This paper measures the direct contribution of railways to economic growth before 1914 in four Latin American economies with large railway systems (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay) using growth accounting techniques. The outcomes of the analysis indicate that the growth contribution of railways in Uruguay was very low. By contrast, in Argentina and Mexico railways provided huge benefits, amounting to 20-25% of income per capita growth before 1914. Finally, in Brazil, the growth contribution of railways was even higher, although this was largely a consequence of the stagnation of the Brazilian economy. These results provide an example of a technology whose growth contribution was much higher in some peripheral economies than in the core countries where it was developed.