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.
Alexander & Baldwin Inc. tripled its third-quarter profit with greatly improved performances from its ocean transportation service in China and sugar business on Maui.
The Honolulu-based company reported today earning a net profit of $25.7 million, or 62 cents per diluted share of stock, in the July-September period, up from $8.5 million, or 21 cents per share, in the same period last year.
The big gain was largely from A&B’s ocean cargo subsidiary, Matson Navigation Co., which posted a 67 percent rise in operating profit to $40.4 million in the third quarter from $24.2 million a year earlier.
A&B said Matson’s performance was principally driven by higher volume and yields in its China service, which it expanded in mid-September.
Another contributor to the rise in profit was A&B’s Maui sugar subsidiary, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., which benefited from higher sugar prices and production.
HC&S, along with Kauai Coffee Co., delivered an $800,000 operating profit for A&B, which represents a $13 million improvement from a $13.8 million operating loss in the 2009 third quarter.
Operating profits from real estate leasing and sales were lower for A&B.
PO’IPU — Damage from heavy rains and floods and the resulting repairs were the basis for the selection of this year’s Outstanding Water Conservationists by the Kaua‘i Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Rodney and Karol Haraguchi, Hanalei Valley taro farmers, were selected as the East Kaua‘i SWCD honorees for their outstanding work in conservation and protection of the Hanalei Valley water resource, said Ted Inouye, representing the East Kaua‘i SWCD.
The presentation was made before the 49th annual Hawai‘i Water Works Association convention, Thursday, at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort & Spa.
Everything about Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. has its roots in past necessity. That became clear during a HC&S tour.
Weeds? Develop “bunch cane.” The kapakahi stalks grow every which way, denying any weed even a bit of sunlight. Destructive insects? Develop cane that resists the pests.
A shallow lens of fresh water on gallons of salty groundwater? Develop – in 1910 – a skimmer well so unique the U.S. Geological Survey refers to it as the “Maui Well.”
The 25-passenger van carried Rotarians from Kihei, members of the Court Stenographers and Captioners Association, a scribbler, corporate Community Relations Manager Linda Howe and Mae Nakahata, HC&S agronomist and Big Island girl who has called Maui home for 25 years. (E kala mai, Mae, for getting your home address wrong in last week’s column.)
After watching a double-snout machine harvest a seed field, the van ran down lumpy asphalt cane-haul roads to a field near the airport. Custom hydraulic cranes grabbed great mouthfuls of cane from windrows shoved together by bulldozers.
The Brobdingnagian claws sometimes drop abandoned vehicles into the 50-ton Tourna haulers. Nakahata said many of the unscheduled cane fires are the result of stolen cars being set ablaze.
PUUNENE – The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum is unveiling a new exhibit titled “Mills, Machinery and Locomotives” that will be on display through October.
The exhibit includes never-before-shown historic photos from inside the mill, as well as mill and foundry artifacts, and objects and photos from the Kahului Railroad. Artist Tom Sewell’s video piece, “Enigma of the Mill,” also will be presented, showing how mill operations can be rendered as art.
The museum is open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 3957 Hansen Road. For more information, call 871-8058 or www.sugarmuseum.com.
WAIHEE – At its mouth, the Waihee River was only around a foot deep Monday afternoon – but that was good news to Scott Fisher of the Maui Coastal Land Trust.
Fisher was monitoring conditions in the first hours after Wailuku Water Co. restored water to the river, carrying out the terms of an order by the state Commission on Water Resource Management in June that the company return 12.5 million gallons per day to two of the four streams that make up Na Wai Eha.
Fisher said the water in the river was at about the same level it would typically be during the rainy season, and it was noticeably colder than it would normally be on a mid-August day. The water restoration would almost certainly mean healthier plants and animals in Waihee River, he said.
Wailuku Water Co., which diverts the stream for users including Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., had opened some of its diversion gates at Waiehu Stream on Monday as well.
Commission member Dr. Lawrence Miike, who oversaw the contested case hearing, originally recommended that half of Na Wai Eha’s water be returned to all four streams. But the other commissioners did not agree and no water was returned to the Iao and Waikapu streams below their diversion points, while less water than he recommended was returned to Waihee and Waiehu streams.
Navy fighter jets and ship could be powered by biofuels grown in Hawaii under an effort funded by the federal government.
The government is spending at least $10 million over five years on research and development at Maui cane fields for crops capable of fueling Navy fighter jets and ships. The project also may provide farmers in other warm climates with a model for harvesting biofuel crops.
Hawaii has become a key federal laboratory for biofuels because of its dependence on imported oil and its great weather for growing crops. It also has a large military presence.
The Office of Naval Research is funding the five-year program at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, a company dating to the 1870s that runs the last sugar plantation in the state.
The state says Wailuku Water Co. and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. will begin releasing water to Waihee River and North and South Waiehu Streams in central Maui next week.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says the companies next Monday will act to comply with a state water commission order issued in June.
But the move is unlikely to satisfy two Maui groups who want the companies to return more water than the commission ordered.
Hui o Na Wai Eha and Maui Tomorrow appealed the water commission’s ruling in state court last month.
They say they’re being deprived of the water they need to grow taro and restore natural habitat.
two surviving ventures face high hurdles
Ask just about anyone involved in the effort to start a home-grown ethanol industry in Hawaii and invariably the word "challenging" comes up.
Challenging, it turns out, is an understatement.
Four years ago companies were lining up to build ethanol production facilities in Hawaii after the state launched a program that offered generous tax credits and set a mandate that most gasoline sold in the state must contain 10 percent of the renewable fuel. Soaring ethanol prices, which hit a record $4.23 a gallon in the summer of 2006, also spurred interest. On the mainland, dozens of corn-based ethanol plants sprouted up across the Great Plains.
In Hawaii, meanwhile, plans were moving forward to erect ethanol plants that would mostly use sugar cane or sugar cane byproducts as a feedstock. Before any of the companies could get their permits approved, however, the price of ethanol collapsed, falling as low as $1.40 a gallon in late 2008. In addition to falling prices, difficulty in securing land to grow feedstocks and dwindling investor interest have made it difficult to get any new processing facilities up and running.
There were plans in recent years to build at least six plants in Hawaii to produce ethanol, an alcohol-based renewable fuel that can be made from a variety of organic materials, including sugar cane. Of the original six that were planned, only two are still on the books, and neither has a target date to begin construction.