Marianas Variety

Last updateWed, 25 Jul 2018 12am







    Monday, July 23, 2018-9:45:41A.M.






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Variety Features

A rusty red piece of history

IMAGINE a small train car chugging around the island on narrow railroad tracks, transporting sugarcane from fields to processing plants during Saipan’s sugar industry boom in the late 1920s.

Photos by Raquel C. BagnolPhotos by Raquel C. BagnolA piece of the sugar train is displayed at Sugar King Park in Garapan, and has been there for as long as anyone remembers.

Lately, the relic has served as a backdrop for pre-nuptial, wedding and fashion shoots. Thousands of images of this historical piece are posted on popular networking sites such as Facebook, photoblogs, and others — taken by tourists and amateur  or professional photographers.

Last Saturday, I finally got the chance to inspect the sugar train  up close. 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 seems as if it could still do a lot of work despite its endless 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 it was in its heyday — when it was always loaded with sugar cane and 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 NMI throughout the 1930s, and this little red rusty car played a big role in that era

It is also a reminder of “Sugar King” Haruji Matsue’s vision for the island.

Despite its historical importance, however, empty bottles, soda cans and plastic wrappers always “adorn” this old train car.

Got some spare time? Why don’t you stop by at the park and take a trip back to the pre-war era.