Waianae Sugar Company

North American Narrow Gauge; West of the Rockies (including Canada; Mexico).
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Randy Hees
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Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:07 pm

Waianae Sugar Company

Post by Randy Hees » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:35 pm

Waianae Sugar Company
Oahu, Hawaii

Plantation established 1878
Railroad added 1880
Liquidated 1947

30” gauge
9 miles long, 1882
7 ½ miles long, 1884
12 miles long, 1890
14.2 miles, 1931, plus 2.84 miles of portable track

This was the first sugar plantation in Hawaii built as a result of King Kalakaua’s resoprocity treaty, on land leased from the Royal Family.. It was located on the western coast of Oahu, on the south side of Kaena Point 33 ½ miles from Honolulu by train. The site was originally a cattle ranch. Sugar cane was first planted here in 1878 by Judge Hermann Widemann and Julius L Richardson. The Waianae Sugar Company's plantation cultivated land in three valleys, Makaha, Lualualei, and Wai'anae.

The company added a Scottish built sugar mill noted for its 140’ tall square smoke stack as well as a 30” gauge Fowler system railroad in early 1880, the railroad having been installed under supervision of Mr Hauseman, Fowler’s local representative. Hawaiian King, Kalakaua visited twice in 1884, and rode the plantation railroad on both occasions.

While the entire plantation was 6,000 acres, the sugar fields were much smaller, Initally in 1878, only 80 acres. With the railroad in place the fields grew to 400 acres in 1880, and by 1890 they were farming 600 acres using 12 miles of railroad. By 1931 the railroad was 14.2 miles with an additional 2.84 miles of portable track.

The mill and town was originally served by steam ships, but transitioned to rail shipment via the Oahu Railway and Land Company when their rails reached Waianae July 4th 1895. OR&L facilities included a 37 car siding, a wye, several spurs a water tank, a small freight depot and a two story passenger depot.

The company closed and liquidated in 1947 having suffered through WWII labor shortages, facing significant labor issues after the labor force unionized and the OR&L ended service raising transportation costs.

Locomotives and rolling stock

The railroad had 5 locomotives, but never more than four, and likely only three at any one time.

Waianae, 0-4-2t, Ransomes & Rapier, c/n 5?, 1879 21” drivers, 6 1/2x9, 4-5 tons
Sold by Fowler, built for stock in 1876 as the Ipswich. New name plates were cast by R&R before shipment. New boiler and saddle tank ordered from R&R in 1889. Locomotive was apparently in service in the early 1890’s, but out of service by 1899.

Name unknown, 0-4-2t Fowler c/n 4494, 1/1883, 6x9, 5 ½ tons
Most likely a “Patent type” but alternately described as a standard type, based on date of construction it could be either. It is possible that this locomotive was replaced by the Kaala in 1888.

Kaala, 0-4-2t, Fowler, c/n 5574, 2/1888, 7” cylinders, 6 tons
Last Fowler delivered to Hawaii. Built with side tanks. Equipped with home made 4 wheel tender. New boilers ordered via Honolulu Iron Works (agent for Fowler) 1909 and 1931.
On hand at time of 1941 Planter’s survey but gone by 1945.

(No 1) H. A. Widemann, 0-6-0t (side tanks) Baldwin c/n 16925, 7/1899, 30” drivers, 9x14, 24,000lbs (also
reported as 11,000 lbs) Ordered by Waianae Co, equipped with a home made tender.
New boiler, oil and side tanks ordered from Baldwin on XO-479, 1924, Boiler rebuilt by Honolulu Iron works, 1940. This locomotive was later numbered 1

(No 2) Waianae (2nd), 0-4-0t, (0-4-2t) Baldwin c/n 23449 12/1903, 26” drivers, 7x12, 14,000lbs
Ordered by W G Irwin & Co for J M Dowsett for Waianae Co. equipped with
a home made tender. Changed by Waianae Sugar to 0-4-2t, using parts from Baldwin
ordered on XO-4646 in 1904, New boiler with oil burning equipment from Baldwin on XO-2408 in 1926, Later numbered 2

Animal power supplemented the steam locomotives. A 1940 account says that tractors were being used to switch cane cars in the field, with horses used at the scales and unloader.

In 1931 they had 194 cars, 140 of which were 3 ton cane cars (4 wheel) and 54 cars were a general purpose type, including flat cars for transporting portable track. As of 1941, they reported 174 cars, all listed under “Cane Cars” which likely meant 4 wheel cars.

Robert Fricke, inventor of the “Fricke Patented chain side cane cars” was the manager of the plantation from 1931 until it was liquidated, strongly suggesting that these were the type of cane car in use.


In print
• Gerald Best, Railroads of Hawaii, San Marino CA, Golden West Books, 1978
• Jesse Conde with Gerald Best, Sugar Trains, Narrow Gauge rails of Hawaii, Felton CA, Glenwood Publishers, 1973
• Jesse Conde, Fowler Locomotives in the Kingdom of Hawaii Leeds, England, Narrow Gauge Railroad Society, 1993
• Jim Chiddix & MacKinnnon Simpson, Next Stop Honolulu!, Oahu Railway & Land Company, 1889 to 1971, Honolulu, Sugar Cane Press, 2004
• Treiber, Gale E. and Norton, Victor, Hawaiian Railway Album WWII Photographs, VOL 2, (along the Main Lines of the Oahu Railway & Land Co… ) The Railroad Press, Hanover PA, 2005, ISBN 1-931477-14-0
• Treiber, Gale E. and Norton, Victor, Hawaiian Railway Album WWII Photographs, VOL 3, (Plantation Railroads of Oahu) The Railroad Press, Hanover PA, 2007, ISBN 978-1-9314-7721-3

On line
• J. David Book: A Place Called Pu’u Kahea (Echoing Hills). Vermont Volunteer. Winter 2014.
Randy Hees

Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City
Railway Preservation News http://www.rypn.org
Chasing old trains where ever I may find them...

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