‘Paulo’ feeling age during final ‘firing up’ day

LIHU‘E — Paulo is showing its age.

“Today is the last run for Paulo until we fix the tubes,” said Scott Johnson, a certified engineer for the Grove Farm Homesteads Museum. “Paulo has five tubes clogged, and the state regulatory body said running with five is okay, but if another one gets clogged, that won’t be alright.”

Thursday is the regularly-scheduled Train Day for the Grove Farm Homestead Museum, and Paulo was out, ready to pull its load of train cars filled with eager passengers.

“As long as they don’t get the pressure up too high, everything should be alright,” said Carol Lovell, the Grove Farm Homesteads Museum tour coordinator. “They probably won’t blow the steam whistle as much as they normally do.”

Johnson said following Thursday’s run, Paulo will be relocated to the Puhi rail barn and the next Train Day will have Wainiha take Paulo’s place on the historic run utilizing a former steam locomotive, which was an integral part of the sugar plantation heritage.

“But we can’t do anything until we get some funds,” Johnson said. “We can get the tubes to replace the bad ones, but there is no money and we can’t do anything until we can afford it.”

Lovell, confirming Johnson’s statements, said people are welcome to help Paulo get back on the track.

Johnson said he estimates the entire cost for replacing the tubes will be a little more than $1,000, the labor being done by himself, Sam Maehata, another Grove Farm certified engineer, and train volunteers.

“Once we get the tubes, the work should be finished within two or three weeks,” Johnson said, Maehata adding that it could be done at the current site, if necessary.

Paulo is the oldest surviving plantation locomotive in Hawai‘i, states the Grove Farm website.

Manufactured in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1887, it was named after Paul Isenberg, the owner of Lihu‘e Plantation and an officer of Koloa Sugar Company.

Paulo was manufactured at the Hohenzollern Works and shipped to Koloa Sugar Company, the first commercial sugar plantation in the kingdom of Hawai‘i, where it was in use until 1920.

During its life, Paulo was one of two firewood-fueled steam locomotives used in the construction of the Waita Reservoir.

Lloyd Palmer of Oregon was among the guests enjoying Paulo’s final run, Thursday.

“We started coming here in 1988,” Palmer, a train enthusiast, said. “In 1993, we bought a North Shore time share and we’ve been coming here every year since then.”

Palmer said during those early trips, he refused to get involved in railroads despite seeing signs of railroading while driving around the island.

That changed in 2003 when he saw a newly-paved road covering a portion of a railroad track.

“I had to get a picture before it was gone,” Palmer said. “That was it.”

Since then, Palmer, who spends about a month at a time here, said he’s researched the network of railroads which linked the island and the sugar industry, being fortunate enough to meet landowners and people who were involved in Hawai‘i’s railroading legacy.

Another of the people enjoying Paulo’s final run was Mike Collins of Sacramento, Calif., who is involved with the California State Railroad Museum and is the president of the Virginia and Trucking Railroad Historical Society.

“We’ve had the same problems in California,” Collins said. “We just replaced two tubes and another one went out yesterday.”

Collins said in California, they operate a 6-mile round-trip tour using a 1942 Porter 0607, which was built for the U.S. Army and later sold to a firm in California that paid for its rebuilding.

Train days, hosted by the Grove Farm Homestead Museum since 1975, are scheduled for the second Thursday of each month and are open to the public.

People interested in signing up for Train Day, or to help Paulo get back on its feet can call 245-3202.

Visit www.grovefarm.net for more information.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.


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