The Claus

The Claus Spreckels was the second locomotive ordered by Maui railroad magnate T.H. Hobron for the Kahului & Wailuku Railroad in September, 1881. It was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia in a 0-4-2 design. The locomotive weighed 26,120 pounds, with 8 x 12 cylinders, 28” drivers and was coal-fueled. It arrived on Maui in May, 1882 and began operating that July. Hobron named it Claus Spreckels after the island’s sugar baron, but was later known as, simply, Claus.

The Claus transported freight and passengers over a 13-mile stretch of track running from Kahului to Wailuku, and east to Paia. As larger, more powerful locomotives were added to the Kahului Railroad, the Claus was reassigned to switching work in the railroad yards and also hauled boulders during the Kahului Harbor breakwater construction from 1917 to 1932. After that, the Claus was put into retirement at the Kahului Roundhouse until May, 1967, when the locomotive was donated to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. It was displayed under an Albagora kiawe tree on the back lawn and was later heavily damaged by a falling tree during a Kona storm.

The Claus was returned to Maui in 1985 when the Bishop Museum donated it to the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum.  Under the direction of Matt Austin, it was restored by David Ranger, Scott Johnson, Pat McCrory and volunteer Larry Lambert at an approximate cost of $200,000. A new boiler and smokebox were built and the running gear was disassembled, sandblasted, dye-checked and overhauled. A new cab, headlight, water tank and smokestack were built from some of the original parts.

The Claus is on loan to the Maui Tropical Plantation from the Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum.  It is the locomotive’s first long-term public exhibition on Maui.


This well-traveled first class railroad coach was one of six teak-sheathed passenger cars built in England in 1880 by Ransomes & Rapier and shipped to the Hawaiian Railroad Company on the island of Hawaii via the Horn of Africa. The small, four-wheeled units arrived on the island of Hawaii in 1882 for use on the narrow gauge railway that ran through the northwest tip of the island, from Mahukona to Kapaau. The 3-foot gauge cars had relatively long wheelbases and a custom-designed undercarriage for use on sharp curves.

In 1883, Hawaii’s King David Kalakaua and his entourage traveled on the coaches from Mahukona to Kapaau in the Kohala District for the unveiling of a statue of King Kamehameha. A newspaper article on the excursion noted, “The train consists of two baggage wagons, and six passenger cars.  His Majesty and party occupying a special car at the end of the train.” The six coaches thereafter became known as “Kalakaua Cars.” Of the six, only one survived and was later shipped to Oahu where it was used, then stored by the Oahu Railway and Land Co.

Rather than letting the Kalakaua Car rot in storage, it was shipped to California where it was kept under a custodial arrangement with train collector and enthusiast Lindley Bothwell of Woodland Hills from 1961 to 1987. He spent some $2,500 restoring it and, during its Southern California tenure, it traveled briefly to the 20th Century Fox movie studio lot, where it substituted as a New York City streetcar in the 1968 film Funny Girl.

In 1987, the Dillingham Corporation donated the car to the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum. It was returned to Hawaii for restoration and later stored at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company.

The Kalakaua Car is on loan to the Maui Tropical Plantation from the Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum where it is being publicly exhibited for the first time since it was removed from service.