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*Update 3* Historic Hawaii Video Footage from 1916 *Translation Added Below*

There is some absolutely amazing footage in this clip!

I believe this is the old sugarcane train rushing through the Big Island in the first part.  Watch as the train goes over the bridge as the people just sit there on the edge of those platforms!

Check out some of the shots that are shown in this “out of the archives” footage:


The translations of the title cards (thanks to PaulW)

De Hawaianeilanden in Vogelvlucht:

Birds-eye view of the Hawaiian Islands.

Deze eilanden behooren tot de Sandwich eilanden. Het landschap is zeer bergachtig:

These islands belong to the Sandwich Isles. The landscape is very mountainous.

Een tochtje op de Hilo baan:

A ride on the Hilo track.

De inboorlingen visschen in de brandingen met behulp van werpnetten:

The natives fish in the surf with the help of nets.

Typen uit Hawaian:

Characters from Hawaii.

Met een snelheid van 35 K.M. per uur door de branding:

With a speed of 20 mph through the surf.


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41 Responses

  1. Damon

    You never cease to amaze me. Mahalo for finding the old video. surely it made my month!
    PS. I get my shoulder operated on in 3 weeks. hopefully it will work.

  2. I’m bummed! the “Paradise of the pacific” film clip has been removed by the user? is there a way to view it?

  3. Damon: I loved watching the footage film from time to time and showing it to family members. I was disappointed when I found you had taken it off. Any chance of re-viewing it on U-tube. It is such a classic. I adore trains and the music is so enchanting as you get a view of the ride as it was Back then. Part of Hawaii gone forever.


    • Unfortunately, I wasn’t the owner of the youtube clip. Some museum out of Germany was the owner of the clip.

      For some reason or another, they have removed the clip from youtube. I have done extensive searches for it to re-post on here… unfortunately it is no longer available.

      If I can find another copy of it… I will re-post it.

  4. if any of you has been to the Marquesas,or seen pictures of Marquesans,you will immediately feel a striking deja vu when looking at the pictures of those Hawaiians.Aue

  5. Looks like the curved railroad track became the dangerous curved bridge in Ookala. It will be replaced by a new straight bridge under construction now.

    Also, steel trestles from the railroad tracks were used to build the GM car service center in Hilo, according to the owner’s son. The building is still there and you may see it for yourself.

    One can see the outline of the railroad tracks on the cliffs of some of the three gultches in Hamakua. Look hard and you will see an unnatural straight line along the cliffs. That is where the railroad tracks were laid. Spooky! I am afraid of heights. However, it must have been quite an experinence riding the train to Paauilo and see all the spectacular ocean views.

    Fred’s brother said, as a youngster, he got cut by a sugar cane leaf on his face as the train passed a sugar cane field.

    • This looks like Honolii Beach and the river going up the Hamakua Coast as you are going out of Hilo. The people with the nets look like that is out at Keeaukaha side by Onekahaha.

      Great footage, thanks, loved it all.

  6. Thanks, Damon. I was raised on the Big Island and rode that train from Paauilo to Hilo and back in 1945. My dad was principal of Paauilo Elementary. The next year (April l, 1946) the tidal wave wiped it out. During my senior year in college, I wrote a paper on that
    railroad system and donated it to the railroad museum in Laupahoehoe a few years ago.

  7. Aloha Damon! Thank you so much for blessing the public with this footage. One of my dreams is to see how Hawaii was back in the days. I was born in 1976 and a lot of the old Hawaii was already gone. May the Lord keep Blessing you as you have blessed others!

  8. This was fantastic footage. I was particularly interested in the children;s group photo. I believe the two little fair skinned girls are my grandmother and her sister. They would have been aged 5 & 7 in 1916 and they were raised in an orphanage in Hana or Hilo.

    I am checking with other family members for similar photos. Thank you very much for sharing this with us.

  9. love to watch old footage … mahalo!!

  10. Great video. I remember riding the “motorcar” in 1944, shown followed by a smaller car early in the video. The terminal was near the lighthouse at the bottom of Waianuenue and the track ended in Paauilo. Several bridges and tracks were demolished in 1946 by the tidal wave. The ride was spectacular you can see.

    I also remember waiving American flags from track side to GI’s returning in from Tarawa for R and R in Waimea. They rode in cattle cars. I was 8 in 1944.

  11. Damon,

    Mahalo Nui Loa for sharing the 1916 footage.

    I would also like to contact you directly or off-blog if you will. My grandfather lived in a village 20 miles north of Hilo and worked on that railway line.



  12. Nani, hoihoi, a kupaianaha. Mahalo nui.

  13. I am suprized at the quality of the fim, almost unreal but I believe that modern technology is able to present the past this way. My mom was born in 1916.
    To my surprise the language was old Dutch, we had some adjustments in 1945 and even a few afterward.
    This footage was sent by a friend ( now living in Hawaii) who stayed in the Netherlands for a few years.
    Jan Lakeman Zaandam the Netherlands

  14. Mahalo Damon.

  15. watching this as many times as I have, you will notice very charming interesting well done music /sound edits. Watch it again and notice that aspect of it!

  16. Additional information:

    That’s the Hawaii Consolidated Railway. While it primarily carried partly-refined sugar from the plantations on the Hamakua coast to Hilo to be shipped, it also did have passenger service. So tourists could ride along the coast and see those marvelous views.

    Also shown is Makee Island in Kapiolani Park. That’s the scene with the narrow walkway where the two kids squeeze past the man. All the ponds in Kapiolani Park were filled in after the construction of the Ala Wai Canal in the 1920s.

    In the very last shot, of surfing at Waikiki, you can just see the Moana Hotel in its original configuration. That was when it was a single wooden building. Two concrete wings were added on either side in 1917-’18, which is how it still looks today.

    Damon – Thank you DeSoto for adding these comments. I’m glad that someone from the Bishop Museum has now had a chance to view this.

  17. Damon never ceases to amaze. You da man!
    Cool footage. Similar to some of the material we are putting out from our web site.
    Which is also free to the public for visiting.


    Damon – Glad to see you running around here.

  18. All,
    FYI, This video language is not German, but actually Dutch. That is why Ronny Temme above from Amsterdam, the Netherlands asked how this video was acquired. This film clip was made by a Dutch film crew. Remember, that the Dutch were in the Pacific for 350 years, if not longer because Indonesia was known as the Dutch East Indies up until just after WWII when Indonesia gained its independence from the Dutch colonists. Dutch merchant marine shipping was in it’s hey day, although Hawaii was not frequently visited. Hawaiian music was however very popular in the time of the Dutch East Indies. Coy Pereira was a popular Hawaiian musician and can be viewed on You Tube.

    Just a little piece of history.



    Damon – Aloha Rolf, thank you for chiming in here… I will be posting this comment with a future post with this video.

  19. This is excellent. Mahalo!

  20. Damon, is this public domain footage? It is great. We have a good library
    of archival footage. Love this coverage. Could we contact you
    directly and not on a blog?

    http://www.PacificNetwork.tv please visit. Free to the public.

  21. A friend send me your site, and would like to join your site, it is very good, and like it a lot

  22. Great pictures. I really enjoyed seeing pictures taken several years before I was born in Honolulu. My cousin sent the pictures to me. It was interesting that the captions seemed to be in German. Thanks for sharing them with the rest of us.

  23. Dear Damon Tucker,
    To my big surprise the archival footage of Hawaii (1916) appaered on youtube in perfect quality. My question how did you get hold of this material (without filmmuseum logo)? I am very interested in your answer.
    With kind regards,
    Ronny Temme
    P.O.Box 74782
    1070 BT Amsterdam

    Damon – I will email you directly. A good magician blogger never gives away his secrets.

  24. Amazing video. Historic video! Thanks for sharing it! WOW!

  25. That train is going up the Hamakua coast. I have a picture in my home here in Honolulu of that huge tressel in Onomea. Great shots. Su Tucker is right that is now where the highway went. Before with the old road it took 8 hours to Kona from Hilo and 4 hours to Waimea. I’m an old Silverton Camp boy.

  26. Great archival footage. The train tracks look like the ones that go over KoleKole Beach park. To be able to view the support structure and see the “trains eye view” was breathtaking. Thanks for sharing this film footage.

  27. I believe those title cards are in Dutch. It’s definitely not standard German. Maybe Afrikaans or Indonesian?

  28. You might look a little closer for some of those bridges, if you have driven the Hamakua Coast north of Hilo you have driven over them. A few were converted to highway bridges after the demise of the railway.

  29. Wonderful! Wouldn’t it be great if some of your readers were to recognize a grand or great grand or maybe even a great great grand.

  30. That is great! Thanks for sharing. I’m actually really impressed with the quality of the video from 1916 – that’s nearly a hundred years ago!

  31. Wow…Look at the way the surf rolls into Hilo Bay before the breakwall!

  32. This is wonderful, thank you for finding and sharing this treasure.

  33. Amazing footage. I was thinking, in 1916, Germany was at war, but the US had not entered the war. The Japanese and British fleets had taken the German posessions in the Pacific (and cornered their one cruiser in Honlulu harbor, where it was scuttled by its crew.) So, it was an interesting time for Germans to be making a flim about Hawaii to say the least. But, I’m glad that they did. I think that most of those railway trussels were destroyed by the post war tsunami and never rebuilt. It was really amazing to see how tall and elaborate they were.

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