Request by Nick Kalis May 2015: I am building a model of the Oahu Sugar Company's railroad as it operated during WWII - I would appreciate hearing from anyone familiar with the operations and structures related to the railroad as it operated around the freight house, the rail yard, the bridges, etc. Even if your information is about structures and operations preceding or following WWII, it would be useful to me. I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
When Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, sugar cane was already established. Hedge rows of sugar canes surrounded many of the thatched huts of the natives. It wasn't until 1835 that the first successful sugar plantation was established at Koloa, Kauai. This is the community where Jack's Janssen grandparents families started their careers in the sugar business in the 1860's. Actually, the Janssens went to Koloa, and the Webers to Pokaki plantation at Kapaia (owned by Hans L'Orange Sr.). For many decades, sugar was king in Hawaii, but in the year 2000, it has all but disappeared.
Following is some Waipahu, Hawaii Oahu Sugar Company history recounted by Jack Vorfeld, shown on a visit to OSCO Winter 1994-1995. For many years Oahu Sugar Company was the leading producer of sugar cane on Oahu. Its history is ripe with memories. Generations of residents knew no other life than plantation life. The final day of operation was April 8, 1995. The dismantling of this landmark was completed in 1999.
1999. Built in 1898, Oahu Sugar Company operated until 1995. Amfac/JMB Hawaii will donate the land underneath the 170-foot high smokestack, which will be retained, along with a laboratory and generator buildings. These will be part of a proposed plantation museum. The next step is to get the smokestack and mill buildings listed with the state and national register of Historic Places. The community leaders will then have to raise funds.
In 1996 Amfac/JMP Hawaii sold two acres to the YMCA of Honolulu for $800,000. The YMCA since invested nearly $500,000 in renovations to the facility ... improvement of the park area behind the ourfield of the Hans L'Orange Ballpark is nearly completed.
The smokestack was one of two that operated at OSCO, and was originally 225 feet high. They demolished the other in the early 1970's, while Jack was still Factory Supt. Jack & Judy have a small chunk of the rusty material mounted and framed.
February 3, 2000. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, the Leeward YMCA received a $1 million donation today, part of which will be used to preserve the old Waipahu sugar mill smokestack. The donation, from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, completes a campaign by the YMCA to pay for four acres of the old OSCO mill site along Waipahu Street, including the smokestack. Great move.
Copyright Judy Vorfeld.
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