Source: Mining and Scientific Press, 1885.
The Tehuantepec Transoceanic Railway Project, 1884
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec was for long a transoceanic
shipping options that was particularly attractive to the United
States since the distance involved was shorter than the Panama
option. However, due to elevation and distance (roughly 230 km)
canal construction was not retained as an attractive
proposition. In 1884, the American civil engineer James B. Eads
proposed the construction of a transoceanic rail line between
Salina Cruz (Pacific side) and Coatzacoalcos (Gulf of Mexico)
that could carry whole ships. The goal was to build a six track
railway with 3 locomotives pulling ships across the isthmus in
about 13 hours. The system was designed to carry ships of up to
10,000 tons into a wheeled cradle. Although initially triggering
interest, the project was abandoned in 1887 after Eads' death.
The transoceanic railway was designed at a time when ship weights were still relatively light because wood was
used in many components of a ship. The growth in ship size and
weight by the early 20th century would have made such as project
increasingly marginal. Still, the idea endured. A similar project was considered by the Mexican government
in the 1940s, which could carry ships of up to 15,000 tons.
Again, the substantial
growth in ship
size after World War II would render such an option