Not long ago I discovered that Mexico’s most famous modernizer (and most infamous dictator), Porfirio Díaz, used to enjoy soaking in his own personal hot-spring pool at the foot of Mazatepec Volcano, located 25 kilometers southwest of Guadalajara. “Yes,” a local old timer told me, “he actually deviated the Guadalajara-Manzanillo railroad track (which he inaugurated in 1908) so it would pass by here. He even had a train station built here just so he could go for a swim in this pool”
Well, that little station’s days of glory ended when Don Porfirio’s thirty years of automatic reelection provoked the Mexican Revolution and I wondered whether the old building would still be standing. So, a few days ago, I decided to go take a look.
It took only five minutes to drive from the Circuito Metropolitano Sur highway to the spot where people said we would find the station, which looked in relatively good shape considering it might be over 100 years old. All the old train stations I’ve seen in Jalisco look very similar (and charming, I might add) and I wonder who designed them. Back in Don Porfirio’s day, Mexico’s railroads were being constructed by foreign engineers, British and American, but I couldn’t find any information on exactly who built the Guadalajara-Manzanillo line.
According to Tony Burton, author of "Western Mexico, a Traveler’s Treasury," this train station was closed to the public in the early 1990s and all passenger service between Guadalajara and Manzanillo ended a few years later. This is too bad because, adds Burton, a 1899 guidebook to Mexico said the views from the train, near Mazatepec, were extraordinary, “and after leaving Valencia there is a splendid view of mountain, lake and plain, aqueducts here and there and different levels with long lines of graceful arches.” In particular he mentions that the picturesque view of the Hacienda of Bella Vista was “one of the most pleasing panoramas in all Mexico.”