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The Bloggery.

November 19, 2014

Oahu’s Narrow-Gauge Navy Rail, a book review

By: Randy Hees

I recently received a copy of a new book, Oahu’s Narrow-Gauge Navy Rail, authored by Jeff Livingston. This is one of the Arcadia Publishing “Images or Rail” books. Like other Arcadia books it is primarily a book of photographs. Unlike many other Arcadia books this is a very well researched and written work.

Jeff has divided the work into four chapters: Building a Shipyard; 1908-1920, Expansion; 1921-1940, World War II; 1941-1945, and The Postwar Period and the End; 1946-1970.

The work includes the construction and operation of the railroad system at the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor, as well as the associated shipyard and dry docks, coaling station, submarine base, as well as munitions facilities at Kuahua Island, West Loch and Laullualei. With the abandonment of the Oahu Railroad and Land Companies mainline in 1947, the Navy assumed ownership and operation of the line between Pearl Harbor, West Loch and Laulllualei, eventually reduced to just the 12 miles between West Loch and Laullualei. The Navy suspended railroad operations in 1972, with much of the remaining track, and some rolling stock being transferred to the Hawaiian Railroad Society, who continue to operate a museum and train ride in part using historic US Navy equipment from Ewa today.

Of particular interest is the significant if strange mix of rolling stock purchased by the Navy during the war. Cars from East Broad Top, The Pacific Coast, Nevada County Narrow Gauge, Colorado Southern ( via the RGS) and D&RGW all found their way to Hawaii.

Jeff Livingston, Oahu’s Narrow-Gauge Navy Rail, (Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2014) ISBN987-1-4671-3197-1

Jeff is a retired Naval Officer, and the Historian for the Hawaiian Railroad Society where is the author of many of the Historian’s Pages, and the author of the pages on the Pearl Harbor’s railroads, Oahu Railroad & Land Company and the Koolau Railway on this site.

October 3, 2014

Site layout change this weekend.

By: Andrew Brandon

There will be a slight adjustment to our site styling (template) this weekend. This is a long overdue revision and will be the first stage of several upgrades coming to the site over the next few months. You may have noticed the navigation menu to the left has changed color and style, this was the first change made due to the scripting involved. The entire site template will be changed in the next 48 hours. During this time some components of the site like the forum, image gallery and this blog may still appear with the old styling. The complete changeover may take a few days to take effect depending on your web browser settings.

Stay tuned…

September 17, 2014

Mich-Cal country is burning

By: Andrew Brandon

California has been battling a serious drought since the beginning of 2014. With the forests and grass lands bone dry, we’ve been fortunate to only have smaller fires until recently. On September 13th, a fire started near Pollock Pines and quickly spread through the American River canyon, crossing the river and burning its way up the ridge. Camp 7 of the Michigan-California Lumber Co was engulfed two days ago and the fire has spread even further, up nearly into “Old Pino”. Presently the fire is only 5% contained and spreading northeast near Stumpy Meadows Reservoir.

Local news aggregator, YubaNet, has been keeping track of the fire in photographs and consolidating fire maps into one place. They now have a Google map available showing the current extent of the fire and is well worth a visit if you’re interested in the progress.

While the loss of potential remains in the wood is unfortunate, the fire will ultimately clear the undergrowth and reveal ROW which has previously been inaccessible for mapping purposes. In the past few wooden remains (beyond remaining ties) have been located in this country, owing to the early date operations ended at these camps. Next year when the fire area opens exploration of these areas will begin with our good friend John Barnhill.
As the idiom goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

May 25, 2014

Report from the road… research in the desert

By: Randy Hees

I am currently in Tucson… I took my time getting here, spending the night and much of one day in Daggett chasing the Calico & Daggett, the Borate & Daggett, the American Borax Railroad and the Palm Borate Company site… I visited the Mojave River Historical Society museum

I found remains on the ground of each… and found at least one new photo of the mill associated with the Calico & Daggett… I found some surprising evidence of the route of the C&D, as it climbed to reach the mills near the Mojave River, sufficient to redraw the maps…

From there I followed old Rt 66 to Kingman, visiting the Mohave County Historical Museum and the Mojave History and Cultural Society library in Goffs… and tried with limited success to find evidence of the Mohave & Milltown on the ground… The two archives proved wonderful… I found copies of the Needles paper (the Eye) as well as a 1903 map of the M&M and a pile of interesting letters from the Santa Fe, both about the M&M but also about their proposal to build a standard gauge railroad into the area earlier… and one very spectacular photo (found above under “prototype locomotives”) which nailed down the history of one of the M&M/LA&R loco… and has sent Brian Norden off to update his LA&R research.

We should have decent write-ups for the Daggett railroads soon, and eventually get one on the M&M… the research in addition to answering questions suggested a couple of additional sources… and maybe another research trip (or 2)…

I stopped by Coronado Hobbies for a quick visit with the Schwedler brothers and found not just the two of them but the Farmer brothers, owners/restorers of a Colorado Southern – Denver South Park & Pacific caboose while passing through Phoenix… We had a wonderful if hurried talk and the Schwedlers showed me a spectacular 1880’s paint book which by itself deserves a return visit…

The final piece of research will take place today… it turns out the surviving fragments of Lincoln’s private railroad car built for him by the US Military railroads late in the war, and only used by Lincoln as his funeral car are in Tucson… and I get a change to visit and look at them…

The contacts (and likely in time friends) made at the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association in Goffs are particularly noted… Their library is wonderful… their site was a surprise…

Once again, we are reminded that you still need to visit libraries and archives to find information even in the age of Google… and never underestimate the significance of walking the site…