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Background

 
Growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1950s and 1960's, you could not avoid to notice the important role the sugar industry played on the local economy at the time.  The trucks and trains transporting sugarcane and the burning of the fields at night during harvesting season were constant evidence of what we thought as kids was a vibrant industry.  Little did we know then, it was a dying industry.
 
The purpose of this project is not to tell the history of the sugar industry in Puerto Rico but to document in pictures taken during 2014 the remains of sugar mills or "Centrales" that operated at one time or another on the island with a brief description of each.  Each sugar mill of which we could identifyy remains has a page containing pictures of the remains, a brief write up and a link to a chart with its annual production, where available. 
 
The location of the remains can be identified on this  Google Map .  Because water was a valued commodity for irrigation of the sugar fields and in the production process, on this map you can see that the vast majority of the sugar mills were established near a river on the coastal area where flat lands are more suitable for growing sugarcane than the central mountain range region.
 
Sugar was not always Puerto Rico's main agricultural product.  In 1881, export value of coffee was 54.5 % of total agricultural export value while sugar accounted for only 28.9%.  By 1935 the trend had shifted dramatically with sugar accounting for 60%, coffee 3% and tobacco, which industry has since practically disappeared, 9%.  However, during most of the 19th and 20th Centuries, sugar was the sole agricultural industry that most contributed to the economy of Puerto Rico.
 
The sugar industry existed in Puerto Rico dating back to the early 16th Century.  In the 1800s, sugar was grown by "hacendados" who owned large amounts of land or "Haciendas" used to grow sugarcane.  Some Haciendas became "Ingenios" by processing their own sugarcane and producing  muscovado sugar and molasses in an onsite factory that consisted of a "trapiche" or mill powered by slaves, horses, oxen (often called blood driven mills) or running water.  It was not until the 1820's that wind driven mills and until the 1830's that steam powered mills were first introduced on the island.  This era of the sugar industry is more extensively documented in the Ingenios Project pages.
 
In 1870 Puerto Rico was reportedly the second largest sugar producer of the Western Hemisphere after Cuba.  While Cuba is 12.5 times the size of Puerto Rico, in the period between 1848-1852, Cuba produced just 6 times as much sugar.  However, in the early 1900s, US companies had a controlling interest in the sugar industry in Cuba and in 1924, the 17 sugar mills controlled by the National Sugar Refining Company alone, produced 452,550 tons of sugar, more than the 447,972 tons produced by all the 37 sugar mills in Puerto Rico.
 
Beginning in 1873 and soon after becoming a US Territory in 1898 as a result of the  Spanish American War , some ingenios grew in capacity due to modernization and/or consolidation and became Centrales or Sugar Mills .  Humberto Garcia Muñiz in his book Sugar and Power in the Caribbean: the South Porto Rico Sugar Company in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic states on table 1.4 that between 1873 and 1898 27 Central sugar mills were built on the island including Vieques, none were built between 1898 and 1900 due to the change in sovereignty and between 1900 and 1920 a total 40 sugar mills were built.
 
Between 1911 and 1952 the general trend of total sugar production in Puerto Rico had a markedly upward trend as can be seen from this  Total Sugar Production graph,  thereafter, a precipitous decline marked the end of the industry.  Based on this US Owned Mills vs. Total Production graph created using production information available , and contrary to popular belief, except for 7 years (1926-1930 and 1934-1935) due mainly to the acquisition by the United Puerto Rican American Sugar Co. of 5 previously locally owned mills, production of locally owned sugar mills always exceeded that of the US owned mills.  Granted, the number of locally owned sugar mills was three or four times larger than the US owned.  Another misconception regarding the US owned mills is that they controlled too much land on the island.  In his book American Sugar Kingdom, César J. Ayala states that 56% of the sugarcane grown in Puerto Rico and processed at Guanica Centrale was grown by colonos.  He also states that The United Puerto Rican Sugar Co. owned 30,967 acres, Fajardo Sugar Co. 29,240, Aguirre Sugar Co. 24,234  and the South Porto Rico Sugar Co. 21,275.  In addition to their own lands, they leased an additional 56,000 acres resulting in control of a total of approximately 161,700 acres or 24% of the cropland in cane farms.  This, despite the fact that colono farms produced 29 tons of sugar per acre in 1931-32 while company farms averaged 37 tons per acre.
 
The majority of workers in the sugar industry were hired by local employers, not by US Corporations.  The substantial number of colonos that cultivated sugarcane for the sugar factories employed a large number of wage workers.  The locally owned mills, which as previously stated were more in number and in average ground more than half of the sugarcane on the island, ground mostly sugarcane cultivated on leased lands or grown by colonos.  Ayala concludes that despite the large concentration of land in the hands of the big four (Aguirre, Fajardo, United Puerto Rican Sugar Co. and Guanica), approximately 75% of the agricultural proletariat in the cane industry was hired by native employers.
 
The sugar industry was a wealth creator, as an example, Fajardo's earnings before taxes for the year ended 7/31/1920 was $5,456,918 or $94.73 per share on sales of $12,425,333.  According to the book  Economic History of Puerto Rico - Institutional Change and Capitalist Development by James L. Dietz,  in 1920  Aguirre  paid a dividend equal to 115% of equity.  From 1923 to 1930, the return on capital of the mills owned by  Aguirre Guanica Fajardo  and the United Porto Rican Sugar Corporation ( Santa Juana Cayey , Defensa, Pasto Viejo and  Juncos ) averaged 22.5% per year.  From 1920 to 1935  Aguirre Guanica  and  Fajardo  distributed $60 million in dividends to their shareholders while accumulating a surplus of $20 million.  This all changed when in 1942 the Government of Puerto Rico declared the sugar mills a public utility even though there were over 40 producers at the time, none of which had a monopoly.  This move gave the Public Service Commission authority to limit their returns in an ill based effort to prevent capital leaving the island. 
 
It was also a source of employment for approximately 111,000 people according to the 1935 census; approximately 95,000 farm workers and 16,000 production workers including engineers, chemists, accountants, bookkeepers and foremen.  In 1952 the sugar industry's payroll accounted for 23% of total Puerto Rican wages.  Economic activity from related businesses such as hardware stores, foundries, fuel suppliers and transportation, to name a few, was also an important contribution of the sugar industry to the overall economy.  It also provided for the only source of income of many independent land owners or "colonos" whose sole activity was growing sugarcane to sell to the mills.
 
Puerto Rico has throughout the years been identified as one of the major  rum  producers in the world.   Rums of Puerto Rico  is a source of income not only to the distillery but to the Puerto Rican Government as well.  Based on Section 7652 of the Internal Revenue Code, most of the Federal excise tax on all rum imported to the US from Puerto Rico is returned to the Puerto Rican Government.  According to the 10/27/11 report by the Congressional Research Service titled  The Rum Excise Tax Cover-Over: Legislative History and Current Issues , the Puerto Rican Government received over $431.7 million in FY 2009 from this source.  Molasses needed in rum production were at one time a local product, now they have to be imported.
 
The Act of Congress known as  The Foraker Act or the Organic Act of 1900  that established the civilian government in Puerto Rico after the US occupation, included a provision limiting land ownership by corporations to 500 "cuerdas" (1 cuerda = .97 acre).  Since its enactment, this provision was overlooked and never enforced.  In the 1930s the government decided to enforce the law (see  San Vicente ), which action negatively affected the operations of the larger sugar mills, US as well as locally owned.  The Puerto Rico Land Authority  was created in 1941 to acquire and preserve land with high agricultural value and facilitate the use of these lands for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico, it was really to acquire the excess land over 500 acres owned by the sugar mills, the majority of which today is not being cultivated at all.  In 1974 the Corporacion Azucarera de Puerto Rico or Sugar Corporation of Puerto Rico was created to "save" the sugar industry.  In an effort to save the industry, the Sugar Corporation acquired most of the sugar mills and sold their machinery and equipment in Latin America while continuing to run a few.  But, as is the case with basically all government run institutions, the government run sugar mills were unsuccessful and eventually also shut down.
 
Notwithstanding the importance of the sugar industry, it was allowed to die.  It is inconceivable to understand how the sugar industry was allowed to completely disappear and today, alcohol, produced by the fermentation of molasses produced from sugarcane needed in rum production and sugar needed for local consumption have to be imported.  There are many opinions and reasons for the demise of this one time king, some obviously carry more weight than others.  In my opinion, the study titled   What Ever Happened to the Puerto Rican Sugar Manufacturing Industry?  published in 2012 by a research group of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis best explains the reasons for the industry demise.  The study shows that it was not necessarily the poor performance of the Puerto Rican economy that caused the industry to fail, but local government policies.
 
The following sugar mills operated at one time on the island, but as far as we could tell have no remains left.  At least some of the information on the names highlighted in gray was obtained from Volumes 1 and 2 of the 1902 book by José Ferreras Pagan Biografía de las Riquezas de Puerto Rico.
 
  1. Alianza - Camuy (1910-1922)  Was organized in 1910 with a capital of $600,000, some of its principal shareholders were Spanish immigrant from Sóller Andrés Oliver Roses the son of Catalina Roses Bisbal whose family owned Hacienda Santa Barbara , Manuel Ledesma Figueroa (1869-1923), Spanish immigrant from Mallorca Francisco Perelló Cerdá (1874-1925), Sebastian Figueroa Colón (1850-1932), Spanish immigtant from Blanes Agustin Plá Puigmoler (1868- ) and another investor with last name Igartúa.  Its machinery was acquired from Central Cambalache who had recently purchased the closed down Central Oriente for its lands.
  2. Bello Sitio - Rio Piedras (1873-1891)  Was owned by Geronimo Landrau Malaret (1819-1904).  In May 1891, with the end of the crop season approaching, the first recorded worker's strike took place at Bello Sitio where laborers demanded higher wages.  The strike resulted in the closure of operations.  Subsequently, its equipment was sold and installed at Hacienda Monserrate in Rio Grande ca. 1900.
  3. Buena Vista - Carolina (1882-1911)  Was established at Barrio Hoyo Mulas of Carolina by Ignacio Arzuaga who installed a steam driven mill.  In 1882 equipment from the defunct Hacienda Monserrate in Rio Grande was installed elevating it to a Central sugar mill.  It was later owned by the firm of Arzuaga's relatives Sobrinos de Ezquiaga, which firm was established in San Juan in 1821 by Spaniard Jose Ignacio Ezquiaga (1775-1845) a native of Guipuzcoa in the Basque Country.  In 1911 it was acquired by the Loiza Sugar Co. owners of Central Canovanas  mainly for its lands.  For the 1912 grinding season, its mill was acquired by Cia. Azucarera de la Carolina whose major shareholder was also Sobrinos de Ezquiaga and installed at its Central Progreso.
  4. El Buey - Camuy
  5. Camuy - Camuy (1912-1913)  The publication The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer in its edition of July 30, 1910 reports that: "The Camuy Sugar Co. lately established and now erecting its central, expects to be able to put 30,000 sacks of sugar on the market for the 1911-1912 campaign, first grinding being scheduled for Decmber 1911.  The edition of  June 8, 1912 includes an article where they presented their readers with "this new Central sugar factory in PR".  It states in the article it is the most modern factory on the island and this is its first year of its grinding.  Its Board of Directors consisted of Eduardo Georgetti - President, José Machado - Vice President, José Ruiz Soler - Secretary and Pedro G. Amador - Treasurer.  However, its shareholders were mainly members of the Amador family.  In 1913, it closed down, was dismantled and sold for $150,000 to a group in Venezuela headed by Gen. Ingnacio Andrade former President of that country.   The Louisiana Planter ad Sugar Manufacturer in its edition of 12/6/1913 reported that Luis Soler, in representation of Central Camuy's interests, closed on the sale due to financial difficulties.  In its edition of 12/1/1917 it reports that the recently erected Central La Ceiba in Maracaibo was the transplant of Central Camuy in Puerto Rico.   Central Rio Llano was later erected on the site of Central Camuy.
  6. Caribe - Salinas (1931-1947)  Was established by Michelle Godreau, an immigrant from Guadaloupe, French West Indies who moved to Salinas ca. 1930. Its first grinding season was 1937 when it produced 6,784 tons of sugar and it was considered one of the most modern and efficient sugar mills in Puerto Rico, its General Manager was Atty. Eugenio Lecompte. In 1948 it was dismantled and its machinery sold in Mexico.
  7. Constancia - Ponce (1910-1954)  Constancia evolved from an agricultural partnership established in 1881 by Spanish immigrant Felix Saurí Vivas (1852-1915) and Asisclo Subirá Ramirez de Arellano (1849- ) to operate the Hacienda Estrella.  The sugar mill, known at inception as Central Estrella, was owned by Saurí & Subirá & Co. a corporation formed by the heirs of Felix and Asisclo, one of whom was Felix son Rafael Sauri Tristani (1881- ).  It owned most of the land used for growing sugarcane making it practically independent of cane purchased from colonos.  The 11/30/1917 edition of trade publication  The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer states: "The advent of the first mill making white sugar direct in Porto Rico marks a new era in the industry in the island.  It was put in at Central Constancia at Ponce.  Sauri & Subira, the owners, have been making sugar for direct local consumption for years and have been putting out a sugar somewhat whiter and purer than the ordinary raws, but now this white sugar made so by sulfur, lime and filtration processes marks a great era of advancement.  The installation cost $250,000 and the sugar cane capacity of the plant will be 250 tons daily."  The machinery was manufactured by Krajewski Pesant Corp., Inc. who had built the manufacturing plants at Central Vannina and Central Lafayette .
  8. Corsica - Rincón (1885-1920)  It was established in 1885 as an Ingenio known as Hacienda Corsica by Domingo Rafucci Padovani, a Corsican immigrant who in 1888 returned to France leaving his son Alfredo Rafucci Bayrón as administrator.  Alfredo soon developed the Ingenio into a Central sugar factory, by 1912 it had approximately 1,164 company controlled acres planted with sugarcane which included those of the old Hacienda Tres Hermanos in Añasco.  In 1913 Corsica secured a $100,000 loan from the West India Sugar Financing Corporation, that year Ramón Aboy Benitez, also owner of Arcadia in Vieques, was its President, Jaime Sifre also of Carmen Centrale was its Administrator and George Dana Graves, in representation of the West India Sugar Financing Corporation was its Treasurer.  Corsica was located on the right hand side of the railroad tracks from Aguadilla to Mayagüez at Km 22 about 100 m from the sea shore in a valley by "cerro" San Francisco about 4 km south of Rincón.  Two sons-in-law of Domingo worked at Corsica, César Emilio Dechoudens whose uncle owned the nearby Hacienda Eugenia was the sugarman and Corsican immigrant Esteban Steffani the father of Luis Steffani Rafucci was the accountant.
  9. Defensa - Caguas (1920-1939)  Central Defensa, Inc. was incorporated April 30, 1920 by Caguas Mayor at the time Juan Gimenez Garcia, Marcos Gimenez and Jose B. Mendez.  In her book Santa Juana Y Mano Manca, Ivonne Acosta Lespier states that its main shareholders were Pablo Hereter, Joaquin Vendrell, Fernando Guarch Rios, Cipriano Manrique, Manuel Quiñones Cabezudo, Domingo Lasa Quiñones, Nicolás Solá and Harrison Johnson.  The mill was constructed with the old Central Corsica machinery next to the old Hacienda Santa Catalina  with 1923 being its first grinding season when it produced 4,407 tons of sugar.  Guarch Rios ownership interest in Defensa was to supply the new factory with sugarcane grown in his still large sugar plantation  Hacienda San José  rather than selling it to foreign owned Central Santa Juana .  
  10. El Ejemplo - Humacao (1898-1962)  Was located in Barrio Mariana about 6 miles from the Port of Humacao.  El Ejemplo's beginning date to 1896 when Roig acquired 12 cuerdas and a steam mill segregated from the 1,878 cuerda Hacienda Providencia owned by Rodulfo Leoncio Perez.  Roig then installed machinery acquired from the Pioneer Iron Works in NY elevating it to a Central sugar mill in 1898.  Financing for the purchase was provided by Fritze, Lundt & Co. for whom Roig had worked in Mayagüez where his father was established after immigrating from Catalonia, Spain.  In its beginning, it started without land of its own processing sugar cane grown by colonos, its main colono being Perez himself who agreed to grow 400 acres of sugarcane to be processed at El Ejemplo.  Perez also agreed to allow railroad tracks to be laid on his land for the use of the sugar mill.  The Cia. Azucarera El Ejemplo was incorporated July 17, 1909 by which time Roig owned approximately 12,500 acres and leased some 5,000 additional acres to grow sugarcane for his mill.  By 1935 almost all sugar cane it processed was grown on lands of the Roig family.  Its machinery was sold in 1965 to the South Florida Sugar Co.
  11. El Ingenio - Yabucoa (1891-1903)  Was established in Barrio Aguacate by José Anglada in 1891 who in 1898 sold it to Manuel Argüeso.  It had 1,200 acres of its own of which 600 were planted with sugarcane and processed sugarcane from several colonos in the area.   In 1903 Mullenhoff & Korber instituted foreclosure proceeding for unpaid debt and crop financing contracts which legal case bacame very bitter and complicated involving El Ingenio, its lands and other creditors as well.  On December 9, 1904 title to El Ingenio and its lands was deeded to Mullenhoff & Korber and according to a "secret" agreement between Mullenhoff & Korber and Argüeso intended to erase liens from other creditors, on July 6, 1905 title to the lands was reverted back to a Mr. Fulladosa at the request of Argüeso.     
  12. Esperanza - Arecibo (1898- )  Bernardo Huicy
  13. Fortuna - Rio Grande (1892-1909)  Its original owners were Avelino (1828-1885) and Félix Rexach Porrata Doria who sold it to Eugenio Benitez Guzmán ca. 1867.  Benitez Guzmán sold it to Medesta Román who in turn sold it to Alfredo Cristy Vanell (1835-1932) in 1892.  Under Benitez Guzmán ownership, a steam driven mill was installed but shortly thereafter the sugar factory was closed and its equipment sold to and installed at Hacienda Carmelita.  When Cristy acquired the property he installed a mill, boilers, vacuum pans, centrifugals and other equipment from Hacienda Santísima Trinidad of his property in Mayaguez which had shut down due to an epidemic that affected sugarcane in the area.  As of 1902 Manuel Gonzalez operated the factory on lease since 1899.
  14. Fortuna - Yauco (1906-1925)
  15. Guamani - Guayama (1930-1963)  Sucn. J. Gonzalez, G. Gonzalez, Genaro Cautiño Insua.  Planning of this Central began in 1924 with construction of the factory finished in 1929 in time for the 1930 milling season.  Reportedly part of the machinery used was from Central Columbia which ceased operations in 1928.  After its closure its machinery and equipment were sold to Central Aidsisa in the Philipines.
  16. Juanita - Bayamón (1895-1963)  Its origin dates back to 1890 when Spanish immigrant from Palma de Mallorca Antonio Monroig Oliver established a factory to produce molasses and muscovado sugar.  In 1895 the factory building was expanded and new vacuum pans, centrifugals and boilers were installed elevating it to a Central sugar mill.  It had a modern 750 KW Westinghouse turbine to drive all the machinery except the mill which was steam driven.  After Antonio's death on April 20, 1903, it was owned by the firm Antonio Monroig e Hijos consisting of his wife Josefa Obrador Vilá and their children Juan, Antonio, Valentin and Maria Monroig Obrador.  In 1911 it was acquired by Central Juanita, Inc.  whose main shareholder was the Fonalleda family.  In 1937 the main shareholders of Central Juanita, Inc. were Jaime and Guillermo Fonalledas, Rafael Arrieta and Dr. José A. Lopez Antongiorgi.  It was located West of the road to Cataño and East of the Bayamon River 1 Km more or less from the train station.  The Bayamón River crossed its 800 acres from South to North which river was used to transport sugarcane from the fields to a dock near the factory.   
  17. Juliana aka Herminia - Villalba (1919-1948)  The Luisian Planter and Sugar Manufacturer Volume 44 No. 23 of June 4, 1910 states; "Latest advices proclaim that the incorporation of the new Central of Villalba has been effected, the organizers and the principal shareholders being such well known sugar men as the Sres. Verjas (sic), Serrallés, Astol, Oppenheimer, Claussells, Marvin and Fabián."  It is widely accepted though, that Walter McK Jones (1883-1944) a native of Boston, founder and first Mayor of Villalba, established Central Juliana in 1919.  In 1940 it is acquired by the Semidey family of Coamo who changed the name to Herminia.  Its last known owner was Herminia Colón vda. Semidey.
  18. Las Claras - Arecibo (1877- ) Fernando Fernandez Umpierre (1839-1898)  Marqués de las Claras  was a rich sugar baron in Arecibo who built his house known then as Palacio del Marqués de las Claras.  This property later came to be the Casino de Arecibo.  His daughter Manuela Fernandez Muñoz (1864-1902) was Marquesa de las Claras, she married Manuel Elzaburu Vizcarrondo and in 1898 married in Madrid for a second time her brother in law Francisco Elzaburru Vizcarrondo.  The Marquesa de las Claras acquired this property from Francisco Serrat ca. 1877 when it became a Central Sugar Mill.  In 1902 its Manager was Bernardo Huicy.  It was located near the Rio Grande de Arecibo on the old road to San Juan South of the railroad tracks and near the Cambalache train station.  
  19. Laura - Yabucoa (1884-1901)  Was owned by the firm Cintrón Hnos. comprised of Jose Facundo; Zoilo; Carmen Margarita who was married to Mariano Martorell and Eulalia who was married to Aurelio Dapena Moreno the Administrator of the firm.  Laura consisted of 491 cuerdas property of Cintrón Hnos., another adjacent 440 cuerdas known as "Cercado Diamante" and "Dos Rios" plus another 231 cuerdas known as "Palmarejo" and "Margarita".  It also had a 3 Km railroad line.  In 1895 Cintrón Hnos. recived a 90,000 Mexican Pesos loan from the Banco Territorial y Agricola.  On May 23, 1900 due to unpaid installments on this loan and subsequent advances, Cintrón Hermanos represented by its Administrator Aurelio Dapena Moreno, handed over the administration of Laura to the bank who had its sugarcane processed at Central Roig .  On September 30, 1902 Banco Territorial y Agricola began foreclosure proceeding on the mortgage received to secure the above loans, acquiring title to Laura on March 26, 1903.
  20. Luisa - Manatí (1872-1922)  Hacienda Luisa was an oxen driven trapiche owned by Spanish immigrant from Blanes, Catalonia Francisco Brunet Urgell until 1872 when a steam mill was installed.  Shortly after the installation of the steam mill, additional machinery was installed elevating it to a Central sugar mill.  Luisa consisted of 1,400 cuerdas extending throughout the Barrios Bajura, Punta, Boca, Tierras Nuevas, Bajura Afuera and Tierras Nuevas Poniente of Manatí and according to José Ferreras Pagán in his 1902 book Biografia de las Riquezas de Puerto Rico, its land included  those of the defunct Hacienda Media Luna  on lease.  It was adjacent to Hacienda La Espereanza on the North and West and to lands of Central Monserrate .  In 1922 Federico Calaf Rivera signed a 6 year lease agreement of Luisa with Sucn. Francisco Brunet.  The Sucn. Francisco Brunet was composed of: Francisco Brunet Guayta (1877-1917) represented by his widow Rita Calaf Collazo (1884-1976) the daughter of Federico Calaf Rivera (1845-1924) owner of Central Monserrate ; Rosenda Brunet Guayta (1887-1945) who married Adolfo de Hostos y de Ayala (1887-1982) son of Eugenio Maria de Hostos ; Micaela Brunet Guayta (1873-1933) who married Fernando Geigel Sabat; Josefa Brunet-Guayta (1873-1955); Rosa Brunet Guayta (1874-1957) who married Salvador Sierra Amalbert and Luisa Brunet Guayta (1871-1949) who married Abelardo de la Aba who was the sugar mill's manager.  This lease was sublet to Julián Gandia Córdova who was the administrator of  Central Monserrate  who then processed its sugarcane. 
  21. Luisa - Maunabo (1874-1883)  Central Luisa was elevated to a Sugar mill in 1874 when owned by Luis de Boyrie and his wife Luisa Pillot who acquired it when an ingenio from Alberto I. Bentegeat y Brisart.  Reportedly, by 1883 the ingenio had ceased operations when Cail & Co. foreclosed on machinery they had supplied and financed for approximately $64,000 which machinery was sold to Eugenio María Vergés co-owner of Central Columbia .  A foreclosure suit was decided in 1886 in favor on Bentegeat for an unpaid mortgage in the amount of $6,600.  On November 4, 1886 the Court ordered the sale in Public Auction of assets valued at $9,988 including Hacienda Oriente, also known as Luisa, in the Barrio Talante of Maunabo consisting of 190 cuerdas and several structures in poor condition including a deteriorated sugar processing plant and two chimneys.
  22. Maria - Rio Grande (1892-1901)   Was established ca. 1866 by Spanish immigrant Antonio Zechini ( -1891) as a hacienda with an oxen driven mill.  After his death, in 1892 it passed on to his estate represented by Antonio Zechini Veve (1862- ) who installed a steam driven mill and a vacuum pan elevating it to a Central sugar mill.  Antonio Zechini Veve (1862- ) was  the son of Eulalia Clestina Veve Ferand (1830-1900), sister of Miguel Antonio Veve Ferand owner of Ingenio Concepcion in Ceiba and was married to Josefa Benitez Calzada (1870-1936), daughter of José Eugenio Benitez Guzmán owner of Central Playa Grande in Vieques.  Hacienda Maria consisted of 1,200 acres of its own of which 400 are used to grow sugarcane.  It was located about 1/2 Km North of town, the Espiritu Santo River crossed its lands.  After its closure its sugarcane was processed at Central Canóvanas .
  23. Pagán - Añasco (1883-1918).  It was located about 5 minutes Southeast of Añasco near the train station, its land comprised the old haciendas Ursula, Librada, Cipriana and Elisa; the Rio Daguey meandered through its lands.  The 1984 document titled Añasco: Notas para su Historia written by Dr. Carlos Gaztambide Arrillaga states that Juan Bianchi was the original owner of Pagán while a hacienda.  Bianchi was born in Añasco and was married to Luisa Bracetti the sister of Mariana Bracetti - Brazo de Oro .  After the death of Juan Bianchi in 1827, Luisa married Juan Pagán and after his death in 1873, the hacienda was inherited by her son Juan Bianchi Bracetti (1829-1902) also known as Juan Bianchi Pagán in honor of his stepfather Juan Pagán who raised him since age 2.  It was later owned by Juan Bianchi Rosafá the son of Juan Bianchi Pagán and Rosario Rasafá and subsequently leased in 1910 to  La Guanica Centrale .
  24. Pasto Viejo - Humacao (1907-1958). It was located on the banks of the Anton Ruiz River.  Although its first milling season appears to be 1907, it was first organized under the name Humacao Sugar Co. which principal was Cuban born William L. Bass also owner of Ingenio Consuelo in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.  It was reorganized in 1907 as the Porto Rico Sugar Co. whose majority shareholders were Puerto Rican capitalists Eduardo Georgetti, Jose Toro Rios, Juan Carlos McCormick, Rafael Fabian, Luis Toro Pasarell and Ramon Aboy Benitez; US capitalists H. C. Guiler, George T. Parker and Moses A. Walker; and German capitalist Waldemar Hepp.  In early 1910 because of financial difficulties, the assets of the Porto Rico Sugar Co. were acquired for a reported $925,000 by Borinquen Sugar Co. whose majority shareholders were Rafael Fabian and Juan Carlos McCormick.  Borinquen Sugar Co. struggled every year of its existence and in 1912 Hernand Behn was appointed by the Court as receiver.  In 1914 while under receivership, a group known as the Federal Syndicate of Humacao rented and operated the sugar mill for the 1915 grinding season which was Pasto Viejo's first successful season.  In June 1915 members of the syndicate organized Central Pasto Viejo, Inc. and purchased at public auction the assets of Borinquen Sugar Co.  Reportedly the person behind the syndicate's success was Engineer Ignacio Peña who had 7 years experience in the US and had worked at  Central Constancia  in Toa Baja which was run by his uncle Francisco Arrieta.  Pasto Viejo was one of the 5 Centrales that in 1926 were acquired to form the United Puerto Rican Sugar Co., later known as Eastern Sugar Associates after United filed for bankruptcy in 1933 and was lastly owned by the Fajardo Sugar Co.
  25. Porvenir - Adjuntas (1908-1925)
  26. Progreso aka Victoria - Carolina (1912-1958)  Progreso was located in what was the 620 acre Hacienda Aurora owned by José Saldaña, later owned by Manuel Saldaña.  It was built in 1887 by Lamb & Co. a British firm with offices in St Thomas.  Crosas & Finlay managed it until 1888 when The Puerto Rico Sugar Factory Ltd. whose main shareholders were Lorenzo D. Armstrong of the NY commercial banking firm L. W. & P. Armstrong and British citizen Frederick Barnes took control of Progreso.  By 1900 it was owned by Mayrn, Armstrong and Finlay Bros. and Waymouth and its administrator was Enrique Van Rhyn.  In 1910 the Compañia Azucarera de la Carolina owned by Sobrinos de Ezquiaga bought the Central from Finlay Bros., the new owners added lighting and built new offices with electricity and in 1912 installed the mill, centrifugals, crystallizers and a large Stirling boiler from the recently closed Central Buena Vista.  In September 1919 E. Rubert, Eduardo Georgetti, Enrique J. Gonzalez, J. D. Riera, A. de la Haba and B. Rubert formed a five year agricultural and industrial partnership under the name Central Victoria, Ltd.  A transfer was made to the partnership of the sugar factory Central Progreso and of other properties of the Compañia Azucarera de la Carolina.  The partnership commenced operations under the presidency of Gonzalez.  Rafael Fabian acquired interest in Victoria by purchasing part of the interest of J. D. Riera from his estate.  In 1921 the court appointed a receiver due to dissent between the partners, which order was set aside by petition of E. J. Gonzalez.  The chimney, which was the last remaining structure of this sugar mill was imploded in 2011. 
  27. Providencia - Patillas (1902-1917)  It was originally an ingenio known as Rio Chico owned by Modesto Bird León.  It was acquired in 1902 by Puerto Rico born Antonio S. Alcaide Baiz (1863- ) who was married to Estella Riefkhol Mourier (1863-1942) the daughter of German immigrant Otto Riefkhol, Luis Francisco Vergés (1869-1910), Guillermo McCormick Hartman (1861-1907) and Guillermo Riefkhol Mourier who was its administrator.  When acquired in 1902, new equipment imported from the US was installed which elevated it to a Central sugar mill.  Vergés and Riefkhol also had ownership interests in Central Columbia and Vergés and Alcaide in Central Machete .  Its sugarcane came from 1,400 acres of its own in Patillas and from leased land of the old Hacienda Enriqueta in Arroyo.  The American Sugar Industry and Beet Sugar Gazette in its November 1909 edition stated that  Providencia "was put up for sale in a court action for collection of moneys and 1,200 acres of cane lands are thus on the market".  In 1928 it was destroyed by hurricane San Felipe and in 1929 was acquired by Sucn. Fantauzzi Hnos. owners of Central Lafayette  mainly for its railroad system in order to transport to Arroyo sugarcane previously processed at their recently closed Central Columbia .
  28. Reparada - Ponce (1883-1900). This sugar mill was located in the general area where the Pontificia Universidad Catolica is today.  At one time there was a "Barrio" in Ponce called Reparada which more or less comprised the area south of the railroad tracks (today Calle Ferrocarril), west of the Rio Portugués old course, north of the Bypass (PR-2) and east of PR-2R (where Paquito Montaner Stadium is). It had water rights to draw water from the Portugués River and the Canas River which ran between Hacienda  La Matilde  and Reparada.  It was originally owned by Ramón Cortada Quintana (1833-1905) and was acquired in 1883 by José Gallart Forgas (1838-1898) and upon his death owned by the Sucn. Gallart, and reportedly at one time also by Mario Mercado Montalvo, owner of Central Rufina .  It appears the name Reparada was given by Gallart in honor of his mother Reparada Forgas Bayo.  It had 1,100 acres of its own land of which 800 were used to grow sugarcane.
  29. Restaurada - Ponce (1888-1903) It was one of the first haciendas in the area dating back to the 1700s.  It was located in barrio Vayas and was originally owned by the Ortiz Matos family of Ponce who sold it to Catalonian immigrant José Pica ( -1831) in 1825.  Upon Pica's death, his relative and also Catalonian immigrant Luis Font managed the hacienda, which despite having only 65 "cuerdas" in 1845 increased its sugar production and became a very efficient and succesful operation.  Font was a Catalonian immigrant who arrived in Ponce around 1830 and married Josefa Pica the daughter of José Pica.  By 1866 the hacienda was owned by Luis Font who ca. 1875 sold it to Miguel Arribas Escribano (1834-1897) and upon his death was owned by his daughter Hortensia Arribas de Canals (1869- ).
  30. Rochelaise - Mayaguez (1908-1957)  Its origin dates back to 1846 when French immigrant Juan Forestier acquired 275 cuerdas and named the Hacienda Rochelaise in memory of his birthplace in France.  During the economic crisis at the end of the 19th Century, Hacienda Rochelaise was reduced to pasture land.  Central Rochelaise was established where the old hacienda was by David D. Wilson who was also related to Central Igualdad and Central Oriente and Mayagüez born and Paris educated Oscar F. Bravo González (1882-1964) and his wife Rudecinda Monagas Bianchi the daughter of Estela Bianchi Rosafá whose family also had ownership interests in Central Pagán in Añaco and Central Coloso in Aguadilla.  Bravo first worked in NY and upon his return to Puerto Rico was employed by Schultze & Co., a German commercial merchant house established in Mayagüez.  In 1908 ownership was transferred to the Mayagüez Sugar Co. whose main shareholders were Bravo, David & Robert Wilson, Chase Ulman and his brother-in-law and Ponce born José Miguel Morales Alvarado who was married to Sara Bravo Gonzalez.  After its closure, its sugarcane was processed at Central Igualdad , its machinery was sold as scrap metal in Mexico. 
  31. San Cristobal - Naguabo (1905-1913)  Hacienda San Cristobal was established ca. 1855 by Spanish Immigrant from Catalonia Tito Patxot with an oxen driven mill.  Spanish immigrant Alejandro Viader Soler (1834-1901) acquired the property ca. 1875 and updated it with a steam mill in 1899 and operated it until his death when it passed on to his son and daughter Igancio (1880-1909) and Dolores Viader Hernandez (1875-1960).  His wife Maria Hernandez and two daughters Josefa (1876-1994) and Alejandrina Viader Hernandez (1873-1997) had preceded Alejandro.   The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer Volume 21 No. 25 of December 17,1898 reports that: "A Philadelphia syndicate has acquired a large tract of land in the District of Naguabo, on the east coast, and are about to commence planting  and the erection of buildings, etc."  San Cristobal was the first US investment planned after the 1898 occupation, however, its establishment took some time allowing Central Aguirre to be the first US investor owned Central Sugar Mill established in Puerto Rico after the US occupation.  According to José Ferreras Pagán in his 1902 book Biografía de las Riquezas de Puerto Rico, San Cristobal was still a hacienda owned by Ignacio and Dolores Viader Hernandez, it was under the ownership of Igancio and Dolores that San Cristobal was upgraded to a Central sugar mill in 1905.  In 1910 after Igancio's death, it was acquired for a reported $900,000 by The Central San Cristobal Corporation, incorporated in Connecticut in 1910 to acquire San Cristobal and the Hacienda Esperanza in Naguabo adding its mill and equipment to San Cristobal's plant.  The Central San Cristobal Corporation went into receivership in mid-1913, a syndicate headed by Sosthenes Behn leased San Cristobal for the 1914-1915 grinding season which was not successful.  In 1915 the Federal Court ordered its sale for the benefit of its creditors and in 1916 it was dismantled and its machinery sold in 1917 to Macorís Sugar Co. in the Dominican Republic.  San Cristobal was the only fully US owned sugar mill that turned out to be a failure.
  32. San Francisco - Naguabo (1876-1879)  Was owned by the firm Busó & Viader comprised of Juan Busó Quintana and Alejandro Viader.
  33. San Luis - Carolina (1874-1876) Was owned by Teodoro Chevremont Couvertié (1839-1896).
  34. San Miguel - Luquillo (1926-1931) Was owned by Diego Zalduondo Veve (1878-1940).  Its first grinding season was 1927 when it produced 4,340 tons of sugar.  Was damaged by  San Ciprian Hurricane  and was never rebuilt, last grinding season was 1931 when it produced 3,279 tons of sugar.  It filed for Bankruptcy in 1931.
  35. Utuado - In 1910 Utuado Sugar Co. contracted NY based Lebedjeff & Co. to build a Central sugar factory in the municipality of Utuado with the condition that it be operational by January, 1915 for the 1914-195 season. The main shareholders of Utuado Sugar Co. were Eduardo Georgetti, Carlos Cabrera, Carlos Soler, Adrian Cueto and Carlos Morales Alvarado among others.  By 1916 it was already under receivership.
  36. Vannina aka San José - Rio Piedras (1910-1952) It was located on the lands of the old Hacienda San José established ca. 1830 by Alonso Andrade who operated an oxen driven mill.  It was later owned by Spanish immigrant Jose Solís and then his son Joaquín Solis Kercadó (1825-1897) who installed equipment from the defunct  Hacienda Media Luna  and Hacienda Monserrate in Dorado.  Upon the death of Joaquín it passed on to Sucn. Solís composed of Joaquín's wife Aurelia Amy and their sons Francisco, Joaquín, Natalia, Josefina and Maria all Solís Amy.  In 1902 its administrator was Miguel Emannuelli Costa who was married to Natalia.  The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer Volume 44 No. 24 of June 10, 1910 states that: "Many new centrals are being planed for erection during the present year, three being certainties - viz., Arecibo, Camuy and Rio Piedras.  This last expects to be in operation for next season.  The capital is said to have been raised in Germany with a Porto Rican management."  Vannina Corporation was incorporated in 1911 with a subscribed capital of $300,000 and began operations in February 1911.  Its initial Board of Directors was comprised of Santiago Lorenzi, Antonio Caubet Pons, Vicente Antonetti Antonini, Joaquin Villamil, A. Gautier, G. Candina, G. Sagastibelza, Bernado Gil, A. Somoza and P. Castaños.  As a result of a request in 1914 by Sucrs. de Abarca, the District Court of San Juan appointed Abelardo de la Haba and Rud Myohl as receivers to run the affairs of Central Vannina.  Successful operations rescued Vannina Corporation from receivership until it ceased operations in 1939 when it was acquired and the name changed to Central San José.
 
There were four sugar mills in the small island of Vieques, just East of Puerto Rico, we did not visit these but understand there are remains of at least one of them;
 
  1. Arcadia (1908-1917) Was owned by Luis Manuel Cintrón Sanchez (1848-1917) also owner of Hacienda Fortuna in Fajardo.  Upon its closure after the 1916-1917 grinding season, Arcadia's fields were sold by its then owner Encarnación Aboy Benitez (1864-1949) the widow of Luis Manuel to the Benitez Sugar Co., owners of Central Playa Grande.  Encarnación was the daughter of Ramón Aboy Hernández and Petra Benitez Guzmán the sister of José Benitez Guzman the principal shareholder of Benitez Sugar Co.
  2. Vieques aka Esperanza aka Puerto Real (1910-1927) Established by Victor Mourraille Roussel, a Frenchman from the Guadeloupe island of Marie Galante from the merger of his hacienda in Puerto Ferro with a hacienda in Barrio Mosquito owned by Frenchman from Saint Domingue Victor Martineau Voyard (1823-1893).  Enrique Bird Arias (Brother of Jorge Bird Arias of Fajardo Sugar Co. ) acquired Esperanza from Victor's son Gustave Mouraille Longpré after a big labor strike in 1915.  After Enrique's death on March 4, 1919 all the assets and rights of the Esperanza Central Sugar Company were sold at public auction by the marshall of the US District Court for PR to the Colonial Sugar Company as a result of a suit filed by L. W. & P. Armstrong for an unpaid mortgage of $1,730,000.  On November 17,1929 the Colonial Sugar Company transferred and conveyed all its assets and rights to the Fajardo Sugar Company.  The Fajardo Sugar Co. then sold it to United Porto Rican Sugar Co., later Eastern Sugar Associates (also owners of Pasto Viejo,  Santa Juana Cayey Juncos  and Defensa).  Under the ownership of United Porto Rican Sugar Co./Eastern Sugar Associates, sugar cane grown on the plantation after 1927 was processed at Central Pasto Viejo in Humacao.  The structure of the main house of the Puerto Real Central Sugar Mill, later known as "La Casa del Francés" alluding to the nationality of the original owner Victor Mourraille, became a well known small hotel and inn.  Today, the structure is in ruins because of a fire that occurred in 2005.  Puerto Real's land was subject to the government's enforcement of the 500 "cuerdas law as can be seen from this court document
  3. Playa Grande (1899-1942).  This was the only sugar mill in Vieques in operation by 1930.  Its origin dates to when three Danish immigrants  consolidated three haciendas: Marquisat de St. Jacques, Pistolet and Resolución under the name Resolución.  José Benitez Guzmán (1840-1900) acquired Hacienda Resolución and in 1892 bought Playa Grande from another Dane called Matias Hjardenal, consolidating it with Resolución.  Benitez Guzmán improved its machinery and installed a steam mill and by 1899 had converted it into a Central Sugar mill.  After José's death, it passed on to his children through the Benitez Sugar Co. represented by Jose Juan Benitez Diaz (1865-1947) who was married to Maria de Anca Benvenutti daughter of Carolina de Anca who married Carlos Cabrera Paz owner of Central Florida .  In 1936 it was in receivership due to unpaid debt to the Bank of Nova Scotia and was sold to Aurelio Tió who operated it until 1942 when its lands were expropriated by the US Navy.  The mill itself was not expropriated but without sugar cane to process, it shut down.  Miguel Angel Garcia Mendez, owner of Central Igualdad,  bought the equipment and in 1946 sold it in Belle Glade, FL to Okeelanta Sugar Reginery, Inc.  When Okeelanta istalled more modern equipmet, it was sold to Manatí Sugar Co. in Cuba.  This YouTube Video by the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust is very intresting tour of the sugar mill ruins.
  4. Santa Maria (1896-1922)  Its predecessor was established by Ildefonso Leguilton with an oxen driven mill.  It was acquired in 1896 by St. Thomas native Carlos Petit LeBrun Bartolomey (1859-1928).  Reportedly it had a distillery and produced Ron Santa Maria.  It had about 2,000 acres of its own of which approximately 600 acres were used to grow sugarcane.
Following is a gallery of pictures of sugar mills of which there are no remains left today obtained from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez Library and El Mundo Newspaper.