Abstract

The Topolobampo Collection contains Albert Kimsey Owen's business records and promotional materials related to the colony and railroad enterprise established on Topolobampo Bay, Sinaloa, Mexico between 1872 and 1910. Materials include business correspondence, writings by Owen, legal documents, descriptions of corporate entities, promotional materials, images of the colony, maps, and plans of Pacific City. Prominent correspondents include C.B. Hoffman, John W. Lovell, J.H. Rice, and Arthur E. Stilwell. Corporations represented in the collection include the Credit Foncier Company; the Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company; the Mexican Western Railroad; and the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Company. Materials that describe day-to-day life in the colony are not represented in the collection. The collection is arranged in four series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS BY OWEN, 3) SUBJECT MATERIALS, and 4) MAPS AND PLANS.

Historical Background

Albert Kimsey Owen was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, on May 17, 1847. In 1863, Owen moved to Fort Craig, New Mexico, and by 1870 he was working as a surveyor in Chester. In the spring of 1872, he was hired by William S. Rosecrans and William J. Palmer to survey the west coast of Mexico for an extension of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad; it was then that he first reconnoitered the bay of Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico.

Owen immediately realized Topolobampo's commercial potential as a port for the mining regions of northern Mexico, as an outlet for trade with Asia, and as the terminus of a railroad that would connect the eastern seaboard with a southern point on the Pacific coast. After Palmer and Rosecrans failed to obtain a railroad concession, Owen surveyed and planned a town at Topolobampo harbor and, in 1880, organized a corporation with a group of New England investors called the Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company. In 1881, with the help of Porfirio Diaz, he obtained a concession to build the first section of track, to establish a colony and to build a city surrounding the harbor.

Owen's vision for the colony reflected his notion of utopian socialism, which he called "Integral Co-operation," and as chairman of the Credit Foncier Company, the corporate owner of colony lands, he was able to determine much of the character of the community. Colonists were required to subscribe in writing to the tenets of the company, which espoused eliminating private wealth and the use of money in favor of a system of credits for labor. Eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work and eight hours of culture and entertainment were among the guidelines that attracted colonists. Moreover, colonists were assured that they would build, operate and own the railroad, telegraphs, banks, water supply, and that they would share equal stakes in all aspects of running the town. All members were seen as equals and had to share equally in working the land and building the colony.

The first twenty-seven colonists arrived on November 10, 1886. Disorganized and without sufficient funding, the colony soon moved thirty miles inland to farm more productive land; later, they also rented agricultural lands at La Logia. The inability to secure a reliable source of water for agriculture and human consumption plagued colonists, and in 1891 colonists began "Los Tastes Ditch" to divert water from the Fuerte River toward Topolobampo Bay. Eventually, silting and low river flows made the canal unreliable. Colonists were also aided by Christian B. Hoffman, who created the Kansas-Sinaloa Investment Company to raise capital.

In the early 1890s, many colonists favored individual land ownership rather than corporate ownership. This dispute divided the community and eventually caused Owen, a supporter of corporate ownership, to leave the colony and abandon his faith in the ideals of "Integral Co-operation." Subsequently, he engaged Joseph Hampl as his agent in Topolobampo. In 1900, Owen convinced Arthur E. Stilwell and a group of Kansas City bankers to form the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Company. Work began in 1903, and the line to Topolobampo was in operation by 1909. The colony was abandoned by the turn of the century.

Scope and Content

The Topolobampo Collection contains Albert K. Owen's business records related to the promotion and development of the land, railroad and community at the bay of Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico, between 1872 and 1910. It provides a unique example of foreign capitalist development and colonization in late nineteenth-century Mexico. The collection contains correspondence, writings, legal documents, notes, published articles, maps, and plans that document the origins of Topolobampo, the ideas associated with the formation of the colony and highlight the ensuing legal and social problems that plagued the community. Materials that describe day-to-day life in the colony are not represented in the collection. The collection is arranged in four series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS BY OWEN, 3) SUBJECT MATERIALS, and 4) MAPS AND PLANS.

SERIES 1: CORRESPONDENCE

The CORRESPONDENCE series begins with a chronological list of correspondents in the collection. The series contains letters to and from Owen, as well as business letters between individuals who played prominent or peripheral roles in the development of Topolobampo. Significant correspondents include John W. Lovell, C. B. Hoffman, J. H. Rice, and Arthur E. Stilwell. Also included are five letters addressed to Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, and Diaz' response to the "intrigues" (legal disputes over land ownership) taking place in the colony (March 3, 1894).

The contents of Owen's letters range from his personal reasons for creating the colony (January 22, 1890) to allusions to the lawsuit and land disputes that took place in the 1890s. Early letters describe Topolobampo as a business and commercial venture. Later, more voluminous correspondence is preoccupied with the future of the community and the mundane problems of water, food supply and ownership disputes that ailed the community.

SERIES 2: WRITINGS BY OWEN

The WRITINGS BY OWEN series contains many of Owen's promotional, analytical and narrative writings. His thoughts on utopian society are articulated in his essay "The Albert Owen Plan of Integral Cooperation." The essay "New Year's Card for Friends: What I Believe and What I Am" provides an introspective glimpse of Owen's nature. Owen's first encounter with the bay at Topolobampo is recorded in his "Topolobampo journal." The WRITINGS are arranged alphabetically.

SERIES 3: SUBJECT MATERIALS

The SUBJECT MATERIALS series documents the logistics of the Topolobampo enterprise and includes descriptions of the numerous corporations involved in promoting and financing the project. Also included are detailed descriptions of the rail line divisions, order forms for locomotives and other equipment, railroad brochures, pamphlets, general descriptions of loans, minutes of stockholders' meetings, memoranda discussing the legal aspects of the colony, and a record of the sale and transfer of ownership of "Los Tastes Ditch."

Important corporate entities include the Credit Foncier Company; the Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company; the Home Investment Company; the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad; the Mexican Western Railroad; and numerous "Pacific City" enterprises. Of particular interest is a paste-up promotional brochure for the Home Investment Company that contains an essay on socialism and city block plans.

Legal documents tracing title to the Topolobampo lands are located in this series, as are newspaper articles about the colony.

The series also contains a photograph of A. K. Owen, an engraving of the colony site on the bay and a pamphlet by the Credit Foncier Company called "The Topolobampo Colonists" that includes images of the colony.

SERIES 4: MAPS AND PLANS

The MAPS AND PLANS series is arranged in three subseries: A) Colony Maps, B) Pacific City Plans and C) Railroad Maps. The Colony Maps subseries contains maps of the Topolobampo region, including the Fuerte Valley and the land distribution among the various owners. Of particular interest is the "Plat of Engineer Farm," which includes a table with the names of farmers and acreage in production.

The Pacific City Plans subseries contains two plans for Pacific City, formerly Gonzales City, that show its layout relative to the harbor as well as the names of streets and location of plazas. Also included are detailed model block plans designed by Owen, with elevations rendered in Arab-styled architecture.

Finally, the Railroad Maps subseries includes two maps for the proposed Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company, Owen's first railroad project. In addition, the subseries contains a map of the route for the proposed Mexican Western Railway and two maps of the completed Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway.

SEPARATION LIST

THE CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA (Topolobampo, Mexico). Vol.V No. 31 and Vol. VII No. 11

THE CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA CALENDAR [March 1886] (Hammonton, New Jersey). [Supplement to The Credit Foncier of Sinaloa No. 31]

THE CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA WITH SUPPLEMENT(Hammonton, New Jersey). Vol. 2 No. 20 and Vol. 2 Nos. 25-27

THE INTEGRAL CO-OPERATOR (Enterprise, Texas). Vol. 3 Num. 34; 3:44; 4:12; 4:18; 4:25; 4:27; 5:4.

THE NEW EMPIRE (Kansas City). Vol. I No. 4

OUR COUNTRY (New York). Vol. 2 No. 78 (1888)

OUR HATCHET (Sivirijoa, Mexico). Num. 1-15 and 18-37

SAN BLAS MINER (San Blas, Mexico) Vol. I No. I (1908)

TOPOLOBAMPO: PUERTO DEL NOROESTE (Topolobampo, Mexico). Ano. I Num. 21; Ano II Num. 49

TWENTIETH CENTURY (New York). Vol. XVI No. 20 and Vol. XVI No. 25

CORRESPONDENCE

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Box Folder Oversize
1 1 Chronological list of correspondents.
1 2 Correspondence, 1881.
1 3 Correspondence, 1883.
1 4 Correspondence, 1884.
1 5 Correspondence, 1885.
1 6 Correspondence, 1888.
1 7 Correspondence, 1889. Contains a document that raises questions and poses problems regarding the colonization concession.
1 8 Correspondence, 1890. Contains a 24-page, handwritten letter dated January 24, 1890, in which Owen recounts aspirations and objectives regarding the Topolobampo Colony, at this point known as Pacific City.
1 9 Correspondence, 1891.
1 10 Correspondence, 1892.
1 11 Correspondence, 1893.
1 12 Correspondence, 1894.
1 13 Correspondence, 1895.
1 14 Correspondence, 1896.
1 15 Correspondence, 1896.
1 16 Correspondence, 1897.
1 17 Correspondence, 1898.
1 18 Correspondence, 1899.
1 19 Correspondence, 1900.
1 20 Correspondence, 1901.
1 21 Correspondence, 1902.
1 22 Correspondence, 1903.
2 1 Correspondence, 1904.
2 2 Correspondence, 1905.
2 3 Correspondence, 1906.
2 4 Correspondence, 1907.
2 5 Correspondence, 1910.
2 6 Correspondence. No date.

WRITINGS BY OWEN

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2 7 Address by Albert K. Owen to Cooperators at Woolrich, England. Carbon copy, March 15, 1894.
2 8 Albert Owen Plan of Integral Cooperation: The Problem Stated. Carbon copy.
2 9 Instructions to Colonists Who Go to Sinaloa During the Eight Months Beginning November, 1st 1887. Printed pamphlet.
2 10 Looking at What Can Be Done Now -- Not Backward, Not Forward. Printed pamphlet, December 1, 1910.
2 11 Money of Account. Galley.
2 12 National and State Auto-Highways. Printed broadside.
2 13 New Route to the Pacific. Published letter, June 13, 1880.
2 14 New Years Card for Friends: What I Believe and What I Am. Carbon copy.
2 15 Newspaper articles by Owen.
2 16 Paris: A Glance at the City on the Seine by a Tourist. Carbon copy.
2 17 Problems of the Hour: Seven Brief Studies. Carbon copy.
2 18 Proposition from A. K. Owen to..., 1888. Manuscript.
2 19 Reflections. Carbon copy.
2 20 Remarks. Printed pamphlet, October 20, 1892.
2 21 Remarks to the Subscribers of the Credit Foncier Company. Printed pamphlet, September 25, 1888.
2 22 Study. Carbon copy.
2 23 There Is a Light in Asia. Carbon copy, December 25, 1891.
2 24 Three-headed Hydra of Society: How to Exterminate the Monster. Printed broadside.
2 25 To Convert Christians. Carbon copy, December 8, 1892.
2 26 FB-126-04 Topolobampo journal, September 9 - October 26, 1872. Photocopy.

SUBJECT MATERIALS

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2 27 Alfaro Lawsuit. Carbon copy.
2 28 Credit Foncier Company - Integral Co-operation. Galley.
2 29 Credit Foncier Company - A Lesson to Study. Typescript, February 22, 1890.
2 30 Credit Foncier Company - List of Births and Deaths in the Topolobampo Colony, 1892 - 1893. Typescript.
2 31 Credit Foncier Company - List of Colonists, June 30, 1893. Typescript.
2 32 Credit Foncier Company - Official Report of Capt. R.R. Leary, US S.S. Iroquois to Secretary of the Navy, US. Printed broadside, December 13, 1887.
2 33 FB-126-05 Credit Foncier Company - The Purposes of the Topolobampo Colonists: Our Principles.
2 34 Credit Foncier Company - Statement of Account form.
2 35 Credit Foncier Company - The Situation, the Opportunity and the Duty. Carbon copy.
2 36 Credit Foncier Company - To the Board of Directors of the Credit Foncier Company, Bay-side, Topolobampo. Carbon copy.
2 37 FB-126-06 Credit Foncier Company - To the Stockholders of the Credit Foncier Company. Printed broadside, March 16, 1887.
2 38 FB-126-09 Credit Foncier Company - The Topolobampo Colonists. Pamphlet with images of the colony.
2 39 Credit Foncier Company - Vote of Confidence to A.K. Owen. Typescript, March 8, 1893.
2 40 CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA - Extracts from the CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA published at Topolobampo.... Printed broadside, February 15, 1891.
2 41 CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA - Memoranda of Agreement, 1892.
2 42 CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA - The Topolobampo Colonists: What is Said of Them. Printed pamphlet, September 1, 1892.
2 43 FB-126-08 Drawing of Topolobampo Bay, 1887. By Ella B. Stanley and published in HARPER'S WEEKLY.
2 44 Financial Proposition: To Organize the Three Companies. Carbon copy.
2 45 Foreign Corporations Doing Business in Mexico: Code of Commerce, Articles 265-267. Typescript.
2 46 FB-126-07 Hampl, Jose - El Canal de Los Tastes. Printed broadside, February 2, 1902.
2 47 FB-126-07 Hampl, Jose - La Colonia de Topolobampo. Printed broadside.
2 48 Hampl, Jose - Interesante. March 22, 1902.
2 49 FB-126-07 Hampl, Jose - Los Terrenos de Los Mochis. Printed broadside, March 15, 1902.
2 50 Home Investment Company - Let Us Preach the Gospel of Higher Association. Paste-up promotional pamphlet for Home City, including Owen's notes and an essay on socialism.
2 51 Home Investment Company - The Plan. Printed broadside with annotation.
2 52 Home Investment Company - An Up-to-date Business Plan, For Business Men, to Unite Savings, Labor, Lands.... Printed broadside, ca. 1899.
2 53 Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad - Memorandum of Contract (Between A.K. Owen and A.F. Stilwell). Manuscript drafts and typescript final version, April 1, 1900.
2 54 Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Company - Schedule. October 1909.
2 55 Kansas-Sinaloa Investment Company - Memoranda, 1891 - 1892.
2 56 Legal documents related to Topolobampo land titles, 1877 - 1897.
2 57 Legal documents related to Topolobampo land titles, 1900 - 1903.
2 58 Loan agreement between A.K. Owen and Kinsley Dryden Doyle. December 17, 1896.
2 59 Memoranda.
3 1 Mexican Central Railroad. Map.
3 2 Mexican Northern Railroad - Memorandum. Carbon copy.
3 3 Mexican Western Railroad. Collection of carbon copy documents related to the development, financing and procurement of materials for the first 32 miles of track beginning at Topolobampo harbor.
3 4 Mexican Western Railroad - Memorandum Made by S.C Jackson. Carbon copy.
3 5 Mexican Western Railroad - Sample stock certificate.
3 6 Mines - Reports. Collection of mining reports for resources in the Topolobampo area.
3 7 Newspaper articles about Topolobampo, 1881 - 1903.
3 8 North Mexico Company - Articles of Incorporation. Carbon copy draft, November 13, 1896.
3 9 North Mexico Contraction and Purveying Company - Memorandum. Typescript.
3 10 North Mexico Contracting Company - Description of company. Typescript.
3 11 North Mexico Contracting Company - Subscription agreement. Typescript copy, April 1902.
3 12 Pacific-Kansas Investment Company - Subscriptions. Typescript.
3 13 Pacific City - Descriptions of the site.
3 14 Pacific City - A Home For Every Citizen. Typescript.
3 15 Pacific City - Land Resources Directly Contributing to Pacific City Site, Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico. August 1904.
3 16 Pacific City - Memoranda. Carbon copies.
3 17 Pacific City - Moneys spent by and Through Albert K. Owen to acquire and develop Pacific City Site..., 1873 - 1903. Typescript.
3 18 Pacific City Colonization Company - The Assets of the Pacific City Colonization Company. Carbon copy.
3 19 Pacific City Contracting and Purveying Company - A Business Proposition.... Typescript.
3 20 Pacific City Contracting Company - Possible Business. Carbon copy.
3 21 Pacific City Contracting Company - A Proposition How to Build a New City Quickly.... Also includes a description of the company.
3 22 Pacific City Development Company - Memoranda No. 3 and No. 4. Typescript.
3 23 Pacific City Development Company - Subscriptions, 1903. Typescript.
3 24 Pacific City Terminal and Contracting Company - Description of the company, memoranda and subscriptions. Typescripts.
3 25 Photograph of A.K. Owen, 1894. Photogravure image.
3 26 Power of attorney - A.K. Owen.
3 27 Promotional exerpts from newspaper articles, 1891 - 1905. Typescripts.
3 28 Reports of experts on Topolobampo. Typescripts.
3 29 Sinaloa and Chicago Railroad - Promotional brochure.
3 30 Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company - Agreement to form the company. Manuscript (in Spanish), May 26, 1886.
3 31 Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company - Description of the corporation by Owen. Carbon copy.
3 32 Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company. Indenture Agreement with the Mexican American Construction Company.
3 33 Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company, 1890. Memorandum of Agreement with John H. Rice and the Kansas-Sinaloa Investment Company. Carbon copy.
3 34 Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company, 1886. Stockholders' Meeting.
3 35 Topolobampo Contracting Company - Memorandum. Typescript.
3 36 Topolobampo Terminal, Contracting and Purveying Company - A Statement.

MAPS AND PLANS

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Colony Maps

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Box Folder Oversize
4 1 MC-044-03 Lands of Louise B. Owen.
4 2 MC-044-03 Map of the Fuerte Valley from Topolobampo Bay to Kilometre 65 of R.R. Line Showing Land Lines..., 1891. 2 copies-- 1 annotated "Supplement to 'The New City'."
4 3 MC-044-03 Map of the Fuerte Valley from Topolobampo Bay to Kilometre 65 of R.R. Line Showing Land Lines, Sanitary Zone...
4 4 MC-044-03 Map showing lands owned by Messrs. Carmen and Ybarra on the N. Side of Topolvampo (sic) Bay.... Surveyed by Frederick G. Fitch, C. E. (May 1873).
4 5 MC-044-03 Plan of Topolobampo Harbor and Vicinity, 1882. By A.K. Owens
4 6 MC-044-03 Plat of Engineer Farm, Mexico.
4 7 MC-044-03 Topolobampo Harbor. Department of the Navy, Oceanographic Office, 22 January 1868.

Pacific City Plans

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4 8 MC-044-04 Block of Pacific Colony.
4 9 MC-044-04 Model Block, Pacific City. Associated Cottage Residences 1/2 Acre Lots, With Centralized Kitchens....
4 10 MC-044-04 Model Block, Pacific Colony, Sinaloa, Mexico. Designed by A.K. Owens, drawn by J. R. Villalon (2 copies).
4 11 MC-044-04 Model Block, Pacific Colony, Sinaloa, Mexico. Designed by A.K. Owens. Also includes Studies of Arabic Ornamentation for a Model Block, Pacific Colony, Sinaloa, Mexico (3 copies).
4 12 MC-044-04 Plan of Gonzalez City, 1882. By A.K. Owens.
4 13 MC-044-04 Plan of Pacific City, Sinaloa-Mexico, 1889. By A.K. Owens (4 copies-- annotated).

Railroad Maps

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Box Folder Oversize
4 14 MC-044-05 Map of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway.
4 15 MC-044-05 Map of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Showing Located and Preliminary Lines.... October 1904.
4 16 MC-044-05 Map of the Mexican-Western Railway from Topolobampo via Bocoyna to Chihuahua Showing the Sierra.... By Albert von Motz.
4 17 MC-044-05 Map of the Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Line, Mexico. By Albert von Motz.
4 18 MC-044-05 Map of the Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific R.R. and Telegraph (Western Division) from Chihuahua and Parral..., 1883. By Albert von Motz.



Finding aid generated: 2008-05-16