Empalme, Mexico

Established 1973

Linda Derivi & Steve Castellanos, Sister Cities Co-Chairpersons to Empalme, Mexico

Empalme Sonora Mexico became a Sister City to Stockton in 1973.  “Empalme” in Spanish literally means “junction,” a major feature of the city in common with our own.  The city is located on the south-central coast of the Mexican state of Sonora, on the Sea of Cortez, ten minutes from the wider-known city of Guaymas. Empalme is served by the Fed-Mex I-15 Highway and Ferromex Train Service

Unlike other towns or cities in Mexico, Empalme was built entirely by foreigners, specifically the Utah Construction Company under contract to the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. Very few native materials were used in the city’s construction. The founders owned a major railroad, affording easy transportation of materials and personnel. The purpose of the settlement was to provide repair facilities for SP operations in Mexico, with a large shop and roundhouse. They still exist today, although unused; repair and maintenance now being done in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Hundreds of the homes built originally still exist in Empalme, their design and materials unchanged.

The economy of Empalme is based on agriculture, cattle ranching, fishing and small industries. The salty soil and lack of water makes agriculture difficult. Main crops are wheat, melon, and squash.  With its command of a 30 kilometer coastline, there is fishing with hauls of shrimp, shark, crab, and octopus, among others.  Empalme is home to a deeply embedded manufacturing culture.  Though Empalme is situated out of the bustle of Guaymas, its access to Sonora's robust manufacturing infrastructure has created an industrial economy that attracts industries ranging from automotive and aerospace to electronics and medical devices and many others in between. Empalme, home to 30 manufacturers, is a logical choice for companies seeking to take advantage of the region's robust trade networks and labor pool.

Empalme has a strong educational infrastructure of workers and professionals. There are six high schools, six universities, and three technical trade schools. Each has an enduring connection with the local industry and structures its educational programs to fit local needs, laying the foundation for the region's labor pool.


Empalme is 260 miles directly south of the US-Mexican border and is Stockton’s closest Sister City.