Imagine the late 1920s. This piece of small train chugging running around the island on narrow railroad tracks, transporting sugarcane from the fields to the processing plants. The train contributed a lot to what made Saipan’s sugar industry boom.
Rusty piece of history
This piece of red rusty sugar train displayed at the front part of the Sugar King Park in Garapan has always been there forever.
Lately, this sugar train relic has been reclaiming history. It has become a favorite site for couples on pre-nuptial or wedding shoots, or as a backdrop for fashion shoots. Tourists, amateurs, hobbyists, and professional photographers have posted thousands of images of this historical piece on social media like Facebook, Instagram, photoblogs, and other websites.
I finally got the chance to inspect this sugar train up close. It was not one of my stop-shoot-run errands, but I had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the park.
Rusty as the pieces of steel are, they still look sturdy. The single trailer attached to the train looks like it could still do a lot of work. It persisted despite its exposure to the harsh elements of nature.
Slowly running my fingers on parts of the train, I couldn’t help but imagine what it looked like when this train was in its heydays. I can envision it always loaded with sugar cane running along the tracks, handling sharp curves without letting go of its precious cargo.
History tells us that sugarcane became the economic backbone of the CNMI throughout the 1930s. If only this little, red rusty car can talk! It had played a big role in that economic boom.
This rusty yet powerful piece of history stands proudly in its place today—a reminder of the famous Sugar King Haruji Matsue who saw a bright future in the islands.
On a sad note, although the rustic volumes of history in this little car is appealing, some people just don’t care. Bottles and soda cans and plastic wrappers always adorn this piece of historical ‘junk.’
If you got some spare time, stop by Sugar King Park in Garapan and spend a few minutes to board this time machine. Take a trip back to the 1920s and 1930s where the very ground you are standing was a huge sugar plantation.
The key to the time machine is within your reach—through a red rusty piece of history called the Sugar Train.