The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
La Carlota Sugar Central, Negros, Philippines, January 1982

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.

In January 1982 I spent ten days on the Philippine Island of Negros visiting some of the sugar mills that were still using steam engines. La Carlota was the furthest Central from my Bacolod City base that I planned to visit on a day trip. My first attempt getting there was unsuccessful as I was unable to find the bus or jeepney terminus. The following day plan B worked: I took a town jeepney to the outskirts of Bacolod City and then waited for something to come along with La Carlota on the destination board. Once there no difficulties were experienced getting the necessary permission to roam the rail yard. It was very much a case of a warm Philippine welcome and a 'go wherever you like.' 

In a CRJ I'd bought in the UK a few months previously it was reported La Carlota had twelve steam and eleven diesels working their 300km system. Within a very short time I'd photographed five of their steamers: some not overly clean little Baldwins painted black and outlined in yellow. Somewhat off putting though was the inscription painted on the side and rear of their tenders reading either "Passengers are Prohibited' or 'Strictly no Passengers'.

With bagasse scattered trackside I reckon this must have been taken at the refuelling point. Baldwin 107 was a 0-6-2ST+T built in 1912.

Making a huge fuss for such a small train 103 moves wagons around the yard. A 0-6-0T+T built by Baldwin in 1920 103 was an oil burner and maybe the crew were putting on a performance for the photographer. 

Bagasse burner 101, another 0-6-0T+T built by Baldwin in 1920, arrives at the mill yard with a long train.

A short time later 100 also came in from the fields. This loco was yet another Baldwin, an oil burning 0-6-0T+T from 1919. The train crews were always keen to get into the was annoying at the time but looking at the results now I think they're one of the key elements in making the photos interesting.

More enthusiastic faces trying to get their photos taken!

Not a person to be seen this shot as 103 shunts empty wagons around.

Number 5 was a small 0-4-0ST+T from Baldwin in 1920. Supposedly the yard shunter it didn't move an inch while I was there seemingly preferring its larger stablemates to do the necessary work.

107 heads out onto the main line with a train of empties for the fields. It was a nice looking bridge and I was keen to get more of an angle into the shot but was warned about moving away from the track by a local: snake territory apparently! 

FarRail visited Negros in February 2007 and James Waite reported on their website that 106, an 0-6-0T+T from Baldwin in 1926, was usable and worked charter specials on two consecutive days for the group. Two other steam locos were found plinthed near the Central and in the yard "lay another nine in varying condition from the almost OK to seriously reverting to nature to just a frame and boiler." The only more recent information I was able to find was on the website called "In 2009, La Carlota decided to close down its 3-foot gauge operation and put all of its steam locomotives up for sale."

Rob Dickinson