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Matanzas-Sabanilla Railway Extension Collection

Identifier: MSS 0405

Scope and Content

These ten nineteenth-century Cuban documents highlight the negotiations over the construction of an extension of the Matanzas-Sabanilla railway line into the "Ojo de Agua" sugar refinery. The first document is stamped at the top with the imperial seal of Isabelle II, and it is dated February 21, 1843. The writer of the manuscript, Francisco García, the president of the railway company in Sabanilla, addressed the Captain General of Cuba and proposed the construction of a railway line from the "El Acana" refinery towards the "Ojo de Agua" refinery to the west. This extension would benefit the sugar refining companies by connecting cities.

The second document is also stamped with the imperial seal of Isabella II. It is dated March 10, 1843. In it, notary Manuel del Portillo highlighted the benefits that the project would bring to Cuba's commerce, communication, and agriculture. The third document, dated March 24, 1843 and signed by Carlos Benitez came from the Engineering Corps of Matanzas, and it gives a military perspective as to why the railway extension would be beneficial to the island. The fourth document, dated 1843, includes a proposal for the construction of a railway extension and a description of the support for the project by the Engineering Corps of Matanzas. It also includes statements and signatures from Jerónimo Valdés, the Captain General of Cuba.

The fifth document, dated April 25th, 1843 and the sixth document dated May 5, 1843 include further details on the railway extension. The seventh document, dated May 5th 1843, highlights the collaboration between the Sabanilla Corporation and the Guines Railway Company. The eighth document, dated June 3rd 1843, includes the Development Board of Agriculture and Commerce's agreement to build the railway extension into the sugar refinery "Ojo de Agua."

The ninth document, dated July 4th, 1843, outlines the construction project and its key figures to Jerónimo Valdés, the Captain General of Cuba. Finally, the tenth document includes different entries that summarize the project. It states that the construction of the railway extension could be delayed 3 to 4 years.


  • Creation: 1843 February-August


The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

This collection highlights both the sugar industry and the railway system in Cuba in the nineteenth century. During this period, Spain opened up Cuba's ports and authorized trade among foreign nations. This benefited Cuba and improved sugar production significantly; consequently, the island became one of the world's top sugar producers. This boom in the Cuban sugar industry led to improvements in Cuba's infrastructure including roads and railroads. This collection, which documents plans to expand the Matanzas-Sabanilla railway through certain sugar refineries exemplifies these improvements.

On October 12, 1834, the construction of the first railway line in Cuba was approved by the regent queen of Spain, María Cristina. On November 19, 1837, the Compañía de Caminos de Hierro de La Habana opened up a railway line from Havana to Bejucal, which became the first steam railway line in Latin America.


.01 Linear feet (1 Folder)

Language of Materials

Spanish; Castilian


Cuban manuscripts from 1843 documenting the negotiations for the construction of the Matanzas-Sabanilla railway extension passing through important sugar refineries in Cuba.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Finding Aid

This guide is available in Spanish at

Acquisition Information

The collection was purchased in 2016.


A Guide to the Matanzas-Sabanilla Railway Extension Collection
Finding aid created by Katiana M. Bagué
October 2017
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America