Iron Horse Imperialism: The Southern Pacific of Mexico, 1880-1951

Overview

Available in paperback October 2008!

The Southern Pacific of Mexico was a U.S.–owned railroad that operated between 1898 and 1951, running from the Sonoran town of Nogales, just across the border from Arizona, to the city of Guadalajara, stopping at several northwestern cities and port towns along the way. Owned by the Southern Pacific Company, which operated a highly profitable railroad system north of the border, the SP de Mex transported millions of passengers as well as ...

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Overview

Available in paperback October 2008!

The Southern Pacific of Mexico was a U.S.–owned railroad that operated between 1898 and 1951, running from the Sonoran town of Nogales, just across the border from Arizona, to the city of Guadalajara, stopping at several northwestern cities and port towns along the way. Owned by the Southern Pacific Company, which operated a highly profitable railroad system north of the border, the SP de Mex transported millions of passengers as well as millions of tons of freight over the years, both within Mexico and across its northern border. However, as Daniel Lewis discloses in this thoroughly researched investigation of the railroad, it rarely turned a profit. So why, Lewis wonders, did a savvy, money-minded U.S. corporation continue to operate the railroad until it was nationalized by the Mexican government more than a half-century after it was constructed? Iron Horse Imperialism reveals that the relationship between the Mexican government and the Southern Pacific Company was a complex one, complicated by Mexico’s defeat by U.S. forces in the mid-nineteenth century and by SP’s failure to understand that it was conducting business in a country whose leaders were ambivalent about its presence. Lewis contends that SP executives, urged on by the media of the day, operated with a reflexive imperialism that kept the company committed to the railroad long after it ceased to make business sense. Incorporating information discovered in both Mexican and American archives, some of which was previously unavailable to researchers, this comprehensive book deftly describes the complicated, decades-long dance between oblivious U.S. entrepreneurs and wary Mexican officials. It is a fascinating story.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A thoughtful treatment. His work fills an important historical void.” —Journal of American History “Iron Horse Imperialism is a solid, engaging study of a relatively unexplored topic, and a worthwhile contribution to the history of Mexican economic policy and American business in Mexico.” — Hispanic American Historic Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816528035
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2008
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

DANIEL LEWIS is the Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science and Technology at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. He is the co-author of Star Struck: One Thousand Years of the Art and Science of Astronomy.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations ix Preface xi Acknowledgments xvii
1 Nationbuilding Versus Foreign Penetration: The Question of Why Southern Pacific of Mexico Operations Failed 3
2 "Ungrateful Yankees and the Means to Combat Them": Mexican Governmental Treatment of Railroads (1837-1920) 15
3 The Revolution, Reparations, and the Railroad (1909-1923) 41
4 "Get Out if You Can": The Salsipuedes Gorge, Taxes, and Completion of the Line (1923-1929) 70
5 Multicultural Mosaic: The Impacts of Otherness (1923-1929) 93
6 An Island upon the Land: Labor Law, Tariffs, and the Isolation of the Southern Pacific of Mexico (1930-1939) 111
7 Hard Freight: The Impossible as Inevitable 144 Notes 151 Bibliography 165 Index 173
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