The International Steam Pages

Preserved Narrow Gauge Steam in Mexico 2012, Part 2

Thomas Kautzor reports on some preserved items recorded during his November 2012 visit. Click here for the index to the other reports which include stationary steam, 'modern traction' and railway cranes.

This report is in two parts, click here for part 1.

This page covers the non-NdeM NG steam locomotives.

The FC Coahuila y Zacatecas (CyZ) was built by the Mazapil Copper Co. (a British concern) in 1898 from Saltillo, COAHUILA, on the 3-ft gauge FC Nacional Mexicano (FCNM), to Concepcion del Oro, ZACATECAS (78 miles), to serve copper, lead, zinc and iron mines. Although it had announced earlier to do so, the FNCM converted to standard gauge in 1903, but the CyZ stayed 3ft. For the first 25 miles the CyZ paralleled the FCNM to Carneros. In 1903 a 17 miles branch was added from Avalos, not far from Concepcion del Oro, to new mines at at San Pedro Ocampo. The railway suffered heavily during the 1914 Revolucion and operations only went back to normal by 1917. Over the years, the CyZ owned 13 steam locomotives, 2-8-0s, plus two 4-6-0s and Mexico’s only narrow gauge 4-6-2, all built by Baldwin between 1889 and 1911 and some obtained used from other railways. The Mazapil Co. operated its own switching locomotives at its smelter in Concepcion del Oro. In 1959 the Mazapil Copper Co. was sold to Mexican interests and the railway taken over by Mexico’s Secretariat of Communication and Transport (SCT), bringing in NdeM 2-8-0 261, 273 and 279. In 1963/64 the railway was dieselized with three EMD GA-8s, one replaced by a GA-18 in 1968. In 1972 is was integrated into NdeM and replaced by a new standard gauge line from Gomez Farias.

CyZ 2-8-0 3 (Baldwin 15784/03-1898) was sold to Cia. Industrial y Azucarera S.A. (CIASA) in Juan Diaz Covarubias, VERACRUZ (near Acayucan, 210 km southeast of Veracruz), in 1945 for use on their sugar cane plantation railway, where it kept the same number. The mill, established after World War I, had an all-steam roster on both its 3ft gauge plantation lines (six Baldwin 2-6-0s & 2-8-0s, including CyZ 3 and 4, plus an O&K 2-8-0, all obtained second-hand) and the standard gauge line connecting it with NdeM (an ALCO and a Baldwin, both 2-6-2s). The narrow gauge (and N°. 3) were still in operation in 1968 and the standard gauge in 1972. The other narrow gauge locos were scrapped or sold (in the case of ex-NdeM 265) around 1984, but N°. 3 still rusts away next to the mill’s back gate. A motor trolley and trailer are plinthed behind the guardhouse.

CyZ 2-8-0 10 (Baldwin 32647/02-1908) is on display at the National Railway Museum in Puebla, PUE, together with NdeM baggage car 7858, 2nd class coaches 966 and 962 and 1st class clerestory-roof coach 8871:

Another three CyZ locomotives were sold to US group Early West Railways in 1963 for a planned tourist railway to be built near Pomona, California. That project was abandoned, but the locos still exist: 2-8-0 N°. 1 (Baldwin 15435/07-1897) awaiting restoration at the Midwest Central RR in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, 4-6-0 N°. 6 (Baldwin 24252/05-1904, rebuilt from a 4-6-2 in 1910) on display at the Keizer Station Mall in Salem, Oregon, and 2-8-0 N°. 12 (Baldwin 35990/07-1911) on display at the Colorado Central Station Casino in Blackhawk, Colorado.

The standard gauge FC Mexicano (FCM) from Veracruz to Mexico City had three narrow gauge branch lines:

  • The 3-ft gauge FC San Marcos y Huajapan De Leon from San Marcos to Ixcaquitla (57 miles), acquired in 1913 and abandoned in 09-1957;.
  • The 30-inch gauge Zacatlan branch from Muñoz (west of Apizaco) to Chignahuapan (34 miles), started as the 2-ft gauge FC Atlamaxac, acquired in 1909 and abandoned in 09-1957.
  • The 2-ft gauge FC Cordoba a Huatasco from Cordoba to Coscomatepec (21 miles), completed in 1902 and acquired in 1909, abandoned in 12-1951 and dismantled in 1953.

All three were named for towns they never reached.

The 2-ft gauge Huatasco branch was laid out on a fairly easy grade of 1.25% through the jungle from Cordoba to Tomatlan, where the Rio Jamapa was crossed on a spectacular steel span viaduct 225 feet above the river heavy enough to handle standard gauge trains. From there to Coscomatepec (4.4 miles) the grade was 3.7% and some of the curves averaged 19°. When the builders reached Coscomatepec the money had run out and no further construction too place. As a result passengers and freight had to use the highway for the 12 remaining miles to Huatasco. The branch had three Baldwin 2-6-0s N°. 1-3 named “Elena”, “Luisa” and “Beatriz” built in 1902 and 1905, as well as Shay N°. 4 (S-H class, Lima 1616/12-1905, 1910 ex FC Atlamaxac N°. 3). The Shay was used as a helper on the gradient between Tomatlan and Coscomatepec until it was scrapped in 1945. After a paved road was completed to Huatasco, the branch lost most of its business and was closed on 01.12.1951. The three little Baldwins remained inside the shop building at Orizaba until 1954, when N°. 1 and 3 were scrapped, but FCM N°. 2 (E-1 class, Baldwin 20140/02-1902) was taken to Mexico City and put on display at the Railway Sports Stadium in Pantaco. In 2009 it was cosmetically restored and put on display at the Parque del V Centenario (Avenida 11 between Calle 8 & 10) in Cordoba, VERACRUZ.

One of the Zacatlan branch’s four Baldwin 2-8-0s N°. 11-14 also survived after N°. 12 (E-2 class, Baldwin 34313/02-1910) was sold to the Edaville RR in Massachusetts in 10-1959, where it was on display until Edaville downsized and sold most of its equipment. It ended up at the Alder Gulch Short Line RR in Nevada City, Montana, where it was rebuilt and put back into operation, but is currently awaiting an overhaul.

The FC San Rafael y Atlixco (SRyA) was part of an ambitious project to furnish pulpwood to the Fabrica del Papel de San Rafael S.A. in an effort to make Mexico independent of foreign paper suppliers. In 1898 a concession was granted to build a 3-ft gauge railway from Mexico City to Chalco, to buy an existing animal-powered railway from Chalco to Amecameca and to build a new railway from Amecameca to Atlixco, located on the other side of the great mountain range of which the volcanoes Ixtaccihuatl and Popocatepetl were the peaks and 28 miles south of Puebla on the FCI line to Cuautla. On this last section the SRyA was surveyed to run at an altitude of 8000 feet in a semi-circle around Popocatepetl. In Mexico City the SRyA’s station was located at Calzada de San Antonio Abad, a mile southwest of FCI’s San Lorenzo station. It then crossed the FCI line to Cuautla at Chalco before running parallel to it from Amecameca to Ozumba. From Ozumba it went southwest on a level grade to Apapsco (69 miles from Mexico City). A one-mile branch was built from Zavetla to San Rafael, where the paper mill was erected. From Atlixco, six miles of track were laid west to Metepec, leaving a gap of 35 miles to complete the entire route from Mexico City to Atlixco, however as the company had run out of money and the remaining section involved some heavy grades, expensive construction and the need to cross many small streams, work ceased. After the FCI completed construction of line from Cuautla to Atencingo, pulpwood from Atlixco could be brought to Amecameca over the FCI. Even though the section from Atlixco was extended by an additional 20 miles to Yancuitlalpan in 1908, leaving a gap of less than 15 miles, the paper company considered the costs to bridge it excessive and continued shipping the wood via the FCI. Passenger services from Mexico City to Apapasco, inaugurated with the opening of the line, where cut back to Ozumba in 1903 and to Amecameca in 1908. In 1910 a 2-ft gauge forestry railway using two Shays was built at Apapasco into forests at higher altitudes. Over the years the SRyA owned nine locomotives: five 2-8-0s all rebuilt from 2-8-2s, one 2-6-0 and two 4-6-0s by Baldwin and a single ALCO 4-6-0.

In the 1930s the section from Atlixco to Metepec (6 miles) was sold to the Cia. Industrial de Atlixco, while the rest of that line was abandoned. After World War II the section from the mill to at San Rafael to Amecameca (5 miles) was taken over by the paper factory in 1946 as an industrial spur, together with SRyA 2-8-0 4 and 4-6-0 5 (Baldwin 17381/01-1900). The industrial trackage and warehouses in Mexico City were operated as FC Anahuac until 1963 with 2-8-0s N°. 3 and 8, while the rest of the railway was dismantled before that. In 06-1965 the paper factory acquired NdeM 2-8-0 286 to replace N°. 4. The branch was in use until the NdeM line was replaced by standard gauge in 1973, after which the two remaining locos were sent to NdeM’s Huehuetoca scrap yard. From there NdeM 286 went to Nepantla (see above), while SRyA 5 was put on display at the Explora Science Park (Paseo de los Niños off Ave. General Francisco Villa, open Tu-Fr 09.00-18.00, Sa/Su 10.00-19.00) in Leon, Guanajuato.

The 3-ft gauge FC Beristain-Necaxa in Puebla state was built by the Cia. de Luz y Fuerza Mexicana (Mexican Light & Power Co.) in 1904 from Beristain, terminal of the FC Hidalgo y Nordeste, to the construction site of a dam and hydroelectric power plant at Necaxa, a distance of 23 miles with a ruling grade exceeding 6% and curves of 55 foot radius. HK Porter 16-ton 0-4-0STs 1 and 2 for switching and Lima 33-ton Shays 3-5 for line work were used during five years to haul supplies to the site until completion in 1909. After completion the 4-mile section from the new town of Nueva Necaxa to the power plant was retained for personnel transport, using a Whitcomb gas locomotive and railcars. One steam loco of each type was however retained for occasional use when heavy machinery was to be hauled from the highway at Nueva Necaxa to the power plant. Both steam locomotives have been on display on the grounds of the Museo Technologico (MUTEC, open daily 09.00-16.15) in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City, DF, since c1970:

0-4-0ST 2 “La Burrita” (H.K. Porter 3009/05-1904), owned until c1908 by contractor Wonham & Magor Construction Co.:

Two-truck Shay 5 “Toña La Negra” (Lima 982/01-1905).

Today, a standard gauge cable-worked incline railway is still used to access the Tepexic power plant east of Necaxa.

Cananea Consolidated Copper Co. 2-6-2ST 8 (ALCO Dickson 29717 or 29719/07-1906) on display outside the under construction Transportation Museum at Xalapa, VERACRUZ. This was one of a fleet of nine 2-6-2STs by different US builders used on this mining railway in Cananea, SONORA. The mines were opened in 1901 by the Greene Consolidated Copper Co., later known as the Greene Cananea Copper Co., which was in turn controlled by the Anaconda Copper Co. of New York. The 3-ft gauge railway consisted of 11.6 miles of main line between the mines and the smelter, plus 7.5 miles of branches. A standard gauge railway was built in 1902 39 miles from the smelter to Naco, Arizona, and sold to a subsidiary of Southern Pacific (later Sud-Pacifico de Mexico – SpdeM). In the 1962, when the railway was dieselized (with ex-Southern Pacific narrow gauge GE diesel X-1 from the closed Owens Valley branch in California), there were only four steam locos left, which stayed on stand-by until 1974. A few years ago N°. 7 (ALCO 30317/01-1905) was still on site at Cananea, together with standard gauge 2-6-2ST 12 (HK Porter 31854/1906). Ex-SP X-1 was converted to standard gauge and is still on site today out-of-use. N°. 8 was formerly on display at the Museo de Sciencia y Technologia before being moved to the new site.

Cruz Azul 0-6-0 (O&K 12854/1936, 600mm gauge) is on display outside the Estadio 10 de Diciembre in Cruz Azul, San Miguel Vindho, HIDALGO (10 km south of Tula). Cruz Azul is the company town of one of Mexico’s leading cement companies, Cemento Cruz Azul, and the stadium is the spiritual home ground of Club Deportivo Cruz Azul, one of the most famous football clubs in Mexico (who now play most of their home games at Estadio Azul in Mexico City). The loco was delivered new to the Cement works.

The Teziutlan Copper Co. (TCC) in Teziutlan, PUEBLA, at the end of NdeM’s last narrow gauge branch from Oriental, opened a mine and smelter in 1901. It had three Shays N°. 1-3 (N°. 1 was withdrawn in 1954) and two Baldwin 2-8-0s, both gone by 1945 (TCC 4 became NdeM 297 and then 907 after regauging. It survives at Acambáro – see the standard gauge section). The smelter was worked by three Baldwin 0-4-0 electrics built in 1904/05 and the two Shays were used for switching within the smelter yard and transfer to the nearby NdeM station. The smelter also handled some mineral mined elsewhere in Mexico and shipped to Oriental in standard gauge boxcars, where it was transferred to narrow gauge boxcars by hand, a very cumbersome operation. The smelter, owned by Cia. Minera Autlan, S.A., is still active and two of the Shays have survived:

TCC two-truck Shay 2 (Lima 1848/01 or 02-1907) plinthed in front of the old NdeM station in Teziutlan, PUEBLA

TCC two-truck Shay 3 (Lima 2449/05-1911) plinthed in front of Estacion Buenavista in Mexico City, DF, since 1980 and wrongly numbered 2. Buenavista station used to be the main passenger station in Mexico City until all passenger services were suspended with privatization in 1998. It was dual-gauge until the early 1950s, when the line to Toluca and Acambáro was standard gauged. Around 2000, the whole station, except for the ticket hall in front of which the Shay stands were demolished to make way for the Tren Suburbano’s four-track station over which a large shopping mall was built:

A third TCC Shay is listed on as surviving in Martinez de la Torre, VERACRUZ, which is 54 km northwest of Teziutlan across the coastal mountain range. With little hope to find long-gone Shay 1, I drove there anyway, but no one I asked in town had heard of a steam locomotive anywhere nearby.

I went to four more locations, all sugar mills in Puebla and Veracruz states, but with no official authorization I was not allowed to take pictures anywhere due to it being a holiday/the Jefe being away for lunch/the Jefe having taken the afternoon off, etc...:

At Fideicomiso Ingenio Atencingo, PUEBLA (86 km southwest of Puebla) I was allowed to have a look at the ten narrow gauge diesel locos (4 O&K, 3 Plymouth and 3 Davenport) and the steam crane shown on (link broken by July 2020). The friendly guards at the gate confirmed that these were the only locomotives in the area. The Zafra here is from September to May.

The small town of Lerdo de Tejada, VERACRUZ (109 km SE of Veracruz) has two sugar mills, formerly both operated by the Ingenio San Francisco El Naranjal, S.A., but now by two different companies. The older Ingenio San Pedro southwest of town is run by the Grupo Pores, while the newer mill just north of town is operated by Ingenio Nuevo San Francisco, S.A. The first mill was opened in 1925/26 and the 30inch gauge railway was used to bring cane to the mills until 06-1964, when it was replaced by trucks. Five locomotives were used here, only one of which was new to the mill:

0-4-2T 1 (H.K. Porter 1591/05-1895, c1925 ex Cia. Industrial Mexicana, Chihuahua, CHI.).

0-4-4T 2 (Baldwin 14842/05-1896, c1925 ex Fletcher & Creel Co., Chihuahua, CHI.).

2-6-0 3 “La Pongueta” (O&K 11240/1926):

2-6-2ST 4 (Baldwin 14798/04-1896, c1946 ex FC Cazadero y San Pablo, Cazadero La Torre, MICH., regauged from 2ft):

2-6-2ST 5 (Baldwin 14799/04-1896, c1946 ex FC Cazadero y San Pablo, Cazadero La Torre, MICH., regauged from 2ft).

After closure of the railway the locos were stored for possible sale. Three survive: at Ingenio San Francisco de Naranjal I was shown 2-6-2ST 4 which is plinthed just behind the main gate. A worker also confirmed that the loco shed is still standing inside the mill and housed both 0-4-4T 2 and 2-6-2ST 5 until they were scrapped about 10 years ago. At Ingenio San Pedro I was denied access, but the guards confirmed that there are still two steam locos inside the mill, 0-4-2T 1 and 2-6-0 3, of which at least one is plinthed.

On a 1904-built narrow gauge O&K 0-4-0T named “La Juanota” is shown as ‘on display’ in Tezonapa, VERACRUZ (54 km SE of Cordoba). I checked at the local sugar mill, Ingenio Constancia, but nobody there or at the municipal office in town knew anything about a preserved steam loco anywhere nearby, even though they took much time to try and find out (they knew about the other locos listed in Veracruz). Ing. Constancia is still served by the Tierra Blanca-Cordoba line (Ferrosur).

The Zafra in coastal Veracruz is from November/December to April/May, and some factories had already started milling while others were about to do so.

Click here for 'Preserved Narrow Gauge Steam in Mexico 2012, Part 1'

Rob Dickinson