I'm asking for a friend, does anyone know approximately when the railroads were built in Columbia?
In 1846, Colombia signed a treaty permitting the USA to construct a railway across the isthmus and to defend it with military force. The French attempted to build a canal (The Panama Canal) in 1880, but the project failed. The US then became invovled.In 1821 Panamá declared its independence from Spain , but retained its name as a department of Gran Colombia, which, with the secession of Ecuador and Venezuela, quickly became simply Colombia . Almost immediately, though, conflicts emerged between the merchants of Panamá City, eager to trade freely with the world, and the distant, protectionist governments in Bogotá, leading to numerous half-hearted and unsuccessful attempts at independence.
With the discovery of gold in California in 1849, traffic across the isthmus of Panamá exploded. Travel from the US east coast to California via Panamá - by boat, overland by foot or horse, and then by boat again - was far less arduous than the overland trek across North America. In 1851 a US company began the construction of a railway across Panamá. Carving a route through the inhospitable swamps and forests of the isthmus proved immensely difficult, and thousands of the mostly Chinese and West Indian migrant workers died in the process, but when the railway was completed in 1855, the Panamá Railroad Company proved an instant financial success. Panamá's importance as an international thoroughfare increased further, but the railway also marked the beginning of foreign control over the means of transport across the isthmus. Within a year, the first US military intervention in Panamá - "to protect the railroad"- had taken place.
http://www.barringtongroup.com/panama-history.htmA Frenchman, who was positioned to profit handsomely from a US buyout of French canal rights, was named `envoy extraordinary' by Washington. He negotiated and signed a canal treaty with the USA, over objections by the Colombian government. The financial and strategic interests of the US momentarily coincided with the sentiments of Panama's revolutionaries, and a revolutionary junta declared Panama independent on 3 November 1903, with the overt support of the USA.
The canal treaty granted the USA rights in perpetuity over land on both sides of the canal and a broad right of intervention in Panamanian affairs. The treaty led to friction between the two countries for decades. This was owing in part to the fact that it clearly favored the USA at the expense of Panama, and because Colombia refused to acknowledge Panama's independence until 1921, when the USA paid Colombia US$25 million in compensation.