State: Chihuahua, Mexico
Location: Northwestern Mexico
Founded: May 26, 1901
Economy: Logging & Tourism
Population: 5026 (2010)
Altitude: 2,345 Meters / 7,694 Feet
Though sometimes berated for being a tourist-trap, the Pueblos Magicos of Creel is in many ways, the cradle of the El Chepe Railroad, given the fact that it was the final stop of the Chihuahua al Pacifico line for decades before it’s completion. Anyone who believes Creel to be nothing more than a tourist trap needs to spend more than a night or two in this endearing town. In fact, most who arrive in Creel only spend a day or two – but it is a hub for many fantastic outdoor adventures to be enjoyed beyond her village-borders – reaching far into the greater reaches of the canyons than most experience. Even better is the fact that the small town entertains guests with a night-life that includes decent restaurants, shops and the sound of the night-trains drifting by long past midnight.
Creel was founded on May 26, 1907 as a stopping-point for the Chihuahua Pacific line. Named after Enrique Creel, who was governor of Chihuahua at that time, Creel was originally slated as an agricultural settlement for Mexicans, who were expected to influence and essentially assimilate the indigenous Raramuri peoples. Interestingly, Creel was designated for 25 Mexican families to 75 Raramuri families, but only about 30 Raramuri families laid foundations in Creel. To this day, the Raramuri remain in small, communal settlements, rather than villages or towns.
Though Creel’s main economy was largely based on logging, today, most of the economy of this small village of approximately 5500 people relies on the ebb and flow of tourist traffic arriving by train.