CubaPLUS Magazine

The story on rails in the Coche Mambi

By: Teresa Fiel, photos: Laura Labrador
Jan 09, 2024
The story on rails in the Coche Mambi

The museum treasure of the historic center of the Cuban capital is dressed in luxury and history in the so-called Coche Mambi, a railway car that calls to the visitor due to its excellent state of conservation and the heritage values it contains, enhanced by a sumptuousness representative of the 19th century, although created in the dawn of the 20th. It is one of three railroad cars manufactured in 1900 in the United States, commissioned by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company for the use of its president and representatives both in that country, as well as in Mexico and Cuba.

tren-mambi-cuba-5.jpgThe Provisional numbering of the three cars was 97, 98 and 99. Another important detail is that Cuba was a pioneer in Latin America in the use of that means of transportation. In 1837, the first section of the local railway was opened only preceded by the United States, Germany, France, Russia and Belgium. Here it started with a short road from the Cuban capital to Bejucal, with an extension of more than 27 km. Speaking of the Mambí Car, the president of the American entity used it in their tour and inspection trips.

It was purchased by the Cuban government and was used by the presidents of the republic Tomás Estrada Palma, José Miguel Gómez, Mario García Menocal, Alfredo Zayas and even the dictator Fulgencio Batista.

tren-mambi-cuba-4.jpgThat is why it is also called the Presidential Car. The name of Mambí, emerged as a pejorative word when the Spaniards referred to the members of the first Liberation Army, for its friendly resonance. It became a beloved and endearing word for patriotic Cubans. It was an honor to be called Mambi, which was the same as saying hero or fighter for the independence of Cuba.

For this reason, it was chosen to name the artifact, built shortly after the end of the campaign for the freedom of the Island, ruined by the intervention of the United States. The Mambí Car, today on display, preserves the refined style and excellent distribution of their spaces on the first day. Furniture made of precious woods and display cases with baccarat glassware add to the brilliance of the once exclusive environment transport.

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