Belize is known throughout Latin America and the world for its abnormally high number of extant Maya ruins, but there are more recent archaeological relics that tell historical stories equally as fascinating. Serpon Sugar Mill is one such place. In fact, its construction is often treated as the inciting incident in launching Belize’s industrial era.
That’s not to say that the entire country shared in the benefits of this industrialization. By 1865, Belize had finally been established as a British colony after decades of conflicts with the Spanish over the land. The small group of English immigrants had established hegemony over the existing population, and they built their wealth off the backs of slave labor toiling over the mahogany and timber industries.
But 1865 also signified the end of the American Civil War, and many former slave owners from the American South saw the potential to re-establish themselves in Belize. Former Confederates invested heavily in sugar plantations in the southern regions of Belize, but it would be a Scottish man named William Bowman who would see the full potential. He bought the Serpon Estate and quickly began construction on a steam-powered sugar mills. Along with a similar mill at the Regalia Estate, these new machines were a driving force in Belize’s economy for roughly three decades.
By the beginning of the 20th century, sugar mill production had mostly moved to the Orange Walk and Corozal districts, and it would be abandoned entirely by 1910. The ruins would sink into disrepair for decades, but the Belizean government-designated Serpon Estate as an archaeological reserve in 2009. It stands as both a reminder of industrial innovation and of the shame of colonialism, but it also continues to be a site worth visiting simply for its beauty.
Let Uncharted Jewel Belize arrange for your tour of this fascinating historical site.