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Maui: Sugar Cane Train, Part 1

Lahaina is home to the Lahaina, Ka`anapali and Pacific Railroad which is better known as the Sugar Cane Train. It starts from Lahaina and runs along narrow-gage tracks originally built to haul sugar cane from the fields north of Lahaina to the Pioneer Mill. The starting point for most passengers is at the depot in Lahaina where the locomotive returning from the previous run employs a railroad round table to turn around and align with a second track running parallel to the main track.

The steam engine goes past the cars that it just brought in then backs up and is switched to the main track. The locomotive connects to the cars and the train is ready for the next load of passengers.

In all my trips to Maui, I have never ridden the Sugar Cane Train — I always thought it was just a tourist trap. Well, I guess it is but it is also more than that — it is an artifact of Maui history.

But what a great time to take my first train ride on Maui — when my little buddy, Johnny, joined me for the last week of my work/vacation trip. He fell in love with trains at an early age (what boy doesn't?). In fact, in an early trip to Tokyo, all he wanted to do was ride the Tokyo Metro — not caring where he went — just enjoying the experience.

And my wife joined us for the experience — and she seemed to enjoy it almost as much as Johnny.

Obviously, these cars were not used in the days when the train hauled sugar cane but they did seem to be antiques — but I could not find anything online about their history. There was a conductor aboard who not only took tickets but also provided commentary as we rode.

And yes, this is real rolling stock with real connectors.

The scenery is pleasant although the fields that used to grow sugar cane are now fallow or sprouting expensive homes.

The track is only six miles up and six miles back but that is long enough that the younger enthusiasts may get a little bored — and have to resort to making arm farts just to keep themselves entertained.

At this point, we are crossing a trestle over a small gully above the Ka`anapali Kai golf course. This spot holds special meaning because it was here that I met a new friend several years ago who had also come to photograph the Sugar Cane Train as it crossed the trestle.

In case you are interested in my LAHP describing our initial encounter plus the resulting photos that we took that day, just click here and scroll down.

As we approach the northern end of the line, we noticed an old building. I don't know if it is still in use but it certain adds to the ambiance.

At the very end is a small rail yard with the spare engines and cars waiting for their day in the sun.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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