LIHUE — Scott Johnson said Wainiha had to be on the rails Thursday, the Grove Farm museum’s monthly fire up day.
“We were supposed to have a group of kids from the Easter Seals Hawaii, but the rain forced them to cancel out,” Johnson said. “But Wainiha still had to run, offering free, or donations accepted, rides to people who braved the morning mists.”
Johnson said Wainiha, a Type 0-6-2 Saddle Tank Locomotive built in 1915 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, PA., was ordered by McBryde Sugar Co. and sold to Lihue Plantation in 1947.
Wainiha, named after one of the rivers on Kauai, was later sold to Grove Farm in 1955 and on Sept. 24, 1957, hauled the last load of sugar cane to the Lihue Plantation sugar mill.
Engineered by Eliso Antonio who has the distinction of being Hawaii’s last steam cane train engineer, the final load marked the end of a 76-year history of Kauai steam-powered sugar cane trains, Johnson said.
“But instead of looking back, we look forward,” Johnson said. “The Grove Farm museum will be part of the 2013 Smithsonian magazine museum day live on Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the historic house.”
Johnson said Wainiha, still operating after carrying its last sugar cane load in 1957, will be offering free train rides along the original Haleko right of way from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in honor of the Smithsonian magazine event.
The Grove Farm is the living history farm and sugar plantation homestead of George Wilcox and is made up of original buildings and collections, including a wood-fired oven. The museum includes authentic sugar plantation steam locomotives like Paulo and Wainiha with rides being offered in cane cars with a narrative on the plantation scene offered by Johnson.
The ride aboard Wainiha takes passengers along a portion of the same route used by steam cane trains hauling freshly-harvested sugar cane from the fields to the steaming mill.
Visit www.grovefarm.org, or call 245-3202 for more information.
• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.