Stann Creek Railway carrying bananas to Commerce Bight Pier for export, on Macaroni Hill, 1910. And a bit about the history of the railroad
The Stann Creek Railway operated from 1908 — 1938 between Middlesex Village and Commerce Bight, the port south of Dangriga. The railway covered approximately 30 miles and transported timber, copra, grapefruit, bananas, coconuts, and cohune for export. In 1933, the railway was managed by 35 staff members.
The Hummingbird Highway ends at Middlesex Village, where the Stann Creek Valley road begins. There were a couple "railroad bridges" (single lane) between Middlesex and Armenia. The train yard was located at what is now the BDF camp in Dangriga Town, then the Department of Public Works. They basically moved banana and pineapple from Unity Valley in Altavista and above Steadfast Village vicinity, where the old trestles were visible and might still be. Their destination were the railroad pier or jetty, about 2 miles below Dangriga. There was also a switch located on the left side heading north in Bowman Estate one mile above Old Pomona Citrus Company of British Honduras. Those old trains at the PW Deptartment were supposedly sold as scrap metal to Guatemalan buyers and shipped to steel mills overseas.
The top photo is one from the 11 miles switch back on the Stann Creek valley road sometimes called macaroni hills because of the overgrown rock quarries. That switch back was located at the old rock quarry at 11 miles where the Public Works Department extracted the stones that was used to build roads in the entire Stann Creek District and half the Hummingbird Highway. This is in more modern times around the early 1900 hundreds. Grandma was born 1900. She said she was 15 years old around this time. This is the beginning boundries of the British Honduras Citrus Company farm in historic Pomona stann creek.
The trains in Gallon Jug had flat beds for hauling logs. That caboose had staked body for the hauling bananas and operated on coal. There was one diesel engine caboose called Beckey before the bottom fell out of the banana industry due to the banana parasite, both here and in Honduras.
Three locomotives and 21 freight cars were used for transportation of crops and goods. The railway turntable was located at the main entrance of Dangriga, known as "The Y". Today, this is the site of the Drums of our Fathers Monument.
The route was built by the colonial government of British Honduras, with the help of Jamaican immigrant workers, for a well above budget total of BH$ 846,140 or about £ 123,000, or about € 15 million, adjusted for inflation. It had a gauge of 3 feet (914 mm) and was opened in sections from 17 October 1908 to 31 March 1911. It took a detour through the banana plantations on Melinda Road and Old Mullins River Road. The bridges were designed as steel bridges with concrete foundations.
After banana production was reduced to 5,000 stems a week in 1924 and the United Fruit Company ceased operations, the government procured two diesel shunting locomotives capable of handling the entire line at 8 mph (13 km/h).
From 1925, the United States based Tidewater Lumber Company used the railroad to transport mahogany wood from Middlesex to the Commerce Bight pier for shipment to the United States of America. After the decline of the timber industry in Stann Creek Valley in 1929, the railway was still used in the 1930s for passenger transport. The United Fruit Company used the Stann Creek Railway until 1937. The track was dismantled in 1938 and reused elsewhere in Belize and Jamaica.
October 17th 1908 ... The first section (to Hope Creek, 9 1/4 miles) of the Stann Creek Railway opened.
March 17th, 1909 ... The second section (Hope Creek to Macarono Hill, 9 1/4 to 15 1/4 mile) of Stann Creek Railway opened.
March 4th, 1910 ... The third section (15 1/4 to 18 mile) of Stann Creek Railway opened.