Henequen Haciendas The following photographs are of the vanishing remains of the Henequen Haciendas of the Northwest Yucatan in Mexico. In their time, these crumbling structures served a variety of purposes including plant processing, storage, administrative, housing, company stores, stables and chapels. Around these plantations, henequen, the indigenous agave plant that had long been used by the Maya for rope and cloth, was grown in large fields, harvested through out the year and processed at the haciendas. Rasped from the long green spike leaves of the henequen and the related sisal, the strong strands of the leaf were dried into fibers that could be made into burlap bags, twine and rope. Starting in the1830’s, exploiting the local Maya for this labor demanding process, the Yucatan affluent started growing it on commercial farms for export to the expanding world economy. After processing, the fiber material was sent to the ports of Sisal and Progreso, then shipped to the United States and Europe, where it was made mostly into twine for bales of produce and rope for Maritime vessels. As demand grew for the crop in the late 1800’s and early1900’s, henequen was referred to as “green gold” because it quickly brought great wealth to this region. Evidence of this can still be seen in the remaining architecture of the period in and around Merida as well as the local towns and villages. When the market fell out for this natural fiber industry in the 1930s, the haciendas were closed and slowly abandoned to decay. What remains are their crumbling walls covered with strangler fig trees, missing roofs, precarious chimneys and lost memories. They are a window into the past, the disappearing and disappeared.