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‘Ohana Day draws crowds to Grove Farm Museum

LIHU‘E — Paul Isenberg’s birthday? What mattered to people was the lure of locomotives and the free train rides along the historic locomotive right-of-way, during Grove Farm Museum’s ‘Ohana Day celebrating the birth of Paul Isenberg on Saturday, April 15, 2023.

“I’ve ridden the train before,” said one of the train ride fans. “That was about five or six years ago. I grew up in this area and I want to know what happened to all the houses that were there when I was growing up.”

The maturing matriarch was just one of several hundred people who flocked to the Locomotive Learning Park on Haleko Road across the former Lihu‘e Planttion sugar mill.

“We have taken care of about 250 people,” said Jonah Stein, one of the recent hires for the Grove Farm Museum’s train crew led by engineer Scott Johnson. “It’s been only two hours. Scott will be back with the vintage diesel locomotive in about 15 minutes.”

Among the fans waiting for a train ride aboard replicas of sugar cane cars were former Kaua‘i County Council Members Arryl Kaneshiro and now state Rep. Luke Evslin, who waited in line to provide the experience for their young children.

Taliaferro “Tali” Jones, the new executive director of the Waioli Corporation that includes the Grove Farm Museum, was another guest at the Locomotive Learning Park. She pointed out the new signage that has been installed on some of the buildings and the planting of sugar cane at the museum on Nawiliwili Road, as demonstrations that the historic sugar plantation days will not be soon forgotten.

Paulo, the oldest operating steam locomotive in Hawai‘i, was built in 1887, and is named for Paul Isenberg, who was born 186 years ago on April 15.

Currently waiting for the train crew’s attention that will bring the locomotive back to life, Paulo was available as a static display at the museum on Nawiliwili Road, where keiki could climb specially created stairs to experience being in a locomotive and ringing the bell.

“We wondered about putting the bell on,” said Ryan Frost of the train crew at the museum. “I’m glad we decided to put the bell back. The only problem is we have to listen to it.”

More model trains were on exhibit and operating at the museum, much to the joy of keiki excited to view operating trains, stoked by the experience of hearing the clang of Paulo’s bell.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453
Source: The Garden Island

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