LIHU‘E — The steam boilers came alive Saturday at the train yard across from the former Lihu‘e Sugar Plantation mill.
“We do this to tie in with the Kaua‘i Museum ‘Ohana Day for as long as its ‘The Industrial Revolution on Kaua‘i: Steam Power and Other Innovations’ exhibit is on display,” said Scott Johnson, lead engineer for the locomotive. “Our guests who came the farthest today are from Oregon.”
Coming off a successful run during the Dec. 4 Lights on Rice parade, Johnson said they cannot get the train to Kaua‘i Museum. Instead, they offer free rides on the first Saturday of each month.
“If people missed the ride today, we also have the regular Train Day on the second Thursday of each month,” said Louis Lopez, describing himself as “engineer-in-training.”
That means people can visit “Paulo,” claimed to be the oldest surviving plantation locomotive in Hawai‘i, this coming Thursday.
After that, Lopez said there is the Family Day in February, the regular Train Day, and continuing through April 26, the final day for the Kaua‘i Museum Industrial Revolution exhibit.
Paulo was built in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1887 at Hohenzollern Works and shipped to Koloa Sugar Co., the first commercial sugar plantation in the kingdom of Hawai‘i, states a Kaua‘i Trains Web site.
Paulo was used in the plantations until 1920 and has the distinction of having the last locomotive boiler stamped with the ASME “L” Stamp, indicating “locomotive.”
The “L” stamped boiler was built by King Frey at Western Metal Products and was one of only three “L” stamps in use at the time. The boilers were recalled in 1983, from which time boilers received the “S” (for steam) Stamp, marking the end of an era.
“Scott is teaching me a lot,” Lopez said. “But there is a lot more to learn. I’ve only been working with him for about a year and I’m the No. 3 engineer. There is Scott who is the No. 1 engineer and Sam Maehata who is the No. 2 engineer.”
During the Family Saturday and monthly Train Day runs, Johnson said people can learn about how the trains played a role in the sugar plantation era and get a ride aboard Paulo and a train of replicated train cars from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The only bad thing about fire-up days is when I go home and shower. I smell like smoke,” Lopez said. “Otherwise, it’s good that we have these days when people can come and learn.”
Paulo was named after Paul Isenberg, the owner of Lihu‘e Plantation and an officer of the Koloa Sugar Co. It tips the scale at 10 tons and features “Joy” type valve gear.
For more information, visit www.kauaitrains.com or call the museum at 245-6931.