Topolobampo Collection

Mandeville Special Collections Library
Mandeville Special Collections Library
The UCSD Libraries
9500 Gilman Drive
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, California 92093-0175
Phone: (858) 534-2533
Fax: (858) 534-5950
Copyright 2005
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Owen, Albert Kimsey
Title: Topolobampo Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1872 - 1910
Extent: 2.30 linear feet (4 archive boxes and 8 oversize folders)
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.
Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
La Jolla, California 92093-0175
Collection number: MSS 0106
Language of Material: Collection materials in English


Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Information

Not Available

Preferred Citation

Topolobampo Collection, MSS 0106. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

Publication Rights

Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

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 of Collection

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Owen, Albert Kimsey -- Archives
Díaz, Porfirio, 1830-1915
Credit Foncier Company
Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company
Mexican Western Railroad Company
Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Company
Railroads -- Mexico
Railroads -- Mexico -- Maps
Utopian socialism
Utopias -- History -- 19th century
Utopias -- Mexico -- Topolobampo
Real estate development -- Mexico -- Topolobampo
Topolobampo (Mexico) -- History
Mexico -- History -- 1867-1910


Díaz, Porfirio, 1830-1915, -- correspondent
Lowell, John W., -- correspondent
Hoffman, C. B., -- correspondent
Rice, J. H., -- correspondent
Stilwell, Arthur Edward, 1861-1928, -- correspondent

Collection Contents



box 1, folder 1

Chronological list of correspondents

box 1, folder 2

Correspondence 1881

box 1, folder 3

Correspondence 1883

box 1, folder 4

Correspondence 1884

box 1, folder 5

Correspondence 1885

box 1, folder 6

Correspondence 1888

box 1, folder 7

Correspondence 1889


Contains a document that raises questions and poses problems regarding the colonization concession.
box 1, folder 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.
box 1, folder 9

Correspondence 1891

box 1, folder 10

Correspondence 1892

box 1, folder 11

Correspondence 1893

box 1, folder 12

Correspondence 1894

box 1, folder 13

Correspondence 1895

box 1, folder 14

Correspondence 1896

box 1, folder 15

Correspondence 1896

box 1, folder 16

Correspondence 1897

box 1, folder 17

Correspondence 1898

box 1, folder 18

Correspondence 1899

box 1, folder 19

Correspondence 1900

box 1, folder 20

Correspondence 1901

box 1, folder 21

Correspondence 1902

box 1, folder 22

Correspondence 1903

box 2, folder 1

Correspondence 1904

box 2, folder 2

Correspondence 1905

box 2, folder 3

Correspondence 1906

box 2, folder 4

Correspondence 1907

box 2, folder 5

Correspondence 1910

box 2, folder 6



No date.


box 2, folder 7

Address by Albert K. Owen to Cooperators at Woolrich, England


Carbon copy, March 15, 1894.
box 2, folder 8

Albert Owen Plan of Integral Cooperation: The Problem Stated


Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 9

Instructions to Colonists Who Go to Sinaloa During the Eight Months Beginning November, 1st 1887


Printed pamphlet.
box 2, folder 10

Looking at What Can Be Done Now -- Not Backward, Not Forward


Printed pamphlet, December 1, 1910.
box 2, folder 11

Money of Account


box 2, folder 12

National and State Auto-Highways


Printed broadside.
box 2, folder 13

New Route to the Pacific


Published letter, June 13, 1880.
box 2, folder 14

New Years Card for Friends: What I Believe and What I Am


Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 15

Newspaper articles by Owen

box 2, folder 16

Paris: A Glance at the City on the Seine by a Tourist


Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 17

Problems of the Hour: Seven Brief Studies


Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 18

Proposition from A. K. Owen to... 1888


box 2, folder 19



Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 20



Printed pamphlet, October 20, 1892.
box 2, folder 21

Remarks to the Subscribers of the Credit Foncier Company


Printed pamphlet, September 25, 1888.
box 2, folder 22



Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 23

There Is a Light in Asia


Carbon copy, December 25, 1891.
box 2, folder 24

Three-headed Hydra of Society: How to Exterminate the Monster


Printed broadside.
box 2, folder 25

To Convert Christians


Carbon copy, December 8, 1892.
box 2, folder 26, oversize FB12604

Topolobampo journal, September 9 - October 26, 1872




box 2, folder 27

Alfaro Lawsuit


Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 28

Credit Foncier Company - Integral Co-operation


box 2, folder 29

Credit Foncier Company - A Lesson to Study


Typescript, February 22, 1890.
box 2, folder 30

Credit Foncier Company - List of Births and Deaths in the Topolobampo Colony 1892 - 1893


box 2, folder 31

Credit Foncier Company - List of Colonists, June 30, 1893


box 2, folder 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.
box 2, folder 33, oversize FB12605

Credit Foncier Company - The Purposes of the Topolobampo Colonists: Our Principles

box 2, folder 34

Credit Foncier Company - Statement of Account form

box 2, folder 35

Credit Foncier Company - The Situation, the Opportunity and the Duty


Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 36

Credit Foncier Company - To the Board of Directors of the Credit Foncier Company, Bay-side, Topolobampo


Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 37, oversize FB12606

Credit Foncier Company - To the Stockholders of the Credit Foncier Company


Printed broadside, March 16, 1887.
box 2, folder 38, oversize FB12609

Credit Foncier Company - The Topolobampo Colonists


Pamphlet with images of the colony.
box 2, folder 39

Credit Foncier Company - Vote of Confidence to A.K. Owen


Typescript, March 8, 1893.
box 2, folder 40

CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA - Extracts from the CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA published at Topolobampo...


Printed broadside, February 15, 1891.
box 2, folder 41

CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA - Memoranda of Agreement 1892

box 2, folder 42

CREDIT FONCIER OF SINALOA - The Topolobampo Colonists: What is Said of Them


Printed pamphlet, September 1, 1892.
box 2, folder 43, oversize FB12608

Drawing of Topolobampo Bay 1887


By Ella B. Stanley and published in HARPER'S WEEKLY.
box 2, folder 44

Financial Proposition: To Organize the Three Companies


Carbon copy.
box 2, folder 45

Foreign Corporations Doing Business in Mexico: Code of Commerce, Articles 265-267


box 2, folder 46, oversize FB12607

Hampl, Jose - El Canal de Los Tastes


Printed broadside, February 2, 1902.
box 2, folder 47, oversize FB12607

Hampl, Jose - La Colonia de Topolobampo


Printed broadside.
box 2, folder 48

Hampl, Jose - Interesante


March 22, 1902.
box 2, folder 49, oversize FB12607

Hampl, Jose - Los Terrenos de Los Mochis


Printed broadside, March 15, 1902.
box 2, folder 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.
box 2, folder 51

Home Investment Company - The Plan


Printed broadside with annotation.
box 2, folder 52

Home Investment Company - An Up-to-date Business Plan, For Business Men, to Unite Savings, Labor, Lands...


Printed broadside, ca. 1899.
box 2, folder 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.
box 2, folder 54

Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Company - Schedule


October 1909.
box 2, folder 55

Kansas-Sinaloa Investment Company - Memoranda 1891 - 1892

box 2, folder 56

Legal documents related to Topolobampo land titles 1877 - 1897

box 2, folder 57

Legal documents related to Topolobampo land titles 1900 - 1903

box 2, folder 58

Loan agreement between A.K. Owen and Kinsley Dryden Doyle


December 17, 1896.
box 2, folder 59


box 3, folder 1

Mexican Central Railroad


box 3, folder 2

Mexican Northern Railroad - Memorandum


Carbon copy.
box 3, folder 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.
box 3, folder 4

Mexican Western Railroad - Memorandum Made by S.C Jackson


Carbon copy.
box 3, folder 5

Mexican Western Railroad - Sample stock certificate

box 3, folder 6

Mines - Reports


Collection of mining reports for resources in the Topolobampo area.
box 3, folder 7

Newspaper articles about Topolobampo 1881 - 1903

box 3, folder 8

North Mexico Company - Articles of Incorporation


Carbon copy draft, November 13, 1896.
box 3, folder 9

North Mexico Contraction and Purveying Company - Memorandum


box 3, folder 10

North Mexico Contracting Company - Description of company


box 3, folder 11

North Mexico Contracting Company - Subscription agreement


Typescript copy, April 1902.
box 3, folder 12

Pacific-Kansas Investment Company - Subscriptions


box 3, folder 13

Pacific City - Descriptions of the site

box 3, folder 14

Pacific City - A Home For Every Citizen


box 3, folder 15

Pacific City - Land Resources Directly Contributing to Pacific City Site, Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico


August 1904.
box 3, folder 16

Pacific City - Memoranda


Carbon copies.
box 3, folder 17

Pacific City - Moneys spent by and Through Albert K. Owen to acquire and develop Pacific City Site... 1873 - 1903


box 3, folder 18

Pacific City Colonization Company - The Assets of the Pacific City Colonization Company


Carbon copy.
box 3, folder 19

Pacific City Contracting and Purveying Company - A Business Proposition...


box 3, folder 20

Pacific City Contracting Company - Possible Business


Carbon copy.
box 3, folder 21

Pacific City Contracting Company - A Proposition How to Build a New City Quickly...


Also includes a description of the company.
box 3, folder 22

Pacific City Development Company - Memoranda No. 3 and No. 4


box 3, folder 23

Pacific City Development Company - Subscriptions 1903


box 3, folder 24

Pacific City Terminal and Contracting Company - Description of the company, memoranda and subscriptions


box 3, folder 25

Photograph of A.K. Owen 1894


Photogravure image.
box 3, folder 26

Power of attorney - A.K. Owen

box 3, folder 27

Promotional exerpts from newspaper articles 1891 - 1905


box 3, folder 28

Reports of experts on Topolobampo


box 3, folder 29

Sinaloa and Chicago Railroad - Promotional brochure

box 3, folder 30

Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company - Agreement to form the company


Manuscript (in Spanish), May 26, 1886.
box 3, folder 31

Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company - Description of the corporation by Owen


Carbon copy.
box 3, folder 32

Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company


Indenture Agreement with the Mexican American Construction Company.
box 3, folder 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.
box 3, folder 34

Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Company 1886


Stockholders' Meeting.
box 3, folder 35

Topolobampo Contracting Company - Memorandum


box 3, folder 36

Topolobampo Terminal, Contracting and Purveying Company - A Statement




Colony Maps

box 4, folder 1, oversize MC04403

Lands of Louise B. Owen

box 4, folder 2, oversize MC04403

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'."
box 4, folder 3, oversize MC04403

Map of the Fuerte Valley from Topolobampo Bay to Kilometre 65 of R.R. Line Showing Land Lines, Sanitary Zone..

box 4, folder 4, oversize MC04403

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).
box 4, folder 5, oversize MC04403

Plan of Topolobampo Harbor and Vicinity 1882


By A.K. Owens
box 4, folder 6, oversize MC04403

Plat of Engineer Farm, Mexico

box 4, folder 7, oversize MC04403

Topolobampo Harbor


Department of the Navy, Oceanographic Office, 22 January 1868.

Pacific City Plans

box 4, folder 8, oversize MC04404

Block of Pacific Colony

box 4, folder 9, oversize MC04404

Model Block, Pacific City. Associated Cottage Residences 1/2 Acre Lots, With Centralized Kitchens...

box 4, folder 10, oversize MC04404

Model Block, Pacific Colony, Sinaloa, Mexico


Designed by A.K. Owens, drawn by J. R. Villalon (2 copies).
box 4, folder 11, oversize MC04404

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).
box 4, folder 12, oversize MC04404

Plan of Gonzalez City 1882


By A.K. Owens.
box 4, folder 13, oversize MC04404

Plan of Pacific City, Sinaloa-Mexico 1889


By A.K. Owens (4 copies-- annotated).

Railroad Maps

box 4, folder 14, oversize MC04405

Map of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway

box 4, folder 15, oversize MC04405

Map of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Showing Located and Preliminary Lines...


October 1904.
box 4, folder 16, oversize MC04405

Map of the Mexican-Western Railway from Topolobampo via Bocoyna to Chihuahua Showing the Sierra...


By Albert von Motz.
box 4, folder 17, oversize MC04405

Map of the Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Line, Mexico


By Albert von Motz.
box 4, folder 18, oversize MC04405

Map of the Texas, Topolobampo and Pacific R.R. and Telegraph (Western Division) from Chihuahua and Parral... 1883


By Albert von Motz.