There are two heritage railways in Kauai, the birthplace of Hawaiian railroading.
The Grove Farm Museum preserved original steam locomotives from the earliest days of rail transport in Kauai, restoring the small-gauge engines without much notice beyond the local community. The museum acquired property where historic right-of-ways had run, and found, in the thick vegetation, track beds ready for restoration, allowing the Museum to display their authentic, working locomotives. The second heritage railway in Kauai is the Kauai Plantation Railway at Kilohana. Unlike the Grove Farm Museum trains, which are brought out only once a month, the Kauai Plantation Railway is a daily fee-based attraction.
Grove Farm Plantation:
The preservation of steam locomotives on Kauai is largely due to the Grove Farm Museum, led by Mabel and Elsie Wilcox, nieces of George Norton Wilcox, who bought Grove Farm Plantation in 1864.The collection includes four locomotives, all of which saw extensive service on Kauai.
Pride of place in the Grove Farm Museum locomotive collection is one of the earliest steam locomotives in Kauai, an 1887 Hohenzollern steam engine built in Düsseldorf, Germany for the Koloa Plantation for $4,000, which arrived in 1888.
The Wainiha, a 1915 locomotive from the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, was originally owned by the McBryde Plantation, and was sold to the Lihue Plantation in 1932. The McBride Plantation introduced two electric locomotives to its operations prior to 1899, when it added two steam engines. Grove Farm Company acquired the Wainiha, named for a stream and valley on Kauai's north shore, in 1957, and it was the last steam locomotive in service for the sugar industry in Hawaii. It is operational, having been restored in 1975.
The Wahiawa, also from Baldwin, was designed primarily to pull a passenger train in 1921 for the Kauai Railway Company.
The Kaipu, a 1925 engine, also from Baldwin, was one of the last locomotives built for the Hawaiian sugar cane industry. Originally named the Kokee by its first owner, the Hawaiian Sugar Company, it was renamed for one of the plantation’s lunas, or foremen, in 1941 when acquired by Grove Farm. This unusual engine has a steel cab, with driving wheels smaller than the other Kauai Baldwins, and external counterweights with main rods connected to the rear drivers. It was retired in 1953, restored in 1983, and is operational.
Kauai Plantation Railway:
The Kauai Plantation Railway opened for business in January, 2007 as “the first new railroad to be built in Hawaii in 100 years.” Indirectly, both the Grove Farm and Kauai Plantation heritage railways share common ancestry. Kauai Plantation Railway offers a tour of Kilohana, the former estate of Gaylord Parke Wilcox (1881-1970), manager of Grove Farm Plantation.
The Kauai Plantation Railway follows a 3-mile (4.8 km) loop through agricultural displays on the historic Kilohana estate and plantation. The Kauai Plantation Railway was designed by Boone Morrison, a historic restoration architect. Its rolling stock is new, but carefully modeled after passenger cars of 1880s trains that operated on the Big Island of Hawaii. The railway has both enclosed coaches and a coach with open sides. The coaches sit on six 35-foot (11 m) flatcars originally built in 1941 at Pearl Harbor by the U.S. Navy, which were then used by the Oahu Railway and Land Company and afterwards sold to White Pass and Yukon Route in Alaska.