It seems as though everywhere I look these days another piece of Maui's history or charm is being threatened or eroded.
What caught my eye lately are the yellow gates, newly installed, across the old roads that until recently offered a glimpse into Spreckelsville, the once thriving plantation community that exists now only in name.
The remnants of the road into the old sugar town lie across Hana Highway about a quarter of a mile from Kaunoa Senior Center heading toward Kahului, in what are now cane fields. Until recently, you could turn mauka instead of makai at Stable Road and bump down an old, potholed lane into history. (Yellow Gate #1 marks that spot.)
At that point, Fred Hebert told me, the road from Paia took a sharp left into Spreckelsville before veering back toward Kahului along the lane lined with monkeypod and earpod trees, the curious diagonal one that perversely doubles back across Hana Highway heading toward the heliport.
(I used to love the little cutoff into town that nice shady lane afforded, and others did, too. Now Yellow Gate #2 blocks it. Why? The usual response to societal deterioration - it's become a haven for truants, not time travelers; homeless, not historians?)
In 1882, Claus Spreckels, the unscrupulous business baron from California, built a $4 million state-of-the-art sugar factory in the triangle now formed by Hana Highway and the old roads, which became the predominant symbol of the new industrial order on Maui. With its striking row of 14 parallel smokestacks and stark series of impeccably painted warehouses, it had the look of a military camp.
The hill of Pu'u Nene, long since leveled by the plantation (at the base of which the heiau of Papanene once stood), sat mauka of the Spreckelsville mill a ways.
Henry Baldwin, after buying HC&S in 1898, built an even more impressive factory close to the isthmus of Maui in 1901, which for a while was the largest in the world. He appropriated (and abbreviated) the name Pu'unene for the new mill and the plantation community that grew up around it.
According to a 1910 HC&S map, updated in 1945, kindly copied for me by Tim Walker, a small Hawaiian camp lay on Spreckelsville's Paia corner, across from the mill. Across the street, farther toward Kahului, sat Camp
Adjacent to Hawaiian Camp was the two-story Victorian-style manager's house with its white picket fence, large lanai and widow's walk from which the boss could spot ships coming in and out of Kahului harbor. The camp theater crowded the boundary on the other side of the house and beyond it was was the Catholic church. Opposite was the famous Camp One Store, wood framed, big porch, with the railroad tracks alongside.
The dilapidated Spreckelsville grammar school with its shabby classrooms and outhouses - a far cry from the shiny new Maui Standard School (later Kaunoa) built in 1926 - lay farther up the hill.
Many camps formed the area known as Spreckelsville. Russian Camp lay across the road from the stables. Camp Two lay mauka and toward Paia from Camp One. In the fields above the farthest reach of Spreckelsville Beach sat Upper Camp Three and Lower Camp Three, where open sewage ditches flowed until those camps were razed in the '60s.
A trough of water gravity-fed by a tank flowed under the outhouses, which were set up along the road. Waste fell into the trough and was carried along to the next house and the next, until it was deposited in the cane fields. Jane Fukushima, who grew up there, told me she never could bring herself to eat the giant string beans proffered by the man whose garden lay at the end of the line.
Dick Fukushima remembered the Yoshizawa barber shop, Sam Sato store, Kitagawa service station and Iwanaga photo studio, and walking six miles through the cane fields from Upper Camp Three to swim in HC&S' No. 5 reservoir behind Camp Two.
Now, nothing remains of the Spreckelsville mill or these once teeming villages. That is, except that row of trees demarcating "Codfish Row," so named for the dried, salted staple imported for Portuguese families. (Yellow Gate #3 keeps you out of that.)
Frank Gouveia explained, "Plantation people always work, work, work, no time to fish."
* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose "Keiki o ka 'Aina" column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.