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Published on May 25, 2015
This steam engine was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, USA built in December of 1920. The Engine number is 54226. It was the largest train engine ever to be imported into Cuba. It train huffs and puffs and naturally still requires a team to make it run, but it's sure a lot of fun.
The whistle of the steam locomotive hauling sugar cane has not gone silent yet, but the sweet smell of molasses wafting from the ovens inside the grand old mill that built the town of Patria, Cuba has.
The locomotive train that once ran through the fields and hauled loads to the mill now carries tourists through a sugar plantation known as Rancho Palma.
The mill is now closed and will soon become a museum for tourists, part of the restructuring of Cuba's struggling agricultural economy. For most of the 20th century Cuba was the world’s number one exporter of sugar, but now with sugar prices depressed due to competition Cuba is focusing on citrus and tobacco as better cash crops.
Cuba still ranks fourth among the world's sugar exporters, sending out approximately 2.8 million metric tons last year, yet profits have drastically fallen. The passing of the sugar era is not simply the loss of an industry but it’s the death of a Cuban symbol. Sugar is part of the Cuban soul.
The Tall green cane plants still sway in the wind throughout most corners of Cuba where a fifth of the land has been devoted to sugar production. Cuban sugar is the key ingredient in another Cuban essential, rum, and sugar fields, mills and workers are fixtures in Cuban painting and literature. Cane cutters brought long ago from Jamaica, Haiti and other countries contributed to the multiracial mix on the island that inspired much of the country's world-renowned music.