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Sugar Mill Museum at Salamá

The correct name of the place is “Museo Regional del Trapiche” (Regional Sugar Mill Museum).

In Guatemala, “Trapiche” is the name given to sugar mills that traditionally worked on animal energy.  Machinery inside the mill would squeeze sugar cane juices to be later heated, which would later be crystallized.  

Cane product was sorted in two elements: sugar cane juice and fiber bagasse (waste) that was used as boiler heating fuel.

As modern times came, important changes such as fiber waste used as combustible fuel to heat water in boilers to turn sugar mills into steam machines started to take place.  Some sugar manufacturing companies used other main fuels and used sugar cane waste as complement.  Presently, modern sugar manufacturing companies still use sugar cane waste to heat boilers and to produce electric power.


 

History

The Regional Sugar Mill Museum is located in San Jerónimo, departamento of Baja Verapaz.  It was the first sugar mil of the Spanish Kingdom in Central America.  It was recognized as an economic development promoter.  Its construction and infrastructure date from 1560.

The machinery was renewed in 1854, and brought from England, which landed in the warehoused of  Golfo Dulce, in Río Dulce, at the department of  Izabal, which is a far away place from the target region.  Within this shipment, was found the Pelton Wheel with seven meters of diameter, which spin trough hydraulic energy to complement the process of crushing and squeezing of the sugar cane. 

It is said that all the machinery was transported in the backs of the slaves of San Jerónimo sugar farm.  The wheel weights around a ton and is still in its original location to be seen by visitors.

What is a Pelton Wheel?

Also called a Pelton turbine, it is a round instrument that has “spoons” or surrounding flanges that allow motor energy of the water to be boosted.

San Jerónimo farm was able to produce 90 tons of sugar a year, being able to compete with sugar manufacturers of Mexico and Brasil.

Touring the Museum
The Regional Sugar Mill Museum was open in July 1999 and shows the original facilities of preserved machinery.  Around the museum is a beautiful garden with magnificent view of the surrounding mountains.

Machinery is one of the main attractions, such as room #2, which was named “the purgatory”, after the high temperatures it used to have inside, as the sugar cane juice was purified for cristallization.

Within the place, it is described how sugar was putt o dry in a special sliding roof, which is considered as one of the early forms of solar energy usage.

Rooms at the Museum
Additional to the facilities of the old sugar mill, there are historic romos with regional handicrafts, Mayan history and specific history of Rabinal.

How to get to the Regional Sugar Mill Museum?
 
One should drive from Guatemala City towards the East through the Atlantic road, until reaching El Rancho at kilometer 85.  Then one must take left heading to the Verapaces (Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz).

Up ahead the visitor will find the crossroad that separates the Verapaces, and is to take left towards Baja Verapaz, Salamá.  After some minutes of driving straight ahead, a new detour is found; take the right and San Jerónimo town will be reached, with its plaza, the market, and the Catholic Church.  Right behind the church, it is possible to observe the sign that indicates the entrance to the Regional Sugar Mill Museum.

The museum is open from 8:00 to 16:00 hours Monday to Friday and weekend from10:00 to 16:00.