Hello Friends and Family,

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Maui: Pioneer Sugar Mill

As I shared last week, the Olowalu Sugar Plantation eventually phased out its mill and sent its cane to the Pioneer Sugar Mill in Lahaina. It was established about 1860 and continued in operation until 1999. The old mill was demolished in 2006, however the old smokestack was kept and is a prominent landmark in Lahaina, visible from great distances on land and at sea.

A small park at the base of the smokestack contains a few remnants of the mill with informational signs — this one including a photo of the mill from years past.

Adjoining this small park is a plantation-style building which houses a coffee shop — plus the bull gear from the old mill.

One of the prominent items on display is the Launiupoko stream locomotive which was used to transport cane from the fields to the mill. Prior to the arrival of the steam engine in 1883, the plantation used ox-drawn wagons for the same purpose. However, the locomotives could haul so much more cane that they quickly paid for themselves.

The locomotives were small and nimble and could easily make it into the fields on temporary tracks laid to the area of the plantation where cane harvesting was in progress. Originally fired by wood or coal, they were converted to oil in 1919. In 1952, the Pioneer Mill switched to trucks for hauling cane and the locomotives were sold.

The Launiupoko was severely damaged by a fire in 1961. In 2011, it was donated by the Allan and Lenabelle Davis Foundation, returned to Lahaina and placed on display.

A second locomotive, the Lahaina, also served on the plantation until it was retired in 1952.

This locomotive was also damaged by fire in 1961 and subsequently also donated by the Allan and Lenabelle Davis Foundation for this display.

One other remnant from the mill itself is this pair of rollers that crushed the cane, extracting the juice prior to further processing.

The people of Maui have fond memories of the Pioneer Mill, especially people who had worked at the mill at one time or another. In order to raise money to fund the restoration and maintenance of the smokestack, bricks were sold and installed at the site, inscribed with the names of the donors.

One last look at the smokestack, this time from its base. I am so glad that this one prominent part of the long history of the Pioneer Mill was preserved for future generations.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com