Thomas Kautzor has been to Caribbean islands and other countries in the
region to check out what is left
of their railways and industrial heritage.
For the full general index, see Railway Relics (and more) in the Caribbean,
He reports on his visit with Torsten Schneider to French Guiana, 11th to 18th September 2014.
Would be visitors are
warned that some pieces of machinery are on private property and access may not be
Again, many of these buildings / pieces of machinery are in a poor state of repair and may be
covered in tropical plants..
Most of these locations were, however, either not found, too overgrown to enter, on private property or only reachable by speed boat.
This research for the area around Cayenne was based very much on the listings provided on the French Ministry of Culture website at:
Rhumerie Sen Wo Lee, Lotissement Chong, Cité des Castors (route de Montabo), Cayenne
this residential area, entirely owned by a Chinese family, used to be a rhum factory (also owned by a Chinese) at the turn of the century. The ruins of the factory are on private property.
RFO TV & Radio Station, Remire-Montjoly:
some milling gear preserved inside the compound.
Le Grand Beauregard (RD 2), Remire-Montjoly :
17th century windmill tower, Buchanan steam engine.
Rhumerie Saccharin, chemin du Rorota, Céïde, Remire-Montjoly
19th century watermill, tanks.
Sucrerie Distillerie du Rorota / Rhumerie Prévot, PK 10 route des Plages, Céïde, Remire-Montjoly : in use from 1935 to 1988, steam mill.
Habitation sucrière Vidal (Montdélice), au sud du Centre Pénitentiaire, Remire-Montjoly
In use from c1800 to 1880, ruins, animal mill, two steam engines (Smith, Dartford, 1823 & U.S., c.1820-30). This location can be reached from the parking lot of the stadium at Lycée Léon Gontran Damas high school. However, all signage to the path had been removed or masked, maybe due to ongoing construction work going on at the stadium.
Usine de Lamirande, PK 7 RN 2, Lamirande, Matoury
1927 sugar factory and distillery, Cie. Fives-Lille steam engine,
I got into the large building next to RN2 housing the steam engine, but it was so overgrown that photography was impossible except for a Burton pump
East of Cayenne (towards Brazil)
Habitation Favard, D6, Montagne Favard, Kaw
Sugar mill ruins, mill.
Ecomusée municipal d’Approuague-Kaw (EMAK), rue Gaston Monnerville, Régina
tél. 0594 37 09 44, open since 2008, We/Fr/Sa/Su 09.30-17.30, EUR 3/1.50;
The former Aubin-Laignier sawmill is part of the museum complex, this was powered by a late 19th century Weyher &
Richemond, Pantin, steam engine. Sadly, the sawmill building has been condemned and is closed to visitors, but photography is possible through the openings. Stored inside is a c.1900 Weyher &
Richemond, Pantin, portable which was donated by the Guianese Space Center in Kourou after 2006 (as was a Decauville ‘Progrès’ type 0-4-0T).
The sawmill itself was opened in 1899 by Henri Duchateau, it was operated from 1955 to closure in 1975/76 by the Société Aubin-Laigné. After being cut by hand by the mostly Saramaka workers, the timber was floated to the sawmill on the Approuage River. As there was no road linking Régina with Cayenne at the time, the company had acquired a sloop in Brazil.
Rhumerie Belus, Régina
Distillery used until the 1960s for rhum production, then for rosewood until 1970, two steam engines (D. Kainscop c.1910 et Buffalo Force & Co. c.1910).
Not visited, on other side of Approuage River from Régina.
Habitation La Constance, Approuage River, Régina:
Watt beam engine. Once a month, EMAK organizes all-day downriver speedboat trips (09.30-15.30, EUR 35/15) which include this location.
Habitation Saint-Perrey, fleuve Approuage, Régina :
steam mill (Ph. Mesnil, Nantes, c.1830).
Habitation Sucrière la Garonne / Habitation Besse, left bank of Kourouaï river
(tributary of the Approuage), Saint-Georges:
steam engine (Fawcett, Preston & Co., Liverpool, c.1830), 1h30 by speedboat from Régina.
West of Cayenne (towards Suriname):
Pointe des Rochers, Kourou:
A distillery used to exist close to the site of the Hotel Les Roches, a stationary steam engine and some narrow gauge rail car axles used to be dumped near the water but we could not find anything. One resident mentioned that they might have been moved to the
Guianese Space Centre for preservation.
Hydreco Base, Barrage de Petit-Saut, Sinnamary
(http://hydrecolab.com/, tél. 05.94.32.40.79, contact at
Petit-Saut dam on the Sinnamary River 36 km south of Sinnamary was built by Electricité de France (EDF) between 1989 and 1993. It holds back Europe’s (the EU, that is) largest artificial lake, 3,500,000,000 m3 of water on a surface of 365 km2. Before it was flooded, a steam-powered gold placer weighing 205 tonnes abandoned at Courcibo (St-Elie Commune) was dismantled and brought to the dam for safekeeping by the Collectif d’études et de recherches archéologiques
Rhumerie Symphorien, CD 11 / RD 11 / 14 rue René
Opened in 1935 by Mr. Symphorien, 1940/50 sold to Mr. Tanon, 1975 sold to Mr. Marsolle, closed in 1987, three stationary steam engines (including a G. Fletcher & Co., London and Derby, 1878) ex Bagne (Prison Camp) de Saint-Maurice. This location has been cleared to make way for new construction.
Société des Rhum Saint-Maurice, Rhumerie Saint-Maurice, rue Paul
Isnard, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni :
(domain dead, October 2017)
French Guiana’s only operating rum factory was opened in 1981 with equipment imported from the French West Indies, including a steam mill. In 2012, the owners were able to obtain funds European and Regional funds to modernize the factory and could replace the steam mill by a modern one. The dismantled steam mill (S.A. des Constructions Mécaniques de Saint-Quentin) is dumped on the grounds. The cutting season is from August to December, at which time Haitian workers are brought in. Visits used to
be possible in the mornings, but for security reasons this ended with
Sawmill ex Usine Sucrière du Bagne de Saint-Maurice, rue Paul
Isnard, St-Laurent-du-Maroni :
Opened in the fourth quarter of the 19th century, the former prison camp’s sugar mill is now a sawmill. The Asian owner knew of nothing left over from the sugar mill.
Scierie et distillerie de rhum Tanon, Ilet Portal, Fleuve
Opened in 1881 by Mr. Bar, sold to Mr. Tanon, closed in 1964 following an explosion, two steam engines (D. Stewart & Co., Glasgow). We looked but could not find this location, none of the Surinamese Maroons who live on the island since the 1986-92 Civil War we asked could direct us.
Philippe Boré, “Guide de la Guyane”, Cayenne, 12/2012;
Armand Hidair, “Les Secrets de la Retenue – Une histoire d’eau de d’électricité en
Olivier Puaux and Michel Philippe, “Archéologie et histoire du Sinnamary du XVIIe au XXe s. (Guyane)”, Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris.
I would also like to thank Philippe Boré, author of “Guide de la Guyane”, for helping us prepare our visit, and Dr. Philippe Cerdan, Director of the Hyrdeco lab, for allowing us to visit and giving us a tour of the Petit-Saut dam site.