The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Cuba 4
Central Cuba Part 1

Terry Case writes about his travels for steam. Further tales will follow from time to time covering more of Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Click here for the Case Notes Index.

Other Cuban tales:

Mill 413 Espartaco

This was another narrow gauge operation. Mornings would often see locos posed outside the shed being steamed up, the mill had a fleet of lookalike Baldwin 2-8-0s. Two fireless locos were kept busy scurrying around the mill area.

A walk to the end of the yard led to a river bridge where in 1997 we photographed centenarian 1326 (Baldwin, 1895) arriving on one of the short line workings. The main attraction here was a lengthy line with steep gradients that trains faced returning to the Mill from San Fernando. After watching a train crossing a tall river bridge it was a matter of choosing the next photo spot as this line was scenic. Return workings saw engines being thrashed to keep momentum, no wonder it was popular.

A short line working shunts its train at a LP, 22nd February 1999:

1327 heaves a train upgrade towards the mill yard.

Mill 428 Marcelo Salado, .

1426 starts to hit its stride as it leaves Remedios on 22nd February 1997

Two years later on 21st February 1999, we were lucky to get the old Baldwin ten wheeler 1342 which we chased on the FCC track that connects to the mill. Near the mill 1342 was held at the junction, priority was given to 1549, an ALC built small 2-8-0. Having photographed this we made our way to the bridge to see 1342 enter the mill yard.

We sneaked a look of Porta’s rebuilt Red Devil on the shed, before being chased out by a scalper. Remedios was a good place to have a break between trains, it had a beautiful town square and the open bar was as a great place for a couple of beers.

The afternoon saw 1549 out on the Carolina branch, a rough dirt track leads to a large lake which 1549 passed on loads. It was held at the FCC. junction prior to making a slippery departure. By the time it passed Remedios it was moving a fast paced train back to the mill. Not bad for a Sunday.

Mill 433 Marta Abreu.

Served by diesels, but was also home to “the fat fireless” aka Baldwin 1239 seen on 20th February 1999

Mill 440 Ifrain.Alfonso

In 1997 and 1999 I saw Ifrain engines working inter mill traffic to/from 441 Diez de Octubre. The trains used FCC track from Ranchuelo. 2-6-2 1635 (Baldwin 1925) was the regular engine. Ranchuelo was attractive and there were both morning and late afternoon workings to be seen, in addition to Ifrain’s own LPs that were kept busy. Trains would ramble downgrade from mill 441 to pick up train orders and enter Ranchuelo station, providing interesting video. Once the line was clear 1635 rapidly got its train rolling to Ifrain. 

On 20th February 1999, the big Mike, 1910 works a short train from Pozo, seen approaching the autopista. 

On 20th February 1999, 1635 on a train from Pozo heads to the FCC Junction.

On 19th February 1999, on the FCC mainline 1635 cleared the dam wall on the short stretch to Santa Maria station which had pretensions of past grandeur. Depending on traffic from the mill cane trains could be held here before reversing to access the steeply graded track to the mill, accompanied with some heavy duty stack talk.

On 28th February 1999, 1910 (ALB 1925) dwarfs a stranger on shed in the form of 2-6-0 1550 from the nearby Carlos Carabello. 

Mill 441 Diez de Octubre

On 20th March 1999, 1661 being steamed up following restoration, the paint scheme resembled that of Minaz diesels. Unfortunately it did not seem to have any imminent duty.

Rob Dickinson