BF (Frank) Dillingham’s OR&L company, created in 1889, changed the landscape of west Honolulu. The first section of track extended only as far as Aiea. (Burlingame)
In the beginning, since there were as yet no real destinations along the line, Dillingham created the concept of picnicking along Pearl Harbor, and within days of the line’s opening began marketing excursions.
These excursions had several purposes: they helped train the employees—from the on-board crews of engineers, firemen, conductors and brakemen to those on the ground like ticket agents and mechanics …
… they also built up an excitement among the public that the railroad was a reality; and most importantly perhaps, they brought in at least some income.
Some excursions included boat rides, others picnics and dancing, where people could be entertained with piano, banjo, trumpet, and saxophone performances. Community groups were encouraged to plan picnics and parties there, the larger the better. (Next Stop)
“A few years ago, when a party of a dozen or more gentlemen made a circuit of Oahu, and inspected the lands proposed to be bonded and made available for the purposes of settlement and public use, they were facetiously called the ‘colonization party’ by the wags of Honolulu, who stood upon the street corners and wished the party a sarcastic good-bye.” (Daily Bulletin, November 27, 1890)
He held a contest that gave to Mānana the new name ‘Pearl City,’ and on its main thoroughfare, Lehua Road, he promoted a dance pavilion named Remond Grove. (de Silva, ksbe)
“The then manager of the development scheme took all jokes good-naturedly. He had faith in the scheme which the public had not. His faith proves now to have been founded in reason; if faith, followed by good works, as exemplified at Pearl City and along the line of the Oahu Railway, are to count for anything.”
“The development of this scheme, the largest individual enterprise ever set afloat in Hawaii, barring Col. Spreckel’s steamship lines and mammoth plantation, has grown so gradually but steadily amongst us that many people as yet hardly realize the sacrifices which have been made …”
“… and the work that has been done by the management of the Oahu Railway and Land enterprises to develop the resources of Oahu, by bringing the large Pearl City tract into quick communication with the Honolulu market …”
“… and making it available to the better classes of Honolulu’s business and professional people, who desire to live in the country within reach of town.” (Daily Bulletin, November 27, 1890)
“The new town lies just beyond Remond Grove. It marks the beginning of a suburban city within twelve and a half miles, or thirty
minutes’ run of Honolulu. The new town is laid out to the best advantage and covers a series of splendid building terraces which arise from the depot to the branch reservoir 100 feet above the sea level and within half a mile of the station.”
“The lots offered for sale are mostly situated upon graded streets and are ready for building upon. The soil is a rich, red loam in which will flourish cither trees, or vegetables, or flowers.”
“The main avenues of Pearl City are Lehua, Maile and Woodlawn, laid not in the order named. The cross streets are numbered from First to Tenth. The avenues are each eighty feet wide and the cross streets are sixty feet each. (Daily Bulletin, November 27, 1890)
The pavilion at Remond Grove has for some time been one of the attractions. It was built for the use of picnickers and dancing parties by the railroad company.
It is seventy feet square, open on all sides, and is lighted by electricity. Surrounding it is a well-kept lawn, with a playing fountain in front, and provided with swings, croquet games, etc.
During an evening fete at the pavilion it is brilliantly lighted, and gorgeously decorated, presenting an animated spectacle. (Next Stop)
To further expand the number of passengers on his train, in 1890, Dillingham carved up the Mānana peninsula to create O‘ahu’s first major housing development.
His railroad ran regular tours to Remond Grove, and according to his advertising, it was “always at the disposal of Pleasure Parties.” (de Silva, ksbe)
The Remond Grove grounds are beautifully laid out with flowers and shrubbery. The large dancing pavilion had a capacity for 1,000 people; it was located in the center of the Grove, both grounds and pavilion being lighted throughout with electricity.
During the Spanish-American War, Army Engineers established Camp Langfitt at Pearl City and was occupied from September 27 to October 19, 1898. It was named after Major William Campbell Langfitt, commanding officer of the battalion of the 2nd Engineers.
The troops camped inside the large dance pavilion. Remond Grove was south of Kamehameha Highway, east of Lehua Avenue and primarily north of the H-1 freeway (at the present Hale Mohalu Site.) (Greguras)
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