Sunday, May 16, 2010

Streetcar Sunday- El Paso to Juárez

I posted a card  several months ago of a cafe in Juárez that attracted U.S. residents wanting to buy a drink or two during prohibition.  Decades later illegal substances are still supporting the Juárez economy. Based on current events and high levels of violent crime and drug trafficking on the U.S./Mexican border at Juárez and El Paso, Texas, it's refreshing, but also sad, to see the easy and open border pictured on this card.
In 1882, a streetcar line was established between El Paso, Texas and Juárez, Mexico.  Like most streetcars of the time, these were initially drawn by horses or mules. The coordinated service fell under the jurisdiction of two separate operating systems, one in Mexico and one in El Paso, but the service was effectively operated by the El Paso Electric Railway, with the conversion to electricity taking place in 1902. This card dates from sometime after 1910, when the cars were converted from open to closed cars.

Streetcar service was discontinued in 1974. Oddly enough, it was not discontinued for the typical reason - replacement by bus service.  Instead, the Mexican government halted the service because of a perception by Juárez merchants that only the El Paso stores were benefiting from the streetcar. They felt that Juárez shoppers were all heading north.  Recently there has been talk about reintroducing the service, but of course now there are major concerns about illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

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