Saturday, November 13, 2010

Maui, Home of the Last Place on Earth to see "Hawaiian Snow."

For many decades Hawaii was home to what was referred to as "Hawaiian Snow." 

The many sugar operations throughout the state of Hawaii were home to a host of companies that raised and produced sugar. Now in the year 2010, there remains only one operation in Hawaii. The plantation owned by HC&S, Hawaiian Commercial  & Sugar, is the last remaining company to grow and produce sugar in Hawaii.

Hawaii was once the home to dozens of different sugar plantations. Maui's sugar history  began back  when Claus Spreckles saw an opportunity to create a sugar plantation. The plantation quickly became quite profitable. Claus Spreckles, who had already become quite successful in the San Francisco area for his developments, see the story at   for more. 

Manteca, California, was the home for many years to Claus Sprekeles beet sugar refinery, and served for decades as a ripe-smelling way point on the road to Yosemite, at the crossroads of state Highways 99 and 120. See the article at

Today the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar (HC&S) plantation is the last remnant of the Claus Spreckles plantations, the other plantations such as Wailuku Sugar and Pioneer Mill, have closed down their operations  years ago.

So the phenomenon known locally as "Hawaiian Snow" is when the  sugar ashes from the burning cane fields rise up in a cloud of smoke resembling a nuclear explosion, and slowly drift down wind and as it cools, the ashes descend on the various down wind communities and blanket the cars, sidewalks and houses with the remnants of the sugar field. While many object to the burning of the cane fields, it has been part of Maui's history and an important part of keeping the last sugar plantation solvent.

While the cane ash raining down on Maui in the crisp cool air of a clear November morning is not unusual for the residents of Maui, it's a novelty for the visitors, as is the 3am cane fields burning. It's actually quite spectacular to watch.

Maybe the "Hawaiian Snow" should be renamed to "Maui Snow" to be more accurate.

Please feel free to add comments on your experiences with "Hawaiian Snow" or sugar plantations in general. I'm sure there are many stories just waiting for an audience.



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