1908: Chihuahua Opens an Electric Railway

October 4, 1908

In northern Mexico, a new electric railway was inaugurated in the city of Chihuahua. This railway, with Martin Talonier as its managing director, replaced a horsecar system that had been in service since 1887.

Compañía Eléctrica y de Ferrocarriles de Chihuahua (CEFC) was organized earlier in 1908 to develop an electrical means of transit for the city. During that summer, the company purchased six convertible electric-powered streetcars from the St. Louis-based American Car Company (under the ownership of the J.G. Brill Company of Philadelphia since 1902) for use on the railway routes in Chihuahua.

Mexico’s longtime president Porfirio Díaz staunchly supported the electrification of railways throughout the country, and the CEFC enterprise became the first such service in Chihuahua. In addition, it was only the third electric railway in the large state where the city is located. (This state is likewise named Chihuahua.)

At the time of its public debut, the CEFC railway encompassed approximately six miles (10 kilometers) of track. The system was officially opened on that Sunday by Enrique Creel, governor of the state of Chihuahua.  This part of the day’s festivities, according to a Street Railway Journal article later in the month, “was followed by a ride through the city by invited guests of the company.”

This new type of public transportation in Chihuahua steadily grew in popularity. Within two years after the railway began operations, CEFC purchased eight more convertible streetcars, two conventional open streetcars, and eight open passenger trailers from the J.G. Brill Company. CEFC also obtained equipment from an electric railway in the city of Parral (located elsewhere in the state of Chihuahua) that went out of business in 1909. The CEFC railway remained in service throughout the Mexican Revolution between 1910 and 1920 but closed in 1922 during a recession.

For more information on the railway established by Compañía Eléctrica y de Ferrocarriles de Chihuahua, please check out http://www.tramz.com/mx/ch/ch.html.

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