Hawaii’s multi-cultural background lends itself to the sugar cane industry. The Ewa Villages carry a reminder to the agricultural history of Oahu.
The city of Ewa lies on the Ewa Plain region of Oahu approximately twenty miles from the business center of Honolulu. The fertile planes offered rich tracks of land for sugar cane. Founded in 1890, the people here like to remember the history that put the area on the map.
Ewa is very important on Oahu; it was once a major producer of sugar and is so ingrained in the minds of locals that we use it as a direction point. People do not say West very often here. Instead we give Ewa as a directional point as in, “The supermarket is two blocks Ewa of there”. For those questioning the East moniker, it is either said as “Diamond Head or Koko Head” which are both cinder cone volcanoes located in Honolulu city limits.
The villages housed many workers from different ethnicities including Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Filipinos and Hawaiians. I would have loved to take some pictures of the original house designs that were characteristic of the period, but they are fewer and far between these days as most of the structures were wooden and termites are voracious. Many homes have lost the battle.
Here is a Plantation Manager’s residence. It has also fallen to disrepair.
Giant mill wheels and cogs decorate points of neighborhoods
Other landmarks like churches and area markers still remind one of simpler times.
The train was the spine of Oahu, carrying the agricultural goods like pineapple and sugar cane to the ships in Honolulu harbor. Today, it is just an obstacle to build around. I wrote another article on the Ewa Train which offers weekend rides on the remnants of the line on restored trains.
Today, Ewa and the region known as Ewa Beach to the south are major residential arteries that commute into Honolulu every morning. Thousands line up the main road to catch the highway into our little capital city. The history fades with each new planned community, but certain bits of history remain to remind us of the island’s agricultural industry.