Graphic: back to Janssen IndexEarly Sugar Cane Transportation

Hawaiian sugar plantations used trains for transportation until sometime in the 1950s, when they switched to haul cane trucks. In those early years, plantations used a combination of trains and animals (horses, mules and burros) to move the cane. The first line lunas (bosses) supervised the placing of portable train tracks as needed, arranged for the workers to load the cane on the cars. From these points the trains hauled the cane to the main line, then to the factory for processing.

In 1888, the Hawaiian legislature had granted 44-year-old Benjamin Franklin Dillingham an exclusive franchise to construct and operate steam railroads on Oahu. After years of preparation on November 16, 1889, a special train carried more than 4,000 people to Aiea, and the next day Oahu Railway and Land Company inagurated passenger service. In the following years it went through Ewa, Waianae, Waialua, reaching Kahuku in 1898. This steady expansion provided tremendous support for Oahu's agricultural industry.

In 1931, plantations bagged all the sugar in burlap and shipped the bags into town by train. Plantation trains connected to the OR&L where they transferred the bags for transit to Honolulu Harbor. At the harbor, heavy machinery dumped the bags into steamships destined for Crockett, California. All Hawaii. s sugar plantations jointly owned the C & H Sugar Refinery. Each plantation received shares according to production amounts.

Waimanalo Plantation, where the Janssens spent so many years, ceased operations somewhere around 1930. For many years prior to this, Waimanalo shipped its sugar around Oahu to Honolulu Harbor; it had its own small wharf. Around 1930 the owners decided to haul the bags by truck rather than ship. Because the road over the Pali was treacherous and undependable, hauling costs became prohibitive. Over about four years, this contributed to the plantation. s demise. By then, however, Grandpa Janssen had retired.

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