homepage logo

Two Pioneer Mill locomotives return home to Lahaina

By Staff | Oct 13, 2011

Earlier this month, workers in Los Angeles readied the original Pioneer Mill Company Locomotive 7 for its journey home to Lahaina. Photo by the Allen and Lenabelle Davis Foundation.

LAHAINA – Remnants of Pioneer Mill Company’s past continue to be unveiled. The latest additions are two original locomotives once used for the company’s sugar operations.

Built in 1898, the locomotives were in use during the early 1900s and sold in 1952, when the plantation converted to trucks.

On Friday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m., the new arrivals will be publicly unveiled at the third annual Lahaina Plantation Days, a three-day event that celebrates our island’s plantation roots.

Donated to Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF) by the Allen and Lenabelle Davis Foundation, these machines once served Pioneer Mill Company’s operations in the Lahaina and Launiupoko areas. They were later sold in the mid-1950s to a California buyer.

This week, Locomotives 7 and 97 returned home from Los Angeles, California, and will soon make their way to Lahaina, where they will be permanently located next to the historic smokestack in the interpretive area.

“I am very pleased to return the Lahaina and Launiupoko steam locomotives to the site where they operated and connect generations to come with the rich history of Hawaii’s plantation era,” said Allen.

Track and railroad ties are also being donated by the Sugar Cane Train for this historic display.

“We are very grateful for this generous donation,” said Theo Morrison, Lahaina Restoration Foundation’s executive director. “It’s truly a gift that has come full circle, providing us with a bit of nostalgia that many old-time residents still remember to this day.”

“One of my most exciting jobs as a teenager was working for Pioneer Mill and following the trains,” said Mildred Kutsunai.

“The job was called ‘brooming,’ and our responsibility was to pick up the sugar cane that fell off the trains and to throw it back on. These big machines didn’t go fast, and we were able to keep up.”

Sammy Kadotani also has vivid memories of these locomotives.

“I always knew when the trains arrived at the mill,” he said. “The cane was mixed in with big boulders picked up from the fields, and when workers unloaded it – man, the sound was just deafening!”

Lahaina Plantation Days will be held on Oct. 20-22. This year’s event will feature a Family Movie Night on Thursday with the film “Great Grandfather’s Drum.”

On Friday and Saturday, the public will enjoy a myriad of restaurant food booths, beer and wine garden, carnival games and horse rides for kids, a Japanese cultural area, farmers’ market, historical displays, plantation exhibits and the best of island music.

Tickets will be sold at the door. Cost is $3 per night or $5 for a three-day pass. For more information, call 661-3262 or visit www.LahainaRestoration.org/plantationdays.