Hawaii March 10, 2019
Train Lovers Won’t Want To Pass Up A Visit To These Historic Locomotives
Unlike much of the American mainland, the Hawaiian Islands might not be known for their epic train travel, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have railroad history of our own. In fact, we still have a few places where you can experience this history first hand, from a
historic train on Oahu’s southwest coast and the Kauai Plantation Railroad to this one-of-a-kind destination on the island of Maui that’s full of history. All aboard!
Welcome to the Pioneer Mill Co. Smokestack and Locomotives Exhibit, a little-known historic site in Lahaina most people have never visited before.
Pioneer Mill Co., which was established in 1860, was not only the first plantation to grow sugar commercially in Lahaina but they built one of Hawaii’s first ever sugar mills. The Pioneer Mill was a mainstay of West Maui’s economy for more than 130 years and by 1935, the company cultivated more than 10,000 acres of sugar cane. The mill processed 60,000 tons of sugar annually.
At first, cut sugar cane was transported from the fields to the mill by water-driven flumes and cattle-driving carts, but in the 1880s, the sugar began to be transported by train over miles of narrow-gauge railroad tracks along the slopes of the West Maui Mountains. Sadly, by 1953, trucks replaced the trains, but locomotive lovers can visit this historic site for an up close and personal look at two historic locomotives on display.
Built in the late 1800s and purchased for use by the Pioneer Mill Co., the two locomotives on site are named "Lahaina" and Launiupoko." The historic locomotives traveled from West Maui to Southern California when they were bought by an avid collector, Robert Day, in 1952, but were shipped back to Lahaina in 2011 when they were donated to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation by the Allen and Lenabelle Davis Foundation. The engines were renovated and installed at the smokestack site.
When it was built in 1928, the Pioneer Mill Co. Smokestack was the tallest in Hawaii at approximately 225 feet tall. The smokestack quickly a natural landmark for drivers as well as a navigational guide for fishermen at sea.
The Pioneer Mill Co. ceased operations in 1999, and the mill was left to crumble. But once the last building had been demolished and the mill owners began talks about dismantling the iconic smokestack, the community banded together to save it as a historic landmark. Four months and $600,000 later, the smokestack was restored and a unique exhibit was created.
Today, you'll find both the historic locomotives and the smokestack on display, as well as a variety of unique artifacts from the Pioneer Mill Co. Train lovers, in particular, will enjoy this unique historic site.
Pioneer Mill Co. Smokestack and Locomotives Exhibit is free and open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. Parking is available on site at 275 Lahainaluna Road. For more information, head on over to the
Lahaina Restoration Foundation website.