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ISLAND HISTORY: A history of McBryde Sugar Company

McBryde Sugar Co., named after Judge Duncan McBryde, was incorporated in 1899 as a consolidation of ‘Ele‘ele Plantation, the McBryde Estate, and Koloa Agricultural Company.

Also in 1899, housing camps were constructed for McBryde’s allotment of approximately 1,050 Japanese immigrant contract laborers scheduled to arrive on Kaua‘i that year.

McBryde’s cultivated fields extended from ‘Ele‘ele to Koloa, and McBryde utilized the old ‘Ele‘ele Plantation mill, until a new mill of its own was built at Numila in 1901.

In 1903, McBryde negotiated a 50-year lease at $1,500 a year with Hui Wainiha — an association of 71 Hawaiian shareholders, who owned roughly 15,000 acres of Wainiha Valley – for water rights to Wainiha Stream and a site for a hydroelectric plant.

Water was then diverted upstream from the Wainiha River, a hydroelectric plant was built, and a 34-mile long power line connecting the Wainiha hydroelectric plant with McBryde was completed in 1906.

In 1907, the Kaua‘i Railway Company opened a railroad terminus and warehouse at ‘Ele‘ele Landing (renamed Port Allen in 1909) to handle the combined freight of Hawaiian Sugar Co. at Makaweli and McBryde Sugar Co.

A year later, in 1908, a conflict known as the McBryde-Koloa War broke out between Koloa Plantation and McBryde over irrigation rights to Oma‘o Stream.

The conflict, which prompted a scuffle between Koloa and McBryde employees, was resolved that same year, with Koloa being allowed use of one of Oma‘o Stream’s tributaries.

In 1932, Alexander Reservoir, named after McBryde manager Frank Alexander, was completed.

The year 1939 saw the completion of dredging, breakwater construction, and the building of a 500-foot pier at Port Allen.

McBryde Sugar Co. was unionized in 1946.

A dispute over water rights to the Hanapepe River between Gay &Robinson and McBryde began in 1959, which was resolved years later by a court decision favoring the state of Hawai‘i’s claim that it owned the water rights.

In 1972, Grove Farm quit the sugar business and leased its Koloa mill and a portion of its sugar lands to McBryde.

Also in 1972, McBryde’s Numila mill shut down.

McBryde Sugar Co. closed in 1996.
Source: The Garden Island

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