Germinating Projects: From Pacific Colony to the Orient Railroad by Angel Garduno

Whether it was Albert K.Owen's dream of a socialist utopian colony at Topolobampo Bay, Sinaloa, Mexico or his other dream of an international railroad from Austin, Texas to Topolobampo, Mexico, neither projects were realized as originally envisioned. After several and continuous impediments, Owen's colony gained traction but was ultimately a disaster with colonists being rendered without clean water or adequate food supplies, not to mention those dying from various diseases. Without any improvements on the horizons and with Owen no where to be found (he would frequent the colony but would not for extended periods of time since he was meeting with potential investors in the U.S. and London in an effort to raise funds), colonists began to take leave and head back from whence they came. It is a tragic story considering the "Topolobampo literature" produced. Taking the form of poems, songs, letters, manifestos, etc., this type of literature was more than propagandic - it was hopeful. It is fair to deem Owen a swindler. As Scholar Emily Rose Kinney rightfully points out, there is, from the offset, a serious contradiction in Owen's vision: he wants to establish a socialist colony so that people can escape from the overly competetive capitalism prevalent in the United States while at the same time trying to solicit investments into an international railroad which he hoped would then establish Topolobampo port as an economic hub for international and intercontinental trade.  Despite all of this, there is something to admire, not just of Owen but of everyone involved. This story is larger than Owen. Not one track of the railroad was laid down by Owen but instead was began by prominent Mexican businessman Enrique Creel and successful American entrepreneur Edward Stilwell. The process was once again stalled until the Mexican government finished the tracks on thier side of the border. Although these projects can be considered as failures in some regards, in others, they are simply germinating projects, which, as the biological term implies, sprouts forth when the surrounding environemnt allows for it.