The History of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.

* 1870 — Samuel Thomas Alexander and Henry Perrine Baldwin plant their first crop on the newly established Alexander and Baldwin plantation, which is the birth of the current Alexander & Baldwin. They added 599 acres to their original investment of 12 acres below Makawao.

* 1878 — Claus Spreckels of San Francisco founds Hawaiian Commercial Co. with the building of a factory in Spreckelsville.

* 1878 — A 17-mile irrigation system of tunnels, ditches, siphons, flumes and reservoirs built to provide a reliable water source for more than 3,000 acres of A&B’s sugar cane and neighboring plantations is completed. The Hamakua Ditch system is run by East Maui Irrigation Co., A&B’s oldest subsidiary.

* 1882 — Spreckel’s Hawaiian Commercial Co. is incorporated and renamed Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.

* 1898 — Alexander and Baldwin gains a controlling interest in HC&S.

* 1899 — HC&S acquires Kahului Railroad and Maui Railroad & Steamship and merges them into  Kahului Railroad. In addition to transporting sugar and people, Kahului Railroad begins the development of Kahului Harbor. This marks A&B’s expansion into transportation. Kahului Trucking & Storage (formerly Kahului Railroad) remains an A&B company today.

* 1901 — A new sugar mill, the HC&S Puunene factory, is built. Puunene, which means “goose hill” in Hawaiian, had been the name of a small volcanic cone between Spreckelsville and Paia. The new sugar mill’s location at a higher elevation made it possible to gravity feed the mill’s cane wash water for reuse in crop irrigation.

* 1903 — Maui Agricultural Co. Ltd. is formed by A&B as a co-partnership company that ran Kailialinui, Kula, Makawao and Pulehu plantations.

* 1906 — HC&S, along with other Hawaii sugar companies, begins operating California & Hawaiian Sugar (C&H Sugar) as an agricultural cooperative marketing association.

* 1907 — Maui Agricultural Co. starts a rubber plantation at Nahiku as part of its diversification program.

* 1908 — HC&S and Maui Agricultural Co. form East Maui Irrigation Co. to manage their ditch system and share the water between the plantations.

* 1917 — Maui Agricultural Co. builds the first distillery in the United States for producing alcohol from molasses.

* 1918 — War scarcity of fossil fuel results in HC&S embarking on the production of “etherized” alcohol from waste molasses to operate its tractors. This process forms no carbon in combustion and provides the same amount of mileage and power as gasoline at lower cost.

* 1912 — HC&S installs its first hydroelectric plant in Paia, providing 800 kilowatts of electricity to power the plantation’s mills and irrigation pumps.

* 1948 — HC&S merges with Maui Agricultural Co., making HC&S the largest sugar producer in the U.S.

* 1948 — HC&S sells its first pasteurized milk (at 28 cents per quart) from its small but thriving dairy and beef cattle operations. HC&S sold its Puunene Dairy to Haleakala Dairy in 1951.

* 1950 — HC&S replaces its railroad — the main sugar cane transportation system — with Tournahaulers. They are used to carry harvested cane from the field to the plantation mills in Paia and Puunene.

* 1962 — HC&S merges with Alexander & Baldwin and becomes a wholly-owned division. At the time, HC&S operated three subsidiaries — East Maui Irrigation Co., Kahului Railroad and Kahului Development Co., predecessor of A&B Properties.

* 1993 — A&B becomes the remaining member of C&H and subsequently sells a 60 percent share in the company in 1998. It sells its remaining holdings in 2005.

* 1999 — HC&S begins marketing specialty food-grade sugar, primarily turbinado, under its new Maui Brand label.

* 2000 — Paia Mill shuts down.

* 2008 — Maui Brand production expands with the opening of a new specialty sugar facility.

* 2010 — HC&S is selected as the site for biofuels research under two federal grants.

* 2016 — In January, A&B announces HC&S’ final harvesting season with sugar operations to cease by the end of the year. HC&S will be looking to transition to diversified agriculture. On Dec. 12, the last haul of sugar cane from the fields arrives at the Puunene Mill on a Tournahauler.

— Source: hcsugar.com and A&B


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