Monday, May 14, 2007

Tramways of Lerdo

The Tramways of Lerdo, Gómez Palacioand Torreón
By Allen Morrison

And, amazingly, tramway development did not stop there! The most unusual tramway in Torreón - perhaps in all Mexico, perhaps in the whole world - was built by the Compañía Bancaria y de Tranvías Wah Yick, founded in 1906 by a Cantonese named Wong Foon Chuck.

Chinese immigrants flocked to Mexico's boom town, opened laundries, restaurants, clothing stores and banks and developed agriculture and real estate on the city's east side. In June 1907 CBTWY announced that it would build an electric railway from Torreón to Matamoros and San Pedro 26 km east of the city. Nothing came of that plan, but in June 1908 CBTWY began laying track for a local tram line, from the cemetery on the city's west side along Av. Morelos to the Chinese settlement on the east [see map]. FELT tried to prevent CBTWY from crossing its tracks, but a thousand Chinese completed the job during the night of 1-2 January 1909.

Unfortunately, news sources dried up after that date. It is not known if CBTWY ever opened its line - or what vehicles it used if it did. Anti-Chinese sentiment festered during the Mexican Revolution and in early 1911 the Madero forces followed the tramway line into the city [Archivo Histórico "Juan Agustín de Espinoza, S.J." at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Torreón]: Between 13 and 15 May 1911, the Revolutionists killed 303 Chinese in Torreón, including most of the officers and employees of the CBTWY.

Tramways of Lerdo Article


Randy W. Medina, Attorney at Law said...

Very interesting article. My maternal grandfather, Kee Cio Wong, established a small store in either Torreon or Mapimi. He married my maternal grandmother Pascuala Nava and had a large family including my mother.

Neighbors hid him during the pogrom and he and his family fled the revolution and settled in of all places, Helena, Montana. My mother was the youngest of the children and she was born there. Unfortunately, he soon died. He was buried in Canton. His family traveled on a boat. His widow remained a short time in Helena but returned to Torreon.

If you have any other info regarding the Chinese in Mexico, let me know. Thanks again.

Randy W. Medina, Esq.
Pasadena, California

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