A rusty red piece of history

IMAGINE this piece of small car chugging running around the island on narrow railroad tracks transporting sugarcane from the fields to the processing plants and contributing its small share into what made Saipan’s sugar industry boom in the late 1920s.

This piece of red rusty sugar train displayed at the front part of the Sugar King Park in Garapan has always been there for as long as anyone remembers.

Lately, this sugar train relic has been reclaiming history as a site for couples on pre-nuptial or wedding shoots or as backdrop for fashion shoots. Thousands of images of this historical piece are posted in popular networking sites such as Facebook, photoblogs, and other websites—all taken by tourists, amateurs, hobbyists  or professional photographers.

Last Saturday, I finally got the chance to 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 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—when it was always loaded with sugar cane running along the tracks, handling sharp curves wihtout letting go of its precious cargo.

History tells us that sugarcane became the economic backbone of the CNMI throughout the 1930’s, and this little red rusty car 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.’

Got some spare time in your hands? Why don’t you stop by and have a few minutes to board a time machine and 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.

First published HERE

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