Centennial celebration recognizes rich history of railroads in Hawaii

Centennial celebration recognizes rich history of railroads in Hawaii
The Hawaiian Railway Society will be hosting a celebration to mark a steam locomotive turning 100. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

EWA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A non-profit group that is dedicated to preserving the state’s railroading history is celebrating its past as it looks ahead to the future.

The Hawaiian Railway Society was formed back in 1971 to save an old steam locomotive from being destroyed.

The group is hosting three days of festivities at its train yard in Ewa to mark Waialua Agricultural Company Engine No. 6 turning 100 this year.

"When these things are gone, there's going to be nowhere to see them. There's going to be nowhere to understand and learn about them other than on a computer or in a book," said operations manager Steve Vendt.

The organization tried to restore the steam locomotive to become operational more than a decade ago, but the plans fell through.

“It’s not as simple as spending a lot of money and having it rebuilt. There are many more logistical problems with operating it. It’s much more complicated to run than a diesel locomotive,” said Vendt.

The society currently offers rides using vintage diesel locomotives on historic tracks.

Visitors enjoy scenic views, but the goal is to also give them a glimpse of the past.

The group recently started a fundraiser and applied for a grant to build a museum to display items that are stuck in in storage.

The society has already collected about $20,000 and hopes to start construction next year.

"We have unbelievable archives and relics and artifacts from the era of the railroads here. We have the safe to the Oahu Railway. We have the original seats to the Dillingham car. We have thousands and thousands of photos," said Vendt.

A second building in the works is the Ewa Station, which will be a replica of the Waipahu Depot. The structure, which is going through the permitting process, will be built with state and federal funds.

The third building that the group hopes to eventually construct would be used to display restored trains.

For details on WACo 6′s 100th birthday celebration, click here.

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