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elminero67
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Buenas Dias del Yucatan! Didn't know where else to share these, but the wife and I stumbled across some narrow gauge tracks while in the Yucatan of Mexico: this is the remnant of a once extensive network of tramways that served the Haciendas. Most of these were simple horse-drawn affairs using Prefabricated Decauville track from France. Most of the cars were built on the United States, but none of the cars I saw were original. I suspect the wheels and bearings came from the original cars. The ride was about 5 miles round trip, and ended at a cenote(swimming hole in cave). Will post video and better pics when I get stateside.:!:

(UPDATE-I can't post pictures, Internet connection in rural Mexico, like everything else, moves slowly if at all).

Charley
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El minerio , fellers..

Yay...this seems to be the last of the pushcar / horse car lines..I am interested in pushcar lines in particular. It amounts to the lightest of light railways.I hope to see lots of pitchers. It seems easy to take a few to shew the thing . In real life.., we say..oh I have seen that. It is almost as if too many pitchers could not be taken.Take lotsa fotos if you are still around there..make an album on the google fotos sharing site..please...and thanks..

tebee
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Some picture of the lines when the were in everyday use here

http://www.tramz.com/lc/y.html

Tom

elminero67
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Yeah-there are some interesting articles and tidbits on the Internet.
unfortunately I can't post any of my pics until I get back to the states...

Earlier I made the mistake of turning my cell phone off "Airplane Mode" and accrued over $700 pesos in fees in less than one minute...

Charley
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El minerio , fellers..

Dang it man..yeah..please ..take lotsa pitchers..those lines look really neat..if you take quite alot of fotos..just of the tracks even..they can easily be put in a google foto sharing album ..

elminero67
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The wife and I finally made it back stateside. Despite the previously mentioned 'Mafioso' cell phone surcharges and endless sales pitches for services and products we neither wanted or needed, we had a great time in the Yucatan
Unfortunately the last few days of the trip I acquired a nasty rash that covered my body and swelled my eyes almost shut. I should clarify that I earned my rash in an honorable manner-It was a reaction to eating shellfish, and I’m sticking to that story…

Here's an area map of the Yucatan, with the capital of Merida(note-the "Merida" icon moved when I saved the image, it should be farther northwest, but then again you shouldn't trust a map posted on Freerails!).




Before I post the tramway pics I thought I’d include a brief context on the area where the surviving tramways are located: The trams I visited were not well advertised, and are located off the touristy places about 60 miles southeast of Merida, the capital of Yucatan. first of all, this is a really old place! The first pic shows a relief on the front of an early hacienda in nearby Merida-the hand-carved relief shows Spanish conquistadors standing on the heads of the Mayans. Clearly, subtlety and tact were not the forte of the early Conquistadors…as a footnote this building was built in 1547, more than 50 years before the “pilgrims” settled in Jamestown.




Or a second pic taken enroute to the tramway at a small, mostly Mayan village of Acanceh: a circa 7th Century Mayan pyramid next to a relative “latecomer”, a 19th century Catholic church showing Gothic influences. Both symbolically sharing the same plaza: que ironico!



W C Greene
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Wow...glad you made it back! I can't wait to see photos of these old lines and anything else you want to show! Take care of that rash...I got a rash while in Vegas...but I'll not get into that.

Woodie

elminero67
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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

W C Greene
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It just gets better n' better! El Topo looks like a fine way to ride...springs or no springs.

Woodie

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@elminero67
I think that in the background of the last historic photo shown a man is sitting in the cab of an  'infernal combustion' tractor. The roof can be clearly seen, alas zooming up reveals no more usable detail because of the jpeg reduction.

elminero67
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Helmut-this is about as close as I can get from the copy I have of the historic photo: It does look like an early internal combustion loco, which is interesting as use of small locomotives on the plantations is not well documented, and secondly, the thought of going over the un-ballasted decauville track is a little frightening. Even with just the weight of our 4-wheel car the sections of track would flop up in the air and move 2-3 inches after our passing. Decauville track is not by any means sturdy

Last edited on Wed Dec 10th, 2014 08:06 pm by elminero67

elminero67
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So onward we went-our little pony of dubious pedigree pulled the cart at a much faster speed than I would have thought-or enjoyed... that is, until we got to the first hill. At that point our driver once again encouraged the horse with his whip, which looked like a small cat-o-nine tails, but the horse was not impressed. He was going to go up the grade at his leisure regardless of verbal or physical consequence:




Then came the downgrade. Our little truk clackety-clacked over the 120 year old track at a spirited pace-the little horse was forced to outrun us at a fast gallup, as the truks are not equipped with brakes. As we were picking up speed, I couldn't help but notice that the front wheel was alarming out of round, and not surprisingly, a short time later our truk left the rails and headed towards the jungle:



Now, I'm neither a "horse whisperer" nor a horse psychologist, but based on his reaction, this was a very normal occurrence. He immediately set about finding some grass and viewed it as an opportunity to take a break. In the next 200-300 meters he would enjoy the opportunity to take several breaks, as the little truk and its wonky wheel left the track on several occasions.

elminero67
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Heres a couple pics of the Decauville track. Decauville track was light duty, prefabricated track (much like the old Tyco sectional track) that allowed for quick construction and became widely popular on mining, plantation and light industrial plants around the world, but never achieved wide acceptance in the U.S.A.
It's hard to say how much Decauville track is still in service worldwide, I suspect not a lot. All along the right of way I could see abandoned spurs, switches and sections discarded in the encroaching jungle-I suspect enough for Charlie to construct his tramway all the way from Beatty to Tonopah! Heck, he could probable lasso some of them feral burros running around Nevada and recruit them for motive power...




Helmut
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A version of such a light 500mm vehicle can be seen on the cover here. There is a certain similarity to that possible one on the photo.

Charley
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El miner o Boodrowe fellers..

The lokey resembles aPlymouth AL type..lokey quite alot..yer friction drive types..quite early..gaz rigs..

Thanks huge for the foto tour..how cool is that..?..I asks ya...

This genre of railway is right up my alley..we do have burro's here , they roam the town..tourists are impressed..we think it a matter of course now..name them..fedd them doggy bisquits..etc etc..I pondered lassoing one for press gang lokey duty..

thanks for the pitchers..


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