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Early Years 7 - Early Member Robert A. Day

By Harlan Hiney - Torrance, CA USA

Robert Day was a member of the SCLS in 1950, and owned a 1inch scale 4-6-4 Huson locomotive.

Pint sized Baldwin, The “Lahaina” sits by Bob Day’s engine house after a Saturday afternoon’s run, circa 1957.
Photograph taken by Laurence Hiney.

Robert Day was a member of the Southern California Live Steamers beginning about 1950, and owned a one inch scale (4 ¾ inch gauge track) 4-6-4 steamer based on New York Central’s first Hudson type delivered by Alco in 1931, the same prototype that inspired Lionel’s famous O gauge engine. Bob’s Locomotive had Baker Valve Gear, and even the drop front coupler of the prototype. He called his railroad the Santa Monica Coast Lines and the engine carried the number 600. It was painted entirely in maroon, instead of the usual black. By the late 1950’s, he renamed his railroad Great Western. He lived at the north end of Brentwood on Tigertail Road on the ridge between Bundy Canyon and Kenter Canyon, and had an estate of several acres. By 1952 Bob became the fourth club member to purchase a full size steam locomotive. Like Ward Kimball and Gerry Best, Bob found his locomotive in the Hawaiian Islands. However, instead of going to Oahu, Bob traveled to the Island of Maui.

“Launiupoko” is pictured hauling sugar cane on Maui, for her owner, Pioneer Mill Company, in the late 1940’s.
From Kodak Hawaii Limited‘s photographic collection.

The Pioneer Mill Company in Lahaina, had a 30 inch gauge railroad to bring the sugar cane to the processing mill. It ran from 1882 until 1952 when trucks took over for the locomotives. Bob was fortunate in that the two engines he purchased were in good running condition.

The big engine named “Launiupoko”’ was an 0-4-2T saddle tank loco with an added 4 wheel tender for fuel and additional water capacity. Built by Baldwin in 1900, she was their construction number 18380, and was an oil burner, at least by the time Bob arrived on the scene. Besides engine No.3, he also got a smaller 0-4-2T wood burning saddle tank loco, No.1 “Lahaina”. While No.3 was a black with white stripes and lettering, No.1, a Baldwin of the 1880’s, had fancy domes and Bob painted her in dark green, with red wheels and had a new red pilot made. She carried a large oil burning headlight and her bell sat over the sand dome and along with the brass frame was kept highly polished.

“Launiupoko” leaves Bob Days’s Lahaina depot for several trips around the loop. Southern California Live Steamer member Stan Chovil looks out through door of caboose, on a crisp day in February 1958. Richard Jackson took this photograph.

Besides his two steamers, he had a yellow caboose Number 100, with a wooden body, built by club member A.R. “Buzz” Sutch. There were also two riding car gondolas, Number. 20 and Number 22. These cars were built on 4 wheel cane car bodies. Bob had about a quarter mile of track in the form of a circle, about 200 feet across that went through a cut, so riders could not see from one side to the other. There was a wye at the south end that branched into two tracks that dead ended in a two stall engine house. Midway on the eastern track, which was nearest to his house was a siding that served a section car, water tank and oil tank.

Bob Day on tender of his one inch scale Hudson No.600 of his Great Western Railroad at Los Angeles Live Steamer club track in Griffith Park, circa1959. Bob’s youngest son sits in Gondola, while his two older boys stand behind the train.

Photograph taken by Richard Jackson.

In early 1958, a small depot was completed sitting just east of the oil tank, and appropriately name “Lahaina”, as Bob’s engines still carried the initials P.M. RR, representing Pioneer Mill Railroad.. Just south of his engine house was a collection of old fire trucks waiting to be restored. Like Ward Kimball, Bob Day also liked vintage fire engines. Ward was a band leader of the “Fire House Five Plus Two”’ where as Bob was a former Los Angeles City Fire Commissioner. Bob’s private run days hold special memories for Harlan Hiney, since he had the privilege to attend three of these special events from 1957 to 1960. The last time was on Saturday, February 13, 1960, with the adults partaking of Michelob and pretzels, while enjoying the sights and sounds of these Baldwin steamers.


Sadly this story does not have a happy ending as on Monday November 6, 1961, a disastrous brush fire that started at Mulholland Drive above Stone Canyon, swept through Bel Air, crossed Sepulveda Canyon, then raced across Bundy Canyon and up to Tigertail Road. While the Lahaina Depot and water tank were spared, Bob’s home was not and his locomotives, locked in the engine house did not stand a chance. They were so severely damaged that Bob never had them rebuilt. But a few years later, A.W. McKelvey brought some 3 foot gauge steamers back to the island of Maui, and now the Lahaina, Kaanapali and Pacific Railroad give tourist rides from a depot in the real town of Lahaina.



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About the Author:
Harlan Hiney is the son of SCLS Charter member Laurence Hiney.

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Comment Date: 11/29/2011 8:55:25 PM
Comment By: Fred Probst
From: Kansas
The Lahaina was built for my G-G-Grandfather by the Baldwin Company in 1882. This article provided me with some great information and the only photograph of it that I have been able to find. If Bob Day cares to contact me, please provide him with my email address. I am very greatfull for this find. Thank you, Fred Probst

Comment Date: 9/2/2013 9:12:34 PM
Comment By: Joseph ventura
From: Lahaina maui hawaii
I bilieve both these engines have recently been restored and returned to the former pioneer mill site (closed in 1999) of which only the original stack remains, and these engines. My grandfather was also the fireman on the Lahaina kaanapali pacific railroad until his death in 1977. My father worked at pioneer mill from the end of his high school career (1965) until his passing in 1989.

Comment Date: 9/2/2013 9:16:26 PM
Comment By: Joseph ventura
From: Lahaina hawaii
Here is a link to a YouTube video about them coming home.

Comment Date: 9/24/2014 6:55:56 AM
Comment By: Greg Bishop
From: Los Alamitos, California
The San Diego Air & Space Museum added a photo on Flickr,one of the old sugar mill locos. They asked for info, and that led me your great article about the Pioneer Mill locomotives. I've entered part of your info into the photo's comments, and I wanted to share the photo with you. Greg