View single post by elminero67
 Posted: Wed Dec 10th, 2014 02:52 pm
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Joined: Sun Dec 27th, 2009
Posts: 970
On to the tramways!

These trams were once part of an extensive network of narrow gauge tramways and railroads that served the henequen plantations in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. These henequen plantations dominated much of the Yucatan peninsula until the invention of synthetic rope, which pretty much killed the henequen haciendos as their main product was rope. Now, the Yucatan has dozens of abandoned haciendas and tramways, some of which are still intact, albeit overgrown by the jungle which has reclaimed much of the Yucatan. Here is a detail of a historic photograph showing a tramway at the plant that converted the henequen into rope. It is hard to tell if there is a powered "engine".

The line I took 2km south of Cuzama was part of the network that served the hacienda at Chunkanan. I believe the abandoned ruins of the hacienda and henequen plant are still at Chunkanan, but I did not make it there. I also believe there is a second tramway that you can ride at Chunkanan, and I suspect it may be of more interest to railfans, BUT, the operaters of the first tramway pretty muck block the road to Chunkanan (and will tell you the later is not operable). Next time I go I'll try to push my way through the "roadblock" and check out Chunkanan. If anyone has information on this line, please share it

But the first tramway and the cenotes it visits are definitely worthwhile. They have approximately 20-30 of the "truks" which are just basic, 4-wheel carts with automobile springs installed under the seats to cushion the ride. I could not determine if the springs actually helped...

The cars themselves are not that interesting-it is hard to say if anything besides the wheels and bearings are from the original cars. I was hoping they had retained a few of the cars in their original configuration, but did not see any of the original Koppel or Stephenson cars.

In short time our driver lifted our truk-"el topo" onto the tracks. I was pretty impressed that our driver, who was of "puro sangre" Mayan descent, could lift the car so easily as he couldn't have weighed more than a 125 lbs.

The pedigree of our horse was less certain than that of our driver. His ribs and hips protruded through his course, mangy fur, and he appeared to be about the size of a large dog. But, like our driver, he was stronger than he looked, and after being hitched to the cart and "encouraged" with a few whips, we were on our way!

Last edited on Wed Dec 10th, 2014 03:45 pm by elminero67


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