In her book, “Personal Recollections of Growing up on Kauai, Hawaii in the 1950s and 1960s,” my wife, Ginger (Beralas) Soboleski, wrote about a special train ride she took one Sunday morning in 1955 with her father, Lihue Plantation employee Al Beralas, when she six years old and was residing in Lihue Camp A and attending the old Lihue Grammar School in Pua Loke.
She wrote, “Right across from the Lihue Mill was a plantation camp. On Sunday mornings people would go to that camp to board a Lihue Plantation sugar train for a ride in its empty cane cars. I rode on that train once as a little girl. The cane cars had chains on the sides to hold sugarcane. We would board the cars, hold onto those chains, and the locomotive would start, and we would slowly journey north on the tracks, over the trestle above Hanamaulu Beach, and all the way up to Marine Camp. Then the locomotive would chug back to the Lihue Mill. What fun!”
Lihue Plantation had begun its once-yearly practice of giving train rides to children four years earlier on Sunday, Oct. 28, 1951.
On that day, the plantation treated nearly 1,000 children to three train rides after firing up the boiler of its semi-retired locomotive No. 4, which normally pulled two flat cars used to haul sugar, pineapple, and other freight to and from the port at Ahukini.
Kids from Lihue left the train station by the mill, rode past the airport, Hanamaulu Beach and Marine Camp to the Wailua Bridge and then returned.
At Hanamaulu, children boarded the flat cars and departed the Hanamaulu office to Waipouli and went back, while the third train made its way from Kealia along the shoreline to Anahola and back to Kealia.
A year later, in 1952, around 1,200 Kauai children experienced Lihue Plantation’s train rides.
And, the following year, on Monday, Dec. 28, 1953, No. 04 hauled some 2,000 children between Kapaa and Kealia and between Lihue and Hanamaulu.
Lihue Plantation continued to give train rides to children until at least 1955.