Maui News

VIDEO: Locomotives Return in Time for Lahaina Plantation Days

October 13, 2011, 4:56 PM HST
* Updated October 13, 4:59 PM
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By Wendy Osher

[flashvideo file= /] Two original steam locomotives from the Pioneer Mill Company, West Maui’s last sugar plantation, returned home to Lahaina today.

The new arrivals were donated to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation by the Allen and Lenabelle Davis Foundation, and be publicly unveiled at next week’s Lahaina Plantation Days festival.

The three day event runs from October 20-22 and celebrates Maui’s plantation roots.

The two locomotives once served Pioneer Mill Company’s operations in Lahaina and Launiupoko before the company transitioned to trucks in the 1950s.


At the time, the locomotives and train cars were sold to a California buyer. Now almost 60 years later, locomotives numbers 7 and 97 have returned home from Los Angeles, California.

David Allaire, Lahaina Restoration Foundation President.


The locomotives will be on permanent display next to the historic Pioneer Mill smokestack. Track and railroad ties are also being donated by the Sugar Cane Train for this historic display.

“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 Davis of the Allen and Lenabelle Davis Foundation.

“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.”

Theo Morrison, Lahaina Restoration Foundation, executive director.


Former Pioneer Mill worker, Mildred Katsunai recalled working for the company as a teen and following the trains.  “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,” she said.

Fellow resident, Sammy Kadotani recounted vivid memories of the locomotives as well, recalling the sights and sounds that once graced the plantation property.  “The cane was mixed in with big boulders picked up from the fields and when workers unloaded it, man the sound was just deafening,” he said.

The glory of the old plantation days comes to life with similar stories and plantation history retold in booths, historical displays and exhibits at the Lahaina Plantation Days event.

This year’s event also features a Family Movie Night, restaurant food booths, a beer & wine garden, Japanese cultural area, farmers market, keiki games, horse rides, and island music.

Tickets will be sold at the door. Cost is $3 per night or $5 for a 3-day pass.  Keiki five and under are free.

For more information, visit website

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