The large Island of Hawaii's railroad history is best remembered with the Hawaii
Consolidated Railway, one of the state's only standard-gauge railroad
operations. The railroad was originally chartered as the Hilo Railroad on March 28th, 1899, to connect the Olaa sugar mill with Waiakea, a distance of eight miles. As the years progressed the railroad made numerous extensions, which included lines to Olaa, Kapoho (17 miles), Hilo itself and later a 12.5-mile line north of Olaa to Glenwood,
although the latter was later scaled back in the early 1930s. The
railroad continued to grow in the 20th century with a 33.5-mile line up
the Hamakua coast.
This extension was extremely expensive with numerous tunnels and
bridges which forced the railroad into receivership in 1914. It emerged
as the Hawaii Consolidated Railway and continued moving people and goods through World War II (its Hamarkua Division was very popular with tourists). As was the case with the Oahu
Railway & Land Company, however, the massive and devastating
tsunami on April 1st, 1946 destroyed numerous bridges and washed out the
right-of-way in several locations instantly forcing the railroad to
shutdown. Today, the Hawaiian Railway Society has rebuilt over six miles of track on the Island of Hawaii, with future plans for further extensions with excursions offered over the railroad. The society is also home to the state's most extensive collection of railroad equipment.
All in all, I know that I have not covered Hawaiian railroads in their entirety (other railroads once found on the islands include the Ahukini Terminal and Railroad Company, Hawaii Railway, Kahului Railroad, Kauai Railway, and Koolau
Railway) but I do hope for those who are either not from this
magnificent state or do not know its railroad history that the above information has been a bit helpful to you. And, while I know most folks go to Hawaii
for the beaches and the sun, if you have a chance you may also want to
either visit one of the state's few remaining tourist railroads or the Hawaiian Railway Society to get a glimpse at what railroading was once like in the Aloha State.
For more about Hawiian railroads please click here
to visit the Hawaiian Railway Society's website. While the site itself
only gives a general history of the state's railroads if you have a
specific question that needs answered please feel free to contact the
society. For more reading about Hawaii's railroad history you might want to consider picking up the book Hawaiian Railway Album: WWII Photographs, Vol. 2--Along the Main Lines of the Oahu Railway & Land Co. and the Hawaii Consolidated Railway by author Gale Treiber. The book is the second of four in the series that, through historic photographs, details railroading operations in Hawaii during the war years. Another book you may be interested in is Next Stop Honolulu!, The Story of the Oahu Railway & Land Co.
by authors Jim Chiddix and MacKinnon Simpson. The book covers the
famed railroad in over 300 pages from its earliest days to final closing
following the tsunami.