A Bridge to Far?
By Jeff Livingston, Historian
One of the best known OR&L artifacts in existence is the steel bridge in Waipahu built in 1939/40. It's an easy place to get to where you can put your hands on history. Just be very careful where you put your feet or history might let you down. I've been studying the OR&L operations at Waipahu for some time now trying to understand just what was there at various times and how it all worked.
One Sunday morning I wanted to verify the measurements and design details of the bridge and called our intrepid historian Moku to join me and hold one end of the tape measure. Some of you may recall Moku's last published adventure with our friend Rodger in locating a concrete bridge buried in the weeds, dirt and trees in which he encountered some number of real or imaginary spiders evoking his famous "get e'm off me" spider dance.
OR&L Waikele Stream Bridge.
After spending some time measuring, photographing and recording the Waipahu Bridge, Moku and I put away our cameras, note pads and measuring tape and decided to walk Ewa from the bridge to see if any signs remained of the "wye" leading to Wahiawa. Unfortunately, the landscape was so changed that we were unable to determine its location conclusively. Being a nice sunny Hawaiian day we continued walking Ewa bound along the abandoned right-of-way without really looking for anything but just because we could.
Being 100% mainlander I was encased in jeans and boots for my field trip while Moku, 100% local boy was in shorts and slippers. This proved to be a problem for Moku as about a third of a mile from the Waipahu Bridge we encountered a rather small, fast and very vocal dog. Approaching from the rear, this pint sized carnivore ignored my covered and booted legs and made a direct assault on the exposed fresh meat in shorts and slippers. Fast footwork on Moku's part prevented any injury to anything but pride. While not as intense as the "spider dance", the "puppy promenade" was well received by the local folks in the area. At that point Moku was prepared to turn back but I convinced him the worst was over and we continued on along the old railroad route.
Very shortly, about a half mile Ewa from the Waipahu Bridge we encountered another steel bridge that neither of us knew was still there. The sides of the bridge are similar in construction to the Waipahu Bridge but the deck was more lightly built although it did support the big 2-8-2 "Mikes".
Side construction and deck support.
Fresh meat, a dog's dream.
Since we had left our cameras etc. in our trucks at the Waipahu Bridge we turned back to get them. Moku had to brave the "attack" dog again but did so with grace this time.
After retrieving our equipment, which for Moku included a large "dog" stick we returned to the second bridge. A quick call to Bob Paoa potentially identified this bridge as the "Waikele Stream Bridge". Bob too was unaware that it still existed. The bridge has now been defiantly identified by Bob as the Waikele Stream Bridge but I've been unable to get Moku to accompany me on any more field trips.