Originally called Algodones, this mill was renamed after Orlando Gonzalez Ramirez who was born there in 1938.   Of humble
parentage, he left school at the age of 12 and had numerous jobs to help support his family before becoming a tractor driver.  
He became increasingly aware of the problems facing the country and following the landing by Fidel Castro and other
revolutionaries on 2 December 1956, Ramirez became actively involved in the revolutionary struggle.  He was involved in the
distribution of propoganda and acts of sabotage against the Batista regime.  He was killed on 27 December 1958 when a car
he was travelling in was stopped by government troops.  The car contained concealed weapons and when one of the
occupants attempted to reach one of the guns the soldiers opened fire killing Ramirez and others with him.  Following the
successful revolution both the sugar mill and the nearby town of Majagua were renamed in his honour.
A total of seven locomotives were
to be found at Orlando Gonzalez
Ramirez by the mid-1990's.  Access
to the shed was routinely denied
and it was usually necessary to
wait outside of the shed yard for
the departure of locomotives.  
Here No.1836, a 2-8-0 Vulcan of
1922 awaits instructions before
heading to the cane fields.
Except for a limited number of
imported Japanese vehicles for sole
use by tourists, cars were either old
American models from pre-revolution
times or models imported into the
country from Cuba's principal ally,
the Soviet Union.  The driver of a
Lada waits while ALCO 2-8-0
No.1937 reverses over the road and
into the shed at OGR  
Like many of the other mills in the Ciego
de Avila region, the OGR system was
extensive with several branch lines and
various junctions.  This provided both
opportunities and challenges as often it
was difficult to ascertain exactly where
a train was going or where it might be
coming from.  The village of Limones
provided for some interesting
photography as the railway ran straight
down the main street.  

One afternoon, as we were waiting in
Limones for a train to depart, one of the
local tractor drivers was showing
particular interest in our modern
Japanese hire cars.  With plenty of time
to spare I took the opportunity to offer
him a ride - an offer which he accepted
with alacrity.  It is doubtful if he had ever
riden in any car before, let alone one
which to him probably represented the
heights of luxury.  Having driven a couple
of miles from the village I stopped the
car and offered him the chance to drive
us back.  After a degree of reluctance he
slipped behind the wheel and gingerly
began to return to Limones.  

As we approached the village I leaned
over and  pressed my hand onto the
horn causing villagers to pour out of
their houses to see what the noise was
all about.  The look of surprise on their
faces and the look of pleasure and
delight on the face of the tractor driver
is just one of the many treasured
memories which I have of Cuba during
those rather innocent times.
Shortly after the incident
described above No.1837 sets off
down the main street of Limones.  
The only problem with this
location was that the trains ran
more or less due north and so
were usually heavily backlit
making exposures particularly
ALCO 2-8-0 No.1837 shunts a
short train of empty cane wagons
near the loading point at Portilla
A rear three-quarters view of
No.1836 as it gets ready to depart
from the La Teressa loading point.
The Ciego De Avila province is
largely flat and fairly featureless.
In order to get a scene looking
down on the train it was necessary
to climb up onto one of the
loading points in order to gain a
view of No.1837 as it heads a
loaded train along the La Teressa
ALCO 2-8-0 No.1837 heading a
short train towards the OGR mill
in 1997 - a year when harvests in
this area were at an all time low.
All locomotives in Cuba were fitted
to burn oil rather than coal as
Cuba has reserves of the former
but not of the latter.  One
advantage was that no matter
what the temperature or the load
there was always a very prominent
exhaust to add interest to a
picture although at times the
engines could 'clag themselves out'
- casting a shadow over themselves
and/or their train
On all three of my visits to Cuba
the group travelled in self-drive
hire cars.  These were hired in
Havana and then driven the
length and breadth of the island.  
Given that most hire contracts
limited the amount of miles that
could be driven or extracted a
premium above a certain figure,
it was frequently necessary to
carry out certain vital
modifications once away from
the city to ensure the
odometers didn't accord with
the distances covered!  

Cuban roads - the Great Cuban
Freeway excepted - were in
generally poor condition and
most of the roads which led into
the suger cane fields were
comprised only of a dirt surface.  
The 'trick' was to locate a train
somewhere in the fields and then
once it had set off to chase it
back to the mill - overtaking as
many times as possible and
taking more photographs as it
passed by.   This meant some
fairly 'hairy' driving at times as
the car in front was frequently
throwing up an impenetrable
dust cloud and speed was of the
essence.  Conditions improved
once on the tarmac surfaced
roads and at OGR it was possible
to chase the train all the way
back to the mill.
The visit in 1997 came shortly after
a hurricane and led to a period of
relatively unsettled weather in the
Ciego de Avila region.  Just minutes
before No.1836 came ploughing
round the corner the heavens had
opened but almost as abruptly the
sky cleared and the sun made a
welcome reappearance.
My visit a year later was blessed
with much better weather.  Many
of the lines have a Y for turning the
locomotives thus avoiding tender
first running but on this occasion
No.1837 is taking empty wagons to
Limones wityh smokebox tucked up
against the first cane wagon
The same year also saw Baldwin
2-6-0 No.1563 in use although it
seemed confined to shunting duties
in and around the mill rather than
undertaking line work.
ALCO 2-8-0 No.1837 built in 1920
The late afternoon sun perfectly
illuminates ALCO No.1837 as it
sets off from Las Trozas with seven
loaded cane wagons.  The engine
had come from Limones with other
wagons which were left on the
'main line' while No.1837
collected the wagons from Las
Trozas.  The whole train was then
assembled before heading for the
No.1837 heading away towards the
mill with its short train on the Los
Trozas branch
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