Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, November 16, 2001

All aboard the "Pearlridge Express" this holiday season.

All aboard for
Pearlridge’s holiday train

Hawaiian trains always used narrow-gauge track, but this is ridiculous. The track is only a couple of feet wide. The Oahu Railway and Land locomotive is less than 4 feet tall. The cars are so small only kids can sit in them. The route only makes a cycle through Pearlridge Shopping Center ...

Oh wait. It's a scale model. A BIG scale model. It's electric, about one-third the size of the real thing, and constructed by Roll Models of Fresno, who specialize in theme-ride attractions.

The "Pearlridge Express" starts rolling at 10 a.m. tomorrow, hauling up to 15 kids (each must be under 48 inches tall) around the shopping center, including recently constructed alpine villages, Christmas tree forests and an "ice mountain" at the Uptown Center Court.

Santa himself will arrive at the mall the day after Thanksgiving for photos at Downtown Center Court. The first 200 children who sit for a portrait with Santa will receive a coupon good for a free on the Pearlridge Express. Otherwise, each ride costs $3. The train will operate daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Jan. 1.

The caboose of the "Pearlridge Express."

For trackheads, the locomotive has "side-valve cylinders, a free-standing Briggs-style boiler and a ride-in tender." Colors and markings are based on actual OR&L trains. It's the closest thing to a running line that Oahu has seen train-wise since 1947, when OR&L ceased operations. The Hawaiian Railway Society has restored both cars and tracks out in Ewa, and a portion of the Pearlridge proceeds will benefit the HRS. In return, HRS docents will be on hand at Pearlridge to talk up the good ol' days of rolling stock.

The Hawaiian Railway Society is at 91-1001 Renton Road in Ewa; for information call 681-5461.


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