Kualoa Sugar Mill Ruins, O'ahu



During our July 2017 trip to O'ahu, we stopped along the shoreline (literally, as the road changes into the small, lapping waves of the sea with just some lava rock placed at roadside to prevent erosion) and took the opportunity to take a few photos and to do some droning.

I've snapped photos of the sugar mill ruins in the past but in the past, all the times I've snapped it's been a bit gray out. This time it was gray then bright then gray then super bright. That's the thing with that tropical climate: Lighting and other weather-y factors change in an instant. The tropical climate on the island is what I love and yet find so frustrating when trying to be creative. I would gladly wish to have this minor complaint in my creative wheelhouse if I were afforded the chance to live there permanently. 

The sugar mill, built between 1863 and 1870 sits on private property with Kualoa Ranch on the east side of the island on Kamehameha Highway. It's easy to get to but you can only take photos from the road. Luckily, the stone and brick structure, or what remains of it, is easily seen. You can almost reach out and touch it. 

I've not ever read what happened to the rest of the building; besides time and weather, I'm unsure where the other bricks and stones went, when the mechanicals and vats where hauled off. Maybe they went to another mill on the island. It would definitely be interesting to find out.

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(Above center: A half-buried and rusting piece of mill machinery I'd never seen before.)

What is left is still super interesting to me to photograph. From the roadside, I tried to get as many angles as I could. After several shots through the viewfinder, it all begins to appear the same but I still love how these shots turned out - finally, after all these years, getting some decent ones. 

The mill closed up not long after it was completed; rainfall dropped to negligible levels and no cane would grow on the otherwise dry land. The closure was preceded by a tragedy where the young son of one of the owners fell into a vat of boiling syrup and unfortunately died days later.

As I write this, I've recently read that sugar cane production is fully stopping on the Hawaiian islands, a defining era gone. There are other places on the island where you can see remnants of the sugar industry, even locations with some intact structures. Kualoa has always been the most fascinating and picturesque of these spots to me. So, until next time, aloha.