expenses, 

Only one of these proposals was formally endorsed by the 
Congress, the text of the resolution being as follows : 

^^ Resolved: that the First National Congress of Merchants 
ask the Supreme Government of the Republic to be pleased to 
consider the following project when the law on railroads is 
amended : 

**A branch railroad department shall be established within 
the Department of Industry and Commerce, having the fol- 
lowing dependencies: 

**A. — ^An Executive Board composed of seven members: 
three to be appointed by the Diepartment itself; two represent- 
ing the railroads, to be appointed by the latter; and two to be 
. appointed by this Assembly, to represent industry and com- 

**B. — ^A revisory committee on tariffs, contracts, agreements, 

**C. — ^A section for inspectors. 

* * D. — ^A section for statistics. 

**E. — ^An advisory section for claims and complaints. 

**The foregoing to be established without detriment to the 
Department of Industry and Commerce giving the whole a 
better organization, should it deem it advisable."" 

Further evidence as to the existence of a general belief that 
some remedial measures are desirable is furnished by the fact 
that the secretary of the Department of Communications and 

^^ First National Congress of Merchants, Snmmary of transactions and pro* 
ceedings, 1917:98-9, 102-8, 104. 

^^Ibid., 189-40. 



Public Works in 1917 appointed a commission to consider the 
revision of existing railroad laws and regulations/* 

A railroad policy, thereforie, is still in process of develop- 
ment in Mexico; but compared with the U^ited States, Mexico 
has the better record in this particular, partly because it has 
been able to profit from our experience. 

There is no evidence that President Jaurez had any railroad 
policy. He lived in a time of internal strife and of foreign 
invasion, and his attention was necessarily devoted to such 
matters. As to the attitude of his successor, Lerdo de Tejada, 
there is disputed testimony. His detractors have attributed 
to him the words ** Between strength and weakness let us 
maintain the desert"; and this had been accepted as the epi- 
tome of his attitude toward railroad communication with the 
United States. But Pablo Macedo, a Diaz proponent, who 
quotes this slogan, admits that there is doubt as to its authen- 

If there is such a thing as the **Diaz myth", of which 
revolutionary writers tell us, it is the fanciful belief that from 
the first, Diaz pursued a consistent railroad policy. Nothing 
could be further from the truth. Diaz' railroad policy 
changed from time to time, but it always indicated the facts 
as he understood them. It developed as he himself developed 
as a man and as a statesman. It changed when a new array of 
facts was presented to him, — ^and it brought railroads to 

Lerdo 's most vehement critic was Vicente Riva Palacio, 
who has some standing as a historian. Riva Palacio wrote a 
whole book on the administration of Lerdo ; but since this book 
was written on the eve of the Diaz revolution by a man who 

!• ••Mexican Review," Sept. 1917:16. 

^7 Macedo, 199-200. 



was soon to sit in Diaz' cabinet, it must be considered as a 
revolutionary tract, valuable less for what it says than for what 
it indicates. 

Reference is made in this book to an address of Lerdo's on 
December 16, 1873, in which he speaks of * * the great benefits 
to be derived from placing the Republic in close touch with 
the United States.'' The sincerity of this statement is not 
challenged, but for an earlier reference to the action on the 
Plumb contract of May 29, 1873, the President is roughly 
handled : 

* * The President likewise in his speech of May 31, spoke of a 
railroad propect already submitted to Congress, and action on 
this project, as we have already seen, consisted solely in re- 
jecting openly the plan of the Union Contract Company, 
which offered all kinds of guarantees in order to accept ap- 
parently that of the Texas railroad company, and have Con- 
gress afterwards reject it; thus demonstrating that it is a 
common thing in Mr. Lerdo to belie with his acts his most 
flattering promises. "^* 

Such charges are hard to prove. If this one be accepted on 
circumstantial grounds what is to be said of the rejection of 
the Palmer-Sullivan contract of November 12, 1877 ? Did this 
action similarly reflect the attitude of the president — ^who was 
then none other than Porfirio Diaz? 

As to the other charge, reiterated at intervals throughout 
the book, to the effect that Lerdo was personally interested 
in the various enterprises projected by the Mexican railway 
interests,** this may or may not be true. What is certain is 
the fact that the English interests in control of the Mexican 

^B Biva Palacio, "Historia de la administracion de Don Sebastian Lerdo de 
Tejada," 295, 316 (1875). 

i»Ibid., 102-12, 159, 168, 816-86, 44250, 461-4, 480-1. 



railway got into very close touch with the Lerdo administra- 
tion, so close that upon its downfall they lost heavily, and, in 
the absence of a British minister, appealed to John W. Foster 
for protection. In fact, one of the causes of the Diaz revolu- 
ton was this very alliance. 

Fernando Gonzales Roa, the most recent writer on Mexican 
railroads, tells us of the first Diaz railroad policy, which, it 
appears, was rather the policy of Riva Palacio. 

* * The Secretary of Fomento, Don Vicente Riva Palacio, was 
the first director of the railroad policy. It was his plan to 
grant concessions to the governments of the several states, 
extensive and liberal in terms, with the idea of promoting the 
construction and development of a single great system. It is 
to be supposed that General Riva Palacio advocated this policy 
in order to enlist the influence of capitalists and local poli- 
ticians, and to avoid distrust of our northern neighbors, in 
the belief that the concessions would be financed by Mexican 
capital. . . . This policy of Minister Riva Palacio, designed 
as it was to solve the problem of railroad communication 
through the creation of small lines, naturally suffered from 
lack of coherence. The small companies had to disappear, and 
thus it was that out of 222 concessions granted up to December 
31, 1899, 135 were abandoned or declared forfeited, and among 
these there remained only about a dozen important enter- 

* ) 910 


Thus the policy of Riva Palacio cannot be said to have been 
conducive to railroad building on a large scale. In fact, it 
prevented the giving of proper consideration to worthy pro- 
jects which were being advocated by men who later demon- 
strated their ability to carry them out. It was abandoned, as 
we have seen, in the last year of Diaz' first term. 

>o Gonzales Roa, 18-9. See also Macedo, 201-2. 


Manuel Gonzales, who served as President from 1880 to 
1884, had for his secretary of Fomento, Carlos Paeheco, who, 
according to Gonzale Roa, *' Promoted the construction of 
railroads with feverish enthusiam. The aim of his railroad 
policy was to solve the railroad problem for the nation and 
not for the states, inviting the foreigners to invest capital in 
Mexican lines, and aiding them by subsidies.'"^ 

This was the policy of the second Diaz administration, and 
it was modified only when Diaz, in the nineties under the in- 
fluence of Limantour, decided that the time had come for 
intensive rather than extensive development, — ^a policy em- 
bodied in the railroad law of 1899. 

That there were abuses under the early Diaz regime, as there 
had been during the administration of Lerdo, we know from 
the reports of men in Mexico at the time. Says one : 

**The matter of granting railroad charters is by no means 
new. They have been granted for thirty years or so, to 
Europeans and natives, who did little or nothing with them. 
It was only when under the adoption of a more enlightened 
policy, they came to be granted to Americans, that the roads 
were built and the charters had a value. At once everybody 
who prided himself upon the necessary influence began to 
desire a charter also. He might not want to use it at once, 
but he could keep it and see what turn things were to take. 
Or he might transfer it to some powerful ownership to which it 
would be worth a consideration. This new ownership, too, 
might wait to see what was likely to happen. If railways 
promised to be profitable in the country, it was well for certain 
great corporations in the United States to have their feeders 
for extensions there ; at any rate, they could keep others from 
the field till they should be satisfied of its character. 

'^Gonzales, Roa, 19. See also Romero, Mexico and the United States, 
117-9 (1898). 


*'It is in this way, I surmise, that some of the present 
franchises have been got, and are reflectively held. There have 
been henchmen to procure them and then turn them over to 
patrons, who wait a while before going to work, trusting to 
influence to procure the proper extensions of time if needed. 

* * Stories were afloat of practices employed in the obtaining 
of concessions and subsidies, which I should prefer to believe 
falsifications. I heard one or two of these, it is true, from 
somewhat inside sources, and such practices are not unknown 

As has been shown in a previous chapter, John "W. Foster, 
who was witness to the events of this early period and familiar 
with the persons involved, was far from hopeful as to the 
outlook. This he showed not only in his epoch making * ' Trade 
with Mexico" letter, but in such of his despatches to Washing- 
ton as were printed in the ** Foreign Relations." 

Many years later he wrote in a different spirit : 

'*In spite of all our prognostications as to commercial 
matters, based upon the past and then existing conditions. 
President Diaz was able, through his successful administration 
of affairs to accomplish that which at that time seemed hope- 
less. He gave the country a long era of peace and order. He 
forced Congress to grant liberal concessions for railroads 
connecting with the United States. He established protection 
and security to life and property. He restored public con- 
fidence. He brought about a great development of the re- 
sources of the country. Under his regime, commerce, internal 
and foreign, flourished beyond the dreams of the most hope- 

Whatever may have been the shortcomings of Diaz as an 

"Bishop, Old Mexico, 70-1 (1888). 

' ' Foster, Diplomatic memoirs, I, 116. 



administrator, through the development of a one-man poorer 
under the guise of a democracy, there can be little doubt that 
he will be remembered for his part in creation of Mexico's 
railroad system. 




A GREAT deal of nonsense has been written about the 
effect of railroads upon the development of Mexico, 
particularly by those who were unable to see anything but good 
in the Diaz regime. Thus we were told that **The introduction 
of railways into Mexico has roused the people from their 
centuries of lethargy;''^ and that **In Mexico the railroad 
has wrought a marvelous transformation in the social and 
material aspect of the republic."* And Pablo Macedo de- 
clared : 

*'At the strident whistle of the locomotive crossing many 
parts of its territory, the nation has awakened from its long 
sleep. "Wealth formerly beyond the reach of human hands 
has been made possible of exploitation. Veritable deserts 
have been made fertile through labor, and, in a word, the 
activity and warmth characteristic of healthy organisms 
have been diffused throughout the country. Not in vain do 
we children of this soil say that with the railroads were we 
born into the life of civilized nations.'" 

Such statements ignore the fact that a nation is as civilized 
as its people, and that in modem times a country can develop 
stable institutions only as it is able to raise the standards 
of the people. The population of Mexico is made up largely 
of Indians and of persons of mixed blood, and within recent 

^Howell, Mexico, 75 (1892). 

'Bancroft, Resources and development of Mexico, 95 (1898). 

> Macedo, "La Evolucion mercantil," 228 (1902). 


years immigration has been negligible. As a result stand- 
ards of living are low, productive methods and equipment 
generally are primitive, and individual wants are few. The 
percentage of illiteracy is extremely high, and the facilities 
for instruction inadequate. To raise the level of the people 
will require much time, whether this be done through the 
provision of better educational and economic opportunities 
or through the encouragement of immigrants of a more ad- 
vanced type. Failure to give proper attention to the needs 
of the common people was one of the chief causes of the 
downfall of Diaz. 

Mexico, before the coming of the railroad, was a country 
of large individual land holdings and of most uneven dis- 
tribution of wealth; and such it is to-day. The owners of 
land generally have not been disposed to sell, nor have they 
actively concerned themselves with the introduction of more 
intensive methods. If they have raised wages or improved 
working conditions it has usually been to meet the better 
terms offered by foreign interests, brought in because of the 

Nevertheless, one of the greatest changes wrought by the 
railroad has been in agricultural development. It has put 
new lands under cultivation and has broken down the bar- 
riers between producer and consumer. It has reduced the 
frequency and intensity of famines, and it has tended to 
reduce prices of necessities to a more common level. By 
providing markets, it has stimulated the introduction of 
better equipment and machinery for harvesting; but it has 
done little, nor could it have done much, to overcome the 
reluctance of the laborer to adopt new facilities for working 
the soil and planting. 

Commerce, both domestic and foreign, has been increased 



by the advent of the railroad, but there was comparatively 
little at the outset, so an increase was to have been expected. 
Communities, shut in by mountain barriers and connected 
only by primitive roads, have been relieved from isolation, 
and trading relations have followed as a matter of course. 
Much was expected of the railroads connecting Mexico with 
the United States, but it is significant that while the United 
States is Mexico's best customer, the bulk of Mexico's for- 
eign trade passes through its ports. 

The railroads, in their attempts to encourage the develop- 
ment of commercial activity, have been hampered by an 
antiquated fiscal system, inherited from Spain, which tends 
to discourage production, erects artificial barriers between 
different sections, and makes diflScult the maintenance of 
ordinary highways. They have contributed to the promotion 
of industry, but often in lines which the country was not 
prepared to enter on terms which would benefit the con- 
sumer. This is not the fault of the railroads, but of the 
nation whose high protectionism has only served to increase 
inequalities in the distribution of wealth. 

As has been shown in preceding chapters, there were two 
theories underlying railroad promotion in Mexico. The most 
commonly accepted was that of the direct line to a port or to 
the Northern border. It was this motive that was behind the 
Mexican National project. On the other hand the Mexican 
Central was designed to develop the country through which 
it ran, extending branches to sources of production and 
absorbing feeders as they could be obtained. Both projects 
must be counted as failures, measured by American stand- 
ards ; but the Mexican Central failed not because its theory 
was wrong, but because it was too heavily capitalized to 
await the slow progress of internal development. The mis- 
take made was in assuming that what could be done in the 



southwestern part of the United States could be done with 
equal speed south of the Rio Grande, where conditions were 
more essentially different than they appeared to the men of 
Boston whose monument is the Atchison. 

If anything were needed to condemn the shortsightedness 
of those who advocated the short-line theory it is the large 
number of lines which have been built by mining interests. 
Such lines in other countries are built not by the industrial 
interests to be served, but by the railroads, and often on 
their initiative. 

Another unfortunate mistake, which has tended to retard 
internal development, was the maintenance of high freight 
rates based upon the **what-the-traffic-will-bear'' theory. 
The Mexican railway has been the most conspicuous offender 
in this respect ; but no one has been free from the practice. 
This has tended to place emphasis upon mining products and 
other forms of traffic which could stand the high rates and 
yet yield a profit ; but it ignored the less important business, 
capable of great development, which was based upon the 
normal activity of the communities served by the railroads. 
There is something wrong about a practice which allows a 
railroad to be underbid on low grade traffic along its own 
route and by an Indian and his donkey ; and yet we are told 
that *'Even such cheap and heavy goods as coarse terra-cotta 
jars are still carried by men from the valley of Toluca to the 
City of Mexico, along the highway which, for some part of 
the distance, runs parallel with the Mexican National Rail- 
way."* This sentence was written a quarter of a century 
ago, but the condition which it reflects is much less remote. 

Much has been made of the argument that the railroad is 
a pacifying agent, and that with its introduction throughout 

^ Moses, The railway revolution in Mexico* 78 (1895), 



Mexico the country would be ensured a stable government 
and a high standard of public order. In a book which ap- 
peared as recently as 1914 we find the statement, so fre- 
quently seen in earlier works on Mexico, namely : 

** Railway extensions have greatly diminished the chances 
of successful revolution. In the old days it took so long to 
travel from the capital to any of the big provincial centres 
that revolution might be brought to a successful issue before 
any considerable body of government troops could arrive. 
All this is changed now, as with the aid of railways, tele- 
graphs, and telephones, troops can be concentrated at any 
place by special train at a few hours' notice. With such a 
strong government as Mexico at present possesses, there is 
consequently little chance of a revolution succeeding, even 
temporarily.*'' This was written, of course, before the fall 
of Diaz, and allowed to reappear in a revised edition which 
would be the cause of mirth to one Francisco Villa, if it 
should ever be brought to his attention; As an inducement 
to foreign investment, this sort of statement was effective. 
As an argument it was a good one ; until it became apparent 
that employment given by the railroads and by the other 
foreign enterprises which have been established had helped 
to create that long-sought-f or middle class to which may be 
attributed the credit for overthrowing Diaz and his suc- 
cessors in a blind attempt to attain social justice. 

It is not the purpose of the foregoing pages to deny that 
from the standpoint of national wealth and welfare the 
result of the introduction of railroads into Mexico has been 
beneficial to the country and to its people. The foundation 
work has been done, and with the development of some addi- 
tional extensions and many branches, Mexico 's railroad sys- 

* Oarson, Mexico, 147. 



tern can do its part in the reconstruction period that now 
seems to be approaching.* 

Those who are fond of appearing as sponsors for back- 
ward nations frequently resort to the charge that many of 
the evils complained of are the result of exploitation by 
foreign capitalists and their agents. By very few writers, 
however, has this charge been made against the owners of 
Mexican railroads. Money has been made in Mexico, as 
elsewhere, by successful promoters whose profits came from 
construction-company contracts; but much money has also 
been sunk in unsuccessful projects, and Mexico's greatest 
railroad, the Mexican Central, was constructed without the 
intervention of a construction company. Investors in rail- 
road bonds had no grounds for complaint until after the Diaz 
regime. Shareholders are on a speculative basis, their hope 
being that Mexico will sometime become stabilized and that 
they may then share in the prosperity toward which they 
have already contributed. Their hope, however, is of the 
sort that is long deferred; for the Madero revolution came 
just at the time when it appeared that greater returns might 
soon be expected. From the investment standpoint, there- 
fore, Mexican railroads have been a disappointment; while 
to the '* speculative investor'' they oflfer an inducement 
which, in view of the present general demand for capital, is 
as strong as the belief in Mexico's ability to reestablish 
herself among the respected nations of the world. 

* See Moses, The railway revolution in Mexico, 90 p. (1895) ; also Gonzales 
Boa, "El problema ferrocarrilero," 41-88 (1915). 




AowoBTH, William Mitchell. The relation of railways to the state. 
British Association for the Advancement of Science, Report, 
1908. London, 1908 : LXX VII, 773-83. 
Mexico, 777-8. 

Same. Railroad Age Gazette. N. Y., 1908 : XLV, 955-60. 

"The Mexican situation," 957. 
Anderson, Alexander Dwight. Mexico from the material stand- 
point. A review of its mineral, agricultural, forest, and marine 
wealth; its manufactures, commerce, railways, isthmian routes 
and finances. . . . Washington (Brentano), 1884. 156 p. 
Railroad concessions, 107-14; Bibliography, 143-56. 
The Tehuantepec interocean railroad. A commercial and sta- 
tistical review showing its local, national and international feat- 
ures, and advantages. N. Y. (Barnes), 1880. 90 p. 
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad Company. Annual 
report, 1881-6. 
Sonora railway. 
Atwood, L. p. Railroad construction in Mexico. Illinois Society of 

Engineers, Annual report, 1898. Peoria, 1898 : XIII, 106-10. 
Baker, S. Report from Vera Cruz on the railway rates and customs 
duties at that port. London, 1886. 8 p. 

Great Britain, Foreign Ofl&ce, Diplomatic and consular re- 
ports. Misc. series, no. 13. 

Report on the commerce of Vera Cruz and the future of that 

port. London, 1887. 5 p. 

Great Britain, Foreign Office, Diplomatic and consular re- 
ports. Misc. series, no. 65. 
Bancroft, Hubert Howe. History of Mexico. San Francisco 
(Hist. Co.), 1888. 6v. 

"Commerce and railroads," VI, 533-60. 
Resources and development of Mexico. San Francisco (Ban- 

croft), 1893. 325 p. 

"Communication," 70-107. 



BIbcenA; Mabiano. Los ferrocaxriles mexicanos. Mexico (Mata), 
1881. 60 p. 

Babkeq, SAMUEii H. Mexican railroads and railroad traffic. Bail- 
road Gazette. N. Y., 1906 : XLI, 263-5. 

Barlow, Andrew D. United States enterprises in Mexico. United 
States, Department of State, Bureau of Foreign Commerce, Com- 
mercial relations of the United States with foreign countries, 
1902-3. Washington, 1903 : 433-89. 

Same. "American enterprises in Mexico." United States, De- 
partment of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Statistics, Monthly 
Summary of Commerce and Finance. Washington, Feb. 1905: 

Barnard, John Gross. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec; being a sur- 
vey for the railroad to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 
N. Y., (Appleton) 1852. 2v. Maps. 

Barron, Clarence Walker. The Mexican problem. Boston 
(Houghton), 1917. 136 p. 

Basave, E. Prieto. Railroads in the Republic of Mexico in 1893. 
American Society of Civil Engineers, Transactions, 1893. N. Y., 
1893 : XXIX, 357-72. Map. 

Basham, Harvey A. Concessions in Mexico. Ms. 1913. 

Baz, Gustavo, and E. L. Gallo. History of the Mexican railway. 
Wealth of Mexico, in the region extending from the Gulf to the 
capital of the Republic. . . . With scientific, historical, and sta- 
tistical notes. Translated by G. F. Henderson. Mexico (Gallo), 
1876. 211 p. Map. 

Bell, Edward I. The political shame of Mexico. N. Y. (McBride), 
1914. 422 p. 

BiGELOw, John. The railway invasion of Mexico. Harper's Maga- 
2ane. N. Y., 1882 : LXV, 745-57. 

Bigot, Raoxtl. Le Mexique modeme. Paris (Roger), 1909. 272 p. 
«Les chemins de fer,'' 194-205. 

Bishop, William Henry. Old Mexico and her lost provinces. A 
journey to Mexico. . . . N. Y. (Harper), 1883. 509 p. 
Railroads, 70-95. 

BoTHWELL, J. L. Widening the gauge of the National railroad of 
Mexico. Engineering Record. N. Y., 1904: XLIX, 211. 

Bradford, Laurence. Railroad building in Mexico. Association of 



Engineering Societies, Journal. N. Y., 1885 : IV, 345-50. 
Mexican Central. 
Brandt, Wai/theb I. The railway invasion of Mexico, 1917. Ms. 

University of Wisconsin A.M. thesis. 
Braschi, Victor M., and Ezequiel Ordonez. The Mexican railroad 

system. American Institute of Mining Engineers, Transactions, 

1901. N. Y., 1902: XXXII, 259-76. 
Same. "The Mexican railway sjrstem.'' Cassier's Magazine. 

N.Y., 1902: XXII, 457-76. 
Brocklehurst, Thomas Unett. Mexico today. London (Murray), 

1883. 259 p. Map. 
Bureau of Railway Economics. Railway economics: a collective 

catalogue of books in fourteen American libraries. Chicago 

(Univ. of Chicago Press), 1912. 446 p. 
Mexico, 316-7, 339-43. 
BuRWELL, WmLJAM M. Memoir explanatory of the transunion and 

Tehuantepec route between Europe and Asia. Washington, 

1851. 36 p. 
BuTMAN, Arthur B. Report on trade conditions in Mexico. Wash- 
ington, 1908. 23 p. 

United States, Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau 
of Manufactures, Special Agents series, no. 22. 
BuTMAN, John L. Report on the route of the proposed railway 

from the City of Mexico, via Cuemavaca, to the Pacific coast. 

Denver (Colo. Jour.), 1891. 12 p. 
Calero, Manuel (and others). Ensayo sobre la reconstruccion de 

Mexico. N. Y. (De Laisne y Carranza), [1920]. 118 p. 
Politica ferrocarrilera, 49-53. 
Same. Essay on the reconstruction of Mexico. Translated by 

H. N. Branch. N. Y. (De Laisne and Carranza), [1921]. 

108 p. 
Railroad policy, 47-50. 
CAmara de Comercio y Sociedad Agricola Mexicana. Estudio pre- 

sentado a la secretaria de communicaci6nes y obras publicas . . . 

sobre el estado econ6mico de los ferrocarriles mexicanos . . . 

Mexico (Jens), 1900. 76 p. 
CampbeiiL, Reau. Campbell's new revised complete guide and d^ 

scriptive book of Mexico, Chicago (McClurg), 1907. 351 p. 
Railroads, 16-21. 




CAiiEDO; EsTANiSLAO. Discurso pronunciado en el Congreso de la 
Uni6n en las sesiones de los dias 22 y 26 de noviembre en contra 
de las reformas a la concesi6n del ferrocarril de Tuxpan al 
Pacifico solicitadas por el. General W. S. Roseeranz. Mexico 
(Diaz), 1872. 65 p. 
Cabden, Lionel E. C. Report on the effects of the depreciation of 
silver on Mexico. London, 1893. 29 p. 
Great Britain, Foreign Office, Diplomatic and consular reports, 
Misc. series, no. 302. 

Report on the trade and commerce of Mexico. London, 1883. 

63 p. Map. 
Great Britain, House of Commons, Sessional papers, 1883: 
LXXV. Cd. 3785. 

Report on the Tampico branch of the Mexican Central railway. 

London, 1897. 10 p. 
Great Britain, Foreign Office, Diplomatic and consular reports. 
Misc. series, no. 421. 
Cabson, William English. Mexico, the wonderland of the south. 

N. Y. (Macmillan), rev. ed. 1914. 449 p. 
Castro, Lorenzo. The Republic of Mexico in 1882. N. Y. (Thomp- 
son), 1882. 271 p. 

Railroad concessions, 158-65. 
Chittenden, Thomas T. Highways of commerce. The ocean lines, 
railways, canals and other trade routes of foreign countries. 
Washington, 1895. 763 p. 
Special consular reports, XII. 
Mexico, 41-71. 
Commercial and Finanolal Chronicle. N. Y., 1879-. XXIX-. 

CoNKLiNG, Alfred Ronald. Appleton's guide to Mexico. N. Y., 

1884. 378 p. 
CoNKLiNG, Howard. Mexico and the Mexicans ; or notes of travel in 
the winter and spring of 1883. N. Y. (Taintor), 1883. 298 p. 
Railroads, 256-82. 
Conley, Edward M. The anti-foreign uprising in Mexico. The 
World Today. Chicago, 1906 : XI, 1059-62. 

MaMng a system of Mexican railroads. Railway Age. Chicago, 

1906: XLII, 343-6. 



CoBTHELi/y Elmeb Lawhence. The Tehuantepec route. Railroad 

Gazette. N. Y., 1904: XXXVII, 154-7. 

^ Same. Meziean Investor. Mexico, October 1, 1904 : 7-11. 

Same. South American Journal. London, 1904 : LVII, 332-3, 

CouTOULY, G. DE. Don Jose Yves Limantour et les fbiances mexi- 

caines. Revue Financiere Universelle. Paris, March 15, 1911: 

Same. "Don Jos6 Yves Limantour and the finances of Mexico." 

Financial Review of Reviews. London, 1911, no. 66 : 15-22. 
Creelman, James. Diaz, master of Mexico. N. Y. (Appleton), 

1911. 442 p. 
Denys, Franc?is. Report on the railways of Mexico. London, 1889. 

51 p. 

Great Britain, Foreign Ofl&ce, Diplomatic and consular reports. 

Misc. series, no. 116. 
DiAS DuPOQ, Carlos. Limantour. Mexico (Gomez), 1910. 335 p. 

Railroads, 129-37. 
DiDAPP, Juan Pedro. Explotadores politicos de M6xico. . . . Mexico 

(Diaz), 1904. 690 p. 
Railroads, 416-92. 
Domenech, J. FiGUEROA. Guia general descriptiva de la republica 

mexicana; hist6ria, geographia, estadistica. Mexico (Araluce), 

1899. 2v. 
Railroads, I, 221-55. 
DoMiNGUEZ, Zeferino. The trouble in Mexico and its only solution. 

n. p., 1914. 

Railroads, 12-3. 
Douglas, James. The United States and Mexico. N. Y. (Intern. 

Conciliation), 1910. 21 p. 
Railroads, 9-17, 
Drummond, Victor Arthijb Wellington. Report respecting rail- 
ways and trade in Mexico. London, 1881. Great Britain, House 

of Commons, Sessional papers, 1881: LXXXIX, 390-401. Cd. 

Economist. London, 1880-. XXXVIII-. Weekly. 
EcoNOMiSTA M6XICAN0. Mcxico, 1886-1913. Weekly. 
Enook, C. Reginald. Mexico: its ancient and modem civilization, 



history and political conditions, topography and natural re- 
sources, industries and general development. London (Unwin), 
1909. 362 p. 
Railroads, 329-49. 
Ferguson's anecdotical guide to Mexico, with a map of the rail- 
ways. . . . Philadelphia (Claxton), 1876. 128 p. 
Febgusson, Arthur W. Mexico. Washington, 1891. 347 p. Map. 
International Bureau of the American Republics, Bulletin, 
no. 9. 

Railroads, 326-36. 
Foster, John Watson. Diplomatic memoirs. Boston (Houghton), 
1909. 2 V. 
Raih-oads, I, 108-20. 

Trade with Mexico ; correspondence between the Manufacturers' 

Association of the Northwest and Hon. John W. Foster, Chicago, 
1878. 44 p. 
Same. United States, Department of State, Papers relating to 

the foreign relations of the United States, 1878. Washington, 
1878: 636-54. 
Fyfe, H. Hamilton. The real Mexico. . . . N. Y. (McBride), 
[1914]. 247 p. 
Raih-oads, 212-23. 
Garay, Josi de. An account of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the 
Republic of Mexico. . . . London (Smith), 1846. 128 p. 

Impresi6n que hace la compania Norte- Americana, establecida 

en Nueva Orleans, para empresa de la communicaci6n inter- 
oceSnica por el Istmo de Tehu&ntepec, y possedora del privilegio 
de la concesi6n hecha por el gobiemo supremo de M6jico al Don. 
J. de Garay. [New Orleans], 1862. 48 p. 
Garcia Oubas, Antonio. Mexico : its trade, industries and resources. 
Translated by W. Thompson. Mexico (Fomento), 1893. 436 p. 
Railroads, 283-315. 
Gloner, Prosper. Les fbiances des £tats-Unis mexicains d' apr6s 
les documents officiels. Berlin (Puttskammer), 1896. 703 p. 
Railroads, 558-81; Bibliography, 683-91. 
Gk)D0Y, Jos6 Francisco. A few facts about Mexico. Mexican com- 
mission from the United States of Mexico to the Pan-American 
exposition, 1901. Buffalo, 1901. 131 p. 
Railroads, 85-90; Bibliography, 131. 



GonzAles Roa, Fernando. El problema ferrocarrilero y la Com- 
paoia de los Ferrocarriles Nacionales de M6xico. Mexico (Car- 
ranza y Hijos), 1915. 324-116 p. 

An official report by a member of the board of directors. 

GoBSUCH, Robert B. The republic of Mexico and railroads. N. Y., 
1881. 45 p. 

Great Britain, Foreign Office. Diplomatic and consular reports, 
Annual series. London, 1886-1914. 

Griffin, Solomon Bulkley. Mexico of today. N. Y. (Harper), 
1886. 267 p. 
Railroads, 40-57. 

Gutierrez de Lara, L., and EDpouMs Pinchon. The Mexican peo- 
ple : their struggle for freedom. N. Y. (Doubleday) , 1914. 360 p. 

Haferkorn, Henry Ernest. The war with Mexico, 1840-1848. A 
select bibliography . . . together with a select list of books and 
other printed material on the resources, economic conditions, 
politics and government of the Republic of Mexico and the 
characteristics of the Mexican people; with annotations and an 
index. Washington (Author), 1914, 93+28 p. 

"Modem Mexico,'^ 76-89; "Means of communication," 90-3. 

Halsey, Frederic M. Railways of South and Central America; a 
manual containing statistical and other information concerning 
the important railways of South and Central America, Mexico 
and the West Indies. N. Y. (Fitch), 1914. 183 p. 
Mexico, 119-31. 

Hamilton, Ljeonidas Le Cenci. Border states of Mexico. San 
Francisco (Bacon), 1881. 163 p. Map. 

Same. 4 ed. N. Y., 1883. 226 p. 

Hamilton's Mexican handbook; a complete description of the 

Republic of Mexico. . . . Boston (Lothrop), 1883. 281 p. 

HiNE, Charles De Lano. Wartime railroading in Mexico. Railway 
Age Gazette. N. Y., 1914: LV, 702-3. 
Author was vice-president, Southern Pacific of Mexico. 

— • — Same. In Railway Library, 1913. Chicago, 1914 : 295-9. 

HoRSFALL, H. A. The railroad systems of Northern Mexico. Engi- 
neering and Mining Journal. N. Y., 1909 : LXXXVII, 712-4. 

Howell, Edward J. Mexico: its progress and commercial possi- 
bilities. London (Whittingham), 1892. 203 p. 
Railroads, 75-88. 


International Bureau of the American Republics. Bulletin. 

Washington, 1893-1910. Monthly. 
Commercial information concerning the American repubUcs and 

colonies, 1891. Washington, 1892. 286 p. 
Mexican railroads, 150-8. From Mexican Financier ("The 

Mexican Southern railway^'), Mexico, 1891: XVIII, 432-6. 
List of Latin- American history and description in the Columbus 

memorial library. Washington, 1907. 98 p. 

Mexico, 69-78, 94-5. 
Mexico; geographical sketch. 

Washington, 1904. 454 p. 

58 cong. 3 sess., H. doc. 145, pt. 5. Serial 4845. 
Railroads, 257-9, 329-57. 
Janvier, Thomas A. The Mexican guide. N. Y. (Scribner), 5 ed., 

1894. 531 p. 
Railroads, 340-61. 
Kindrick, Charles W. Railway construction in Mexico. United 

States, Department of State, Bureau of Foreign Commerce, 

Consular reports. Washington, 1899 : LX, 714-6. 
KozHEVOR, E. Informe sobre la Republica mexicana. Mexico (Fo- 

mento), 1887. 187 p. 
Railroads, 20-31. 
Same. Report on the Republic of Mexico. London, 1886. Not 

Krantz, Camillb. Chemins de fer et travaux publics. In Le 

Mexique au dubut du XXe siecle. Paris (Delagrave), 1904:11, 

1-58. Map. 
KuPKA, Peter Freidreich. Die Eisenbahnen mexikos. Archiv fiir 

Eisenbahnwesen. Berlin, 1908 : XXXI, 305-15. 
Lavis, F. The construction of the Chihuahua and Pacific railroad. 

Engineering Record. N. Y., 1907 : LV, 241-3. 
Leland Stanford Junior University. Catalog of the Hopkins 

railway library. By Frederick John T^gart. Palo Alto, 1895. 

231 p. 
Letcher, Marion D. Wealth of Mexico. United States, Depart- 
ment of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic 

Commerce, Daily Consular and Trade Reports. Washington, 

July 18, 1912: 316. 



LiMANTOUBy Jos£ YvES. Ezposici6n presentada al Senor Presidente 
de la Reptiblica por el secretario de hacienda y er6dito publico, 
sobre concessi6nes de ferrocarriles y contratos de obras de los 
puertos. Mexico, Hacienda, Memoha, 1898-9. Mexico, 1902: 
401-15. Sept. 8, 1898. 

Informe ... a las cUmaras federales sobre ... la consolida- 

ci6n de los ferrocarriles Kacional de Mexico y Central Mexicano. 
Mexico (Hacienda), [1908]. 152 p. 
Same. M^co, Hacienda, Memoria, 1907-8. Mexico, 1909: 

199-287, 490-528. 

Same (without "anexos"). "The railway merger." Translated 

by L. C. Simonds. Mexico, 1908. 39 p. 

Informe presentado al Presidente de la Republica, por el secre- 
tario de hacienda y cr6dito publico, sobre los estudios y gestiones 
de la secretaria en asuntos de ferrocarriles. Mexico, Hacienda, 
Memoria, 1903-4. Mexico, 1909 : 412-27. July 20, 1903. 
[Speech concerning proposed railroad merger, Dec. 14, 1906]. 

In Oamara de Diputados, Diario de los debates, 23 Cong., I. 

Low, Emile. a review of the report of Captain Andrew Talcott, 
Chief engineer, Mexico and Pacific railroad, Eastern division 
from Vera Cruz to Mexico; explorations, surveys, estimates. 
American Society of Civil Engineers, Proceedings, 1915. N. Y., 
1915 : XLI, 2569-2634. 

McClure, Alexander Keldy. To the Pacific and Mexico. Phila- 
delphia (Lippincott), 1901. 162 p. 

Macedo, Paul [Pablo]. Communications and public works. In 
Sierra, Mexico — ^its social evolution. Mexico (Ballesca), 1902: 
II, 249-327. 

Same. La evoluci6n mercantil. Communicaciones y obras publi- 

cas. La Hacienda publica. Tres monografias que dan idea de 
una parte de la evolucion econ6mica de M6xico. Mexico (Bal- 
lesca), 1905. 617 p. 
Railroads, 175-235. 

MacHugh, Robert Joseph. Modem Mexico. . . . London (Me- 
thun),1914. 342 p. 
Raihx)ads, 243-57. 

Maroosson, Isaac F. Our financial stake in Mexico. Collier's 
Weekly. N. Y., July 1, 1916: 22-3. 



Mabu y Campos, Ricardo de. Datos mercantiles. Mexico (Fomento), 
1892. 776 p. 
Railroads, 342-612. 
Martin, Percy Falcke. The finances of Mexico. Financial Review 
of Reviews. London, 1920 : XV, 88-109. 

How Latin Americans invest their money. Financial Review 

of Reviews. London, 1911, no. 70 : 15-25. 
Investments in Mexico, are they safe? Financial Review of Re- 
views. London, 1913, no. 89 : 20-7. 
Is a Pan-American railroad feasible? Financial Review of Re- 
views. London, 1907, no. 21 : 11-25. 
— ' — Mexico as a field for investment. Financial Review of Reviews. 
London, 1909, no. 46 : 27-38. 

Mexico of the- XXth Century. London (Arnold), 1907. 2 v. 

Railroads, I. 258-96. 
Porfirio Diaz — soldier and statesman. Quarterly Review. Lon- 
don, 1909 : CCXI, 526-49. 

Railway ticket law in Mexico. Railway News. London, 1906: 

LXXXVI, 1090-2. 

The railways of Mexico. Railway News. London, 1906 : 

American or British enterprise, LXXXV: 319-20; Tehuan- 
tepec National railway, 379-80, 437-9 ; Mexican railway, 482-3, 
530-1 ; Vera Cruz and Pacific railroad, 610-1 ; Mexican Central 
railway, 728-9, 774-6; The Merger lines (International, Inter- 
oceanic, and National), 877-8, 926; International railway, 
952-3; National railroad, 990-1; Mexican Southern railway, 
1030-1, 1072-3 ; The Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient railroad, 
LXXXVI: 22-7; The smaller lines, 122-3; National Tehuan- 
tepec, 167-8; The Tuxpam-Colima extension (Central rail- 
way), 479-80, 582-3, 616-7; Vera Cruz (Mexico) railway, 
728-9 ; The Interoceanic railway, 766-7. 
Maule, Harry E. The railroads of Mexico. Mining World. Chi- 
cago, 1906 : XXV, 302-3. 
Mechanics and Metals Nationatj Bank. Mexico ; a financial hand- 
book. N. Y., 1916. 46 p. 
Railroads, 16-7, 29-30. 
Mexican Financier. Mexico, 1882-97-]-? Weekly. 



Mexican Investor. Mexico, 1902-9-]-? Weekly. 

Mexican year book; a financial and commercial handbook. . . . 
London (McCorquodale), 1908-14. 

MEXICO. Secretaria de Communicaciones y Obras Piiblicas. Album 
de los ferrocarriles. 1889-91. Comprende datos generales rela- 
tivos a los anos anteriores, a paridr del de 1873, Mexico (Fo- 
mento),1891. 189 p. 

Same. 1890. Not seen. 

Same. 1891-3. Not seen. 

Ley sobre ferrocamles [April 29, 1899]. Mexico, 1905. 61 p. 

Reprinted from Diario Oficial, no. 12, May 13, 1899. 

Same. "The railroad law.'' Mexican year book, 1908. London, 

1908 : 653-85. 

t Same. Mexican year book, 1909-10. London, 1910 : 331-64. 

Same. "Loi sur les chemins de fer, du 29 aout [avril], 1889 

[1899].'' Annales des Fonts et Chaussees. 2e partie: Lois, 
decr^ts . . . Paris, 1901, 8e serie, I, 550-69, 644-72. 

Memoria, 1891-9. 

R^lamento general de ferrocarriles. Parte tecnica, 1894. 

Mexico, 1894. 66 p. 

Resena historica y estadistica de los ferrocarriles de juris- 

diccion federal . . . , 1837-1894. Mexico, 1895. 156 p. Maps. 

Same. 1895-9. Not seen. 

Same. 1900-1903. Mexico, 1905. 313 p. Maps. 

Same. 1904-1906. Mexico, 1907. 128 p. Map. 

Secretaria de Fomento, Colonizacion 6 Industria. Anales. 1877-. 

Anuario estadistico de la republica mexicana. 1893-. 

Boletin de la direcci6n general de estadistica. 1912-. 

' — Legislacion sobre ferrocarriles, colecci6n de leyes, de- 

cretos, disposiciones, resoluciones, y documentos importantes 
sobre caminos de fierro arreglada en el archive de la secretaria, 
1824-1882. Mexico, 1882-87. 5 v. 

Memoria, 1868-9-. 

R^lamento para la construcci6n, conservaci6n y servicio 

de los ferrocarriles, 1883. Mexico, 1883. 66 p. 

Secretaria de Hacienda y Cr^dito Publico. Anuario de estadis- 
tica fiscal. Mexico, 1911-2-. 

Memoria, 1867-8-. 



MiDDLBTON, Philip Harvey. Industrial Mexico, 1919 facts and fig- 
ures. N. Y. (Dodd), 1919. 270 p. 
Railroads, 1-35. 
Modern Mexico. Mexico, 1896-1909. 

Monthly, 1896-1907; weekly, 1907-9. 
Moody's manual of railroads. . . . N. Y., 1900-18. Annual. 

Merged in Poor's manual. 
MosES, Bernard. The railway revolution in Mexico. San Francisco 

(Berkeley Press), 1895. 90 p. 
MuLLER, W. Max. Report on the Mexican isthmus (Tehuantepec) 
railway. London, 1907. 19 p. 
Great Britain, Foreign Ofl&ce, Diplomatic and consular reports, 
Misc. series, no. 658. 
Nbvin, W. W. The railway situation in Mexico. Engineering News. 
N. Y., 1885 : XIV, 86-7. 
New international year book. N. Y., 1907-. 

New York Public Library. List of works in the . . . library re- 
lating to Mexico. Bulletin. N. Y., 1909 : XIII, 622-62, 675-737, 

Railroads, 793-8. 

Nichols' guide to Mexico. Mexico (Nichols), 1884. 144 p. 

NiMMO, Joseph, Jr. Commerce between the United States and 
Mexico. Washington, 1884. 89 p. 
48 cong. 1 sess., H. ex. doc. 86. Serial 2200. 

Nunez, Jenaro Garcia (editor). Leyes vigentes en la republica 
mexicana sobre instituciones de credito, ferrocarriles y s^^uros. 
Mexico (Herrero), 1913. 512 p. 

Oder, Frederick Albion. Travels in Mexico and life among the 
Mexicans. Boston (Estes), 1884. 672 p. 
Railroads, 415-45. 

Osterheld, T. W. The debt of the United States of Mexico and of 
the National Railways of Mexico ... as of 1919. [N. Y.] 
32 p. Map. 

History of the nationalization of the railroads of Mexico. 

American Bankers' Association, Journal. N. Y., 1916: VIII, 



Pan American Union. Bulletin. Washington, 1910-. Monthly. 

Successor to International Bureau of American Republics, 


Mexico; general descriptive data. Washington, 1916. 47 p. 

Railroads, 15-46. 
Parsons, William Barclay. Railways of Mexico. American So- 
ciety of Civil Engineers, Transactions, 1890. N. Y., 1890: 

XXII, 233-46. 
Pasalaoua, Carlos F. Mexico's wealth and possibilities. Financial 

Review of Reviews. London, 1912, no. 88: 38-51. 
Pascal, S. V. Study upon railroads to connect Guadalajara with 

the Pacific Ocean. American Society of Civil Engineers, Tran- 
sactions, 1893. N. Y, 1893 : XXIX, 373-84. 
Paz, Ireneo, y Manuel Tornel. Nuevo guia de M^co en ingles, 

fraiicfe y castellano. Mexico (Paz), 1882. 893 p. 
Railroads, 683-736. 
Pbimbert, Angel. Ferrocarril nacional de Tehuantepec. Fomento, 

Boletin. Mexico, 1906 : VI, 87-152. 
Periguy, Maurice de. Les fitats-Unis de Mexique. Paris (Orien- 

tale), 1911. 310 p. 
PoMBO, Luis. Mexico: 1876-1892. Mexico, 1893. 162+156 p. 


Spanish and English texts; William T. Pritchard, translator. 
Poor's manual of the railroads of the United States. . • . 

N. Y., 1868-9-. Annual. 
Prantl, Adolfo, y Jos^ L. Groso. La ciudad de M6xico. Mexico 

(Buxo), 1901. 1005 p. 
Prendergast, F. E. Railroads in Mexico. Harper's Magazine. 

N. Y., 1881 : LXIII, 276-81. 
Primer Congreso Nacional de Comerciantes. Resena y memorias, 

1917. Mexico (Comunicaci6nes), 1917. 494 p. 
Same. "The First National Congress of Merchants. Summary 

of the transactions and proceedings." Mexico (Victoria), 1917. 

169 p. 
Railroad Age Gazette. N. Y., 1908-9. Weekly. 

Successor to Railway Age and Railroad Gazette. 
Railroad Gazette. N. Y., 1871-1908. Weekly. 
Railway Age. Chicago, 1876-1908. Weekly. 


Railway Age. N. Y., 1918-. LXIV-. WeeMy. 
Successor to Railway Age Gazette. 

Railway Age Gazette. N. Y., 1910-1917. We^y. 
Successor to Railroad Age Gazette. 

Railway Gazette. London, 1893-. Weekly. 

Railway News. London, 1864-1918. Weekly. 
Merged in Railway Gazette. 

Railway Review. Chicago, 1868-. Weekly. 

Ramirez, Jose Fernandez. Memoria instmctiva de los derechos y 
justas causas que tiene el goviemo de los Estados Unidos Mexi- 
canos para no reconocer ni la subsistencia del privil^o a don 
Jos6 Garay para abrir una via de communicacion . . . por el 
Istmo de Tehuantepec ni la legitimidad de la cesion que aquel 
hizo del mismo privilegio a ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos 
de la America del Norte. Mexico, 1852. 39 p. 

Same. A memorial setting forth the rights and just reasons 

which the United States of Mexico has for not recognizing the 
validity of the privilege granted to Don Jos6 Garay for opening 
a way of communication ... by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 
nor the legality of the transfer of said privilege which the latter 
made to citizens of the United States of North America. N. Y. 
(Stuart), 1852. 44 p. 

Memorias, n^ociaciones y documentos para servir a la hist6ria 

de las dif erencias que han suscitado entre M6xico y Los Estados 
Unidos, los tenedores del antiguo privilegio, concedido para la 
communicaci6n de los mares Atlantico y Pacifico, por el Istmo 
de Tehuantepec. Mexico (Cumplido), 1853. 944 p. 

Reaves, Logan Uriah. An international railway to the City of 
Mexico. St. Louis (Woodward), 1879. 37 p* 

Reed, H. W. The Mexico, Cuemavaca, and Pacific railroad. Rail- 
road Gazette, N. Y., 1898 : XXX, 717. 

Reid, Frederick. Must we clean up Mexico? Sunset. San Fran- 
cisco, 1916 : XXXVI, 27-8, 81. 

Reynom)S, Stephen W. The Mexican situation. In Blakeslee, 
Latin America; Clark University addresses, November, 1913. 
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Acapulco, MoreloB, Irolo, and Vera 
Cruz Interoceanic railway, 141. 

Acworth, W. M., on railroad national- 
ization, 177-178. 

American Metals company, lease of 
Mexican Northern, 86, 163-164; 
corporate railroad equipment, 47. 

American-Mexican company, project 

Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe in- 
terests, relation to Sonora railway, 
123-125, to Mexican Central, 127, 
180, to Sinaloa and Durango, 131 n; 
leased Sonora railway to Southern 
Pacific, 161. 

Coahuila and Zacetecas railway, con- 
trol, 5-6, 36, 164; service, 58. 

Concessions, description, 112-113, 116- 
120, 167-172; controlled by general 
law, 171-174; abuses, 186. See also 

Constitutionalist railways of Mexico, 
28-34. See also National railways. 

Constitutionalist railways of Yucatan, 
state operation, 35. See also United 
railways of Yucatan. 

Corthell, E. L., railroad builder, 151. 

Diaz, Porfirio, railroad policy, 1, 3, 
7, 10, 109, 111, 127, 183-188. 

Barnard, Gen. J. G., surveyor of 

Tehuantepec, 149. 
Bigelow, John, on railroad projects 

and jprospects, 117-119. 
Blair, D. B., promoter, 108, 109. 

Camacho, Sebastian, promoter, 107- 
108, 109, 123, 128. 

Cananea, Rio Yaqui, and Pacific, con- 
cession, 161; construction, 161; ac- 
quired by Southern Pacific company, 

Carranza, Yenustiano, railroad policy, 

Central railroad of Mexico, concession, 
108, 109, 184. See also Mexican 
company, Ltd. 

Chihuahua and Pacific railroad, con- 
cession, 167; construction, 167; ac- 
quired by Mexico North Western, 8, 
168; trackage rights acquired by 
Kansas City, Mexico and Orient, 8, 

Claims, against the nation, 18, 20, 26; 
basis of adjustment, 78-79. 

Claims, against the railroads, 63-68. 

Coahuila and Pacific railway, acquired 
by Mexican Central, 129-130. 

Eads, J. B., ship-railway project, 162 n. 

Equipment, damage and destruction, 
19-21; military use, 26, 81-32, 68; 
repair and replacement, 18, 22-24; 
present condition and supply, 21-24, 
43-45, 52, 64-55, 60; private own- 
ership, 46-48. 

Escandon, Antonio, promoter, 101-102. 

Foster, J. W., on railroad projects and 
prospects, 107, 110-118, 116, 117; 
on Diaz' railroad policy, 187-188. 


Garay, Jos6 de, first Tehuantepec eon- 
cessionnaire, 149. 

Gonzales, Manuel, railroad policy, 186. 

Gonzales Roa, Fernando, on Liman- 
tour's railroad policy, 4n; on Diaz' 
policy, 185; advocacy of "Mexican- 
ization" policy, 72-73. 

Gorsuch, R. B., promoter, 101, 106. 

Gould, Jay, failure as a Mexican rail- 
road promoter, 145-146. 

Grant, Gen. U. 8., promoter of Mexi- 
can Southern, 146-146. 

Griffin, Solomon, on railroad projects 
and prospects, 120. 



Hampson, J. H., railroad builder. 151. 
See also Mexico, Ouernavaca, and 

Hidalgo and Northeastern railroad, 
control, 5; state concession, 168: 
acquired by National railroad of 
Mexico, 135. 

Highways and travel conditions. 91-98. 

Huntington, C. P., rivalry with Atchi- 
son interests, 123-125, 128; builder 
of Mexican International. 

Imperial Mexican railway, organized, 
102-103. See also Mexican railway. 

Interoceanic railway of Mexico, con- 
trol, 4-5; concessions, 139-142; con- 
struction, 140, 142; acquired San 
Marcos and Nautla (Mexican Baat- 
ern). 142-143; leased Mexican 
Southern, 143; acquired by nation, 
135, 143; acquired by National rail- 
road of Mexico, 143; acquired by 
National railways, 143; loss and 
damage, 16, 19; government opera- 
tion. 28-30; interrupted and sus- 
pended operation, 37-39, 59; fi- 
nances, 65-66. 

Investments, foreign, 1-3. 

Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient rail- 
way, control, 5-6; concessions, 158; 
acquired trackage rights over Chi- 
huahua and Pacific, 8, 158: con- 
struction, 8, 158-159; loss and dam- 
age, 13-14; interrupted and sus- 
pended operation, 42; receivership, 
35, 67. 

Legislation, development, 171-174; 
general law 1899, 3-4, 7, 25-27. 69- 
71, 174, 186. 

Lerdo de Tejada, Sebastian, railroad 
policy. 183-184. 

Limantour, J. Y., railroad policy, 3-4, 
173; report of 1898, 178-174; gen- 
eral railroad law, 3, 174, 186; na- 
tionalization scheme, 3-5, 176-178. 

Louisiana Tehuantepec company, 150. 

McMurdo, Edward, Tehuantepec con- 
tract, 151. 

Mexican company, Ltd.. concession, 
107-108, 127. See also Central 
railroad of Mexico. 

Mexican railway, control, 5-6; concea 
sions and construction, 9, 100-108 
interested in Mexican company, Ltd. 
and Central railroad projects, 107 
109, 184; loss and damage, 14, 18 
20; government operation, 27-35 

S resent condition, 17; service, 58 
nances, 67. 
Mexican Central railway, control, 4. 
concession, 127-128 ; construction, 
128-129, 194; acquisition of residu 
ary lines of Mexican National Con 
struction company, 130; construe 
tion of Mexican Pacific rilway, 7, 
129, 130; acquired Monterey and 
Mexican Gulf, Mexico, Cuernavaca, 
and Pacific, and Coahuila and Pa- 
cific, 129-130; results, 130-131, 91- 
92; acquired by nation, 131, 175- 
177; merged in National railways of 
Mexico, 131, 175-177. 

Mexican Eastern railway, organization, 
142; finances, 66. 

Mexican International railroad, con- 
trol, 4-5; concession, 137-138; no 
subsidy, 137, 170; construction, 8, 
137-138; acquired by Mexican Na- 
tional railway, 135, 138; full con- 
trol acquired by National Railways, 
138; liquidation. 138. 

Mexican Mineral railroad, control, 86. 

Mexican National Construction com- 
I)any, concession, 133; residuary 
lines, 134; acquired by Mexican 
Central, 130. 

Mexican National railroad, successor 
to railway. 184; reorganized as Na- 
tional railroad of Mexico, 135, which 

Mexican National railway, concession, 
183; construction, 134, 191; leased 
Michoacan and Pacific, 135 ; acquired 
Mexican International, 135; reor- 
ganized as Mexican National rail- 
road, 184, which see. See also Na- 
tional railroad of Mexico. 

Mexican Northern railway, control, 5-6 ; 
concession, 163 ; construction, 163 ; 
no subsidy, 170 ; leased by American 
Metals company, 36, 163-164; sus- 
pended operations, 42; finances, 68. 

Mexican Oriental, Interoceanic, and In- 
ternational railroad, concession and 
receivership, 146. 

Mexican Pacific railway, nucleus, 134; 
construction, 7, 129, 130. 

Mexican Southern railroad, conces- 
sions, 145-146; failure of Gen. 
Grant's project, 146; concession 
passed to Mexican Southern rail- 
way, 146, which see. 



Mexican Southern railway, control, 4- 
5; construction, 11, 146; leased to 
Interoceanic, 143, 147; loss and 
damage, 16-17, 19; interrupted oper- 
ation, 39;' finances, 66. 

Mexico and Morelos railway, conces- 
sion, 139. 

Mexico and United States railway,, 
project, 104-105. 

Mexico, Cuernavaca, and Pacific rail- 
road, project. 9; acquired by Mexi- 
can Central, 129. 

Mexico North Western railway, con- 
trol, 5-6; concession, 158; construc- 
tion, 8, 158; acquired Chihuahua 
and Pacific, Rio Grande, Sierra 
Madre, and Pacific, and Sierra Ma- 
dre and Pacific, 158; acquired Sierra 
Madre Land and Lumber company, 
35-36, 158; loss and damage, 14-18; 
interrupted and suspended operation, 
39-40; seizure threat, 36, 71; serv- 
ice, 53 ; finances, 67. 

Michoacan and Pacific railway, control, 
4-5; acquired by Mexican National 
railroad, 135; finances, 65. 

Mileage, 1, 5, 6. 11. 

Monterey and Mexican Gulf railroad, 
acquired by Mexican Central, 129. 


Nacozari railway, control, 5-6, 36; 
concession, 164; loss and damage, 
16; service, 53-54. 

National railroad of Mexico, control, 
4-5; successor to Mexican National 
railway, 135; acquired Interoceanic, 
135, 143 ; acquired Hidalgo and 
Northeastern, 135; acquired by na- 
tion, 135; merged in National rail- 
ways of Mexico, 135, 175-177. See 
also Mexican National railroad. 

National railways of Mexico, organiza- 
tion, 4, 175-177; acquired Mexican 
International, 138; acquired Pan- 
American and Vera Oruz and Isth- 
mus, 154; abandonment of lines, 11- 
12; loss and damage, 15-22; repairs 
and replacements. 22-24; present 
condition, 17, 21-22; government 
operation, 27-34, 78; independent 
operation, 36-38, 177; service, 52, 
67; finances, 63-66. 

National railway of Tehuantepec, gov- 
ernment ownership, 34. See also 
Tehuantepec National railway. 

National Interoceanic railway, conces- 
sion, 141. 

Nationalization, 3-5, 175-178. 

New Tork-Tehuantepec Steamship and 
Railroad company, 150. 

New York, Texas, and Mexico rail- 
road, project, 9-10. 

Nickerson, Thomas, builder of Sonora 
and Mexican Central, 124. 127. 

Occidental railway, succesBor of Sina- 

loa and Durango, 8, ISln. 
Osterheld, T. W., reorganiiation 

scheme, 75-78. 

Palmer, Gen. W. J., promoter, 110; 
rivalry with Atchison interests, 123, 
127-128, 133. 

Pan-American railroad, control, 4-5; 
concessions, 154; construction, 7, 
154; acquired by National railways, 
154; loss and damage, 19-20; gov- 
ernment operation, 28-29, 34. 

Parral and Durango railroad, control, 
5-6; concession, 164; independent 
operation, 164* finances, 68. 

Pearson, Dr. P. 8., promoter, 158. 

Pearson, S. and Son, Ltd., Tehuantepec 
partnership, 5. 34, 152; ownership 
of Vera Cruz (Mexico) railway, 153. 

Pierce, H. C, control of Mexican Cen- 
tral, 131, 175. 

Plumb, E. L., promoter, 106, 108, 109. 

Potosi and Rio Verde railroad, conces- 
sion, 164; ownership, 36, 164. 

Prendergast, F. E., on railroad projects 
and prospects, 116-117. 

Read, H. R., railroad builder, 146. 
Regulation, government, 172-175; sug' 
gested changes, 178-183. 

Rio Grande, Sierra Madre, and Pacific 
railroad, concession, 157; acquired 
by Green interests, 157; acquired 
by Mexico North "Western, 8, 158. 

Riva Palacio, Vicente, railroad policy, 

Romero, Matias, reply to Foster, 113 ; 
reply to Bigelow, 119; interest in 
Mexican Southern railroad project, 

Rosecrans, Gen. "W. S., promoter, 105- 


San Marcos and Nautla railway, ac- 
quired by Interoceanic, 142. See 
also Mexican Eastern. 

Sanchez, Delfin, promoter, 140, 151. 

Sierra Madre and Pacific railroad, con- 
cession, 157-158; acquired by Mexi- 
co North Western, 158.