Central Rafael Freyre · 115 mins · DVD
The 2’6” gauge Central Rafael Freyre operation was undoubtedly the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Cuba’s cane railroads, with extensive operations through beautiful countryside in north-eastern Cuba, and trains hauled by veteran Baldwin 2-8-0s. In fact the operation was an almost complete relic of the American narrow gauge circa 1910, other than the lack of passenger trains. Amazingly, back in 1999 Canadian railway author and film maker Adolf Hungrywolf obtained official permission to volunteer as an engine driver on this wonderful line and shot this unique film, the only one to ever show operations from the Cuban perspective, rather than that of visiting rail tourists. Incredible scenes of ancient engines worked to, and beyond, their limits by poor, but proud and remarkably happy workers. Double headers, steep grades, and distinctly dubious brakes made this a difficult series of lines to operate in its latter years. Originally issued on video, but re-mastered with a new commentary for DVD, this is now an historic record of operations never to be seen again.