“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala — Central America

Los Altos Electric Railway

Los Altos Electric Railway Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. Makali Bruton, December 26, 2018
1. Los Altos Electric Railway Marker

La Honorable Corporacion Municipal de Quetzaltenango al cumplirse en la presente fecha un cincuentenario de la inauguración del Ferrocarril Electrico de los Altos, consigna un patriótico recuerdo a aquella magna obra asi como un voto de gratitud al ex Pte. Lazaro Chacon por su visión en el desarrollo del Sur Occidente.
10-3-1930 – 30-3-1980

English translation:
The Honorable Municipal Corporation of Quetzaltenango celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Los Altos Electric Railway, a patriotic reminder of that great work as well as a tribute of gratitude to the ex-President Lázaro Chacón for his vision of development in the Southwest of Guatemala.
March 10, 1930 – March 30, 1980
Erected 1980 by La Honorable Corporación Municipal de Quetzaltenango.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & PoliticsMan-Made FeaturesRailroads & Streetcars. A significant historical date for this entry is March 10, 1930.
Location. 14° 50.446′ N, 91° 
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31.482′ W. Marker is in Quetzaltenango. Marker is at the intersection of Calle Rodolfo Robles and 20 Avenida, on the right when traveling west on Calle Rodolfo Robles. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Quetzaltenango 09001, Guatemala. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dr. Rodolfo Robles (within shouting distance of this marker); World Record for a Marathon While Jumping Rope (about 90 meters away, measured in a direct line); Mother María Encarnación Rosal (about 180 meters away); Justo Rufino Barrios (approx. 0.4 kilometers away); 100th Anniversary of the Marimba Ideal (approx. half a kilometer away); 10th Anniversary of the Guatemalan Peace Accords (approx. half a kilometer away); 100th Anniversary of the Birth of the Poet Osmundo Arriola (approx. half a kilometer away); Foundation of the Quetzaltenango Cemetery (approx. half a kilometer away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Quetzaltenango.
Regarding Los Altos Electric Railway. The Ferrocarril de Los Altos (FLA) signed a contract with Allgemeine Elektricitäts Gesellschaft of Berlin to build an electric railway between Quetzaltenango and San Felipe on September 25, 1924. This new line would connect Quetzaltenango with a branch of the International Railways of Central America, which had absorbed the Guatemalan railroads in 1912. AEG also built a dam on the Samalá River and a 12,000 HP electric
Los Altos Electric Railway Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. Makali Bruton, December 26, 2018
2. Los Altos Electric Railway Marker
plant near Santa María (altitude 1559 m), about halfway up the mountain. Finally, on Sunday, March 30, 1930, the Ferrocarril de Los Altos formally inaugurated its entire 44-km electric railway from San Felipe to Quezaltenango. The project cost the Guatemalan government US$8.5 million. The Ferrocarril de Los Altos was a magnificent railroad and was the only electric railroad of any kind in Guatemala (its capital, Guatemala City, never had electric trams). But it was a financial disaster. By 1930 buses and automobiles ran everywhere. FLA trains averaged only 200 passengers a day and freight was far below estimates. Revenue did not even cover operating costs. A storm on September 19, 1933 flooded the lower section, caused mudslides on the mountainside and damaged two bridges. The government refused to rebuild. Quetzaltenango's legendary electric railway was declared permanently closed on November 10, 1933. It had run only 3 1/2 years. Most traces of the FLA have disappeared today. But the railway tunnel near Zunil is used by automobiles and the passenger terminal on 4ª Calle in Quetzaltenango is intact.
Adapted from "Quezaltenango Electric Railway" by Allen Morrison at
Credits. This page was last revised on January 18, 2019. It was originally submitted on January 18, 2019, by J. Makali Bruton of Accra, Ghana. This page has been viewed 193 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 18, 2019, by J. Makali Bruton of Accra, Ghana.

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Apr. 13, 2024