The 123 list for a Big Island visit
Your Visitor Friendly People & Places

Laupahoehoe Train Museum

The purpose of the Laupahoehoe Train Museum is to preserve, promote and protect the historic, cultural, educational, social, civic and economic, interests of the North Hilo and Hamakua districts, while highlighting the history of the railroads on the island of Hawaii. 

Visitors are welcomed with the spirit of aloha, and will find fascinating photographs, railroad artifacts, memorabilia from days gone by. Our small gift shop boasting unique items hand-crafted by local residents. Many of the museum's volunteers have spent their lives in the community, and are delighted to "talk story" with visitors. The museum grounds are planted with tropical fruit trees and ornamentals, and make a lovely place to stroll, picnic or relax.

We are located along Highway 19 near mile marker 25. Follow the brown Hilo-Hamakua Heritage Corridor signs along the Highway 19 roadway. Look for the railroad crossing signs and the big red caboose on our front lawn! We are just across the road from the coast's only service station.  Public restrooms are available in the museum. We are approximately 30 minutes from Hilo, and 25 minutes from Honoka'a. Our physical address is 36-2377 Mamalahoa Hwy. Laupahoehoe, HI 96764

Hours & Admissions

We are open daily, from 9 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays, and from 10 am to 2 pm on weekends.  We are closed on all major holidays.  Admission is Adults  $4.00, Seniors  $3.00 and  students $2.00 with special rates for tours. For additional information and group tours call us at: (808) 962-6300; write us at: Laupahoehoe Train Museum, P.O. Box 358, Laupahoehoe, HI 96764; e-mail us at ( our link e-mail )

The Wye An area in the museum yard where an engine's direction can be switched. After the last railroad family living in the house left(around the late 60's), the yard was left to grow. When the present owners purchased the home they cleaned up house and made a small yard. It wasn't until the community  leased the building for a museum and began clearing the yard that uncoved the wye and discovered the switch stand! 
The Deisel Switcher "Rusty" is our mascot engine and one of our greatest projects. The last engine left fairly intact on this island. He was hidden away in a construction shop yard a rusted hulk of steel. We transformed him from a heap of scrap to an actually running machine. 
The Boxcar 'the boxcar' which was an explosives hauling boxcar, found stuffed up in a long forgotten gulch. Both the boxcar and 'Rusty' are narrow gauge pieces, reportedly from the same sugar plantation in Haina. These pieces were separated fifty plus years ago and will now run together on restored duel gauge track on the old wye.
The Caboose Our caboose is a replica based on one type of caboose that was used on the Hilo Railroad/HCR main line. It contains additional display space for the museum. Often at the end of the train, cabooses are now no longer used.  The caboose was where the conductor and brakeman would work and rest while the train was underway. A traveling office for the conductor, keeping track of freight and passenger count, and serving as a work study for the brakeman sitting high in the cupola keeping a watchful eye on the track. 

Main lines and Sugar Trains

All of Hawaii's railroads were narrow gauge except the Hilo Railroad/Hawaii Consolidated Railway.This was because the narrow gauge trains performed much better on our steep often winding terrain.

Many plantations used these narrow gauge trains to get their cut cane from the field to the mill. Many plantations used light weight portable track to lay into a field for harvest, only to be removed and replaced in another field as soon as harvestiing was complete. Narrow gauge was light enough for this mobility of track and train. These trains were given the name "Sugar Trains."

Hawaii Island's two main lines carried passengers and freight to and from mills, mill towns and ports. The were also called common carriers. In Kohala the main line had only twenty miles of track but serviced five or six mills and all the towns from Mahukona to Niulii. this line did also carry some cut can from field to mill to track spurs out from certain mill sites.

Click here for more train history


[Back to Waipio Dashboard]