Plantation railroads on East, South sides

Editor’s note: On Dec. 3, the Kaua‘i Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary. Museum leaders have chosen 50 stories from exhibits, collections and the archives of the museum to share with the public. One story will run daily through Dec. 3.

LIHU‘E — For researching plantation history, the Gilmore Sugar Manuals, an annual report of U.S. sugar cane producers is invaluable. Published under various names, they reported statistics and interesting work done on individual plantations during the year. This is some interesting information collected from manuals from 1936 and 1948 when many plantations had begun to phase out rail.

Kilauea Sugar Plantation Co.

In 1936 the rail system was 11 miles of 24-gauge track, two 16-ton oil-fired Baldwin locomotives and 260 three-ton flare-door type cane cars which were discontinued in 1948.

Grove Farm Company, Ltd.

In 1936, harvesting transportation consisted of 13.5 miles of permanent 30-inch track and four miles of portable track. The cane cars used in harvesting belong to Lihu‘e Plantation where the cane was processed. In 1948, transportation equipment consisted of rail cars from Lihu‘e Plantation with trucks used to bring in harvested cane from isolated steep fields.

The Lihu‘e Plantation Company, Ltd.

The largest operation on the island and the last to abandon rail, Lihu‘e had taken over Makee Plantation at Kealia. The 1936 report says that there were eight locomotives, mostly Baldwins, fired by fuel oil stored at locomotive house or Ahukini wharf. There were 750 four-ton capacity cane cars with flare-siding drop doors. The 1948 inventory included diesel electric locomotives and seven steam locomotives. The Makee Division railway consisted of 45.6 miles of permanent 30-inch gauge track and 6.5 miles of portable track. The Lihu‘e and Hanama‘ulu divisions were serviced by 35 miles of 30-inch gauge permanent rail in addition to 10 miles of portable track.

The Koloa Sugar Company

In 1936, the railway system consisted of 19.5 miles of 30-inch gauge track and 5.17 miles of portable track serviced by three Baldwin locomotives and 350 3.5-ton cane cars of flare, side-door type.

The rail system was discontinued in 1949.

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