PacificNG Header
PacificNG Header 
Printer-Friendly Format
Hawaii \ Waianae Sugar Company

Waianae Sugar Company.

T he Waianae Sugar Company 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, initially only 80 acres in 1878. 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 on 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.

Revised: August 26, 2017.
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, The Railroad Press, Hanover PA, 2005, ISBN 1-931477-14-0
Treiber, Gale E. and Norton, Victor, Hawaiian Railway Album WWII Photographs, VOL 3, The Railroad Press, Hanover PA, 2007, ISBN 978-1-9314-7721-3

Reference Material Available Online:


Collected Waianae Sugar Company Photographs.
Images collected from private collections, libraries and historical societies.

Hawaii \ Waianae Sugar Company
[ Back ]