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            Commonly asked questions amongst modelers are; “That’s a nice looking paint scheme or that’s an interesting car, would it fit into the era I’m modeling?” and  “Would it have appeared on the line I model?”  To help answer these questions the scope of the study is expanded in this section only to include later eras.  A brief history of each of the major railways that connected with the NdeM is also provided.


            Through the years, and in many publications a lot of mis-information and mis-conceptions of the Mexican railways have found their way to press.  To the point it is hard to separate fact from fiction.  Not wanting to continue this trend, I summoned the assistance of Lowell McManus, owner and moderator of the MexList, in the development of the brief history of each line.



Before getting started into this section, I feel a short discussion of the geography of Mexico with regards to population dispersal would be in order.  On the map of Mexico, draw a line from Veracruz on the gulf coast west through Puebla to Mexico City.  From there continue the line west to Guadalajara.  Now shade an area approximately 50 miles wide to the south of this line and 100 miles wide to the north of it.  Within this shaded area lives about 70% of Mexico’s population and over 80% of all industrial development.  With this understanding, it is easy to visualize all major rail traffic in Mexico either fed into this belt or radiated outward and north to the United States.


This section is comprised of a collection of photographs of cars from the various Mexican railroads that had freight connections or junction points with the NdeM.  Where possible the basic kits along with modeling suggestions for each car are included to assist the modeler in adding a prototypical mix to his roster of NdeM boxcars. 



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Last revised September 21, 2007




Ferrocarril Nor-Oeste de Mexico (N-OdeM)

Ferrocarril Kansas City, Mexico y Oriente (KCMyO)


            The Ferrocarril de Chihuahua al Pacifico (Ch-P) grew out of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad.  The latter laid its first Mexican rails in March 1902.  By 1912, the Revolution had stalled construction and some lines were destroyed.  Construction was resumed in 1926, but there remained two significant gaps in the route: through the rugged Sierra Madre and north of the border in Texas.


            In 1928, the Santa Fe got control of the KCMyO and soon sold its Mexican portion of the line to Benjamin F. Johnston’s United Sugar Company.  Construction on the Santa Fe closed the Texas gap in 1930.  The Oriente hung on until 1940 when Johnston’s heirs persuaded the Mexican government to pay off their mortgage to Santa Fe and take the railway off their hands.  The Chihuahua al Pacifico was formed in 1955 by a merger of the KCMyO and the Nor-Oeste de Mexico connecting to the Santa Fe at Presido, Texas and Ciudad Juarez (El Paso, Texas).


            With the 1940 acquisition, the government pledged to close the Sierra Madre gap through the Copper Canyon.  Construction picked up after the Second World War, and on November 23, 1961 the completed Ch-P was dedicated. (Lowell G. McManus)


            A point of interest, the name Chihuahua al Pacifico and the call letters CH-P were not applied to its freight cars, or at least registered in the ORER until mid to late 1962.



CH-P 6341

Fresh Pond, New York (LIRR) – 1976 – Joel Norman photo



CH-P 6399

Location (?) – 1962 – Photographer (?)


The two cars shown above are part of Chihuahua Pacifico number series 6200 – 6544 and an example of CONCARRIL design type III.  For the actual specifications and modeling information refer back to PART IV – ‘HECHO EN MEXICO’ – DESIGN TYPE III of this study.



CH-P 5704

Chihuahua, Chihuahua – March 18, 1975 – Matt Herson photo


This is a Pennsylvania Railroad design X25 boxcar built in 1918.  A unique feature of this design is the doors open to the left, this is opposite of most boxcars.  Also note KC brake system and the 2D-F8 trucks, a truck design unique to the Pennsylvania system from around 1925 until the adoption of the roller bearing style trucks.


To model this car, start with Westerfield kit #6101 with plate doors and add the trucks by Red Caboose (ex IMWX).



CH-P 5028

Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua – 1971 – Jim Boyd photo

Photo courtesy of Carstens Publications


            This 36-footer would be a fun car to include in a model roster, to quote Jim Boyd, “CH-P – To and From Dixieland – Ole”. (From the article “RAILS AT THE BORDER” Railmodel Craftsman, May 1974)


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Last revised October 4, 2007




            The British-owned Ferrocarril Mexicano was opened to traffic between Veracruz and Mexico City in 1872.  It was the first major Mexican railway completed and was build to promote trade with Britain and the rest of Europe.  The line was most famous for its electric boxcab locomotives (operated from 1924 until 1974) and its steep grades.  The Mexicano came under the control of the NdeM in 1946, but retained its separate identity until in 1960 when it was merged into the national system. (Lowell G. McManus)



FCM 9420

Location (?) – Date (?) – Photographer not known


            This car is part of the Mexicano number series 9401 – 9450 and is an example of CONCARRIL design style II-a.  For the actual specifications and modeling information refer back to PART IV – ‘HECHO EN MEXICO’ – DESIGN TYPE II-a of this study.  The sad part  - there is no suitable kit in HO on the market at this time.  Branchline Trains have promised one is in the works.



FCM 9441

Guadalajara, Jalisco – 1977 – Ruben Carvajal photo



FCM 9445

Guadalajara, Jalisco – 1982 – Ruben Carvajal photo


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Last revised October 21, 2007



Southern Pacific de Mexico (SPdeM)


            Expanding into Mexico, the Southern Pacific through a reciprocal lease with the Santa Fe, acquired the old Sonora Railway between Nogales and Guaymas.  Under the terms of the lease dated July 15, 1898 the Santa Fe obtained joint operating rights over the SP’s line across the Tehachapi Pass in California.


In August 1905, construction was started south from Empalme near Guaymas, and then north from Mazatlan and Orendain Junction in 1907.  At the end of the revolutionary period (1910 – 1920) construction was resumed with the last leg to Guadalajara opening April 17, 1927.


            Incorporated as the Southern Pacific Railroad Company of Mexico on February 5, 1912.  The entire line was sold to the Mexican government on December 21, 1951 completing government ownership of all major Mexican lines.  After 1951, the subtle movement was toward unification of the railways, although it didn’t become blatant until January 1977, when Luis Gomez Zepeda, a rail leader, was appointed Director General of each of the government-owned lines. (Southern Pacific Bulletin, August 1955 and Lowell G. McManus)


With its history predating the formation of the NdeM and intertwined with the Southern Pacific Railroad; the freight cars of the FCP are a study onto them selves and will be covered in a future study.


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Last revised September 22, 2007




            The Ferrocarril Sonora-Baja California, like the Ferrocarril del Sureste, was a government construction project to better unify the country by rail.  Construction began in 1937.  In accord with the popular socialism of Presidente Lazaro Cardenas, there were no contractors.  The SCOP (Secretary of Communications and Public Works) did the work itself.  By 1940 the line had reached from Mexicali to Puerto Penasco, where it was stopped by World War II materials shortages.


            Construction resuming in 1946, building progressed eastward from Puerto Penasco and westward from the Ferrocarril del Pacifico at Benjamin Hill.  The line was completed on December 16, 1947.  In the eventual consolidation of the federal railways in the 1980’s, S-BC was first rolled into the FCP, then the FCP into FNM. (Lowell G. McManus)


            It may be worth noting that in most respects the S-BC operations resembles that of a ‘Bridge Line’ connecting the railways in Southern California to the FCP at Benjamin Hill, Sonora.  A large portion of the freight equipment owned by the line was obsolete cars from adjacent railways and used primarily in road maintenance.




S-BC 3318

(ex PRR X-25 boxcar, built June 1916)

Benjamin Hill, Sonora – November 8, 1983 – Todd Minsk photos


The photos above show 3318 to be similar to CH-P 5704, with the exception of the doors and the AB brake system.  To modeling this car start with Westerfield kit #6151 with the corrugated doors and AB brake system.




S-BC 66038

Benjamin Hill, Sonora – November 8, 1983 – Todd Minsk photo


            The above photo shows an ex Santa Fe Ice Reefer; unfortunately, the class designation has been painted over making it impossible to determine the exact class this car was part of.  The InterMountain Railway Company produces a series of Santa Fe Ice Reefer kits.  By selecting #41199 it would be possible to build a reasonable model of this car.  The biggest problem would be developing the plug doors.  Do note, however, during the Steam and Transition Eras this car would still be in revenue service with the Santa Fe and would not have become part of the S-BC fleet until the late 1970’s.

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Last revised August 28, 2007



Ferrocarril del Sureste

Ferrocarriles Unidos de Yucatan (UdeY)


In 1902, the merging of three separate rail lines and two pier companies formed the United Railways of the Yucatan.  With the exception of the standard gauge Merida to Progresso line the entire railway was all narrow gauge until the pending completion of the Sureste made it advisable to standardize the line from Merida to Campache.


The Ferrocarril del Sureste (not to be confused with today’s Ferrosur) was conceived by the government in the 1930’s and finished in 1950 to connect the isolated Unidos de Yucatan to the NdeM and the rest of the continental rail system.  By 1975, these two were merged into the Ferrocarriles Unidos del Sureste. (Lowell G. McManus)


            The example of CONCARRIL design type V, in the following photo, is not covered within the scope of this study; this photograph was included to show the distinctive welded 3-piece Dreadnaught style end and the 4-panel Youngstown style door.  1235 is part of number series 1203 – 1317.



FUS 1235

Location (?) – Date (?) – Matt Herson photo



FUS 1018

Huehuetoca – June, 1999 – Juan Viladrosa photo


            This car is part of the FUS number series 1012 – 1202 and is an example of CONCARRIL design style II-a.  For the actual specifications and modeling information refer back to PART IV – ‘HECHO EN MEXICO’ – DESIGN TYPE II-a of this study.


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Last revised September 9, 2007




            In the steam and transition eras a large portion of the industrialization in the United States was in New York and Pennsylvania states or centered in the Great Lakes area.  The freight connections to and from Mexico were primarily via the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific, with the Santa Fe having the larger share.  As such most of the U.S. freight cars seen would have originated in these areas or would have been shipped in Santa Fe or Southern Pacific cars returning to the southwest.  A good mix of U.S. based foreign cars for an NdeM model roster would include about 40 to 50% Santa Fe and Southern Pacific with the remainder from the Great Lakes regions, New York and Pennsylvania.  Also include the occasional lumber and paper car from the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada.


            I am not going to enter into a discussion of modeling U.S. freight cars, as this information is available in almost any model railroad publication printed.  Just be aware, if the area you are modeling was south of the population belt discussed earlier, the ratio of U.S. based cars would be about one in fifty.  While north of the belt, the ratio could raise on some lines, especially the line from El Paso, Texas to about one in eight or higher in the more modern eras.


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In conclusion, the modeler knowing which area of Mexico he has selected to model can determine from the table below which connecting railway or railways would have the highest representation.  The April 1962 issue of the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) lists the freight connections and junction points of the NdeM with other railroads as:





Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua/El Paso, Texas


(1) Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua and (2) Tabalaopa, Chihuahua


Parallel routes between Veracruz and Mexico City


Guadalajara, Jalisco


Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz


(1) Matamoros, Tamps/Brownsville, Texas and (2) Nuevo Laredo, Tamps/Laredo, Texas


Connects with the FCP at Benjamin Hill, Sonora


(1) Piedras Negras, Coah/Eagle Pass, Texas; (2) Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua/El Paso, Texas (via AT&SF and (3) Matamoros, Tamps/Brownsville, Texas (via MP)


Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua/El Paso, Texas (via AT&SF)


Nuevo Laredo, Tamps/Laredo, Texas


Connects to the FUS at Campeche, Cam.