Theophilus Harris Davies and Alexander Young started the Waiākea Mill Company in 1879. It was “Situated one mile from Hilo in a southerly direction are the vast fields of sugar cane and mill of the Waiākea Mill Company …”
“… which controls 95,000 acres of land, 5,000 of which are now in cane, the product from same being converted into sugar at the mill of the company, which has a capacity of seventy tons in twenty-four hours. It is a 9-roller mill and fitted with every appliance for the successful reduction of the product of the plantation.” (Evening Bulletin, November 30, 1901)
The Mill was located at the back (most mauka side) of Waiākea Pond, part of what we now refer to as the Wailoa Pond and River. They would barge bagged sugar here from the headwaters through the pond to Hilo Bay.
“The lands of Waiākea, now held by the Waiakea Mill Company under General Lease No. 124, comprise an area of 96,988 acres. The lease is for a term of Thirty Years from June 1st, 1888, and expires on June 1st, 1918, and provides for an annual rental of $2000.00.” (Hawaii Legislature, House Journal, 1913)
“During the year 1900 the company cleared 700 acres of land, but this year, owing to the scarcity of labor, will not be able to clear any additional land and make it ready for planting.”
“The cane as it comes to the mill in cars of large capacity looks well and will average right through about four and one-half tons of sugar to the acre the year around.”
“As is the case elsewhere in the Hilo district of Hawaii, no Irrigation is required, as the rainfall is quite sufficient.”
“Some thirty miles of railroad is maintained upon the plantation, and some 700 men find steady employment in the fields of cane and about the main works.” (Evening Bulletin, November 30, 1901)
“Today, the steam train of the Waiakea Mill Co, was tested and it went well. There were some dignitaries and also regular people rode who rode the train, and it progressed to where the tracks were laid, and returned back to where it started.”
“I heard from a haole that it went well, and it would seem that in short time it will be chugging upland to where the cane is being grown. Sincerely, C. K. Hapai, (Kuiniki). (Ko Hawaii Pae Aina, July 19, 1879)
“During an Interview with C. C. Kennedy, the manager of the plantation, and likewise one of the owners, it was ascertained that the question of labor is one at great moment to the planters, and that at the present time the plantations throughout the entire islands could easily employ 20,000 additional laborers in clearing land, planting cane, etc.”
“(T)he first sugar cane was planted twenty-two years ago, which was the time that Mr. Kennedy came to Hilo to erect the Waiākea mill and also to manage the property.”
“He has made a careful study of the subject of cane culture in all its branches, and in his dally operations displays a practical knowledge of the subject In hand.”
“The company has a large warehouse capable of holding 1600 tons, in which the sugar is temporarily stored, It being shipped every week direct from Hilo to the Mainland.” (Evening Bulletin, November 30, 1901)
As leases expired, they implemented the Waiākea ‘experiment,’ some homestead and houselots were created on Waiākea cane land
In addition, “some of the property under lease to the Waiākea Mill Company in the vicinity of Reed’s Bay was sublet to persons who wanted dwelling places or week-end homes near the sea.” (Thrum)
This seems to be part of the transition for Waiākea Mill company that “has been reduced from the status of a sugar producing and manufacturing company to that of only a sugar manufacturer.”
“‘In the year 1917, the labor force employed by the mill company averaged 1,030 men per day. This force has dwindled to 270 men per day at present, distributed in the following occupations”. (Maui News, April 18, 1922)
Anticipating the expiration of some major leases on the island of Hawaii in 1947, the land commissioner appointed a special commission to determine the size of tracts to be disposed of by public auction.
In his words, “The Land Office desires particularly to see that the lands formerly used by … plantations are used in a constructive way.” The two plantations referred to were Waiākea, located near the urban area of Hilo on the island of Hawaii, and Waimānalo, located in an area of O‘ahu that would eventually be incorporated into Honolulu’s spreading metropolitan complex.
“The availability of land such as this for urban development presented a unique opportunity and challenge to those responsible for making Hawaii’s public land policy. They could be reasonably certain that the phasing out of two plantation companies whose operations had become marginal for a variety of reasons would not seriously injure the Islands’ sugar industry.”
“At the same time, the freeing of potentially valuable areas for urban development provided the land commissioner with an opportunity to move decisively in making available substantial numbers of house lots at reasonable prices.” (LRB)
The 1947 session of the legislature provided the land department with a revolving fund of $500,000, to assist in the development, subdivision, and sale of various tracts of government land, including that of Waiākea Mill Co.
“The land office desires particularly to see that the lands formerly used by these two plantations are used in a constructive way.” (Annual Report of the Governor, Year Ended June 30, 1948)