Frankly, I have never rode a train before in my entire life. Yes. Count those miniature trains and mall trains where you get to pay Php50 for a ride around the mall – scratch those out. LRT? MRT? Nah. It never crossed my mind. I was more of a cab fanatic and now, I’m a jeepney lover! 8) Part of my Bacolod itinerary was to visit the Central Azucarera de La Carlota Iron Dinosaurs – that was scheduled to be for a day so that I could have that “time of my life” with the sugar milling and the visit with the trains that is.
But time was cut short due to some “newer plans” and I was so desperate to see and touch and feel and eventually ride on an Iron Dinosaur. So, my uncle and aunt drove me to PANAAD PARK which is at Brgy. Mansilingan, Bacolod City and I had my first encounter with the famous steam locomotive of Negros. Of course, Panaad Park is actually a place where 13 cities and 19 municipalities of the province have their showcase of their rich history, arts, culture, tourism, and products.
As I got out from the vehicle, there it was… an old, historic, rustic, antique, black, iron dinosaur!
This is me and my “untamed” self. Haha!
Tracing back to its history in 1916, when it was established by the Elizalde and Ynchausti families at Hacienda Esperanza in La Carlota, Negros Occidental at the south base of Mt. Kanlaon, these huge steam locomotives were used to transport harvested sugarcane to the sugar centrals for milling. That is absolutely magnificent!
“Savoring the moment” – like a BOSS! haha!
The sugar industry in Negros was introduced during the Spanish period. Come 1860s, Negros was the leading producer of sugar in the entire country. When the crisis in the 1980s shook the sugar industry, Negros fell down below the poverty line and then eventually, the mills were closed.
Closing down the sugar centrals placed a stop to the usage of these steam locomotives. That’s why some were sold to other mining companies while others were simply preserved and shared to everyone as a remembrance of the once “thriving” sugar industry.
And yes, my first ride on a real train was on an 18-century old steel, steam locomotive that does not even move. Fantastic! 😆