Crumbling monuments to the sugar industry are evident everywhere in Puerto Rico's southeast, but there’s no more heartbreaking reminder of departed ‘King Sugar’ than sleepy Aguirre, which abuts the Bahía de Jobos and is so far off the beaten path that it doesn’t appear on many tourist maps. The moldering sugar town was booming in the early 20th century, complete with a mill, company stores, hospital, theater, hotel, bowling alley, social club, golf course, marina, executive homes and narrow-gauge railroad.
This was the planned private community of the Central Aguirre Sugar Company, and at its zenith around 1960, it processed 12,500 tons of sugarcane per day. Declining prices of sugar, foreign competition and escalating production costs drove the company under in 1990 and Aguirre became a virtual ghost town, which nevertheless makes for preposterously bizarre sightseeing. The community's rusting train tracks remain, as does a weedy golf course.