26 April 2008

A serendipitous find.

Today my gal Gina and I went looking for Calle Allende #21 which is the address in Irapuato where the famous Mexican cigarette brand “Faros” was begun in 1918 by a man named Emetrio Padilla. We were disappointed to find that the original building had long since been replaced but as we were walking away I literally bumped into an old telephone post that was made from trolley rail and it apparently had been partially knocked over by some wayward vehicle. I took a closer look and found that the rail had been made in 1890 by the West Cumberland Steel Company. It just so happens that this telephone post is located only about twenty five feet from Calle Guerero (in other words, Guererro Street) and I remembered that a long time ago there was a tranvía (horse drawn trolley) running along the edge of Guererro. I checked it out in an old book and I found out that the trolley was built in 1913 and the rails were removed about 1935 after autos and buses made the horse drawn trolley obsolete. It is now obvious to me that when the rails were torn up they didn’t go away but were pressed into service to accommodate the needs of the growing telephone company.

The trolley rail itself has an interesting history. It came from the old West Cumberland steel mill in the town of Workington on the northwest coast of England. Workington was at that time the very center of English iron and steel production The West Cumberland mill produced rail from 1860 until 1901. Rail was shipped from the town of Workington to all parts of the globe and the people in England had a saying that "Workington rails held the world together". When I saw the rail and I made the connection I gave a shout and began snapping photos. The people around me on the street no doubt thought that I was a nut case but whenever I identify something that connects me with the past I guess I do get a little crazy. Anyway, the experience made my day and left me quite happy so what could be wrong with that?


Anonymous said...

Hi Bob:
I found several pieces a few years back of West Cumberland Rail dated 1875 where the old BC Electric Railway crossed the Canadian National Railway in Chilliwack, BC.
By the way the dots after the year indicate the month the rail was made.
-David, Vancouver Canada

Bob Mrotek said...

Hi David,
Thanks for the comment. I have been to Vancouver many times. I love it there. I used to inspect railroad equipment on BC Rail.
Bob Mrotek - Irapuato, Guanajuato

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.