Thomas Kautzor has been to several Caribbean islands 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, Other
report for the eastern islands in this series comprise:
Four sugar mills are known to have used railways
on the island of St. Lucia : the Central Factory (Cul de Sac Co.
Ltd.) in the Cul de Sac Valley south of Castries (13 miles with three
diesel locos and over 130 steel cane cars in the mid-1950s), the Roseau
Factory in the Roseau Valley further south seven miles from Castries (16
miles with three diesel locos and 145 cane cars in the mid-1950s), Dennery
Factory at La Caye in the Mabouya Valley on the island’s Windward coast,
and Vieux Fort factory at the southern tip of the island near the
international airport built by the U.S. military during WWII. In the early
1960s sugar cane cultivation was replaced by that of bananas, an industry
which collapsed a few years ago.
Nothing appears to remain of the factory.
Roseau Factory, near Jacmel:
The Roseau factory was formerly owned by Geest
Industries and later used as the center for an extensive banana operation.
The former 2’8”-gauge sugar cane railway was then used to transport
bananas from the fields to a central packing shed near the factory, which
is now used as a mechanical workshop. The railway used two Motor Rail, one
Ruston & Hornsby and one Hibberd diesel locos and was reportedly still
in operation in 1988. The factory was taken over by St. Lucia Distillers
in 1972, a joint venture between Geest Industries and the Barnard family.
Today it is owned by CLICO and is the island’s only distillery, using
molasses imported from Guyana to produce rum. The distillery runs short
guided tours and rum tastings (tel. 758-451-4528, Mo-Fr 09.00-15.00,
EC$15). One of the Motor Rail locos is on display next to the rum tasting
shed, which incorporates the pillars from the old gantry crane, while the
Ruston was reported stored in a shed a few years ago.
Dennery Estate, La Caye (Dennery)::
The estate belongs to the Barnard family. The
distillery here closed in 1972 and the equipment was moved to Roseau
Factory. The estate was abandoned in c.1998. No remains of the former
3’9”-gauge railway could be found.
Pigeon Island National Landmark, Rodney Bay: :
Pigeon Island, overlooking Rodney Bay on the
island’s northern Leeward side, was in use as a fortified military
outpost by the British Navy from 1780 to 1861, when it was abandoned. From
1941 to 1947 it was leased to the U.S. Navy as a signal post and
communications station. Fort Rodney was used as a foundation for the huge
wireless tower erected on top of it, while the old foundation of No. 2
battery just below the fort was used as a base for the prefabricated
building housing two generators, the communications centre and quarters
for the men on duty. Running from this building down to the sea on the
east side, was an inclined cable railway used for hauling up drums of fuel
to power the generators. The building burned down in 1968, but the
concrete pillars on which the railway track used to lay are still present
to this day.
Rainforest Adventures St. Lucia, Castries
Waterworks Reserve, Chassin, Babonneau:
Rainforest Adventures (
link dead by 25th October 2016)
operates a Rainforest Aerial Tram (16 Doppelmayr CTEC open-air gondolas),
two zip line courses and walking trails at this location.
W. Rodney Long, “Railways of Central America and the
West Indies”, Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Foreign and Domestic
Robert R. Darsley, “Caribbean Cane Tramways – (1)
The Lesser Antilles”, in Industrial Railway Record No. 93, June 1982;
David Rollinson, “Railways of the Caribbean”,
Oxford: MacMillan Caribbean, 2001;
Robert Devaux, “Pigeon Island National Landmark –
A Brief History & Guide”, The Saint Lucia National Trust.