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Moʻolelo (Stories)

A mysterious incident occurred at the Kōloa Tunnel in 1984

Category: Plantation
Theme: Plantation
Author: Hank Soboleski
From: Kōloa

From 1982 through 1984, I was employed by McBride Sugar Co. as a haul cane truck driver.

My job was to haul cane from McBryde's sugarcane fields to the Kōloa mill for processing.

The harvesting gang I was assigned to was supervised by Cecilio Dacay and Cereal Fernandez , and was nicknamed the "Visaya Gang," since several of its men were local Filipinos of Visayan ancestry.

On the graveyard shift one night in 1984, my gang was harvesting in Haʻikū, located north of the Kōloa mill on the Līhuʻe side of the Hāʻupu Range.

In order to access Haʻikū from Kōloa, haul cane truck drives were required to pass through the Kōloa Tunnel – the half-mile long, 20-foot-wide by 20-foot-high tunnel drilled through solid rock by Grove Farm Plantation during 1948 and 1949.

That night, near pau hana time, I'd driven my truck from the mill, into the highlands, through the tunnel, and into our Haʻikū harvesting field. No other haul cane trucks were in the field.

Only the harvesting crane, the lilioko tractor, the push rake tractor, and Cecilio Dacay's pick up truck were present.

After loading up alongside the crane, I drove onto the haul cane road and headed to the dark tunnel and the Kōloa mill far below it. Some distance into the tunnel, I noticed bright lights reflected in my rear view mirrors.

I supposed they were Dacay's pickup truck's headlights, and since he was tailing me so closely, I figured he must be in a hurry. So, upon exiting the tunnel, I pulled over to the side of the road and parked to let him pass. But, no vehicle exited the tunnel as I expected.

I then got out of the truck and peered into the tunnel. Strangely it was entirely dark, with no vehicle in sight. Later, Claudio Lumacad, and old-timer in my gang, told me that what I'd experienced was not the first time a strange phenomenon had occurred at the tunnel or in Haʻikū.

He said the place was haunted.

And, after word spread, no one at McBride ever scoffed at my encounter.