Hawaii – a rich mix of old and new

HAWAII has a rich railway heritage, with at one time multiple railways operating.

These supported either the sugar, pineapple and other agricultural industries, or the US Navy, whose major base is at Pearl Harbour, near Honolulu.

Most of these railways have ceased operation, but there are some regular heritage tourist railways, and there are also plans for a new urban rail system.

150hp GE switcher No. 25 (GE 29241/1948) awaits departure on February 14 with the 11.00 tour of the Kauai Plantation Railway, near Lihue. The 4.8km ‘figure-of-eight’ railway provides the only regularly scheduled passenger railway on the island of Kauai. NEIL AITKEN

The Hawaiian Railway Society operates a section of the former 914mm-gauge common carrier Oahu Railway and Land Company system, with a 10km passenger train ride operated using ex-US Navy diesel locos.

Most of the Oahu Railway and Land Company system was closed after a tsunami struck Hawaii in 1946, destroying much of the track, but the section that remains was used by the military during the Korean and Vietnam wars, so survived into the 1970s.

As well as the diesel locos used to operate passenger services there is a small collection of preserved steam locos.

On the island of Kauai, one of the first steam locos to be used in Hawaii is preserved with other locos by the Grove Farm Museum, which arranges occasional free steam train rides; the 762mm-gauge 2-4-0T was built in Düsseldorf (Hohenzollern 426/1887) and transported from Germany to Hawaii by sea.

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