remembered as a poet. I find it charmingly typical of Mexico that a rough-and-ready railroad engineer would write poetry in his spare time. In the great days of steam railroads, engineers were considered the elite of the working class. They were well-paid and they operated the largest and most complicated machinery of the time, outside of steam ships. The industry itself had transformed Mexico (and a good deal of the rest of the world) and was vital for the transportation of goods and people. Just as a youngster of today might dream of becoming a jet pilot or astronaut, young boys of that day dreamed of riding the rails at the helm of a great steam engine like La Burrita.
"They Came to Cordura."
crew of four, not including people like dining car staff, porters, and concessionaires. In addition to the engineer, they included the fireman who was responsible for operating the boiler that produced the steam. The conductor was in overall charge of the train and, in addition, handled passengers. The brakeman released the handbrakes on the cars, assisted the other crew and the passengers, and monitored the engine and cars. It appears from this statue that Julio may have been a brakeman.
Hudson 4-6-4. This designation refers to the arrangement and size of the wheels. In front are two axels with 4 small wheels. They are followed by three more axels, seen above, with six big wheels. The big wheels are are attached to the levers which actually drive the train. Behind the big wheels are two more axels with four small wheels. Thus, 4-6-4. The system for designating trains like this was developed by Fredrick Methvan Whyte in the early 20th Century. The 4-6-4 arrangement was introduced in 1911 and continued to be manufactured until the 1940s. A engine using the 4-6-4 arrangement held the world speed record for steam trains in 1936, achieving a blazing 124.5 mph.
Whistles were developed very early in steam train history as safety and signalling devices. In 1832, a stationmaster in England suggested some form of audible device after a train collided with a cart crossing the tracks. A local musical instrument maker was commissioned to construct what became known as a "steam trumpet." The whistles were blown as a warning when approaching crossings, and to provide various messages to railroad workers, a little like morse code. The size and construction of various whistles affected their sound, leading to nicknames such as "banshee" and "hooter." They were originally operated by pull cords or levers and could emit different sounds according to the style of the person operating them. Particular engineers could be identified by the way they blew their whistles. Sadly, all that originality disappeared when electronic methods of operation were introduced.
the work of G. M. Buzzo, an Italian and cost 130 thousand pesos at the time. The structure was typical of railroad architecture of that era in that it was constructed using prefabricated materials. Notice the decorative designs just under the second story cornice. The front of the station is 52 m (170 ft) long, while the platform is 182 m (597 ft). The building has been beautifully restored, considering its age and the amount of traffic it saw.
Masonic Eye, but the symbolism goes back to the Middle Ages. The Masonic Lodges played an important political role in 19th Century Mexico, so it is not surprising that their symbol shows up here. Generally this painting can be interpreted to mean that the Eye of Providence (or of God) watches over the work of the railroad. The people in the painting are engaged in a variety of tasks. They carry loads, operate machinery, and study blueprints. This symbolises the fact that the railroad was a group project that required the skills of many and was not the product of any one person, however high up the scale he may have been.
This completes Part 4 of my Aguascalientes series. Even if you aren't a railroad buff, I hope you enjoyed the photos and stories above. If you have any comments, please either leave them in the Comments section below, or email me directly. If it says "no comments" below, it means that no one has yet commented. Just click on that and it will open the Comments page.
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Hasta luego, Jim