Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Silay's Iron Dinosaurs

The Hawaiian-Philippine Company or HPCo as it is commonly called hereabouts, is the oldest and still very much operational sugar central in Silay City. It was established in 1918 and is currently owned by Jardine-Davis, a U.S. Company. Since then it has improved its facilities to meet world class standards. HPCo is also the owner of several "iron dinosaurs" or steam locomotives which are used to transport cut canes from the haciendas to be brought to the millsite. These iron dinosaurs started operations in the 1920's with Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia as the major supplier of steam engines.  HPCo is one of the last mills in the province that continue to use their steam locomotives until the present day.   However, maintenance is difficult and using bagasse, as fuel even though it is clean and free was labor intensive and thus, not economical. Other milling companies have already converted their trains to diesel fuel and HPCo too have converted many of their steam locomotives.  In fact, in 2003 HPCo advertised some of their steam locomotives for sale.  Two of these steam locomotives, built by Baldwin Locomotive Works  (c.1899 and 1916) were originally owned by the Honolulu Plantation Company until they were sold in 1947 to HPCo where they were used until 1998. In 2004, these two trains found their way back to Hawaii. The Kilohana Plantation in Hawaii recovered these steam engines and bought them to be used again in their newest attraction, the Kauia Plantation Railway.  For them it is a major feat to have been able to locate a matched pair of Baldwin engines with a Hawaiian history, which they will be renovating for future use. 

retrieved from http://www.kauaiplantationrailway.com/ims/halawa.jpg

Today, HPCo's trains no.5 and 7 are the only ones left running on steam.They continue to service the route from the neighboring farms to the mill site.
retrieved from http://tropicalpenpals.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/4Pa312432_thumb.jpg
retrieved from http://tropicalpenpals.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/4Pa312469_thumb.jpg
I hope HPCo management continues to maintain and preserve these trains which is part of the history of sugar in the country.  This is their contribution to heritage. These steam locomotives does not necessarily have to continue being used for transporting harvested canes, but perhaps they can be used something akin to what the Hawaiians are doing...transporting the past into the present. This is a wonderful retirement option for these trains in their old age.


  1. Coal is cheaper than diesel fuel as we are also using coal to generate steam for our factory. I guess the maintenance costs of this trains have skyrocketed since the parts are old and maybe hard to source already at this time. This is indeed a historical structure.

    1. Mas marami po mahahatak ang diesel fuel kesa sa steam engine po..

  2. wow....really amazing these giant steel dinosaurs are still alive and kicking!

    i hope they will be preserved for future generations.

  3. I didn't even know those things still work. I hope they preserve them as it is a heritage.

  4. As you said..
    maintaining this locomotive can be laborious.
    It's nice to have them preserved though,
    but then they'll require sponsorship.
    But if they continue to do the job they are made for.
    why not! these heritage are going to be big someday, and the makers probably realizing that.

  5. Hope they'll preserve it. Sayang naman kasi eh

  6. it's amazing to know that until now, such locomotives are still in motion! hope one day i could visit this place.

  7. Wow! I didn't know that Hawaii have something like this. The trains look vintage but well maintained, I hope we can do it here as well.

  8. I know its old-school to still use them today (I know its working) but I'd rather preserve them (and have them check once in a while) so others would be able to see them.

  9. I hope they'll be preserved. So that future generations could still see them in the future!

  10. Wouldn't it be nice if they preserve all of these in a museum?

  11. Looks like the choo choo trains on my son's fave cartoon series.. This is a heritage that must be preserved!

  12. HISTORY really makes sense more if there are photos that will describe the event, objects or things in the past. These old iron machines somehow bring us back in time.

  13. I was fortunate to take a ride in Train No. 7 and it's a nice experience especially for the first-time. I hope its tourism potential will catch up soon so that HPCo will keep on maintaining them.


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