Central Guánica (Sugar Mill)

Sugarcane train – Puerto Rico, between 1952-55. Bill and Thelma Swartzendruber photo. #27,609.
Sugarcane Train | Flickr – Photo Sharing! N.d.  <http://www.flickr.com/photos/tlehman/5694948934/>, accessed April 26, 2013.  Photo belongs to t13hman’s photostream.

Great shot… This is one of two General Electric 47 ton diesel-electric locomotives
owned by Guanica Central. When enlarged, the initials GCRR are legible, but
the number is not. It would be either #101 or #102. Noteworthy is the different
color of the locomotive in this picture compared to the yellow scheme in another
photo you have in your photostream. I am glad this slide was discovered and shared,
as it is one of the very few photos I have seen to date of Guanica Centrale trains in

Right up until the last years of the P&G and Central Mercedita moving the cane by railcar,
the kids still did the same. Some even hitched rides on the train cars, and the crews
never seemed to bother chasing them away. I have movies I took of both kids hitching
rides and of kids pulling the stalks of cane that protruded from the cars and with their
pocket knives shaving the outside off of the cane. Sadly, one time when I was taking
photos near Gurabo on the Juncos railway, a young boy hitched a ride on the last
car of a long train of sugar cane headed back toward Juncos. As the cars crossed a
quite long and high trestle over the river, the young fellow lost his grip and fell, hitting his
head on the rail and falling about twenty five feet to the rocky river below. Between the
severe blow to his head and more trauma to his body on the rocks below, he died
shortly after arriving at the hospital in Caguas. I had to drive to a crossing ahead of
the train and get it to stop to tell them what happened, while another spectator went
down with some of his friends to try to rescue him. That was not such a great day
for me, as I couldn’t do any more photography. A very rude awakening to the fact
that railways can be very, very dangerous place to play.

Narrow gauge train, Feb. 1949, #993 – Robert Ebey photo
Narrow Gauge Train | Flickr – Photo Sharing! N.d.  <http://www.flickr.com/photos/tlehman/383301574/>, accessed April 24, 2013.    Photo belongs to t13hman’s photostream.

PR RR Historian:
This is a General Electric product.  The mill owned two of these locomotives, 47 ton, split
frame, two trucked, diesel-electric locomotives identical to those owned in the last years by the American Railroad. They pretty much replaced the last few steam locomotives Guanica Centrale railroad, assisted by several smaller diesel-mechanical locomotives, as the decline
of sugar cane grown and harvested necessitated fewer trains, fewer cars and fewer locomotives. When the coastal railroad under the ownership of employees, formerly called the American Railroad and later called the Puerto Rico Railroad & Transport Co., was abandoned after years of bankruptcy and reorganization, the mill (and so many other mills) lost the connection to San Juan and Ponce and the many colonos along the PRR&TCo. that shipped their cane via the railroad. The end of the PRR&TCo. spelled the
end of many of Puerto Rico’s mill railways and changed the sugar economy of Puerto Rico quite drastically. In the picture, the locomotive is pulling what appears to be covered hopper cars used to transport sugars, probably to or from the connection at Santa Rita. The location of the stream on a map of the railroads would tell us which way the train is going, so I will have to dig out my USGS maps to see the direction of travel.

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