Sugar cane first originated over 10,000 years ago discovered in New Guinea, then made its way to Polynesia to where introduction was made more than 1000 years ago. Hawaiians were known to plant the sugarcane stalks for medicinal purposes, next to their taro crops. They used the cane not as the sugar cubes and spoonfuls known today, but by simply chewing and sucking its stalks of its sweet juice.
The Hawaiian sugar industry began in 1835 and due to the rapid growth production of up to a million tons of sweet granular crystals a year this booming crop arose and stood firm. Sugar is king as the Hawaiian states’ strongest economic resource until the 1960’s when tourism takes the fiscal lead.
Come learn about the backbone of the Hawaiian economy for over a hundred and fifty years. See the farming implements and relics from the industrial era brilliantly preserved and stored in and around the former plantation managers’ home adjacent to the largest sugar mill in Hawaii. You’ll discover a rich history involving multiple cultures working together toward making a better future for all. It includes the history of the founders Samuel Thomas Alexander and Henry Perrine Baldwin meet in the Hawaiian islands in the early 1800’s as childhood friends whose partnership develops into a very winning business arrangement in the sugarcane industrial revolution.
A story is told about the location of the first 561 acres between Paia and Makawao where sugarcane was cultivated proves needing much water for continual vast production. The dedication shows when Baldwin leads by example by descending into the Maliko Gulch as construction of the Mamakua Ditch between 1876-1878 where production nearly came to a halt as a last great obstacle in laying down of the pipe up and down the sides of the precipices of this gulch in Makawao. Mr. Baldwin, after having lost his right arm in a mill accident slid down the rope without hesitation using his legs and his one able arm. The immigrant workmen were inspired by the courage of their one armed manager that they in turn continued to make their way back to work to follow him down the rope.
After the aqueduct had been secured, the sugar production proved so lucrative that expansion deemed inevitable and Alexander & Baldwin afforded to buy out (C & H) California and Hawaiian Sugar Company and purchased controlling interests in rival company (HC&S) Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company allowing Alexander and Baldwin Inc. toward becoming one of the top, Big Five companies in the Territory of Hawaii and remains today as one of the state’s largest land property ownership with 87,000 acres of land across Hawaii.
The state motto and known Hawaiian phrase is Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ‘Aina I ka Pono which translates: The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. Remember to treat all land, foliage and artifacts in Hawaii with respect. Be kind. Never leave your trash behind.