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Abandoned Train Station in Mexico
Frailes is a small railroad station that was active between the 1880’s and the 1980’s. It was on the line that ran from the city of Puebla (which is the capital of the state of the same name) to Cuautla in the state of Morelos not far from Cuernavaca . Puebla is a two hour drive east from Mexico City and inaugurated its first railroad station on September 16, 1869 being Mexican Independence day. In my travels on mountain bike to this place I have received some oral testimonies on what this station was like. First, it served as a stop for people living in the neighboring rural towns of Nealtican and Tecuanipan to take their wares to market in cities like Puebla and Cholula to the north and Atlixco and other cities to the south. There are telephone poles made out of old rails from the 1880’s that confirm what one person told me about it having a smaller gauge than the present track. I was also told that there were telegraph poles on both sides of the track, a telegraph office and even a small junction line so trains could get around each other going both ways. Also, supposedly there was a pond where the “soldadera” women (women who participated in the Mexican Revolution) would wash clothes. There is no physical evidence today for the poles on the other side, the junction yard nor the pond. Other stories that I heard about the Revolution is how the revolutionary forces would occupy the station and derail trains by loosening spikes or dynamiting the rails. They would kidnap the women for pleasure and the men for extra combatants. My 68 year-old informant, working in a nearby field, told me that his great-grandmother used to walk from nearby Tecuanipan to sell tortillas to the revolutionaries.
The name “Frailes” remains a mystery to me. It means “Friars” but there is no monastery nearby to justify that. When the line was discontinued around 1997 (the station had already been abandoned) they left about a mile and a half of old junked cars there which stayed for years before being torn apart and taken away. They left a few such cars right in front of the station that you can still climb on.
I found a train schedule for 1940 and it appears that there was already another stop just before Frailes in Tecuanipan but it is a newer structure. According to the schedule it was only a requested stop and it would take an hour and five minutes to travel the 27 kilometers from Puebla to Frailes. At the end of the line in Cuautla they have restored a locomotive for short trips as part of their railroad museum and my dream is to someday see that same line reconstructed at least between Puebla and Atlixco to once again take that scenic trip that I took with my wife, Danny and his parents, Lourdes and Carlos over 15 years ago.
Frailes 5 Train passing the station in 1997. It no longer has a roof and the sign on the right is also gone. The two people in the picture are Juancho and Quelo, my ex landlord’s sons.
Frailes 13 Danny and Carlos on roof of abandoned boxcar (2004).
Frailes 18 Carlos and Danny and me with the lamp at night (2004).
Frailes 19 Me with lamp in the window of the back of the building. The broken insulator was found on the ground nearby (2004).
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