New Orleans: Gateway to the Americas

Minatitlan, 1852

During the 1850s Minatitlan was a village of 460 located on the Coatzacoalcos River in eastern Mexico. As the farthest inland point that could be reached by ships from the Gulf of Mexico, Minatitlan was to be the place where the Tehuantepec Railroad would begin its course across the isthmus to the Pacific Ocean. This panel displays a lithograph made by Sareny & Major from a drawing by J. Mller. It originally appeared as part of a survey report prepared for the Tehuantepec Railroad Company of New Orleans.

The Tehuantepec Railroad was one of several New Orleans-based schemes to gain political or economic control over regions within Latin American during the 1850s. Though similarly unsuccessful in the end, the railroad venture at least was not accompanied by the open conflict and bloodshed surrounding the careers of men such as William Walker in Nicaragua and Narcisso Lopez in Cuba.

[J. J. Williams, The Isthmus of Tehuantepec (New York, 1852)]

Conceived out of controversy and contested claims in an unfavorable economic climate, the Louisiana Tehuantepec Company fought an uphill struggle. For a time, [John] Slidell's political influence helped. Through his ties with the Buchanan administration, the company received a mail contract for a year which paid $9,435. For two years, the company pushed the work on a plank road. The signing of the McLane-Ocampo Treaty in 1859 seemed to breathe new life into the company, but again it was tormented with difficulties. In the same year, [Peter A.] Hargous and the New York backers, caught in financial difficulties themselves, could no longer support the project, and a new postmaster general refused to renew the mail contract. The Louisiana Tehuantepec Company held on without prospects or hope, and the Civil War assured its inevitable collapse.

[Merl E. Reed, New Orleans and The Railroads: The Struggle for Commercial Empire, 1830-1860 (Baton Rouge, 1966)]

Introduction | Aguardiente de caña, 1770 | Imports, 1822 | Price-Current, 1845 | Minatitlan, 1852 | Steamships, 1854
Cotton Exposition, 1884 | The Logical Point, 1885 | El Nopal, 1885 | Bananas, ca. 1919 | Mercurio, 1913
Cuyamel Fruit, 1917 | La Voz Latina, 1936 | Del Sud, 1938 | deLesseps S. Morrison, 1946
International House, 1950 | Garden of the Americas, 1957 | International Trade Mart, 1964
Coffee, 1965 | Victor H. Schiro, 1965