Count Telefener and the "Macaroni Line" of 1881

Feb 24, 2020 147

In 1880 Count Giuseppe Telfener and several European, New York and Texas financiers developed a grand plan to link New York and Mexico by rail. The New York, Texas and Mexican Railroad Company was chartered in Paris in October 1880, and construction began about a year later. Count Telfener was no amateur in the field; he had just completed a 350-mile rail line in Argentina.

Texas was chosen for the starting point because the state offered 16 sections of land for each mile of track completed. Construction on the run between Richmond and Brownsville began with two crews working toward each other from Rosenberg Junction and Victoria. Telfener paid passage for 1,200 Italian laborers, mostly from the northern province of Lombardy-who, he hoped, would eventually bring their families to Texas and settle on land along the right-of-way. Because macaroni was a staple of the laborers' diet, the enterprise soon became known as the "Macaroni Line!'

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