The "Fourth Period"begins sometime early in 1885 with the use of Mexican postal stationery with embossed Mexican stamps on them and a newly designed frank that would remain on Wells Fargo y Cia. (WFyC) postal statinery envelopes until the closing of its express operations. This green colored frank in Spanish with a steam engine crossing a trestle on the left side, a steamship entering a harbor on the right side, and the emblem of Mexico in the center, (Eagle with Snake on Cactus) would represent Wells Fargo y Cia's newly formed relationship of cooperation with the Mexican Postal Authority. Wells Fargo y Cia would dominate the express business in Mexico from this point on.
Around 1879, with the advent of railroad construction from the Unites States, WF sent representatives to Mexico City (the office in Mexico City is not listed in the Office Directories until 1883) to establish contact with the Mexican Government and begin the process of negotiations for an Express contract to carry mail and goods in Mexico. In July of 1883, wells Fargo y cia opened 39 new offices to go with existing coas offices. All of these offices were located in towns, cities or railway stations by newly built railroad lines. By 1885, Wells Fargo y Cia. had 65 offices. In 1890, WFyC offices had grown to 110, and by 1899 there were 226 offices. During this period, Wells Fargo y Cia. opened new offices where demand required them, and close offices that were no longer needed, or moved old offices along railroads lines that were under construction to more desirable locations along the tracks. In this period, Wells Fargo y Cia. would use railroadas almost exclusively to transport their express mail and other goods. Vera Cruz and Tampico, on the east coast, and the western coast port express offices and agencies would receive and send goods and mail by ship when their schedules indicated this was the faste means of travel or when no railroad transit existed.
Of the three American railroad companies that built extensions from their U.S. lines toward Mexico city, two were used exclusively by Wells Fargo y Cia. The first was Santa Fe's Mexican Central Railway system, was composed of (1) the Main Line Division from El Paso (on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande River) and Paso Del Norte (on the Mexican side, later to become ciudad Juarez) to Mexico City, completed on April 10, 1884, (2) the Tampico Division, completed on March 30, 1890, from Chicalote to la Barra, and (3) the Guadalajara Line Division, completed on May 15, 1888, from Irapuato to Guadalajara. In 1902, the Mexican Central purchased El Ferrocarril (F.C.) Mexico, the Cuernavaca y Pacifico from Mexico City to Balsas and El Ferrocarril Monterey Al Golfo (F.C. Monterrey Y Golfo De Mexico) with all the extensions and short lines that were part of these systems. The SF also built the Sonoran Railway LTD (F.C. de Sonora) from Nogales to the port town of Guaymas, Sonora, on the Sea of Cortez. This system tied into the Southern Pacific's main line at Benson, A.T., through the New Mexcio & Arizona Railway from Benson to Nogales and would be traded to the SP in 1898. The second railroad system was the Southern Pacific composed of the Ferrocarril Internaciona Mexicano wystem that started from Piedras Negras across from Eagle Pass, Texas, and went to Monterrey and Toeron, completed in 1887, anthen to Durango, completed in 1892, and then to Tapehuanas in 1902. In 1909, the SP formed the Ferrocarril Sud- Pacifico de Mexico composed of the SF's Sonoran Railroad completed on October 25, 1882, to Guaymas by the SF and completed the extension down the coast to Mazatlan in the same year. In 1910 the F.C. Sud-Pacifico de Mexico continued extending the railroad down the coast to reach Tepic and then toward Guadalajara, which was completed in 1927. These two railroad systems built many other short lines and extensions over the years following their entrance into Mexico. Wells Fargo had contracts with both the SF & SP in the U.S. and extended these contracts to include the Mexican operations. A third major railroad system used exclusively by Wells Fargo y cia. was the Ferrocarril Mexicano that was completed in 1872 and owned by an English consortiunm. The contract to carry express mail over the Mexicano probably was signed at about the same time as the Mexican Postal Office contract and gave Wells Fargo y Cia. the access they needed to Mexico city via its main shipping port of Vera Cruz on the Gulfo of Mexico. These contracts would remain with Wells Fargo y Cia. until the closing of its express operations in Mexico.
General William J. Palmer, of the D&RG lost control of the Laredo-Mexico City line before its completion on September 29, 1888, to the English firm of Matheson & Co. in London. When compelted, the line became the Ferrocarril Nacional Mexicano de Mexico. This line started its own express company (The National Express Company) that began carryng mail in 1892 and also operated over: (1) The F.C. Michoacan & Pacific, 57 miles between Zitacuaro and Maravatio on the Uruapan branch; (2) the F.C. Guanajuato, a San Luis de la Paz y Pozos railroad built from Rincon, on the main line, to Pozos; and (3) the F.C. Vanegas, Cedral & Rio Verde, running from Vanegas on the main line to the silver mining district of Matehuala. The Hidalgo Express Company was a Mexican owned express company and began carrying mail in 1893. They operated over: (1) The F.C. Hidalgo Y Northeastern that was consolidated out of several short lines in 1892, which started at the Peralvillo railroad station in Mexico city and was the only direct route from Mexico city to Pachuca with extensions from Tizayuca on the main line to Zimpango and from Tepa on the main line to Tulancingo; (2) th F.C. Interoceanico de Mexico from the San Lazaro Station in Mexico City to Vera Cruz, a consolidation of many Mexican built railroads, with extensions to Teziutlan, San Juan de los Llanos, and to Puente de Ixtla; (3) the F.C. Nacional Tehuantepec from Coatzacoalcos on the Gulf of Mexico to Salina Cruz on the Pacific coast; and (4) local stafecoach lines from Perote on the main line of the Interoceanic railroad to Altotonga and from the Tulancingo end of that extension of the Hidalgo and Northeastern railroad to Huauchinango. These two express companies were the main competitors of Wells Fargo y Cia. during the Fourth Period.
Until 1885, very little WFyC Mexican postal stationery has veen seen "used". The items I have or have seen "used" were from Mexico City, having no addresses, with Mexico City WFyC date cancels. These covers, I believe, were used as Essays (presentation items) passed out to Mexican postal and governmente officials as examples of the style of envelopes and cancellation devices to be used by Wells Fargo y Cia. in Mexico during negotiations of an express mail contract. It must be noted that a mail contract between Wells Fargo y Cia. and The Mexican Postal Offices has of yet not been found, and its existence is only a logical assumption. In 1885, collectors begin to find more and more used WFyC express covers, and the quantity increases dramatically from this point on until near the end of the Fourth Period.
The Mexican stamp imprints found on WFyC Mexican postal stationery during the Fourth Period are: (1) the 1885 to 1886 Hidalgo Medallions in shades of green, blue, and shades of orange or yellow orange; (2) the 1886 to 1895 Large Numerals in shades of lilac to lilac brown, blue, and shades of orange red or brown red to red; (3) the 1895 to 1899 Transportation Series in blue's and shades of red lilac to brown lilac. check the Higgins and Gage World Postal Stationery Catalog under Mexico for a dtailed listing of WFyC Mexican Postal Stationery used during the Fourth and Fifth Periods.
The Fourth Period ends in late 1899 with the closing of the National and Hidalgo Express Companies. By this time, the majority of mainline Railroads hade been built and the Mexican Postal Authority had expanded its offices and sub-offices over most of the railroad systems in Mexico and had improved their local services to small towns and large city suburbs. The need for private express was beginning to disappear and the extra cost to the public was more than most wanted to pay. The lack of volume by private companies cut into railroad profits and some express contracts were not being renewed.