CIEGO DE AVILA REGION
Ecuador mill was originally known as Baragua and was re-named in the early 1960's in honour of one of the South American
countries believed to be sympathetic to the new regime headed by Fidel Castro.
For many years the traffic manager at Ecuador mill was Mr Ernest
Scantlebury - a gentleman of West Indian origin who, together with his
wife, had emigrated to Cuba following the revolution. Speaking an almost
Victorian form of the English language he became the traffic manager at
Central Ecuador. His headquarters were in a grounded carriage body
close to the engine shed and mill yard from where he conducted
A great cricket lover he taught the native Cubans to play the game and
proudly informed us that he had a complete team. This rather begged the
question as to exactly who the team were expecting to play against!
Vulcan 2-6-0 No.1564 was the
oldest surviving engine at
Ecuador having been built in
1916. It was rather small for the
heavy field trains which were a
feature of Ecuador and on this
occasion was restricted to
shunting the patio outside of the
Baldwin 2-8-0 No.1821 was a
much larger engine and therefore
better suited to working the field
trains at Ecuador. In this 1996
shot it stands in the mill yard
awaiting orders from the traffic
The largest of the locomotives
working at Ecuador, and one of
the largest of any of the Cuban
locomotives was Vulcan 2-8-0
No.1904 built in 1920.
The system at Ecuador was extensive and extended on either side of the mill which was located near the town of Baragua. As
can be seen from the map below it was possible to connect directly onto the FCC (Cuban state railway) near Colorado and also
to the adjacent mills of Republica Dominicana and Venezuela. In general the mills of the Ciego De Avial region were amongst
the largest in Cuba and all were standard gauge.
No.1821 produces a volcanic
display as it sets off from one of
the far loading points (or copios)
on the Ecuador system with loaded
cane wagons bound for processing
at the mill
The rather flat nature of the
landscape made finding
interesting photographic locations
something of a challenge.
No.1821 continues to produce a
thick cloud of oily smoke as it
heads the train back to the
On the second day of our visit we
arrived to find very little happening
and all the locomotives on shed.
Sensing our disappointment Mr
Scantlebury dispatched the crew
of No.1904 with instructions to
bring back everything they could
find on the system. The engine set
off and we followed as best we
could, After a long wait the engine
appeared and it was clear that the
crew were following instructions!
A long train of loaded wagons
gradually grew as the locomotive
stopped at the various loading
points along the route.
As No.1904 travelled around the system it gathered more and more loaded cane wagons from the various loading points. We
were able to track the train's progress - not least by means of the towering plume of black smoke and take a number of
photographs of it en route back to the mill. By the time of the final shot (below) the train consisted of 49 loaded cane wagons -
by far and away the largest number of standard gauge cars I ever saw behind a single locomotive. The video I shot at this final
location is some of the finest I ever managed in Cuba.
Late afternoon sun illuminates
Vulcan 2-6-0 No.1564 as it shunts
cane wagons at Ecuador mill in
Most trains were composed of
cane wagons - loaded or empty -
but occasionally it was possible to
see a train of hopper wagons
containing the refined sugar.
Vulcan 2-8-0 No.1904 stands at
the head of such a train in March
No.1821 heading a short train of
loaded wagons towards the mill at
Under a threatening sky, Vulcan
2-8-0 catches the rays of light
from the evening sun.