Big Island Railroad
BIG ISLAND & PACIFIC RAILROAD CORP.
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Newly completed on the BIRR! The Reeds Bay Inlet swing bridge.
Check Out Big Island Rail in Railroad Model Craftsman On-Line 'Boomer Trail' featured Layout of the Month
(Click above for link to RMC Boomer Trail)
It's 'Big Time' railroading on the...
Big Island of Hawai'i.
Puna Sugar Company CF-7 No.2473 at South Hilo Yard (above).
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To see photos of the latest version of the Big Island Rail now under construction in it's new home... Just click on the "Photos" link at left, then click on "2010 BIRR Construction."
See BIRR in the October 2009 Issue of RMC for a "how-to" story on making this scene! (below)
Completed waterfall at Kimipele Gulch Bridge!
Can you tell the waterfall is actually a photo mounted to backdrop!?!?!?
BIRR WAS FEATURED IN THE NOVEMBER 2009 ISSUE OF
MODEL RAILROADER MAGAZINE!
New Rolling Stock on the BIRR!
Two new Puna Sugar Company (PSMX) locomotives (rebuilt CF7s) soon will be working hauling bulk sugar unit trains from the Puna Sugar mill in Pahoa to the bulk sugar transfer at Pier 3 in Hilo Harbor on Kuhio Bay. (Below)
SCENES FROM THE FORMER BIRR LAYOUT!
(Above) Big Island Rail No. 15 approaches the Kimipele Gulch Bridge leading a string of empty sugarcane racks southbound, near the Maulua Tunnel, from Hilo to cane fields near Keaau (Ola'a).
Big Island Rail serves the Big Island of Hawai'i's agricultural, intermodal shipping and military customers with fast, friendly service. BIRR links the Port of Hilo and South Hilo/Kuhio Bay Terminal with the southeastern and northwestern regions of this beautiful tropical island. The regional shortline also connects with tran-ocean shipping lines at two international ports and with inter-island carriers for an Hawai'ian Island chain-wide system of rail, sea, highway and air connections
If you are wondering why you didn't see any tracks or trains on the Big Island during your last vacation trip to Hawai'i, it's because Big Island Rail is an HO scale model railroad depecting "just what may have been" if the railroads still were a viable mode of transportation on the Islands.
The Big Island of Hawaii was once home to an extensive web of both standard gauge and narrow gauge tracks during the early to mid-1900s.
See 'Big Island Rail' palm trees in the June 2008 Issue of Model Railroader Magazine
CHECK OUT THE MARCH/APRIL 2007 ISSUE
NARROW GAUGE AND SHORTLINE GAZETTE
Big Island Rail Sugar Cane Car article and Photos
At the turn of the Century, the Hawai'i Consolidated Railway moved freight, pineapples, sugar cane and passengers from Hilo north to Hamakua and south to Puna along the eastern side of Hawai'i until the devistating tsunami hit on April 1,1946. The wave wiped out much of the Hilo area's railroad bridges and pier trackage, making repairs beyond the financial reach of the railroad's management.
Hawaii Consolidated Railway flag (above).
The HCR still lives on, if only in memory. The state highway department took over much of the railroad's right-of-way. The Hawai'i Belt Highway 19 and Highway 11 were built where steam-powered trains used to chug along. Some remanants of the railroad are still visable.
My model railroad layout captures the "Spirit of Aloha," modeling a small portion of the former railway on the Big Island of Hawai'i. My railroad is based on the premise that the 1946 tsunami didn't wipe out the old railroad and the railroad operation continued to grow and prosper through the 1950s, '60s,'70s and into the present day.
Actual HCR ties and rails in Laupahoehoe at the train museum (above).
Set in the present day era, gone are steam engines and passenger service. But the modern regional railroad, using EMD and ALCO diesels, keeps the rails shiny by hauling intermodel containers and piggyback trailers to and from various Big Island port terminals. Who knows, with the population and congestion growing on the Big Island,especially between Hilo and Puna District, the BIRR might see some modern commuter rail service in the future!
Bulk, raw sugar travels from mills near Puna in covered hopper unit trains to transloading elevators at Pier 3 that juts out into Kuhio Bay near Hilo. The sugar is bound for the C&H Sugar Company Mill in Crocket, California.
And what would an Hawai'ian railroad be without sugar cane? Raw, cut cane arrives at the Puna Sugar Company processing mill in scratch-build cane railcars. Processed and packaged sugar leaves the mill in boxcars and covered hoppers. Baggasse, the woody bi-product of the sugar cane milling process is loaded into chip hoppers and heads to a new ethanol plant south of Hilo to make bio-fuel to help in the push towards new "green" energy. Baggasse is also used to make paper, hardboard other products.
Other freight car loads of construction and building materials, such as lumber and concrete, agricultural fertilizers and other ag products, like famous Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, and papayas travel over BIRR rails.
There has been recent talk on the Island of starting modern communter train service between Puna and outlying areas and downtown Hilo, as well as from Kona to Hilo. They are even talking about commuter or light rail in Honolulu! With all the traffic and congestion now hitting the Islands, and no money going towards improving the road system, getting to town by train could be the next hot development in Hawaii.
This Website will continue to be updated as time allows. More photos and text will be added in between trips out into the trainroom. New photos are now in the 'Photos' section linked on the left.
See "Talk Story" section for the latest BIRR info.
A track plan layout drawings of the former BIRRs are included and new layout track plan and "system map" is in the works.
Drop me a line if you want: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a member of the
Laupahoehoe Train Museum.
Laupahoehoe Train Museum
P.O. Box 358
Laupahoehoe, HI 96764
Mahalo for visiting BIG ISLAND RAIL!
Big Island & Pacific Railroad Corp., Big Island Rail website, and all photography are Copyright 2011 Joseph Kreiss Photography.
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