“Lapahoi (Laupāhoehoe - leaf of lava) is a small stony flat with a few huts and sweet potatoes and taro patches scattered over it. It lies at the extremity of a deep ravine, the declivities on either side nearly 500 feet in height and extending to the sea beach, terminating in a rocky precipice. … The country … was fertile, beautiful, and apparently populous.” Lowlands of the Laupāhoehoe region became the focus of sugar plantation efforts as early as the 1850s.
While the main business of the railroad was the transport of raw sugar and other products to and from the mills, it also provided passenger service. Early in the morning of April 1, 1946, a massive tsunami struck Hawaiʻi. At Laupāhoehoe Point, waves destroyed teachers’ residences and flooded school grounds, killing 25-people, including 16-students and 5-teachers of Laupāhoehoe School.