Sugar cane estates thrived on Saint Kitts from the mid-17th century until the mid-19th century. Then the crop’s economics deteriorated rapidly. In an attempt to salvage the island’s main industry, a central processing mill was built at Basseterre in 1912. The facility was called the Saint Kitts Sugar Factory. In order to efficiently transport sugar cane from the plantations, a narrow-gauge railway began operating in 1926. Although these centralized efforts were initially successful, they fell victim to continuous market decay. In a last-ditch effort, the government purchased the factory, railroad and remaining estates in 1976. Too little, too late. In 2005, the prime minister announced the end of the sugar cane industry on Saint Kitts. Today, tourists enjoy taking an 18 mile ride on the historic St. Kitts Scenic Railway along the eastern coastline. The Sugar Train features double-decker railcars. Near St. Kitts Eco-Par, passengers transfer to a bus to complete their sightseeing adventure around the island. The narrated, 30 mile tour takes about three hours.