El Carrizal’s history is deeply intertwined with the railways’ history. During Porfirio Diaz’ rulership (1876-1911), the area was known as Llano grande (wide plains) and was part of Hacienda Plan del Río, a latifundium owned by Mr. Angel Trigos. Back then, only a few houses existed and the rest of the land was used for pasture. But in 1890 a group of workers started the construction of the railway that connected the port of Veracruz with Mexico city, as well as a train station aimed to supply water to the vapor machines. The station started operating in 1893 and was named “El Carrizal.” From then on, the village started to grow through the arrival of people from neighboring areas who were seeking the safety provided by the armed forces that guarded the train station. The spot was active until 1997, when Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (Mexican Railways) was dismantled. Afterwards, the American company Kansas City Southern of Mexico (KCSM) signed a leasing contract with the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) for the right of way that included both the railways and the station.
Since its beginning, El Carrizal Archaeological Project (PAC) established an outreach program that involved all the communities around El Carrizal. This program includes workshops, lectures, as well as cultural activities to promote heritage preservation.
In accordance to this aim, in 2010 PAC, Emiliano Zapata’s Municipal Government and students from C.B.T.a. No. 277 made a proposal to KCSM to recover the old Train Station, which is registered as a historical building by INAH, and turn it into a Community and Regional Museum. Therefore, a meeting with KCSM took place in January 2010, where we were received by KCSM’s Avp Right of Way Protection and Corporate Affairs (Mexican branch), and we were given the criteria and requirements to achieve our goal.
Since that meeting, a team composed by archaeologists, architects, anthropologists, biologists, local students and many more, has worked very hard to complete each and every one of the requisites: INAH’s permit to perform building conservation, blueprints that include a protective fence surrounding the railroad (according to Alto Total program), an executive project, a museography and workshops aimed to prevent railway accidents. Apart from that, 27 young students from the communities of Palo Gacho, Chahuapan, Cerro Gordo, Carrizal, Tigrillos y La Balsa, graduated as the first heritage stewards, after a 40-hour course.
More than 18 months have passed since that first meeting, and 12 months since we sent all the required paperwork. However, El Carrizal’s people haven’t gotten any answer from Kansas City Southern of México; even though INAH recommended an immediate intervention of the building due to its precarious preservation status. We think there is no better tribute to our heritage than living it and re-signify it as a main core of the social dynamics.
Hence, we make this plea to the international community to help us recover the Train Station. We need to persuade KCSM to ask SCT to transfer the train station to the Municipal Government. If you want to help with our request to KCSM, we ask you to leave a comment on this page regarding the situation and send this link to your friends through Facebook, blogs, Twitter, or email, so they can sign too.
We will keep you posted about the situation.
Thanks to everyone for helping!