JOSE SMITH COMAS
MATANZAS REGION
AUSTRALIA
CUBA LIBRA
REYNOLD GARCI
OTHER MILLS
Originally known as Progreso this mill, near the town of Cardenas, was renamed in honour of Jose Smith
Comas, another of the band of 82 men who sailed from Mexico to Cuba to start the Cuban Revolution in
1956.  Born in 1932 he became renowned as a great orator and whilst at the University Of Havana he
spoke frequently to denounce the corruption within the government.  A member of the 26 July
Movement, he made his own way to Mexico in December 1955, where he joined with Fidel Castro, Che
Guevara and others planning the overthrow of the Batista government.  On 25 November 1956 the
rebels set out on board the yacht 'Granma' reaching Cuba on December 2nd.  Almost immediately the
insurgents came under attack from Governement forces and they were forced to head for the Sierra
Maestra.  Pursued by the army Jose Smith Comas and fifteen other rebels were killed on December 9th,
just a week after landing back in their country of  birth.
Vulcan 2-6-0 No.1415 (built 1920)
stands in front of Central Jose
Smith Comas in March 1996.  
Usually the tender bore the name
of the mill but some of the Jose
Smith Comas engines bore the
names of the nearby town of
Cardenas
No.1415 stands next to the water
columns waiting to set off to he
cane fields.  
Baldwin 2-6-0 No.1531 (built
1925) on a train of empty wagons
heading from the mill towards the
fields
Usually two locomotives were used
on a daily basis for field work with
a smaller engine used for shunting
the mill patio.  During my 1996
visit the other field locomotive was
Baldwin 2-6-0 No.1531 seen here
standing at the nearest acopio to
the mill
The Jose Smith Comas system.  Maps such as these were invaluable to visiting enthusiasts and were published
in David Thornhill's 'World Steam' magazine which was a treasure house of information in pre-internet days
Another view of the substantial mill
at Jose Smith Comas as Baldwin
2-6-0 No.1530 (built 1925) sets off
with a train of empty wagons
heading for the loading point at
Santa Rosa
During the 1997 and 1998
seasons, No.1530 storted a most
attractive deep brown livery on the
boiler.  Here it is seen on an train
of empty wagons heading for
Santa Rosa
The mill chimneys at Jose Smith
Comas can be seen in the
background as Baldwin 2-6-0
No.1530 approaches the Santa
Rosa loading point
The attractive lines and livery of
Baldwin No.1530 can be
appreciated in this close up shot of
the engine as it stood at Santa
Rosa.  Unlike No.1415, this engine
bore the name of the mill on the
tender.  The Comp Agro Ind (often
shortened to C.A.I.) indicated an
enterprise which was far more
than simply the mill and its railway
No.1530 is hard at work as it  
returns towards Jose Smill Comas
mill with a train of loaded cane
wagons
One of the more unusual sights on
Cuba's sugar railways was Porter
0-4-0T No.1122 - originally built
in 1909.  Used to shunt wagons
into the mill, this locomotive
appears to have been heavily
modified to receive a cab from a
much larger engine at some point
in its history
A side on view of the same
locomotive simply serves to show
how 'out-of-scale' the cab was in
realtion to the rest of the
locomotive
.
Despite its small size Porter 0-4-0T
No.1122 was a useful and
powerful engine for moving loaded
cane wagons into the mill.  Trains
of loaded wagons from the fields
were left near the patio entrance
and brough two or three at a time
into the mill by this engine.
Like most industrial railways there
was no timetable of operations
and to be sure of seeing the
locomotives on shed it was
necessary to arrive early in the
morning.  Access into the shed was
strictly by permit but it was easy to
photograph the locomotives from
the roof of a nearby building.  On
this occasion we waited for the
three engines to move off shed -
shortly after which another group
of photographers arrived complete
with shed permit - permission to
photograph a now empty engine
shed!
Baldwin 2-6-0 No.1530 and
Vulcan 2-6-0 No.1415 stand side
by side in front of the shed at Jose
Smith Coma
s
No.1415 sets off across the road
leading into the mill with a train of
empty wagons bound for Santa
Rosa
Thanks to some fairly spirited
driving on the dirt roads it was
possible to overtake No.1415 and
photograph it as it headed towards
Santa Rosa just beyond Contreras
station.
One of my favourite pictures taken
at Jose Smith Comas as No.1415
approaches the acopio at Santa
Rosa
Baldwin 2-6-0 No.1530 threads its
way through the lush scenery on
the  Jose Smith Comas system
No.1530 pauses just beyond
Contraras station with a train of
empty wagons.  In order to access
the field lines it was necessary for
trains to run on the FCC main line
between Progresso station and
Contraras.  
Although steam is no longer in regular use at Jose Smith Comas, the mill has become one of a number of steam museums that
can be found throughout Cuba.  A visit in 2011 found a variety of engines on site - most of which had no direct connection to
the mill in steam days.  It would appear that at least nine engines are in various states of preservation although some have been
wrongly numbered to add to the general air of confusion.  Two of the former Jose Smith Comas fleet are preserved here -
Baldwin 2-6-0 No.1530 and Vulcan 2-6-0 No.1415 whilst the Porter 0-4-0T No.1122 has also survived although this is reported
to now be at a site in Havana.  There is also a steam operated tourist train running about a mile along the Cardenas to
Jovellanos branch with Baldwin 2-6-0 No.1610 (formerly at Cuba Libra) reported to be the engine most commonly used
.
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