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NEW YORK, TEXAS AND MEXICAN RAILWAY

NEW YORK, TEXAS AND MEXICAN RAILWAY. The New York, Texas and Mexican Railway Company was planned by Count Joseph Telfener, an Italian engineer and financier, and his father-in-law, Daniel E. Hungerford, a promoter from California, to connect New York City with Mexico City. Texas was chosen as the starting point for this project because of the liberal land grants that the state offered to encourage rail construction. In a charter signed on October 18, 1880, in Paris, France, and filed in Austin, Texas, on November 17, 1880, Telfener and a group of associates formed a Texas corporation to construct a railroad from Richmond, Texas, south to Brownsville. The road was to begin on the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway at Richmond in Fort Bend County and extend by the most practical route through Fort Bend, Wharton, Jackson, Victoria, Goliad, Bee, Refugio, San Patricio, Nueces, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties and to terminate at Brownsville. Branches were planned from the main line in Jackson County to the headwaters of Lavaca Bay, from the main line in Nueces County to Corpus Christi, and from Brownsville to Brazos de Santiago. The principal business office was in Victoria. The board of directors comprised J. J. Tobin, C. R. Beaty, J. H. Dinkins, and Phineas DeCordova, all of Austin; Telfener and John Della Spina of Rome, Italy; and Alfred G. Demée of Paris, France. The corporation was capitalized at $2 million and planned to issue 20,000 shares of stock valued at $100 each. The company secured the usual Texas land grant of sixteen sections, or 10,240 acres, for each mile of track completed. For the ninety-one miles of track from Rosenberg Junction to Victoria the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway was entitled to about 940,000 acres of land. Actual construction on the project did not get under way until September 1881, when two crews started work at Rosenberg Junction and Victoria simultaneously, one working west and the other working toward the east.

The count brought over from Italy about 1,200 laborers to perform the heavy work and, he hoped, to remain here as citizens and buy land along the tracks. The daily wages for the imported workers ranged from $1.50 for common labor up to four dollars for some skilled tasks. As an added incentive, Telfener paid the Italians' passage to Texas, supplied them with food, blankets, and shelter, and generally looked after their needs until they could begin work. The road became known as the "Macaroni Line." The tools used in the construction were crude, and some of the methods were primitive. Because the contractor did not have a pile driver during the early stages of work, for instance, piles for bridges were driven by means of a threaded pulley manned by twelve laborers who raised a huge live oak block high in the air then let it fall to give the necessary penetration. After the first state inspection, the company's application for the land certificates was refused on the grounds that the railroad violated its charter by beginning at Rosenberg Junction rather than Richmond. By 1882 the state had issued certificates for eight million acres of land, more than it had for distribution, and before the charter of Telfener's company could be amended to change its point of origin to Rosenberg Junction the state passed a law on April 22, 1882, which repealed "all laws granting lands or land certificates to any person, firm, corporation, or company for the construction of railroads, canals, and ditches." In 1882 the Macaroni Line completed ninety-one miles of track between Rosenberg and Victoria. The cost of the construction of the railroad was $2,036,150, and the rolling stock cost an additional $156,270. Telfener operated the company until June 1, 1884. On July 23, 1884, the directors annulled the construction contract because Telfener had built only ninety-one of a proposed 350 miles. Control of the road was acquired by J. W. Mackay, a wealthy mining engineer from Nevada and a brother-in-law of Telfener, on January 9, 1885. Mackay sold his new holding to the Southern Pacific Railroad in early September 1885, but the line continued to operate as the New York, Texas and Mexican. In 1899 and 1900 thirty-one miles of track was constructed between Wharton and Van Vleck. Between 1901 and 1903 fifty-four miles of track were laid from Van Vleck to Hawkinsville and from Bay City Junction to Palacios. This gave the company 177 miles of main track. In 1903 the New York, Texas and Mexican reported passenger earnings of $116,000 and freight earnings of $347,000 and owned six locomotives and 395 cars. On August 8, 1905, the line was merged into the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway Company.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Galveston News, April 1, June 20, 1882. Railroad Charters and Amendments, Office of the Secretary of State, Austin. Victoria Advocate, September 28, 1934.

John C. Rayburn

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

John C. Rayburn, "NEW YORK, TEXAS AND MEXICAN RAILWAY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqn02), accessed April 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.