The Tramways of
An Illustrated History
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.
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]:
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]:
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.]
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
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:
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]:
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]:
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]:
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]:
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. www.tra.ms]:
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]:
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]:
tram 701 was one of two imported from Elmira, New York, in 1939. It was
photographed in Arequipa on 8 October 1958 [William Janssen]:
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
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
the interior view above, this last photograph was also taken in May
1965, eight months before the steet railway disappeared [Bob Whetham]:
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.
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
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
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. . 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.
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. . 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
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.
Copyright © 2004-2104 Allen Morrison - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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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Electric Transport in Latin America