Hershey, Cuba: The sweetest ghost town in Cuba

A Cuban independent journalist travels to Hershey, Cuba, which as a result of communism is a ghost town today, but was once a thriving town built by the Hershey company to support their sugar mills on the island.

Via CiberCuba (my translation):

Hershey: Cuba’s sweetest ghost town

The almost unbelievable story of Hershey, a “ghost” town in Santa Cruz del Norte, has always intrigued me. Driven by curiosity, I decided to visit it personally and document its condition through photographs.

Train to Hershey Train to Hershey, the route to the past / CiberCuba

The mystique that surrounds many settlements in Cuba, whether urban or rural, arises from the neglect they suffer from the authorities. This neglect plunges them into time and transforms them into bastions of voluntary seclusion that attract the attention of visitors and the curious.

To reach Hershey, I took the little boat crossing Havana Bay and disembarked in Casablanca. From there, I headed to the electric train station to embark on a journey into the past.

The train, which seemed to have been stuck in an era half a century ago, was full of life. People with briefcases, bags, and small children shared space, creating an atmosphere of a community in motion.

“Are you going to ‘Jersi’? But there’s nothing there,” an old man next to me asked. I explained to him about the ruins of the old sugar mill, where the world’s most exquisite chocolate was produced. His laughter and the mention of Milton Hershey brought our dialogue to life.

Mr. Hershey, who arrived in Cuba in 1916, bought sugar plantations and refineries to maintain his chocolate production in Pennsylvania. Inspired by his model town in the United States, he created a similar one in Cuba for the well-being of his workers, which included housing, medical and educational centers, recreational areas, and even a railway.

Today, Hershey is a shadow of its prosperous past. As I got off the train, the first thing I saw was the prefabricated buildings that emerged with the revolutionary reforms. Venturing further, I discovered suburbs that seemed frozen in the 1950s, with identical houses and meticulously manicured gardens.

House Hershey side view Residential suburb, a remnant of the Hershey era / CiberCuba

However, Hershey’s charm fades when explored more deeply. Most of the buildings from that era are in ruins, and the famous sugar mill stands as an archaeological relic. What was once a vibrant playground is now just a tangle of iron amidst dense vegetation.

The ruins of the central, sold by Hershey in 1946 and nationalized after 1959, tell the story of an economic boom and decline that reflects the challenges of an entire nation.

Facade of an abandoned house in Hershey / CiberCuba

This journey to Hershey was not only a physical exploration but also a journey through the history of Cuba, a reminder of what was and what could have been.

2 thoughts on “Hershey, Cuba: The sweetest ghost town in Cuba”

  1. There are various “you tubers” in Cuba that have posted videos of Hershey and its train. I recommend to look up in you tube a tuber called Yasevids, very well filmed and interesting dialodgue.

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