Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Cuban Steam Part 1 - Havana

My expectations of Cuba were low. Once upon a time I know it was one of the places to go for steam, but since they fell out with Russia the sugar industry has been in decline.

In fact rather stupidly in retrospect I presumed that going to Havana and the beach resort of Varadero meant I wouldn't see any railways at all, so doing any research in advance would be pointless.

Post event I discovered  this site which has proved to be very useful in making sense of what I saw.

So where do I start? well the San Jose  Craft Market by the harbour is where I got my first shock. I believe up until 2011 tourist trains ran here. As it is there were several static locos on display of both standard and narrow gauge.

More photos are here though I've scattered them, through the text where I can.

To be honest I didn't have time to absorb everything I was seeing, especially since American loco design is a very peripheral interest .

I had quite a shock on the Sunday when wandering though the middle of  Havana, literally a few hundred feet from our hotel, I suddenly came across what I believe is the main restoration centre for steam locos.

An excursion in a 1958 Studebaker  gave me the only glimpse I got of the Hershey Railway

but also alerted me to the locos preserved around Havana's Central Station

Parque de los Agrimensores

And finally we stumbled over this coach.

Part 2 - The Sugar Mill


  1. Fascinating photos, I am really intrigued! The photo of no. 1181 looks like something that a person who knew nothing about steam locos knocked up in "Sketchup"! 1958 Studebaker! Now you are talking... :-)

  2. Iain,

    There are some pictures here of 1181's sister looking a little more normal https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FPL2RWI/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_xy3Fub1WKEY9X
    I don't think much of the car was left that was either from 1958 or from Studebaker. The instrument binnacle was "modern" and I suspect the engine was a Nissan or something. But it is a fascinating place. Part 2 will cover one of the sugar mills.