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Central Columbia
Maunabo

 
Date Established: 1901
Date Ceased Operations: 1928
Annual Production Graph
Average Annual Production: 6,197 Tons
Best Production Year: 1917/7,234 Tons
Family Ownership: Fantauzzi, Clausell, Vergés, Riefkholl
 
Hurrican San Ciriaco of 1899 destroyed most if not all the southeast Puerto Rico haciendas creating an opportunity for a central sugar mill in the area.  As a result, Central Columbia was organized on July 3, 1900 to process sugarcane grown at Hacienda Bordalesa owned by Clausell Hnos. and Eugenio Vergés (1835-1913), Hacienda Orleanesa owned by the Sucn. Otto Riefkohl Baetcke (1822-1895) a German immigrant from Langedorf who arrived in PR in 1840, and Hacienda Garonne owned by Fantauzzi Hnos. where the processing plant was built.  Its partners were the mercantile societies C. & J. Fantauzzi, originally Fantauzzi Hnos formed in 1853 with a 50%; Sucn. Otto Riefkohl with a 16.7% and Clausell & Vergés with a 33.3%.  At some point in time, Columbia's owners Guillermo Riefkohl Mouriel, Eugenio Vergés and the Fantauzzi's also had ownership interest in Central Providencia in Patillas and in  Central Lafayette  in Arroyo.  Vergés and later his son also named Eugenio, who was married to Carolina Riefkohl, also had ownership interest in Santa Isabel Sugar, Co. , Machete Sugar Co.  and Borinquen Sugar Co. (Central Pasto Viejo).

Central Columbia did not own any land except where the factory was located, processing sugarcane not only for its owners but for local area growers such as José Maria Ortiz of Hacienda Carolina and Dr. Antonio José Amadeo Antonmarchi of Hacienda Merle
 
A brief history of Columbia sugar mill can be found starting on page 4 of the  Batey Columbia Railroad Bridge  study by Engineer Luis Pumarada O'Neil.  Columbia operated only for 27 years.  The production numbers we have are missing figures from 1924 to 1928.  It is unbeknown to us why these figures are unavailable since following a period of labor unrest, Columbia enjoyed a period of relative good labor relations during that period of time.
 
According to a neighbor we talked to, and confirmed by the above said study, Columbia ceased operations in 1928 due to damage caused by Hurricane San Felipe  which made landfall on the southeast coast of the island, precisely where Columbia was.  After the hurricane, its machinery was moved to  Central Lafayette  in nearby Arroyo and all the sugarcane until then processed at Columbia was thereafter processed at Central Lafayette. 
 
Most sugar mills were established near a river or a body of water because of its need in the manufacturing process or for irrigation purposes.  The above said neighbor told us that the owners of Columbia changed the course of the Maunabo River to have closer access to a water source.