Railroad trestle hidden within the jungle beside the Hummingbird Highway
History was hidden within the jungle beside the Hummingbird Highway. This railroad trestle was build during a time of industry, budding agricultural endeavors and colonial rule. These massive, vine draped structures are a testament to what was; a monument to the ephemeral; and a portent of our future.
Rail was used in the transport of mahogany in our country. Three main railway systems were built in Belize. These were in the Stann Creek, Orange Walk and the Cayo districts. The first of these was the railway in the Stann Creek district built primarily for transport of bananas from the Stann Creek Valley to Stann Creek Town. This rail also carried logs extracted from forests in the Stann Creek district. The Stann Creek railway was closed in 1938 and parts of this were transferred to other locations in Belize as well as Jamaica.
The second rail was built at the Vaca Falls area in the Cayo District. A railroad was also built at the B.E.C. estate between Gallon Jug and Hill bank in the Orange Walk district (Figure 10). A overhead cable line was also built in Mullins River. Besides these, there were 5 other smaller railways build at isolated locations in the country (See: Weaver, P. L., and Sabido, O. A. (1997). “Mahogany in Belize: A historical perspective.”)
There was only a brief romance with steam engines for mahogany extraction in Belize because more practical types of engines were soon introduced.
Historically, one of the major railways in Belize was the Stann Creek Railway used by United Fruit, which connected Middlesex Estate with the port of Dangriga. The railway was 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge, and operated from 1913 till 1937, when it was abandoned. Many remains are still visible along the Hummingbird Highway (between Dangriga and Belmopan). This road uses some of the old railway bridges, though they are gradually disappearing as bridges are modernized.
A second abandoned railway ran from Hill Bank, at the south end of a lagoon on the New River, west through Sierra de Agua to Gallon Jug, an abandoned community about 10 km from the Guatemala border.
There have been no railway connections to other countries.
Photograph by Tony Rath
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