This is a collection of four documents originally published by the Secretarías of Fomento and Comunicaciones y Obras Públicas. The first of the four is a survey of the twenty-eight principal railroad routes (some not yet built) and published by the SCOP in 1892. The second is the first attempt at systematic regulation of the railroad business issued as a decree over the signature of President Manuel González and published in the Diario Oficial in 1883. The third is a manual of railroad terminology keyed to the González decree and issued in the same year. The fourth is a set of reforms or modifications of the technical part of the 1883 decree issued by President Porfirio Díaz and published first in the Diario Oficial in 1894.
The survey of principal lines was first published by SCOP under the title Reseña sobre los principales ferrocarriles construidos en México (1892). It is reproduced here in its entirety (202 pages) and contains brief descriptions of the routes followed by each line, together with commentary on technical aspects of construction, occasional data on passenger and freight traffic or rolling stock, and infrequent remarks about the significance of each line to the region it traversed or to the nation as a whole. Many of the reports on individual lines were taken wholly or in part from documents originally published in anexos to memorias of the Secretaría de Fomento. (Responsibility for railroads was lodged in the Fomento ministry until 1891, when SCOP was created.) Historians usually will find the Fomento documents of greater interest, and the quantitatively inclined will find more useful and systematic data on railroad traffic, income, operating costs, and financing in the four large folio volumes published by SCOP between 1895 and 1907 under the general title Reseña histórica y estadística de los ferrocarriles de jurisdicción federal, covering the years 1837-1894, 1895–1899, 1900-1903, and 1904-1906, respectively.
The two 1883 documents were reissued by SCOP in 1895 and 1892; this volume merely reproduces the SCOP editions. The technical amendments of 1894 are interesting because they represent the first systematic effort of the Mexican government to refine railroad regulations by applying the technical skills of its growing cadre of engineering graduates. SCOP efforts to impose order on the chaotic, often haphazard relations between government and the railroad business culminated in the Railroad Law of 1899 and the government’s purchase of controlling blocks of stock in companies that operated two-thirds of the nation’s tracks betwen 1902 and 1909.
For libraries that have not acquired the original documents, this volume is convenient. Unfortunately, there is no commentary on the documents except for a three-page preface signed by Luis Bracamontes, Minister of Public Works when the volume was published in mid-1976. Nonetheless, the growing interest in the history of transportation in Latin America makes the reissue of these documents timely.