1902 Encyclopedia > Railway, Railways (Railroad) > Railways - North and South America (except for United States)

Railway, Railways
(Part 45)


Railways - North and South America (except for United States)


In the Dominion of Canada 9113 miles of railway and 6735 of tramway, together 15,848, were open in the end of 1883. The accounts show that the total outlay for construction amounted to about 73 millions sterling, being at the rate of £4610 per mile. The gross earnings for the year 1883 amounted to upwards of 6 millions sterling, of which 72·3 per cent. was absorbed as working expenses, leaving £1,693,000 net earnings, which amounted to only 2·3 per cent. on the capital cost. The earlier railways were laid to gauges of 5 1/2 feet, but the inconveniences of break of gauge with the railways of the United States led to the relaying of all the lines to the standard gauge, except those of Newfoundland and Prince Edward’s Island, which remain on the 3 1/2 feet gauge. The principal system is the Grand Trunk Railway, comprising the original Grand Trunk and the Great Western, which were consolidated in 1882, making a total length of 2358 miles of line. The first section of the system—Portland to Montreal—was opened in 1853, the first line opened in Canada. On 28th June 1886 the line was opened from Montreal to Port Moody, and in 1888 it was open to Vancouver 12 1/2 miles further. Total length 2905.7 miles.


In Mexico the first railway constructed and opened was the Mexican Railway, between Mexico City and Vera Cruz, 264 miles, with a branch 29 miles, the first section from Vera Cruz to Paso del Macho being opened in 1865. This railway, with one or more others in Mexico, was constructed to the 4 feet 8 1/2 inch gauge, but others, including the Mexican National Railway, 910 miles long, are laid to the 3 feet gauge. The Mexican Central Railroad, 1224 miles long, was completed in 1884


The Panama Railroad, Colombia, between Aspinwall and Panama, 47 1/2 miles in length, was opened in January 1855. The rails are laid to a gauge of 5 feet. Railways were in progress in 1883-84 in several of the other states of Colombia, all of them to a gauge of 3 feet.


In Guatemala the first line of railway from San Jose to Esquintla, 13 miles in length, laid to a gauge of 3 feet, was opened in June 1880. A line from Champerico to Ritalhulca, 30 miles long, was opened in December 1883; and another from San Jose to the capital, 69 miles long, is now finished.


In the empire of Brazil the Maná Railway was the first line opened, early in the decade 1850-60. It is a short line of single way, 11 miles long, between the head of the bay of Rio de Janeiro and the foot of the serra. It was laid to a gauge of 5 1/2 feet; but other lines in Brazil are laid to a gauge of 5 feet 3 inches. The empire possessed in January 1884 railways of a total length of 3500 miles open for traffic, besides 1500 miles in course of construction. The state owns nine lines, having 1300 miles open, the principal of which is the Dom Pedro II., intended to connect the eastern and western provinces of the empire.


Chili [Chile] was one of the first states in South America to initiate the construction of railways. The Copiapo Railway, laid to the 4 feet 8 1/2 inch gauge, was opened about 1850; and an Act was passed in 1852 authorizing the construction of a line to connect Santiago with Valparaiso, 114 miles distant. In 1855 the first 8 miles were opened for traffic, and in 1863 the line was opened throughout. It was constructed to a gauge of 5 1/2 feet. In 1883 the total length of lines open for traffic was 1378 miles.


In Peru a system of railways has been in course of construction since 1852, chiefly at the expense of the state. In 1878 there were open for traffic, or in course of construction, twenty-two lines belonging to the state and to private individuals, 2030 miles in length, representing a cost of about 36 millions sterling.

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