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La Esperanza
Manatí

 
The Hacienda La Esperanza was established in the 1830's by Fernando Fernandez, a Spanish Navy Captain who arrived in Puerto Rico in the late 1700s.  In the 1850's after Fernando's death, his eldest son, José Ramón Fernandez Martinez (ca. 1808-1883), inherited the property and developed it into one of the largest on the island becoming one of the wealthiest men of his time.  His prominence earned him (some say allowed him to buy) the nobility title of "Marqués de la Esperanza".  Fernando's other son, Manuel Fernandez Martinez, was also in the sugar business and developed the Hacienda Santa Ana , also established by his father.
 
La Esperanza installed a steam mill as early as 1841, the machinery pictured is a West Point Foundry steam engine installed in 1861 which allowed a 4-fold increase in sugar production, thus increasing the need for laborers.  At one point, there were over 170 slaves working at the hacienda, which had over 2,000 acres planted with sugarcane. 
 
Before his death in 1883, Jose Ramón had mortgaged La Esperanza to the Colonial Company Ltd of London who ended up foreclosing on the property and selling it to Wenceslao Borda Rueda (1840-1914) who had other dealings with the Colonial Company Ltd. as detailed in the  Central Canovanas  page.  In 1887 Borda converted La Esperanza to a cattle farm. 
 
In 1916 the heirs of Wenceslao Borfa Rueda and his Cuban born wife of German father Luisa Klugkist Avilés; Carlos, Leopoldo and US Consul in Puerto Rico Wenceslao Borda Klugkist, entered into a 12 year lease agreement of the hacienda with Jaime Calaf Collazo, owner at the time of Central Monserrate .  Four months later they established Borda & Calaf to whom Jaime Calaf sub-leased the hacienda.  During the 12 years all the sugarcane grown on the leased land was processed at the nearby Central Plazuela .  At the termination of the lease and the disolution of Borda & Calaf,  Jaime Calaf again leased the lands until 1938 and continued to grow sugarcane on it. 
 
In one of the pictures you can see the round foundations of the Jamaican Train, where the kettles seen face down on the far right, were placed in series from bigger to smaller to "cook" and reduce the cane juice to molasses.  The yellow building is the "casa de purga"  where the "bocoyes" or large wooden barrels were let to stand for days to extract by the dripping method the excessive moisture from the muscavado sugar. 
 
The Hacienda and its 2,000 plus acres were acquired in 1975 by The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, a non-governmental entity.  During our visit in Februatry 2015, the Trust was in the midst of finsihing substantial work done to the steam driven mill and the production facilities.
 
The document  HACIENDA LA ESPERANZA SUGAR MILL STEAM ENGINE  is very good reading where you can find out more about the uniqueness of the steam engine and the history of this Ingenio.