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.