ISLAND HISTORY: Kipu Ranch and Princess Ruth Keelikolani

In 1866, William Hyde Rice – who in 1891 would become the governor of Kaua‘i under Queen Liliuokalani – began leasing land at Kipu, Kaua‘i from Princess Ruth Keelikolani on which he raised cattle and fine horses.

Then in 1881, he purchased Kipu from Princess Ruth – a shrewd businesswoman, assertive by nature, and a staunch defender of ancient Hawaiian traditions and customs.

Princess Ruth Keelikolani would have never allowed anyone to “steal” her property.

When Rice’s son, Charles Rice, began growing sugarcane at Kipu in 1907, ranching there was scaled back, but was resumed full-time in 1942, the year Rice’s Kipu Sugar Plantation closed.

During World War II, Kipu Ranch income was enhanced after the Army set up a sawmill there to produce lumber for military use, with soldiers supplying the labor.

A portion of the eucalyptus forest Charles Rice had planted in the 1920s was then harvested.

Charles Rice also provided R &R for numerous military personnel at Kipu Ranch during the war.

One notable Kipu Ranch cowboy was Charles Rice’s grandson, Holbrook “Hobey” Goodale, who lived at Kipu Ranch with his family as ranch foreman from 1948 to 1962.

On July 17, 1959 “Hobey” released 25 cattle egrets at Kipu Ranch that were imported from Florida by Charles Rice – the first cattle egrets introduced into Hawaii.

The birds were successful in accomplishing their intended purpose by eating great numbers of flies, grasshoppers, cockroaches, caterpillars, moths and centipedes around cattle and other grazing animals, while shunning bumblebees, wasps and yellow jackets.

Other Kipu Ranch cowboys of note were: Mamo Matsumura, Hiram Matsumoto, Eddie Kanoho, Sr., Ash Ishida, Henry Kanoho and Harry Manna.

In 1964, upon the death of Charles Rice, his widow, Patricia Rice, succeeded him as owner and manager of Kipu Ranch.

Their son, Robin Rice, joined Duane Shimogawa and Charles Vidinha as a Kipu Ranch cowboy in the 1980s, introduced modern ranching techniques, among them being the utilization of ATVs instead of horses, and eventually became owner and manager of Kipu Ranch.

Several Hollywood movies have been filmed at Kipu Ranch.

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