Hawaii Railway Co 2-4-2 "Columbian" Locomotives in the USA

The Hawaii Railway Company was formed in 1880 to service the surgar industry on the "Big Island" of Hawaii. The railway, which was completed in 1883, ran along the north coast of the island. The Hawaii Railway Company owned four 2-4-2 locomotives throughout its life. Two of those four locomotive survive today. #4 is abandoned at the bottom of Kaluua Gulch on private propery. #5 is in operating condition in Kent, CT.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 4 (Locobase 14215)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University, Volume 49, p. 191 Works number was 38854 in November 1912.

Baldwin's specs included the instruction that the firebox was ''to burn a good quality of Australian soft coal, and so constructed that a change to oil fuel may be made if desired." A further note underscores the limited options for building sugar locomotives: the firebox was "to conform to size of engine bearing construction number 6782 ...built in 1883, if practicable."

For more than 30 years, the 4 served the Hawaii Railway before it was sold in 1945 to the Kohala Sugar Company, also on the Big Island.

Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi, writing in the 13 March 2011 edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, describes the construction of the Kohala Ditch, which brought precious water from rivers in Kohala mountains to the sugar cane on the plantation. Michael O'Shaughnessy was called on to design and build the channels and flumes. Tsutsumi notes that O'Shaughnessy "hired 600 workers from Japan at wages of between 75 cents and $1.50 per day, and purchased about 100 mules to carry supplies and equipment up the steep trails. Construction began in late 1904.

"The men used dynamite, picks, shovels, hoes, chisels and their bare hands to painstakingly dig through the mountains. They lined tunnel walls with hand-cut rocks, stabilized the ceilings with concrete, and built 19 5-foot-wide, 4-foot-deep flumes made of redwood and concrete over ravines. It was arduous, dangerous work, and over the 18-month course of construction, 17 laborers died.

The payoff came in June 1906. The Ditch "was hailed as an engineering marvel that kept the sugar industry alive in North Kohala for 70 more years."

See also Veronica S Schweitzer, "Kohala Ditch", Coffee Times, Fall/Winter 1995-1996, archived on [] . "Prosperity came to Kohala," says Schweitzer. "At the peak of its production, the Sugar Company counted 600 employees, 13,000 acres of land, and produced 45,000 tons of raw sugar a year. The five sugar mills, which consolidated in 1937, generated their own electricity. There was a single telephone line along the ditch trail, to enable necessary communication. The isolated farms, because of the never-ceasing flow of water, even used conventional toilets. A railway steam-train hauled the cane to the Mahukona harbor."

"Flumin' da Ditch" ([], first accessed 9 June 2012, last checked 26 July 2016) gives a different perspective by noting that even during the sugar years, local residents would use any kind of flotation device to navigate this waterway. After 1975, when the plantation closed, the Ditch saw only a few visitors until 1996, when a "Flumin' Da Ditch" tour of 3.5 miles of the tunnels and open ditch attracted up to 20,000 riders per year.

A 2006 earthquake was first thought to have doomed the Ditch, but money and plenty of effort led to a partial reopening of the Flumin' tour in 2011 and, as important, restored flowing water to much of the area.A big storm in 2014 put it out of service again, but repairs were completed in June 2015 and Da Ditch was reopened for tours by Fluminñ Kohala!

Class 5 (Locobase 6749)

Data from [] (visited 12 August 2005). See also Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University, Volume 78, pp. 334+; and "The Long Road to Kent: A History of Hawaii Railway #5" at the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association (CAMA) website ([], last accessed 26 July 2016.) Works number was 58686 in September 1925.

This was an unusual locomotive for the service it entered in having a double-ender layout and a separate tender. According to CAMA's history, the #5 cost $11,901.25 new

In addition to serving the Hawaii sugar plantations on the Big Island that was its original reason for being, #5 also carried passengers. Service gradually ground to a halt in the face of truck competition, shutting down completely on 29 October 1945.

Another source -- [] -- says that #5 cost $11,901.25

Later, it was sold to the Tahoe, Trout Creek & Pacific Railroad. As part of preparing to participate in the big 1999 California Railrair, #5 received a new, ASME-compliant boiler and a complete overhaul. This made the engine more attractive for tourist railroading and in 1999, #5 came to the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association. Its final sale to CAMA was made possible by a 2010 fund-raising campaign. The #5 makes short runs each fall.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID14215 6749
RailroadHawaii Railway CoHawaii Railway Co
Number in Class11
Road Numbers45
Number Built11
Valve GearStephensonStephenson
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)4 / 1.224 / 1.22
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)15 / 4.5715.17 / 4.62
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.27 0.26
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)15 / 4.5733.42 / 10.19
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)20,000 / 907223,800 / 10,796
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)32,000 / 14,51537,300 / 16,919
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)24,500 / 11,113
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)32,00061,800 / 28,032
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)400 / 1.52900 / 3.41
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)450 / 1703
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)17 / 8.5020 / 10
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)36 / 91436 / 914
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)150 / 10.30165 / 11.40
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)9" x 14" / 229x35610" x 14" / 254x356
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)4016 / 1821.635454 / 2473.90
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.98 4.36
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)55 - 1.75" / 4474 - 1.75" / 44
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)
Flue/Tube length (ft / m) 6.82 / 2.08 7.33 / 2.23
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)27 / 2.5135 / 3.25
Grate Area (sq ft / m2) 6.30 / 0.59 7.60 / 0.71
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)197 / 18.30281 / 26.12
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)197 / 18.30281 / 26.12
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume191.26221.26
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation9451254
Same as above plus superheater percentage9451254
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area40505775
Power L129013555
Power MT639.56658.61

  • The following photos of HRC #4 have been kindly provided by Rick Tanzella who is acquainted with the property owners. The locomotive is on private property and cannot be viewed by the public.
    • 4 (1945 Mahu Kona photo showing drive wheels, cab, etc. already discarded)
    • 4 (under firebox?)
    • 4 (boiler, left side)
    • 4 (boiler, left side)
    • 4 (smoke box, left side)
    • 4 (smoke box, front)
    • 4 (cylinder, left side)
    • 4 (steam chest, left side)
    • 4 (wheel)
    • 4 (unknown)
    • 4 (truck assembly)
    • 4 (boiler, left side)
    • 4 (wheel)
    • 4 (cylinder, right side)
    • 4 (cylinder, right side)
    • 4 (cab support and reverser assembly?)
    • 4 (front and rear axles)
    • 4 (wheel assembly)
    • 4 (truck assembly)
    • 4 (coupling buffer?)
    • 4 (unknown)
    • 4 (smoke box interior)
    • 4 (locomotive front)
    • 4 (locomotive front)
    • 4 (firebox)
    • 4 (coupler)
    • 4 (smoke stack)
  • 5
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