The International Steam Pages


Those were the days... Olean Sugar Mill

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Olean is currently the smallest mill in Java and its annual re-emergence from hibernation should be treated as a blessed relief from the ever-present threat of closure. It is now the only mill in Java which consistently presents the spectacle of daylight steam hauled cane trains in action. The current active fleet consists of four ex-Pajarakan OK 0-8-0T, so this pages features those who went before...


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Although I had visited Olean in May 1979, it was before the season started and the locomotives were all locked in the shed and unphotographable. No sooner had the tour group I was leading entered the yard on 30th July 1984, then this double header arrived - OK 0-8-0T #2 piloting BMAG 0-10-0T #5.

Fast forward 10 years and this was #2 in action on 11th August 1994. The oil tanks are gone and the livery is one of the various shades of green used over the last 20 years since black was abandoned.

Olean had two Maffei 0-8-0T and this is #6 passing Karangmalang on 27th August 1988. This was one of four trains I saw coming into the mill down this line on that wonderful afternoon long ago.

The other Maffei was #7 and is seen here kicking up the dust on the roadside section from Semiring on 20th August 1992. When the car hire companies found that their Kijangs were leaking during the rainy season we had to stop climbing on top of them for photography.

The last of the original fleet to remain active was OK 0-8-0T #3, seen on the same section on 16th August 1995. Note the almost complete lack of traffic in both the last two photographs..

Olean obtained two Mallets from Jatiroto but they were not a great success and were soon sidelined. Leaky OK 0-4-4-0T #8 (formerly #80 J) arrives at the mill on 23rd August 1992.

The other Mallet OK 0-4-4-0T #9 (formerly #97 J) heads a train past Karangmalang on 22nd August 1992.

Olean 5 was the only BMAG 0-10-0T in East Java. It must have caused itself all sorts of problems on Olean's lightweight track and during my visits it was always a battle to keep it in one piece. Here it brings in a long train on 9th August 1986 when I persuaded a friendly local to put some petrol in his then rare motorbike (at my expense) and take me out to find it. 

The last year that #5 worked was 1992. Here it heads a late afternoon train up from Duwet on 18th August with Gunung Ringgit behind. 


Click here for the 'Those were the days' index page.


Rob Dickinson

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