By Ian Scheuring
LAHAINA (HawaiiNewsNow) – Two of the original steam locomotives that once served Pioneer Mill Company, the last sugar plantation in West Maui, returned home to Lahaina on Thursday.
The trains, which once served Pioneer Mill Company's operations in the Lahaina and the Launiupoko areas, were sold to a California buyer when the plantation transitioned to trucks in the 1950s. Now, almost sixty years later, locomotives numbers 7 and 97 have been donated to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation by the Allen and Lenabelle Davis Foundation.
"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.
The machines will find a permanent home next to the historic Pioneer Mill smokestack in Lahaina. Tracks and railroad ties are also being donated by the Sugar Cane Train for the 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."
Former plantation workers used the trains' homecoming as a chance to reminisce.
"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."
The public unveiling of these locomotives will be held during the 3rd Annual Lahaina Plantation Days which kicks off next week. This year's event will feature a Family Movie Night, historical displays, plantation exhibits, restaurant food booths, a beer & wine garden, a Japanese cultural area, a farmers market, keiki games and horse rides, and the best of 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 www.lahainarestoration.org/plantationdays.