The Tramways of

An Illustrated History
Allen Morrison

Arequipa is located 1,000 km southeast of Lima, about 100 km inland and 200 km from Peru's borders with Bolivia and Chile. At 2,300 m altitude, the city has a year-round springlike climate. Snowcapped peaks of the Andes loom nearby: El Misti reaches 5,800 m, Chachani 6,075 m. Arequipa was the second city in Peru to have a tramway system.

The steam railroad between Arequipa and the port of Mollendo opened in 1871. Its construction was supervised by the California engineer Henry Meiggs, who seems also to have been involved with the organization of the Ferro-Carril Urbano de Arequipa. About 1873 FCUA ordered an assortment of trams from the John Stephenson Co. in New York, including the passenger model shown below. The photograph was taken in 1874 at Stephenson's factory on East 27th Street in New York [col. Museum of the City of New York]:

FCUA opened its first line on 14 March 1875, eleven years after Peru's first tramway in Callao and three years before the first line in Lima [see The Tramways of Lima]. Not much is known about the city's tramway operation during the next three decades. The postcard below shows a variety of cars at the railroad station about 1900 [see map] [col. AM]:

A local resident, Carlos Espejo y Ureta, secured a franchise in 1908 for electrification of the city's tram lines. Espejo sold his rights in 1911 to W. R. Grace Co. of New York, which registered Tranvía Eléctrico de Arequipa and placed a large order with the J. G. Brill Co. of Philadelphia in 1912. The shipment included 14 passenger cars of four types, a sprinkler car, a meat car and a gondola. The vehicles numbered 100-106 were "convertible" models: in warm weather their side panels were removed and replaced by screens. [The following four illustrations are from Brill Magazine of May 1913: see BIBLIOGRAPHY.]

Trams in the 300 series had eight wheels and an unusual design with center doors and vestibule. First class passengers sat in the enclosed section on the right. Second class passengers used the open compartment on the left:

Even the seats in the first class compartment, shown in the photo below, did not look too comfortable:

Here is the unnumbered sprinkler car, before attachment of the trolley pole:

Tranvía Eléctrico de Arequipa inaugurated its electric tramway system, 1067 mm (42 in) gauge, on Saturday 13 July 1913. The first line ran from the new railroad station, shown below, to Tingo [see map]. The tram in this postcard view - unfortunately in shadow - is number 106 [col. AM]:

Here is number 104, the same type car as above, but in winter mode, with its sides enclosed [col. AM]:

Trams 106 and 400 in this postcard view are on Av. Parra on the Tingo line [see map] [col. AM]:

In 1924 TEA ordered two "Birney" type trams from Brill, numbers 501 and 502, which set the standard for a new design. TEA eventually rebuilt all its old trams to look like 501. It ordered two more cars from Brill in 1930, numbers 601 and 602, and constructed new routes to Antiquilla, Yanahuara and Paucarpata. The undated photograph below shows one of the rebuilt cars on the Paucarpata line - a favorite of tramway enthusiasts because of its magnificent scenery and right-angle turns around cornfields [see map]. Note the freeloaders on the back and the Andes on the horizon [col. AM]:

Peruvian government surveys of 1927 and 1928 noted a separate service from Paucarpata to Apacheta cemetery - but it is believed that the suburban lines to Tingo, Paucarpata and Apacheta were always part of the TEA system [see map]. The World Survey of Foreign Railways found 21 passenger motor trams running on 20 km of track in 1935 [see BIBLIOGRAPHY]. Here is a worker's pass from the period [col. AM]:

TEA ordered no more trams from Brill after 1930, but in 1939 it purchased two used cars from the abandoned tramway system in Elmira, a small city in New York state, USA. Arequipa renumbered them 701 and 702. In 1947 it purchased two used trams from New York City, which it numbered 901 and 902 [the Lima tramway system also imported cars from New York]. Despite the acquisition of this new equipment, TEA closed its Apacheta line in 1947 and its Tingo line in April 1952 [see map]. This ticket for the Antiquilla line indicates worker's fare [col. AM]:

 The remaining pictures on this page were taken by U.S. tramway enthusiasts who visited Arequipa in the 1950s and 60s. Here is "Birney" car 501 on 9 Oct 1958. Scene is Av. Bolognesi on the Yanahuara line, with Mt. Chachani in the distance [William Janssen]:

Birney car 502 rests at the Plaza de Armas in 1963 [see map]. The destination sign reads "Urbanización Miraflores". The initials "T.E.A." are legible above the windows [col.]:

The origin of car 604, with an advertisement for batteries on its roof, is unknown. It is probably a reconstruction of a tram from an early series. The photograph was taken on 5 January 1957 [William Janssen]:

This interior view of an Arequipa tram was captured on 17 May 1965, eight months before the system closed. Its fleet number was not recorded [Foster M. Palmer]:

Eight-wheel tram 701 was one of two imported from Elmira, New York, in 1939. It was photographed in Arequipa on 8 October 1958 [William Janssen]:

Here is one of the New York cars imported in 1947, photographed on 5 January 1957. The New York trams originally had 12 windows on each side. They were too long for Arequipa's narrow streets, so were shortened: the first and last windows were rebuilt as doors, and the ends were remodeled. Truck gauge was altered from 1435 to 1067 mm [William Janssen]:

Finally, here is the tram built in 1912 to bring meat from the stock yards in Yanahuara [see map]. Also at the tram depot that day, 9 October 1958, were passenger cars 105, 501 and 805. The tramway employees were delighted to meet a visitor from abroad, but all except one were camera shy [William Janssen]:

Like the interior view above, this last photograph was also taken in May 1965, eight months before the steet railway disappeared [Bob Whetham]:

Tranvía Eléctrico de Arequipa pulled its last car into the depot on Sunday night 9 January 1966, after 53 years of operation. The system was declared officially closed the following day. The Arequipa tramway was the last to operate in Peru. Lima had closed the preceding September.

A U.S. streetcar fan who traveled to Arequipa in 1967 found its trams rusting in the yard above, and most of the overhead wire removed from the streets.



BIBLIOGRAPHY (in order of publication)

"Interesting Rolling Stock for New Peruvian Electric Road" in Brill Magazine (Philadelphia), 5/1913, pp. 140-148. Nice article on Arequipa tramway. Seven pictures of cars..

"Tranvía Eléctrico de Arequipa" in Diario El Deber (Arequipa) of 11/7/1913. Short article says that the electric tramway will be inaugurated the following day, Saturday 12/7/1913,

Peru. Dirección Estadística. Extracto estadístico. Annual surveys of "Ferrocarriles" note gauge and track length. The 1927 and 1928 editions distinguish the Paucarpata and Apacheta lines in Arequipa.

Peru. Ministerio de Fomento. Dirección de Obras Públicas y Vías de Comunicación. Economia y Reseña Histórica de los Ferrocarriles del Perú. Lima, 1932. A chapter entitled "Tranvía Eléctrico de Arequipa", p. 68, describes the formation of the company.

Peru. Instituto Geográfico Militar. Servicio Geográfico del Ejército. Carta nacional. Lima 1934. "Arequipa" sheet at scale 1:200,000 shows complete tram system, including Tingo, Apacheta and Paucarpata lines. The author also has another government map of the area at a larger scale - but does not know its source.

United States. Bureau of Foreign & Domestic Commerce. World Survey of Foreign Railways. Supplement, 1935. Description and finances of the Arequipa tram system.

Adela Pardo Gómez. Guía de Oro de Arequipa. Arequipa, n.d. [1944]. Description and schedules of tramway lines, pp. 255 & 268.

Edit. El Deber. Plano de la Ciudad de Arequipa. Street map has good tramway detail. Arequipa, 1947.

Allan Berner. "The Trolleys of Arequipa" in National Railway Historical Society Bulletin, Third Quarter 1959, pp. 16-19. Description and six illustrations.

Manuel Rodríguez Velásquez ("Marove"). "Remembranza: Por rieles del fracaso rodaron 53 años los tranvías eléctricos" in El Pueblo (Arequipa), 5/5/1988. Nice history of the tramway system and the source of its closing date.

Máximo Neira Avendaño. Historia General de Arequipa. Arequipa, n.d. [1990]. Paragraph on tramway development, p. 577.

Ramón Gutiérrez. Evolución Histórica Urbana de Arequipa 1540-1990. Lima, 1992. Brief notes on tramway development, pp. 164 & 192-194.

Mercy Chávez Chávez. "De las carretas a las combis" in Arequipa al Día (Arequipa), 15/8/2002. Brief history of public transport in Arequipa. The only document that notes the inauguration date of the electric tramway.

Elio Galessio. Brief Historical Summary of the Railroads in Peru. A nice webpage that describes the development of Peru's railroads, including the Southern Railroad that served Arequipa.

Museo de la Ciudad de Arequipa. Los Tranvías de Arequipa, 1875-1966. A 15-minute film with tramway footage, interviews with Arequipa residents and reproductions of illustrations on this page. Available on YouTube in two parts: Part 1, Part 2.

The author wishes to thank Luis Pareja of Arequipa for locating and supplying several of the newspaper articles noted above.




This page was uploaded on
25 February 2004

Also see my pages on
The Tramways of Lima

The Other Tramways of Peru


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