Onomea Plantation was started in 1863 by Judge Stafford L Austin and EH Allen. Austin “was the eldest of three sons of an attorney who was a self-made man, and who rose from the ranks of the laboring men, of Buffalo, New York. … As regards the matter of the various improvements, transportation of the cane in flumes, which had its origin in Hilo, I think he may well be said to have been one of the most enterprising and intelligent of the planters.” Onomea Plantation had a reputation for being one of the most advanced and best-equipped estates in Hawaii during its time.
“He worked hard and intelligently to make his plantation, the Onomea plantation a success.” During the early days, Onomea’s crushing plant was water driven. A metal water wheel and boiler had been shipped from Glasgow, Scotland in 1862. It was the first nine-roller mill erected on the island. The mill was connected by rail to one of the best landings and loading devices on the coast. A distinctive feature of Onomea was its system of flumes. By 1926, the plantation had grown from 300 acres to 27,427 acres. On July 26, 1965, Onomea and Hilo Sugar Co merged to form Mauna Kea Sugar Co.