Large Scale Central

Echoes of Yesterday...Last Vestiges of the Oahu Railway & Land Co

I thought it would be interesting to photo document and share where evidence of the OR&L still emerge from the shadows of modern Oahu. Beyond the tourist railway ( The Hawaiian Railway Society - Oahu, Hawaii), virtually nothing exists, and many local folks have no knowledge that even that operation still runs trains! I know some trackage exists on base, where photography is generally forbidden, and last year Oldest Daughter and I documented an adventure along the cuts and bridges on the island’s western tip ( Ke Ka’a Ahi na a Leina a ka Uhane / Train to the Leap of the Soul). There is also a good stretch of track out west in Waianae where the Navy ran ammunition trains through the Vietnam War (I have to refind those photos!). The rest is a treasure hunt, and, hopefully, by opening this topic, it will help sharpen my eyes in my pursuit of yesteryear.

The project started this weekend. Oldest Son and I were stopping by our favorite board game store (for gamer and those seeking the actual location, see Retail Store- Other Realms LTD. (, a place we’ve visited dozens of times before. I spotted what appeared to be two parallel lines and a hint of metal, so I let him head inside while I checked it out. Sure enough, it was a bit or rail!

You can just make out the faint outline of the other track over to the left. The track runs East-West, with these ghost rails terminating in a modern warehouse style building clearly built right over the top of them. I was playing dodge car, so no photo…To the east, however, is the Dole Cannery facility. This building now houses shops and banquet halls, but was once the place for a summer job, if not a career, in Honolulu. In fact, CINCHOUSE’s older relatives all worked here or in similar canneries that were once located in this general area.

This facility would be one of the last customers of a rail system that served a Kingdom, a Territory, and a State for a century. Dole alone holds out as the last commercial pineapple grower, though the cannery and rails that once brought “Hawaiian gold” to the world are gone, repurposed, or, like these rails, awaiting rediscovery.

More to follow as I find either a.) old picures or b.) new discoveries!



Thanks for sharing Eric. Searching out old abandoned rail grades has always been great fun for me so am looking forward to coming along with you on this search.

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The drawings on Roosters first link are interesting, especially this ‘observation’ coach. An easy bash from a Bachmann coach.

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How easy Pete? Tried that with an Aristo heavyweight back in the day and opted against it .


I keep combing the local used market for a suitable donor for something like this. Both the LGB and B’mann coaches are “good enough” representatives, so it will be a matter of which pops first!


The Obs already has a recessed platform, so all you would need is to cut out the windows?

That’s what I thought. You should be able to find one for a few $$. If I find one for $5, you can pay for mailing in a shoebox!

Eric, I think it’s great that you’re tracing that line, and the remaining evidence.

I’m doing similar with the Dayton, Sutro & Carson Valley RR near Dayton, NV. I’ve been working on it a lot for several months, and can say that it’s very rewarding to discover things (physical evidence, newspapers, historical photos, etc.), correlate and document, and work with other historians to get the clearest picture possible.

It can be a super-engrossing thing, especially if you engage others who are passionate about it.

Best wishes on this,


You might find lots of historical information, and pictures in old issues of the Shortline and Narrow Gauge Gazett. I know I remember seeing them ages ago.
The Railroads of the Islands have been well documented over the years; you just have to try to find the documentation, through deep research.
I know that I have read a lot of it, but never preserved it, because that area of the World was not of great interest to me.
I happen to be sitting here, wearing a cap lettered for the “Hawaii Consolidated Railway Ltd” There is a museum connected to that name, that should be able to aid in your research. “Laupahoehoe Train Museum”

Er, it’s actually the Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette, and 50 years of back issues are still available on Bob Hayden’s DVD, which is searchable. It’s not compatible with all versions of windows.

A couple of Xmas’ ago, I got a copy of “Hawaiian Railway Album WWII Photographs”, which is mostly the collection of a serviceman in WWII who was an avid RR photographer


I have been slowly accumulating those books that you mentioned. They are great! Someone else wrote a comprehensive work on plantation railways, but, at $300, it would’ve blown my hobby budget! I picked up a neat little book on Fowler’s in use during the Kingdom period, which was cool. As Fred ( @freddy ) mentioned, the stuff is out there, it is just a matter of tracking it down!

Oh, Fred, the Laupahoehoe Train Museum is pretty tiny. It is on another island, which may as well be the moon, as you have to fly from island to island. AnyqY, we were there in 2016 shortly before Kid-zilla entered the scene. It is all that is left of the HCR. It was a wye for both the standard gauge HCR and the narrow gauge system that connected at that point. The have a standard gauge caboose, a narrow gauge TNT car, and a narrow gauge critter. I am not sure the museum survived COVID.

Maui is desperately trying to save what’s left of the Lahaina Kaanapali and Pacific Railroad. Kauai has couple museums, one we’ve visited. The other may as well be on the back side of the moon! Some day…


Let me know! Thanks for keeping your eyes open on our behalf!


I just did a bit of searching, and found that “The Little Train Museum”, Laupahoehoe Train Museum; is alive and well…seemingly thriving…
It is very much a full community enterprise, with a growing amount of historical collectables and knowledge.
Do a search on your 'puter…

Well, I hope it is in better shape than when we visited during covid times, a couple of years ago. It was closed and looked deserted.

I am glad to hear that. Next time we get over that way, we might have to take another look!

Oldest Son and I had another “accidental” discovery last weekend as we traipsed about central Oahu. This time, we were exploring Kipapa Gulch as part of the annual Forum on Hawaii’s Military and Warrior Past. A 1933 map showed an OR&L branch, but it gave no clue to its customers at the time. The branch split from the main Wahiawa branch that served Schofield Barracks and, later, pineapple plantations, so we assumed that it served some small agricultural concerns. It probably made the most money for the company, however, during the frenzied construction of a network of fuel an ammunition storage bunkers in the lead up to and during the Second World War.

I tried to imagine the noise of construction equipment, steam engines, soldiers, and laborers as they furiously sought to ensure Oahu could survive the conflict that would soon engulf the world. After the War, the fuel storage would serve on through the '90s, outliving the OR&L that enabled its construction, and you could still smell the jet fuel in the concrete.

What evidence of rail service remains are shown below, a single length of a grade crossing…

…and the discarded, twisted heaps of the iron arteries that once carried the economic lifeblood of the island.

You can see the recent evidence of clearing, and I wonder if anyone stopped to wonder about the irony of tossing away the remnants of a once proud system even as our new rapid transit slowly comes to life.

  • Eric

I finally remembered to grab photos of the exposed right-of-way along the south coat of Oahu just beyond Pearl Harbor. This section survived into the 1970s, carrying munitions from Lualualei Magazine in Waianae to the ammo piers at West Loch, Pearl Harbor. Local lore says that among the weapons were the ultimate guarantors against nuclear sneak attack. I have reason to doubt that, but it is a good legend!

In earlier times, this would have been your view heading west towards the major plantations.

The right of way connects with the historical railway, and the tracks then run through the resort areas of Ko’olina before becoming unserviceable at Kahe Point. The rails still poke above the ground all the way to the old magazine, though.

Honolulu bound trains would have seen this.

From here, they would shortly reach Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field before running to the terminus at the docks in Iwilei. Today, the landward side has light industries, shops, apartments, and old plantation homes. The seaward side runs past homeless encampments, luxury homes, and military housing.

This SHOULD all be part of a groomed bikeway for commuting. Unfortunately, some areas are relatively isolated, and bikers (to include friends) have been assaulted along the wester portions of the route. As a consequence, while I have jogged the route from Pearl Habor to close the photos above, I did not carry my phone to avoid attracting additional attention to myself. Hawaii is a paradise, but it is an earthly paradise with earthly realities, unfortunately.