Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aiea Cemetery and Ewa Beach Train Tracks

Today Lyndsey and I went on a little trip and visited Aiea ("Eye-Ay-Ah") Cemetery and old train tracks out in Ewa ("Evah") Beach.

Aiea Cemetery has long been of interest to me. It's just this tiny little island of earth surrounded by major roads. The tombstones seem mostly to be just rocks set up on one side. Unlike most cemeteries, which are lush and green and thriving with life, everything in this cemetery is dried up and dead. I believe that most of the names I could read were either Japanese or Filipino.

We couldn't find a grave more recent than 1947. Most seemed to be from 1910-1930.

Many of the headstones were merely poured cement which had the names of the deceased and their dates written by hand before the cement dried. Only a few weren't obviously homemade.

Some of the graves had these odd structures made from metal and piping which were reminiscent of a bed. I believe this next photo is of an infant grave. There was nothing to indicate anything about the space it occupied except that it seemed to be a crib.

I think this next one is probably one of the older graves.

This next structure was unique among the graves. It was apparently an old Japanese grave which housed several members of the same family.

Next, we headed out to Ewa Beach to see the train tracks. Admission to the Museum was $10, so we opted to stop on the side of the road and walk down the tracks. They haven't been in use for years, but still seem to be in good shape.

Hawaii has a large wild chicken population and we saw a hen with five little chicks. I've heard a rumor that the chickens came from an abandoned chicken farm, but I'm honestly not sure if that's true. The chicks were cute, either way.

That's Lyndsey taking a shot of a very strange fence we found. The fence was made of wooden slats, old mattress frames, cots and chicken wire.

It even looks like they included the bottom part of an old crib. I guess that's one way to recycle.

Here's a picture of my bare foot on the train track, just for fun:

I really wonder what the reason is behind the way the graves are set up. If anyone knows, I'd love to hear about it.

We have about nine weeks left here in Hawaii and I'm trying to cram in every bit of sightseeing I can in that short amount of time. I'll be sharing as much as I can with you guys. I hope you're enjoying seeing a side of Hawaii most tourists miss.


  1. I've never been to Hawaii, have this mental image of an island paradise, but like all places, real life is lived there too. You've provided an interesting view of that. Nice work.

  2. I believe that this type of cemetary was probably either a family owned or a poor community , that there was no upkeep on it. it sounds like it was mostly before the war and i am sure after that it was uncared for and the families sadly forgotten... the fence and train tracks were cool, i loved your foot on the rusty rails, what a cool picture! we love to get our feet in pictures...I hope you have a chance to see some rainbow eucalyptus trees while you are there..

  3. I think it was a poor community. There were many different names on the tombstones (which I didn't show for privacy reasons.) Some of the older graves still had fresh flowers and food, even though they'd been there for 50+ years. Most of them were obviously forgotten, though.

    Thanks, Bill! I'm hoping to show a different view of Hawaii. Although it really is an island paradise, there are many secret places here that I hope to capture before we leave.

  4. We recently found out that my Great Great Grandparents, along with four other family members are buried in Aiea. I brought my Grandpa to O'ahu so that he could visit them this week. He was five years old when they passed away, he is now 80 so not until some intense research was I able to find them. The disrepair and roads surrounding it were heartbreaking to my Grandpa. Half of the cemetery was actually removed to make room for the road. My family marker was almost impossible to read and it took us about 2 hours to find it. My Great Great Grandparents worked on the sugar plantation and were not rich by far. My Grandpa did say that when he was little this cemetery was at the top of the hill surrounded by sugar cane. No road to or around it in 1935. I enjoyed your photos, THANK YOU!

  5. Invited Ink, thank you so much for your comments. It's so wonderful to hear from someone who has a connection to such a forgotten place. I'm thrilled that you enjoyed my photos.

  6. I don't know if it's too late to add to this as here it is February 2011. My how time flies. The cemetery you photographed is a plantation cemetery.
    The plantation workers who worked in bent positions and dared not stand up for fear of being docked wages ended being buried there. Many women worked in those sugar cane fields with children on their backs hoeing row after row in this bent condition.

    And here they lie in these forgotten graves. I was there today and the grass was so high you could not see the graves. So tragic.

  7. kareninhonolulu, it's never too late! I'm sad to hear that the grass has grown so high. I'm hopeful that the state allows the cemetery to remain as it is or earmark some funding to help maintain it. Positioned where it is, I can easily see how it may seem like a good idea to move the remains to build more road.

    Thank you so much for contributing your knowledge on the subject. As I said, there's nothing posted to indicate why that cemetery is there or what kinds of people are buried there.

  8. Aloha!! Exactly where is this cemetery, Please?

  9. It's been a while since I went there, so my directions may be a little off. If you're heading off the H3 towards Aiea, take the ramp to the stadium. The cemetery should be on the ramp, to the right.

  10. I'm from Hawaii, born and raised. When I was in school many of my teachers were old timers. I alway's heard strange stories about the cemeteries in Hawaii. What I heard from my teachers was back in the days the small cemetery you see in the photo's here, they were bigger then they look. They would dig out the casket and take it some where else to sell some of the land. Their is an old cemetery in waipahu which sits between a school and a housing apartment. Now this cemetery I'm talking about is owned by the St.Joseph church in waipahu, The land was reduced many times. The side where the apartment sits was where the church use to be, the side where the school sits was the other part of the cemetery. Old pictures of the dead on the tombstones still remain on it, dates go back to 1850's, The church had moved all the way down the road and now the cemetery is abandoned. I grew up in that apartment and also attended that school...lol.

  11. Wow- I would have LOVED to have seen that. Sadly, I moved away six months ago, but I hope sincerely that someone with a passion for graveyard photos (like me) will start documenting them. There are so many that are just falling apart and will soon have nothing to tell people who that person was.