No. 409.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Fish.

No. 226.]

Sir: The Mexican Congress, which adjourned on the 15th instant, passed an act extending for one year, from January 1, 1875, the time fixed for the commencement of the work of the Tehuantepec Railroad Company, of which Mr. Simon Stevens, of New York, is president. In addition thereto, it has voted a subsidy of $7,500 per kilometer, ($12,500 per mile,) which will amount to about $2,000,000 for the entire work, for the pay merit of which 50 per cent. of the customs-duties at the port of Minatitlan and Salina Cruz is pledged; and, in addition, a special privilege is granted to the company of cutting the precious woods of the isthmus.

Congress also ratified a contract made by the executive with a firm, styled Camacho, Mendizabal & Co., representing a mixed Mexican and English interest, for the construction of a railroad, termed the “Central Railroad of Mexico,” from the city of Mexico to the city of Leon, in the State of Guanajuato, a distance of about 280 miles, passing by the cities of Queretaro, Celaya, Salamanca, and Guanajuato. The subsidy granted is $9,500 per kilometer, ($15,288 per mile,) payable in 8 per cent. of the duties at the custom-houses of Vera Cruz, Tampico, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, and Guaymas. It also grants to the company the exclusive lottery-privilege for the entire republic. Work is required to be commenced within ten months, 50 kilometers (31 miles) to be finished in eighteen months, and the entire road to be completed to Leon within five and a half years from the 8th of December, 1874. The gauge is fixed by law at 4 feet 8½ inches, which is the same as that of the railroad now in operation between this city and Vera Cruz.

A contract has been celebrated between the Federal executive and Hon. Edward L. Plumb, as the representative of the International Railroad Company of Texas, for the construction of a railroad from the city of Leon to the northern frontier, at such point on the Rio Grande as to connect with the southwestern terminus of said International Railroad, thereby joining the projected railroad system of Mexico with that of the United States. The proposed road from Leon contemplates uniting, by means of the main line or branches, the cities of Lagos, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Saltillo, and Monterey. The contract provides a subsidy of $9,500 per kilometer, ($15,288 per mile,) for the payment of which 25 per cent. of the customs-duties at Matamoras and the other frontier custom-houses on the Rio Grande are pledged. The work upon the road is to be commenced within three months after the completion of the “Central Railroad of Mexico” referred to above, and to be completed to the Rio Grande within six years from the same date. The gauge is to be 4 feet 8½ inches, the same as the International of Texas and the connecting system in Mexico. To secure the fulfillment of the contract, the company is required to give a bond of $200,000 within eight months after the passage of the law. This contract was submitted to Congress for its approval by the executive, through the minister of public works, on the 14th instant, the day before its adjournment, by which it was referred to the joint committees of industry, and will be acted upon at the next session of Congress, which convenes April 1, 1875. I inclose a copy and translation of the communication of the minister of public works in transmitting the contract [Page 854] to Congress, as reflecting the views of the executive upon the subject of railroads in Mexico and their connection with the railroads of the United States.

A contract has also been celebrated by the executive with Mr. David Boyle Blair, as the representative of a joint American and English interest, for the construction of a railroad from the port of Guaymas, in the State of Sonora, to the northern frontier of the State, leading toward Tucson, in the Territory of Arizona. The contract grants as a subsidy alternate sections of 5.633 hectares per kilometer (equal to about 35 square miles per lineal mile of the road), of the public lands of the State of Sonora, not to exceed one-half of the same. The work is to be commenced within ten months after the contract becomes a law—50 kilometers to be completed in eight months thereafter, 200 kilometers to be completed within two years, and the main line to be finished within five and a half years. The gauge is fixed at 4 feet 8 inches. The contract grants the free introduction of all materials and supplies required for the construction and equipment of the road, and exempts it from taxation for fifteen years, and from stamp-duties for fifty years. Free transit through the territory is granted to all goods and passengers. A bond of $50,000 is required to be deposited with the government, within six months after the contract becomes a law, for the performance of its stipulations. This contract was also submitted by the executive to Congress for its approval on the day before the final adjournment, and will receive its consideration at the next session, in April, 1875.

I am, &c.,