During the three occasions I visited Cuba (in 1996, 1997 and 1998) there were seven mills operating with steam locomotives in
the Cienfuegos region. I made one visit to Pepito Tey in 1996, and visits to Antonio Sanchez and Cuidad Caracus in 1998. On
none of these occasions was there very much happening at the mills - not enough to justify a prolonged visit - and so it was a
case of making a few 'record shots' before heading off to another mill with hopefully rather more action.
José (Pepito) Tey Saint Blancard (1932 - 1956) was a young Cuban revolutionary who devoted his life to
the fight for his country. His role as a student activist soon brought him to the attention of the Baptista
regime. He joined the 26 July Movement and took part in the assault on the El Caney police station
together with his close friend, Frank Pais Garcia. Together they then planned and prepared for the
uprising in Santiago de Cuba on 30 November 1956 in support of Castro’s landing on the Granma yacht,
although this was delayed and didn’t arrive until 2 December 1956. ‘Pepito’ led the attack on the police
station in Santiago. After a failed grenade attack he and his men retreated to Santa Rita Street where he
was killed by a bullet which struck him in the forehead.
The third narrow gauge line in
Cienfuegos was at Pepito Tey,
some 20km south of Mal Tiempo
and Espartaco. This proved to be
a difficult line to photograph as
the light was often from the
wrong direction and trains tended
to leave the mill early in the
morning and return again late in
Baldwin 2-8-0 No.1236 (built 1910)
takes a train of empty cane
wagons to the loading point south
of the mill.
A rear three-quarter view of No.1236
as it couples up to more empty cane
wagons prior to heading to another
The morning at Pepito Tey was
difficult with the sun in all the
wrong places to get well lit shots
at No.1236 shunted in the yard.
And this is all a bit of a mystery .....
according to the IRS handbook
Baldwin 2-8-0 No.1256 (built 1923)
was supposed to be a locomotive at
Frank Pais mill. Whilst it was not
unusual to see locomotives moved
from one mill to another according
to whether a mill was operational or
not, Frank Pais is a 3'0" gauge
system whereas Pepito Tey was
2'6". So either the IRS handbook
was wrong or the shed staff decided
to renumber the engine or it was
regauged (highly unlikely) or it was
something else ...... who knows?
Baldwin 2-8-0 No.1220 (built 1910) was also an apparent
visitor although in this case only from the nearby mill at
The engine crew from No.1236 stand proadly in front of
their engine - crews were almost always friendly and a
request for a footplate ride was rarely rejected.
Mill system map for Pepito Tey
Originally known as Covadonga, this mill was renamed after Antonio Sánchez Díaz (1927 - 1967) who was
born in the province of Pinar del Rio, one of the most economically disadvantaged regions of
pre-revolutionary Cuba. In 1957 he left the province in search of the rebels hiding in the Sierra Maestra.
He joined them and fought with distinction throughout the Revolution. Following the success of Fidel
Castro he held senior positions in the Cuban armed forces. In 1966 he joined Che Guevara and his
international guerilla movement in their attempt to overthrow the government of Bolivia. On 2 June 1967
, he went on reconnaissance and supply to the hamlet of Peña Colorada, where he and his companion
were ambushed by army troops and killed whilst attempting to escape.
Baldwin 2-8-0 No.1624 (built 1916)
stands outside the shed at Antonio
Sanchez on 19 February 1998
Baldwin 2-8-0 No.1625 (built 1920)
shunting in the mill yard 19/02/1998
Following the revolution this mill was simply renamed from Caracus to Cuidad Caracus (Caracus City). It probably
retained the name as the rebels admired Simon Bolivar who had freed much of South America from Spanish rule,
|Baldwin 2-6-2 No.1538 (built 1920) on shed
|ALCO 2-8-0 No.11621 (built 1924) on shed