From 1862 to 1999, sugar was the dominant agricultural crop in Maui, blanketing the western slopes. At the peak of production for Pioneer Mill, over 5,000 acres of flowing green fields produced 45,000 tons of sugar.
In order to move all the burned cane stalks between the fields and the mill for processing, railroad tracks spanned the plantation and were the primary mode of transport. In addition to hauling the large amounts of cane, it was also a way that plantation workers would move between work and their homes.
As the 20th century wore on, however, tourism grew, sugar faded, and the railroads drifted into obscurity.
Today, the island's lone remaining railroad spans a six-mile stretch of track between Lahaina and Kaʽanapali. Historically used as a passenger train, the "Sugar Cane Train" is now an historical draw and an adventurous outing for children.
This steam-driven locomotive still blows its whistle as it prepares to depart the station, and while development encroaches on the sides of the track, there's still a section of wooden trestle that offers sweeping views of the ocean.
More than just a fun afternoon for train enthusiasts and children, the Sugar Cane Train is a functional throwback to Maui's plantation day past.