OKJaguar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

OKJaguar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Abandoned Sugar Mill: Kauai's Sugar Plantation past

Shaka Guide

Listen to audio sample:

Have you been to Koloa Town? Do you remember seeing a tall smoke stack and rusty looking buildings? Guess what...  those are the remains of the once great Koloa Sugar Mill.


In the early years, Ladd & Company first founded the successful Koloa Plantation. They enjoyed tremendous success with output increasing year after year. Throughout its history though, the plantation changed ownership many times. But in total, it was in operation for over 160 years, until it closed doors in 1996. Wow! How many businesses can say that they operated from the days of the monarchy until the days of the internet? That’s longer than companies like GE, Ford or General Motors  have been in operation. 

Oh by the way, were you wondering what the smokestack was for? Well, to explain briefly - the process of extracting sugar from sugarcane involves 2 steps - first, the harvested plants are hard pressed to get the juice out. Second, the juice is cooked down and refined to form sugar crystals. Back in the days, wood or coal was burned to generate the heat for this process, and therefore needed a tall smoke stack, or chimney to exhaust the smoke. 

I’m sure after hearing so much about sugar, the next time you bake something, and scoop up that cup of sugar. It might just look a little different to you.

Plantation life is long gone for Koloa . Every summer, though, the town gets together to celebrate  the Koloa Plantation Days. 

And as for the now rusting and abandoned Koloa sugar mill, perhaps it’s a reminder that nothing lasts forever. Even a king like sugar.

Interested in the sugar mill?

It's a stop on our Poipu and Koloa Tour!

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