(lines that were not electrified)

Allen Morrison

In addition to the tramway systems in Lima and Arequipa, which used both animal and electrical power, there were tramway systems in other Peruvian cities that never electrified and relied entirely on mules and locomotives to pull their vehicles. Two of them, in Huacho and Pisco, also had cars powered by electric batteries; but these were not real electric systems. The following cities used only animals to pull their trams: Catacaos, Chiclayo, Cuzco, Paita, Piura, San Pedro de Lloc and Trujillo. The streetcars in Iquitos were drawn by steam locomotives.

Horsedrawn vehicles also ran in, around and between plantations in several districts, notably along the Chicama River near Trujillo. Some of these lines also used steam power. It is impossible to know all the railways and tramways that existed in Peru for there has never been a complete, all-time, official list. No doubt tramways existed that have not been discovered. Even the lines that are known are mysterious: not much data about them could be found.

The following chapters describe some of the animal- and steam-powered tramways that operated in Peru between about 1875 and 1950. They are arranged by department - Peru is divided into 25 departments - from north to south. The map shows their location:





Department of Loreto
Loreto is the largest department in Peru, 345,000 sq. km., larger than Ecuador. Its capital, Iquitos, is on the Amazon River 1,860 km northeast of Lima. A 600 mm gauge steam railway, inaugurated in 1905, transported cargo along the docks and, on weekends and holidays, passengers to Lake Morona Cocha nearby. The crowd in the photograph below, taken in 1932, is celebrating Peru's victory in a border dispute with Colombia. The city of Leticia, 500 km down the Amazon, is Peruvian again [col. AM]:

The League of Nations returned Leticia to Colombia in 1933 and it is a Colombian city today. The second photograph shows a different locomotive. The Iquitos tramway closed in 1935 [Guía de Iquitos, 1915]:




Department of Piura
Paita is one of the major ports in northern Peru. A street railway opened on 30 August 1891 and ran until the late 1920s. The origin of the tram shown on the postcard below is unknown. Track gauge looks narrow [col. AM]:




Department of Piura
Piura was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1532 and is the oldest Spanish city in Peru. It is the capital of Piura department. A 1435 mm gauge steam railroad from Paita opened in 1887 and a 750 mm gauge line from Catacaos in 1889. The 750 mm gauge Tranvía Urbano de Piura, which opened about 1890, connected the two railroad stations. A branch to the cemetery was built in 1906. The line ran into the 1930s. No photographs or postcards showing it could be found.




Department of Piura
Catacaos is only 10 km south, almost a suburb, of the capital city above. Its tramway was 1.56 km long and also used 750 mm (29.5 in) gauge, but no illustrations of it could be located.




Department of Lambayeque
Chiclayo is the capital of Lambayeque department and a large city today. The Ferrocarril Urbano opened about 1890 and closed in 1930. The tramcars shown in the postcards below look like they might have been acquired secondhand from Lima [col. Marcelo Cáceres Miranda]:

Here is another view of Chiclayo's "Calle Real" (Royal Street) [col. AM]:




Department of La Libertad
According to Kemp's Desarrollo [see BIBLIOGRAPHY, below], the Ferro Carril Urbano San Pedro de Lloc opened a street railway in 1880. The line is not mentioned on other lists and no other information or pictures of it could be found.




Department of La Libertad
Halfway between San Pedro and Trujillo the Chicama River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The plantations in the Chicama valley produce half of Peru's sugar and the area was littered with railways and tramways, animal- and steam-powered, of both 914 mm (36 in) and 1067 mm (42 in) gauge. Many were operated by the Empresa Agrícola Chicama, but others were privately owned. The Hacienda Casa Grande had 29 km of track within its grounds. The photograph below is marked (in Spanish) "A trip to Casa Grande" - but there is no indication where the car is coming from. Three horses were required for the hot, dusty journey. Note additional rails on the left [col. AM]:

Many of the horsedrawn vehicles that served the plantations were simpler affairs that required only one animal. This is a line between Salinar and Sausal, 20 km east of Casa Grande [col. AM]:

The photo below, taken at Sausal in 1926, shows the same vehicle and passengers. No, the horse is not wearing trousers [col. AM]:

This photograph was taken at Hacienda Casa Grande in 1927. The passengers are no doubt company executives and their wives [col. AM]:

The large vehicle below needs paint and a means of propulsion. Are the boys about to push - or are they about to jump on? The horses don't appear to be harnessed to pull trams. Scene is somewhere in the Chicama River Valley [coll. AM]:




Department of La Libertad
Trujillo is the capital of La Libertad and one of Peru's largest cities today. Kemp's Desarrollo says that Tranvía Trujillo inaugurated a line "before 1895". The tramway is not noted on any of the other Peruvian surveys, but appears in World Survey lists of the 1930s [see BIBLIOGRAPHY]. No pictures of its cars could be found, but this Art Nouveau postcard shows the rails [col. AM]:




Department of Lima
Tranvía de Huacho opened a 750 mm gauge animal tramway on 14 December 1890. According to Kemp's Desarrollo, there were 2.5 km of urban lines and a suburban route to Huaura, 8.3 km north. Who can explain the lumpy ballast shown in this postcard view? It is perhaps the reason the photograph was taken [col. AM]:

In 1915 a local resident named Arturo Pitaluga acquired permission to electrify the line and formed the Tranvía Eléctrico de Huacho. Funds for a power plant were not forthcoming, so TEH ordered two battery-powered trams from J. G. Brill on 29 May 1920. This extremely rare photograph shows one of the cars at the factory before it left Philadelphia. The batteries are in the compartments under the first and last seats [col. AM]:

Huacho's "electric" tramway was inaugurated in 1922. Track gauge remained 750 mm / 29.5 in. Here are two of the battery cars on Calle 28 de Julio [postcard, col. AM]:

TEH ordered a third battery tram from Brill on 2 September 1922 and the company was sold to Pedro Martino of Lima in 1925. Klaus Kemp claims that passenger traffic ended in 1929, freight service in 1931, and that the company was officially dissolved in 1935. The WSFR reported four battery trams still in operation in 1935, but the information is no doubt erroneous.




Department of Ica
Pisco is a small coastal city 200 km south of Lima. Its tramway system had several distinctions. It was one of the first in Peru. It was the only one outside Lima that used 1435 mm gauge. Pisco was the first city in Peru to power its trams with electric batteries.

The date of inauguration of the tramway that connected the town with the port could not be determined, but Pisco ordered trams from the John Stephenson Co. in New York in 1874, so may have had the third tram system in Peru - after Callao (1864) and Arequipa (1875) and before Lima (1878). Its first model was not described, but Stephenson favored doubledeckers like the car below, which Ferro Carril Urbano de Pisco ("F.C.U. de P.") purchased from Stephenson in 1905. The photograph was taken at its new factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey [Street Railway Review, Chicago, 15/9/1905, p. 603]:

Here is one of the doubledeckers, with singledeck trailer, at the end of the line in Pisco port about 1907. Track gauge was 1435 mm [postcard, col. AM]:

The postcard below provides an extraordinary view of the entire 1.6 km line - with a doubledeck tram midway. That's Pisco town in the distance. Note railroad yards on the right. One wonders where the photographer was standing [col. AM]:  

Like Huacho in Lima department [see above], Pisco got electric tram fever in the 1910s and ordered two battery cars from J. G. Brill on 11 March 1920 (two months before Huacho). In this Brill photograph of car "A", the battery is clearly visible between the axles [col. AM]: 

Pisco's "electric" cars entered service in January 1921 (Huacho electrified in 1922). In the picture below, which may show the inauguration, the company's name has strangely been removed [col. AM]:  

The World Survey of Foreign Railways shows two battery-powered trams still running on 1.6 km of track in Pisco in 1935. Date of the line's demise is unknown.




Department of Cuzco
Cuzco is the former Inca capital in the Andes, founded in 1100 AD. Altitude is 3,400 m (11,100 ft), location 560 km southeast of Lima. The date of inauguration of the Cuzco street railway is unknown, but Ferro Carril Urbano de Cuzco ordered four trams from J. G. Brill in January and February 1910 [Brill Magazine, 7/1910, p. 212]:

The line may have opened later in 1910 or in 1911. The Cuzco street scene below, by Peruvian photographer Miguel Chani, is dated "c. 1908" - but the date may be wrong. Cuzco track gauge was 1067 mm / 42 in [col. AM]:

Guidebooks of the 1920s claimed that Cuzco residents preferred walking to the tram so only tourists rode them - and therefore they ran only on days that trains arrived at the railroad station. Here is a view in the tramway yard [col. AM]:


The postcard below shows a tram passing La Merced Church on Calle Márquez. Cuzco's famous 16th century Cathedral is visible just beyond [col. AM]:

The 1927 and 1928 editions of Peru's Extracto Estadístico [see below] cite the "Ferro Carril Urbano de Cuzco (eléctrico)". There is no evidence that Cuzco electrified its tramway with overhead wire. Unless the statistic is a mistake, it is possible that Cuzco operated a battery tram that it acquired from Huacho or Pisco. The World Survey lists of the 1930s report only animal power. The Cuzco tramway disappeared in 1946.  


BIBLIOGRAPHY (in order of publication)

Perú. Dirección Estadística. Extracto Estadístico, 1924-1934. Lima, 1925-1935. Bilingual surveys of Ferrocarriles/Railways note location, gauge and length of Peru's tram lines.

United States. Bureau of Foreign & Domestic Commerce. World Survey of Foreign Railways. Washington, 1933. Supplement, 1935. Name, owner, rolling stock, track gauge and length of Peru's tramways.

United States. International Trade Office. Industrial Reference Service, vol. 3, pt. 1, no. 9 (12/1945). A chapter entitled "Railways of Peru" describes the plantation railways in the Trujillo area, p. 10.

Klaus Kemp. Desarrollo de los Ferrocarriles en el Perú. Lima, 2003.

Elio Galessio. Historical Summary of the Peruvian Railroads. A valuable webpage that describes the development of Peru's railroads (in English). Sr. Galessio also supplied important information about Peru's tramways directly to the author.

This page was uploaded on
8 March 2004

Also see my pages on
The Tramways of Lima
The Tramways of Arequipa

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