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Hawaii \ Koolau Railway

Koolau Railway.

by Jeff Livingston.

O n July 5th, 1905 a group of Honolulu businessmen lead by James B. Campbell formed an association and filed with the Treasurer of the Territory of Hawaii a petition to incorporate under the name of Koolau Railway Company Ltd. for a term of fifty years. The line was initially planned to run from the end of the Oahu Railway and Land Company’s track at Kahuku to Heeia, a distance of 25 miles. The first 10 miles to Kahana were completed in 1907 where construction stopped even though surveys were completed all the way to Honolulu. Construction never resumed, probably due to the extremely high cost to build along the windward side of Oahu and a decided lack of traffic.

The Koolau Railway operated two trains daily from Kahana to Kahuku and interchanged with the Oahu Railway and Land Company at Kahuku. OR&L equipment would rarely travel on the Koolau Railway and Koolau Railway equipment never operated on the OR&L. Equipment consisted of two locomotives, a 0-6-2T (1907) and a 0-4-2T (1920), both plantation type Baldwin’s. Two small passenger cars and some 21 freight cars completed the roster. In 1931 the Kahuku Plantation purchased the Laie Plantation, the Koolau Railway’s major customer, the Koolau Agriculture Company and the Koolau Railway. The new owner’s suspended passenger service and applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission for abandonment. Approval was received in January 1932 and all Koolau Railway assets were merged with the Kahuku Plantation which continued to operated the line as an extension of its plantation trackage until 1954.

Hilton, George W. (1990). American Narrow Gauge Railroads. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2369-9.
Thrum’s Hawaiian Annual 1907 (Retrospect for 1906).
Koolau Railway documents from BYU Hawaii.

Reference Material Available Online:


Collected Koolau Railway Photographs.
Images collected from private collections, libraries and historical societies.


Historian's Articles - Hawaiian Railway Society. - Historian Jeff Livingston has written a number of articles on topics relating to OR&L.


Hawaiian Railway Society.

Hawaii \ Koolau Railway
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