17 Jun 2014

Tracking Time (Adapted from The Hawaiian Railway Society Recalls a Bygone Era Words by Sarah Pacheco)

Tracking Time (Adapted from The Hawaiian Railway Society)

Why not tour O‘ahu’s “Wild West” aboard a historic locomotive? Near Ko Olina, you can take a train ride through history.

The Hawaiian Railway Society, established in 1971 to preserve Hawaiʻi’s rich railroad past, takes passengers on the ride of a lifetime on a fully restored diesel train that’s the only active train on Oʻahu.

You’ll chug along the tracks from the station in ʻEwa out to Kahe Point and back, passing sugar cane fields, a sisal plantation, Fort Barrette and even a ghost town.

Railroad Society guides share stories of the old OR&L and how life out west once was.

“The railroad changed the culture of the island,” says railroad administrator Tom McCarthy.

"So many people in the islands have their roots in the railroad—they came here to work in the cane fields or pineapple fields, and the railroads played an important part in that. There’s not a Sunday that goes by that I don’t hear someone say they had a family member who worked along the railroad."

Since its inception, the nonprofit and its volunteers have been able to fully restore 6.5 miles of track, three diesel locomotives and the famous Dillingham Parlor Car, which is available for rides on the second Sunday of each month as well as for charters.

Several steam locomotives also have been restored and are on display in the train yard.

"It’s all that’s left of that chapter of history, so education is very, very important to keep this history of the island alive." Today, as the local Hawaiʻi chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, the society continues to share its works with the public.

Train rides take place every Sunday throughout the year at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Seats fill up fast (maximum capacity is 150 people), on a first-come, first-served basis. Weekday charters also are available.

Visit www.hawaiianrailway.com to learn more.

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