Oahu Railway & Land Company
Narrow-Gauge Passenger Car
O. R. & L. Shops – about 1910
Type of Car:
Oahu Railway & Land Co. – 1953
In railroad car lingo, a “Combination Car” is just that – a car that combines two or more type of cars into one. Oahu car No. 36 is a combination Baggage and Coach car; the forward portion of the car served as an area for passenger baggage, U.S. Mail, and Railway Express shipments, while the rear portion of the car contained coach seating for 18 passengers. Combination cars such as this one were an economical way for a railroad to save on expenses, especially on branch line routes with minimal numbers of passengers.
Fun fact: Walt Disney used these Oahu cars as the prototype for the train cars his studio shop built for the theme park’s original original Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad in 1955. Walt’s duplicated “Combine Car” may be seen on display next door at the Los Angele Live Steamers.
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Like her companion, Oahu Coach No. 1, Combine No. 36 is a wonderful example of a typical wooden open-platform passenger car of the 19th Century. This design was the classic standard on American railroads throughout the latter half of the 1800s, until the invention of the “vestibule car” in the 1880s. The vestibule idea (illustrated below) enclosed the ends of the cars so that passengers could walk safely from one car to the next while the train was running. This new design quickly displaced the ‘open-platforms’ that we see on these two Hawaiian cars. However, the Oahu Railway & Land Co. built most of its own passenger cars and continued to construct new wooden cars using the old style designs. The railway operated a significant fleet of open-platform cars until the end of its passenger service in the 1950s.