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The Chihuahua al Pacífico (Chepe) railroad is the only railroad that has been international in its vision since its inception. This engineering marvel took almost 90 years and 90 million dollars to complete. The Reader's Digest has called it "the most dramatic train ride in the western hemisphere." The first Mexican train to traverse the complete route was in 1961. The route is through 5 climatic zones from sea level to 8,000 feet elevation.

Location: Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain, Chihuahua State, northwest Mexico
Closest major airport: : Gral. Roberto Fierro Villalobos International Airport aka Chihuahua Intl. (CUU)
Nearest town/city: Creel (pop. 6,500), a small town known as the “Gateway to Copper Canyon.”
Other important cities/sites nearby: Chihuahua City (capital), 150 miles away

The original route of the Kansas City Mexico Orient Railway (forerunner of the Chepe) was 1600 miles long. It ran from Wichita, Kansas, through Oklahoma and Texas, crossing the border at Presidio, Texas and Ojinaga, Chihuahua. It continued on to Chihuahua City, then went west across the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain Range, ending up at Topolobampo Bay on the Sea of Cortez, near Las Mochis, Sinaloa. The purpose of the KCMO Railway was to shorten the shipping route to the orient by 400 miles.



Since the Chepe was privatized in 1998, it is one of only two passenger trains left in Mexico - the other being the Tequila Express out of Guadalajara.

The Chepe tourist line presently is the 400 mile route between Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, and Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The Reader’s Digest calls it the “the most dramatic train ride in the western hemisphere.” To enjoy the most scenic part of this route during daylight hours, S & S Tours always begins our tours in Los Mochis.

The Chepe engineering challenges include 37 bridges and 89 tunnels on the route. At one point the train does a 180 degree turn inside the mountain, and at another point loops over itself. The longest tunnel in Mexico, over a mile long, is on this route. In the mountain region, there is a drop of 7300 feet elevation in 122 miles.

Two Americans were directly involved in the conception of this railroad. Arthur Stilwell of Kansas City, Kansas, was responsible for completing 1000 miles of the total 1600 miles of track built. (Note: My name is Sue Stilwell. We are in the family line of Arthur Stilwell, so this history is of great personal interest to me.) Albert Owens, a Pennsylvanian railroad engineer, surveyed the western end of the line. Chepe Train
In 1998, the private rail franchise - Ferromex - took over the railroad from the Mexican government. The government had operated all the railroads since 1940. Ferromex has made a significant investment in a total modernization program.

A thorough renovation of the train stations has taken place in Los Mochis, El Fuerte, Bahuichivo (Cerocahui), Posada Barrancas, Creel, and the old train station with murals in Chihuahua City. The train track has been repaired and brought up to industry standards. This assures added security, comfort, and speed for the passenger trains. Twelve remodeled, air-conditioned Chepe passenger cars are on first-class express service.

It is a pleasure to dine in the new dining cars freshly decorated with the same elegant upholstery and carpet of the passenger cars. An excellently equipped kitchen serves delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners daily. The deluxe lounge cars offer all varieties of drinks and a place for close camaraderie on the trip.

Ferromex is to be commended for undertaking the extremely challenging task of offering first-class train service for tourists on this extraordinary, remote route. This places the railroad in a unique world class.

 

 

 

 

 

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