January 2005:  Back to the Future: Cement Imports Resume

By: C. S. Papacostas

Having purchased in 1985 its competitor’s assets (including the 1600-ton inter-island barge “Punapau”) from the California-based Kaiser Cement Corp., the once again renamed Hawaiian Cement Co., a joint venture of Connecticut-based Lone Star Industries and Australian-based Adelaide Brighton Cement Holdings arose as the sole cement manufacturer in the State. To be sure, small amounts of portland cement and clinker had always been imported from places such as Japan and Denmark, according to statistics published by “The Minerals Yearbook” (M.Y.), but Hawaiian Cement emerged as the principal source. The company proceeded to expand its concrete and aggregate business as well. In “Selected Foreign Commercial Activities,” the State’s Dept. of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), reported that purchases of M. Funes Concrete and Maui Concrete & Aggregates marked Hawaiian’s first foray into the neighbor island markets for these materials.

As I mentioned last month, Lone Star sought Bankruptcy Court protection in December 1990. Only a month after that, John Shin of Hawaiian Cement (a 1977 University of Hawaii alumnus whom I remember as a student, by the way!) informed the Honolulu Advertiser (HA) that the company was planning a capacity expansion from 250,000 to 400,000 tons and a significant importation of clinker to meet the demand of another building boom. 

On the energy side, in 1993 the facility used about half of O`ahu’s discarded tires as part of its fuel supply.

In 1995, Lone Star sold its 50% share of the company to Knife River Corp. (KRC), a subsidiary of North Dakota based MDU Resource Group. That was when, according to M.Y., “the only permanent closure during the year was at Hawaiian Cement, which shut its kiln down at the end of August. The facility continued to operate as a grinding plant for imported clinker.”

Two years later, in 1997, Adelaide Brighton also sold its 50% ownership to KRC. Interestingly, M.Y. noted that “the purchase of Hawaiian Cement and Riverside Cement were departures from the trend begun in the 1980s of foreign companies buying US cement plants.”

Directly, the new owner announced plans to shift from grinding to importing the finished powder within two years. “It is a fact of life that manufacturing anything in Hawaii is expensive,” Hawaiian Cement president John DeLong conceded to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (S-B). Regrettably, the move also meant “exporting Hawaii jobs overseas,” DeLong was quoted to have said. Verily, in two years’ time, the June 23 1999 Bulletin of the State’s Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) informed the general public that “Hawaiian Cement is proposing to construct and operate a cement import and transshipment terminal at Kalaeloa/Barbers Point Harbor...This facility will replace Hawaiian Cement’s existing clinker grinding, storage, and distribution facility at Campbell Industrial Park.”

Using an innovative “Airform,” construction of two 30,000-metric ton Monolithic Domes by the Idaho-based Dome Technology firm began in April 2000, the year, S-B said, when Hawaiian Cement “imported 320,000 metric tons of cement, sand and other materials from countries including China, Thailand and Australia.”

The two super-insulated, steel-reinforced, thin-shelled concrete silos officially opened in 2001 and the grinding plant was closed in September of that year. As a result, the Machinery & Equipment Co. of Brisbane, California advertised the “liquidation of two cement plants” and the availability of “equipment from the Hawaiian Cement Company Nanakuli, Oahu and Barbers Point, Oahu plant sites.”

The opening of the bulk storage structures near the newly expanded commercial harbor marked a return to total dependence on the global cement market. With this reliance comes a need to harmonize (or, is it “harmonise?”) weights, measures and standards. Indeed, when reporting large amounts of cement, the U.S. nomenclature had already moved from “barrel” (the common industry unit in 1900), to “short ton” in 1972 and to “metric ton” (or “tonne,” not to be confused with “long ton”) in 1991.

Since 1960 when two plants opened on Oahu, the “local” cement manufacturing industry experienced a wild rollercoaster ride of boom and bust cycles, labor disputes, and natural as well as humanly induced events. The rollercoaster metaphor proved true in another sense as well:

From the meteoric heights attained in the 1980s, “local” cement production gradually and inexorably declined to a halt.

Nevertheless, a new day has dawned. With state-of-the-art facilities in place, the industry has moved to another plateau.

February 2005:  Andrew H. Oshita, HC&D and CCPI

By: C. S. Papacostas

Whether they are aware of it or not, most of those who have dealt with the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Hawaii over the last forty plus years have benefited from the competent services of Andrew H. Oshita.

Andy has been the primary and, for long stretches of time, the only laboratory technician at the department. In that capacity, he tirelessly and reliably managed to maintain the support facilities, through years of lean budgets and years of relative plenty. He facilitated laboratory-based instruction and student learning by keeping the test and demonstration equipment in running order, and supported the faculty by helping to design and by fabricating the needed, often one-of-a-kind, research instrumentation.

During the early 1980s, when personal computers began to proliferate, Andy took on the added responsibility of maintaining and troubleshooting these distributed systems as well.

At Andy's retirement ceremony on December 10, 2004, Professor Emeritus Harold S. Hamada recounted eloquently Andy's many contributions to students, faculty and the professional community over the decades. Andy has definitely been an integral part of the history of civil engineering in Hawaii.

During the social hour that followed the ceremony, I noticed that Harold was sporting a shirt emblazed with the logo of Ameron Hawaii. Harold knew that in that month's historical vignette I had made a reference to the fact that this company had incorporated within it a venerable old local firm, HC&D, that was formed back in 1908.

"My father worked for HC&D. We used to call it 'Hot Coffee and Doughnuts,'" he chuckled! "Funny," I replied, "this is exactly what Wayne Kawano told me after reading the same article. Great structural engineering minds must think alike!"

Wayne is the President of the Cement and Concrete Products Industry (CCPI) of Hawaii, a trade association founded in 1960 and formally incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1965. As a historical note, the May 28, 1965 issue of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin lists John S. Farmer of Kaiser Cement as CCPI President and George Ishida as First Executive Director. At the time, according to the newspaper, the association's membership included the following: Hawaiian Cement, Kaiser Cement, American Concrete Pipe of Hawaii, HC&D, Maui Concrete & Aggregates, Pacific Concrete & Rock, United Pacific Concrete, Valdastri Limited, Grassi American of Hawaii Corp, and State Tile.

Visiting the association's web site recently, I counted 29 member firms, several of which I recognize as the upshot of a sequence of complicated mergers and acquisitions involving both the original list of companies and others from around the globe that had already been the result of similar business transactions. 

A few days after Andy's retirement function, I received a phone call from Past ASCE-Hawaii President Richard Cox who, just before leaving for a trip to Mexico, wanted to inform me that, in addition to those I had mentioned in November and December 2004, sugar plantations, such as McBride's, were also early users of coal. According to Dick, these plantations used coal to run steam pumps before converting to bagasse and oil. 

This subject deserves further exploration.

March 2005:  Whence the Pork Barrel?

By: C. S. Papacostas

In January 2005 I referred to the fact that, until 1972, the “barrel” was a common unit of measurement for portland cement in the U.S. Before weighing scales became common, in many countries throughout the world commodities were measured, bought and sold by volume (or “capacity”). The corresponding quantities were typically associated with the vessel or container used to measure them. For example, the ancient Greeks and Romans would refer to an “amphora” of wine, a large vessel with handles on both (“amphi”) sides. However, the typical Roman amphora was smaller than the Greek one and, surely, no two amphorae anywhere were identical.

Kamehameha I employed volume measurement as well. The amount of sandalwood (`iliahi) that he was to sell to a cargo ship during the late 1700s and early 1800s was fixed by digging a pit on the ground equal in volume to the ship’s hold. The Sandalwood Measuring Pit (Lua Na Moku `Iliahi) would be filled to the brim and the `iliahi would then be transferred to the ship’s cargo hold. The most publicized of these pits is a 75-foot long one on Moloka`i at Kamiloloa. Another is located on the Kapalama-Nuuanu ridge on O`ahu.

In English-speaking counties, terms such as pint, quart, gallon, bushel, barrel and a slew of less familiar words (e.g.,”hogshead”) are measures of volume. To confound the matter, in the United States to the present time, and in Britain until the Imperial Weights and Measures Act of 1824, a distinction was maintained between capacity measures for liquids on one hand and dry goods on the other. Thus the U.S. gallon for liquids, a descendant of the medieval wine gallon, was originally defined as a cylinder having a 7-inch diameter base, 6 inches deep and was by statute rounded off to exactly 231 cubic inches under Queen Anne in 1707. By contrast, a U.S. dry gallon is approximately 269 cubic inches! Moreover, neither of the U.S. gallons is the same as the single British imperial gallon.

Over the years, various entities attempted to reduce the pandemonium by standardizing usage. For instance, the U.S. Congress fixed the “apple barrel” in 1912 and, in 1996, extended its definition to cover equivalent steel barrels as:

“The standard barrel for apples shall be of the following dimensions when measured without distention of its parts: Length of stave, twenty-eight and one-half inches; diameter of head, seventeen and one-eighth inches; distance between heads, twenty-six inches; circumference of bulge, sixty-four inches outside measurement, representing as nearly as possible seven thousand and fifty-six cubic inches:  Provided, that steel barrels containing the interior dimensions provided for in this section shall be construed as a compliance therewith.”

In 1915, the 7,056 cubic inch barrel was extended to cover other dry goods, except cranberries (later defined to be 5,826 cubic inches instead)!

The next step was to establish commodity weight (or mass) equivalencies for the various volume measurements. This trend is reflected in the following provision in the Standard Specifications of the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), which is typical of such documents nationwide:

“The Contractor may weigh the material specified to be measured by the cubic yard if acceptable by the Engineer. The Engineer may convert these weights to cubic yards for payment purposes. The Engineer will decide the factors for conversion from weight to volume measurement. The Contractor shall agree to the factors before using such method of measurement.”

In general, the equivalents set for various commodities by the U.S. Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) often differ from those set by individual states. For example, a barrel of fresh apples, quinces or pears ranges from 40 to 57 pounds, depending on locale!

And what about a barrel of portland cement? The HDOT Specs are consistent with conventional U.S. practice that, by the way, is not defined in federal law:

“The term ‘barrel’ will mean three-hundred and seventy-six (376) pounds of cement when measuring cement by the barrel. The term ‘bag’ will mean ninety-four (94) pounds of cement when measuring cement by the bag.”

​A U.S. portland cement barrel equals four 94-lb (about 42.6 kg) bags or 376 avoirdupois pounds. Incidentally, “lb” for “pound” is derived from the Latin equivalent “libra,” also connected to “balancing scales.”

A Canadian barrel, by the way, equals four bags as well, but each bag there is only 87.5 pounds. Based on a cursory check, I concluded that a 50-kg bag is common in Europe, South Africa, Jamaica and China. None of these places seems to have used a portland cement barrel, however, and, to paraphrase University of Hawaii Professor Ian Robertson, the business of specifying concrete mixes by cement bags is a uniquely American phenomenon!

On a different note, the notorious “pork barrel” is commonly taken to be 200 pounds. Pursuant to the Mississippi Code of 1972:

“If any person shall sell, keep, or offer for sale, any barrel of flour, meal, pork, or beef, as a barrel thereof, containing less than the standard weight net, he shall forfeit to the county all of such underweight flour, meal, pork, or beef which he may have in his possession.”

April 2005:  Whence Came the Counties?

By: C. S. Papacostas

Surprisingly, very little publicity has been given so far to the fact that this year (2005) marks the centennial of county governments in Hawai`i.

On April 15 of last year, the “Maui News” (M-N) said that the “Maui County Centennial Hui,” headed by Stephanie Ohigashi, planned a yearlong celebration in that county and later reported that a multi-faith service at Kaahumanu Church in Wailuku on March 23, 2005, kicked off the festivities. Following the service, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa delivered his aptly titled “State of the County Centennial Address” in the county office building across the street from the church.

In the meantime, SB 106, a bill introduced on January 20, 2005, by Maui Senators Shan S. Tsutsui, J. Kalani English and Rosalyn Baker began making its way through the 23rd Hawaii Legislature. The bill’s short title was “Making an Appropriation for the Centennial Celebration of Maui County.”

As I mentioned in December 2001, Section 56 of the Organic Act of 1900 authorized “that the legislature may create counties and town and city municipalities within the Territory of Hawaii.” This provision superseded an earlier federal law that prohibited territories of the U.S. from enacting such laws.

In 1901, the newly formed and powerful pro-Hawaiian sovereignty Home Rule Party and the fledgling Democratic Party of the territory drafted their respective proposals for the establishment of counties, whereas the plantation-backed Republicans appeared to oppose the idea.

A “county law” (Act 31) passed the legislature in 1903 but it was declared void by the territorial Supreme Court in January of the following year. Case notes provided by the State Legislative Reference Bureau imply that it was struck down for violating a provision “that each law shall embrace but one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.” Apparently, the act also covered and its title did not reflect incidental provisions relating to taxation. The ill-fated Act 31 had designated five counties: Oahu, Maui/Molokai/Lanai/Kahoolawe, West Hawaii, East Hawaii and Kauai/Niihau. Oahu, by the way, typically includes “all other islands not specifically enumerated.”

A second county law (Act 39) was upheld in June 1905, heralding the legitimate establishment of county governments in the territory, consisting of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Kalawao. The current charter of the County of Hawai`i states that the provisions of this county act evolved into Title 6 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), “County Organization and Administration.”

According to the HRS, with the only county officer being the sheriff, 
“The county of Kalawao shall consist of that portion of the island of Molokai known as Kalaupapa, Kalawao, and Waikolu, and commonly known or designated as the Kalaupapa Settlement, and shall not be or form a portion of the county of Maui, but is constituted a county by itself...” It “shall be under the jurisdiction and control of the department of health and be governed by the laws, and rules relating to the department and the care and treatment of persons affected with Hansen’s disease, except as otherwise provided by law.” According to U.S. Census data, the 13.21-square-mile county showed a year-2000 population of 147 persons forming 115 households.

The other four counties were run by elected Boards of Supervisors, the precursors of today’s county councils. According to “Maui News,” the first chairman of the Maui board was F. William Henning, an engineer from Lahaina.

Honolulu’s official government website explains that “the County of Oahu began operating on July 1, 1905, and two years later was renamed the City and County of Honolulu” and that at that time “a mayor was added to the Board of Supervisors.” Chapter 1-22 of the HRS clarifies that “the word ‘county’ includes the city and county of Honolulu.” Obviously, mayoral positions were subsequently established in the other counties (except Kalawao) as well.

The first “order” (that is, ordinance) approved by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Oahu on January 30, 1906, was entitled “Relating to Sidewalks Within the County of Oahu,” requiring, among other provisions that

“All owners of lands abutting on and adjoining any public street within the County of Oahu... shall, at their own expense, within thirty days after receiving notice from the County Road Supervisor, curb the sidewalks adjacent to the land so owned by them with substantial curbing, to be of good quality lava rock in blocks not less than thirty inches long, six inches thick at the top edge, and sufficiently wide to be held firmly in place by the street pavement or sidewalk...”

Order No. 5 was entitled “Relating to the Registration, Identification, Use and Operation of Motor Cars,” whereas Order No. 7 was about “Prohibiting the Operation of Motor Cars on the Tantalus Road.”

May 2005:  Wainiha Power Plant

By: C. S. Papacostas

In February of this year (2005), I said that I would follow up on a lead given me by Richard Cox about the McBryde Plantation on Kauai being an early user of coal in Hawai`i. However, the devastation caused by the October 30, 2004 flood in Manoa Valley to Hamilton Library deprived me of access to a major depository of historical data and caused me to rely more on antediluvian, so to speak, materials that I had already accumulated.

Among them was an August 16, 1906 article from “The Hawaiian Star,” one of the two precursors of the “Honolulu Star-Bulletin.” Under the headline “The Wainiha Waters Harnessed to Toil,” this lengthy story by Charles L. Rhodes gave an exuberant account of “the inauguration of the Kauai Electric Plant, the first long distance electrical transmission plant in the islands” by the Kauai Electric Co., a subsidiary of the McBryde Sugar Company (MSC).

The story described a ditch-and-tunnel project as “tapping the Wainiha stream at an elevation of 655, carrying 60,000,000 gallons a day along the wall of the valley to a point 575 feet above sea level from whence it is dropped down through thirty inch steel pipes to water wheels of the Pelton type, carrying on the same shaft, great electric generators... From these generators, the current of 2200 volts is transformed to a voltage of 33,000 and then carried on three aluminum wires across the mountains, 35 miles, to McBryde Plantation, where it is again transformed to 2200 volts and applied, through motors, to the operation of pumping plants, and some other purposes.” Pumping, by the way, was necessary to lift irrigation water from Hanapepe River to the company’s sugarcane fields.

According to Rhodes, the aqueduct consisted of 3.5 miles of tunnel and 1.5 miles of ditch. It had a main intake at Wainiha stream but also intercepted several other streams on its way to a “cemented forebay” from where the water was dropped “at a very steep angle” to the power house, “a concrete structure built on the firmest possible foundation to resist the enormous pressure of the 500 foot head of water in the thirty inch pipes.” Credit for the technical work was given to W. E. Rowell for conceiving the scheme, J. M. Lydgate “who had made the first reconnaissance and had formulated the plan,” the Hawaiian Electric Company “who were the consulting as well as the constructing engineers,” James W. Robertson, “the designer and constructor for the intake and its appurtenances,” Henry Jaeger, contractor for the ditch and tunnel system, W. N. Grant (an electrical engineer) for directing the powerhouse construction, and John Cassidy for performing the wiring. A. Gartley was also recognized as to have “designed not only the electrical construction and equipment, but the hydraulic and mechanical as well.” Interestingly, the May 2002 issue of “Wiliki o Hawaii” identifies Alonzo Gartley as “a US Naval Academy graduate who had been brought out from the mainland to be the Manager at the Hawaiian Electric Company.”

Unnamed Japanese laborers toiled under extremely challenging conditions to turn the overall idea into reality.

In their 2001 “History of McBryde Plantation,” William K. Yamanaka and Takeo Fuji verified that the major incentive for embarking on this difficult and risky enterprise was the avoidance of the costs associated with running a “coal burning steam engine called Pump #3.” Indeed, Rhodes’ story has W. Stodart, the company’s manager at the time, explaining that the cost of pumping would be minimal, and that excess “power had already been applied to the machine shop to the saving of a considerable amount of coal,” and that it could be further “applied to the [sugar] mill... and eventually to every process on the plantation requiring power.” Yamanaka and Fuji tell us that the name of the nearby town of Numila is derived from McBryde’s “New Mill!” The Plantation Archives of the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) tell us that the MSC resulted from an 1899 merger of three other entities, was originally operated by Theo H. Davies and Co. and, since 1910, by Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. Sugar production ceased at MSC in 1996 and many cane fields were converted to coffee cultivation under a new name, the Kauai Coffee Company. Having changed ownership two times, the Kauai Electric Company, since 2002, operates as the Kauai Island Utility Electric Cooperative, owned and controlled by the consumers it serves. This is a first for a utility in Hawai`i.

July 2005:  Project Tugboat

By: C. S. Papacostas

At the May 2005 meeting of the ASCE-Hawai`i Section, I enjoyed a very pleasant conversation with Jeff D. Benson of CH2M Hill. Until then, I knew nothing about “Project Tugboat” or its relevance to Hawai`i. From Jeff I learned that the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) had lent a hand in excavating the small boat harbor that sits next to the Kawaihae Deep Draft Harbor on the Big Island. That same evening, he e-mailed me two sources of information related to this intriguing story.

The first was a paper by Susan C. Edwards and Colleen M. Beck of the Desert Research Institute in Nevada that was presented at the second annual Hawaii International Conference on the Social Sciences, sponsored by the University of Hawaii’s West Oahu College in 2003. Its title was “Project Tugboat:  Hawaii’s Contribution to the Plowshare Program.” The second item was a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers information sheet dated 15 March 2004.

From these and other sources, I put together the following picture:

In his memorable “Atoms for Peace” address given to the United Nations on December 8, 1953, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed peaceful uses of atomic energy and he encouraged a “world-wide investigation into the most effective peace time uses of fissionable material.”

In the same spirit, according to Edwards and Beck, scientists met at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in 1956 to discuss the feasibility of using nuclear power to construct an alternate facility to the Suez Canal. At that time, the canal had been nationalized and placed under blockade by Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser. An ambitious “Plowshare Program” (named after the Hebrew or Old Testament passages about beating swords into plowshares) was announced by the AEC (now the Department of Energy) on June 6, 1958. Among its eventual supporters was Edward “Father of H-Bomb” Teller who in 1968 coauthored a book entitled “The Constructive Uses of Nuclear Explosives.”

The Plowshare Program was delayed by an international ban on nuclear testing that lasted until September 1, 1961. On December 10 of that year, to meet several peaceful objectives, “Project Gnome” detonated a nuclear device in salt deposits at a depth of 1,184 feet near Carlsbad, New Mexico. This was followed by other projects concentrating in Nevada and nearby states. At about the same time, the U.S. Corps of Engineers established its Nuclear Cratering Group (NCG) to undertake joint research with the AEC under the Plowshare umbrella.

In remote Hawai`i, by 1962 the Corps had completed construction of the Kawaihae deep draft harbor on the northwest coast of the Big Island pursuant to the national Rivers and Harbors Act. In 1969 “Project Tugboat” was planned to create a light-draft boat harbor that, according to Edwards and Beck, “would test the applicability of high explosive cratering methods for harbor construction and provide technical data useful for the design of future nuclear harbor excavation experiments.”

A variety of pre- and post-shot geophysical, hydrographic, topographic, meteorological, structural, seismic, biological and cultural resource studies were part of the overall project. Fifteen sampling holes were first drilled in the summer of 1969 to investigate the coral sub-surface formation. This was followed by five test shots using conventional high explosive charges ranging from one to 10 tons. Based on knowledge derived from these tests and from Plowshare “Project Pre-Gondola” carried out in Fork Peck, Montana, eight larger charges were used to create an 850-foot-long, 12-foot deep entrance channel ranging in width from 150 to 260 feet. Four additional charges were needed for the harbor’s berthing basin. Incomplete detonation of two charges in the entrance channel necessitated a series of 16 remedial small detonations in December 1970. All of the charges used in the project were conventional, that is, chemical explosives. Mile High Drilling, a contractor from Boulder, Colorado, then added an 850-foot breakwater to protect the harbor.

Interestingly, as recently as 2001, a report on Naval Mine Warfare published by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Division of the National Academies of Science cites the findings of Project Tugboat as part of its technical data.

August 2005:  Kawaihae

By: C. S. Papacostas

While researching "Project Tugboat," the topic of last month's article, I discovered an impressive report on the cultural history of three traditional Hawaiian sites on the west coast of the island of Hawai`i.

One of the three sites, the Pu`ukohola Heiau (with a macron on the final "a"), was completed by Kamehameha in 1791. It is located above the older Mailekini Heiau near Kawaihae Bay which was the locale of Project Tugboat, an experiment that, as I discussed in July 2005, during 1969-70 excavated the small boat harbor next to the deep draft harbor there by detonation of large charges buried in the coral bottom.

Published by the National Park Service (NPS) of the Department of the Interior in 1993, the cultural report lists as the author Linda Wedel Greene who, according to the preface, led an investigative team of considerable size. The team researched documents available in Hawai`i, the U.S. mainland, and several European counties. Although some of these resources "had not been previously researched," almost all were written from perspectives other than those of native Hawaiians. As to be expected in these circumstances, these accounts contain many discrepancies in their facts and interpretations.

Nevertheless, the NPS report and numerous other historical accounts shed light on the reasons why Kawaihae has traditionally been a major port within the Hawaiian chain. Among them are the following:

First, the bay was blessed with a "spacious, natural harbor."

Second, this is where Kamehameha Ali`i Nui consolidated his power over the island after the death of his rival cousin Keoua Kuahu`ula and kept his residence from 1790 to 1794.

Third, John Young ("Olohana" for his typical command "All hands"), Kamehameha's advisor and governor of the island from 1802 to 1812, who had arrived in Hawai`i in 1790, maintained his homestead there. Isaac Davis, the other foreign counsel was also granted homestead land in the area. As the NPS report put it, "The land given to Young included Mailekini and Pu'ukohola heiau. Near their homes in Kawaihae, Young and Davis raised fruits and vegetables new to Hawai'i from seeds procured from foreign ships. Their residence in this area made it a required port of call for sea captains who had to obtain Young's blessing before conducting business with the Hawaiian government."

Young is reported to have converted the Mailekini Heiau to a European-style fort prior to 1819 to protect the Bay.

Early visitor logs have spelled Kawaihae in various ways, including "Toe-yah-ya," "Toeaigh," Toiyahyah," "Toyai" and "Kohaihai." The "t" instead of "k" sound, still retained in the Ni'ihau dialect of Hawaiian, appears commonly throughout Polynesia and beyond. On this subject Robert Blust of the University of Hawaii presents a fascinating review in the December 2004 issue of "Oceanic Linguistics" ("*t to k: an Austronesian Sound Revisited.").

It was at Kawaihae that George Vancouver landed the first cattle in 1793. In 1803 Richard Cleveland left there the first horse to be seen in the islands. Early accounts note the presence of potable water, warm water springs, a fishpond, and elaborate systems of pans for the production of sea salt. The harbor thrived with the sandalwood ("`iliahi") trade, the cattle industry pioneered at Parker Ranch, and a major port for shipping produce and Irish potatoes. It appears to have reached its peak mid-19th century and then experienced a decline until, as the NPS report states:

"Not until modern times, with the dredging of its harbor and the opening of luxury resorts, did the forgotten village of Kawaihae again become a prominent site on the Kohala coast. In 1949 construction of a deep-draft harbor was recommended for the bay, which by that time was a small port shipping sugar, steers, pigs, and sheep to market on interisland vessels. In 1957 a contract was let to build causeways, a dike, and a revetment; the new deep-water port of Kawaihae Harbor was finally completed in 1959. Three years later the Corps of Engineers decided to widen the harbor's entrance channel and its basin, extend the existing breakwater, and construct a small boat harbor."

The last reference, of course, is to "Project Tugboat."

September 2005:  Readers Write

By: C. S. Papacostas

On a regular basis, readers of this column drop me a note or an e-mail message about something or other that piqued their curiosity. Here are three recent examples:

Ned Murphy, a Consulting Geochemist with the firm of Central Planet Repair, LLC, wrote in part:

“I just finished reading your history of cement in Hawaii which I found while researching the history of the Kaiser plant in Nanakuli. I’m conducting this work as part of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment for the plant. Several questions came to mind while reading your article. First, was the Waianae plant operated during 1945 and 1946 on the same site? If not out of curiosity is the location known? Is the use of the site prior to sale to Kaiser known?”

In response, I informed him that, according to my notes, the 6/10/59 issue of the Honolulu Advertiser included a map of the area at the time. I also suggested that municipal records that dealt with Kaiser’s and earlier rezoning requests may prove useful to his quest.

Incidentally, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) shows the old Cyprus Hawaiian Cement site in Ewa as a potentially hazardous waste site as well.

Scott Radway, Associate Editor of the Hawaii Business Magazine asked:

“I was wondering if you could help me with a historical page we run in the magazine. I was going to note 25 years ago that the two cement companies converted to coal power and would like to clarify a couple things. I would also like to report what happened to the companies.”

In a congenial follow-up phone conversation, we discussed and clarified these and other issues and I pointed out the ASCE-Hawaii web site where he could find all of the related articles I wrote on the subject. 

Electrical Engineer Keith Henson wrote in part:

“Aloha from freezing Canada. When I was a little kid I lived in Hawaii on Ft. Shafter between 1946 and 1948, leaving the Islands when I was 5 and never going back. My father, then Captain Howard W. Henson (and eventually Lt. Col. when he retired) worked at the “Radio Tunnel” which I remember as visible on a hillside from the back yard of our little duplex that backed onto some tennis courts. It was an impressive place to a 5 year old kid. I don’t know how far back it went into the hill or exactly what it was for, but I do remember the massive air conditioning equipment you had to walk by in the tunnel mouth. Does anyone on this list know anything about this installation, it’s real name or exactly where it was?” 

Based on a quick search of the records, I discovered a 2004 article by John D. Bennett entitled “Signal Company, Aircraft Warning, Hawaii [SCAWH] Organizational History,” that was published by Radomes, Inc., The Air Defense Radar Veterans’ Association. The article says that “SCAWH was organized at Schofield Barracks, Territory of Hawaii (T.H.) on August 14, 1940 per Paragraph 2, General Order Number 24, Headquarters Hawaiian Department (HHD).”

On December 7, 1941, the system included six mobile radar sites on O`ahu that had been connected via telephone wire to a temporary Information Center at Fort Shafter. The famous Opana Station near Kahuku where Privates Joseph P. Lockard and George E. Elliott, Jr. detected the approaching first wave of the Japanese attack airplanes was one of the six sites. The warning was relayed to Private Joseph P. McDonald, a switchboard operator at Fort Shafter, but unfortunately, it was dismissed by Lt. Kermit Tyler who was the only officer at the Information Center.

Bennett goes on to explain that “on February 1, 1942 the Information Center was moved to a newly built bomb-proof tunnel at Fort Shafter (codename Lizard).” I suggested to Keith Henson that this was possibly, but not definitely, the tunnel he remembered as a child. In 1991, by the way, the Opana Station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, on February 23, 2000, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) designated it as an Electrical Engineering Historical Milestone. A commemorative plaque was unveiled on the grounds of the Turtle Bay Hilton because a Regional Relay Facility for Diplomatic Communications has placed the vicinity of the Opana Station off limits to the public.

Interestingly, the initial nomination, prepared by Hawaii IEEE members Fred Kobashikawa and George Curtis was rejected on the basis that the Opana radar “did not work.” History has proven otherwise!

October 2005:  Tales of Cars and Horses
By: C. S. Papacostas

In November 2004 Loy Kuo of the Hawaii Department of Transportation sent me a message that said in part:

“I enjoy reading your History & Heritage column in the Wiliki. You may be interested in reading this 90-yr old, 8-page document that I accidentally came across last week. Note on page 6, it commented that roads should be built to still accommodate horses.”

The single-spaced typewritten document that Loy digitized and attached to his message was dated November 11, 1914 and carried the title “Report of County and Municipal Affairs Committee to the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF HONOLULU.” Prof. A. R. Keller, for whom Keller Hall on the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus was named, authored it and addressed it to the “Municipal Research Club, Committee on City Plan.”

The report set forth the following objectives:

“1. To give ready access from one portion of Honolulu to the other.
2. To provide in case of present traffic congestion an auxiliary outlet...
3. To provide main arteries for storm drains, sewers, water and gas mains...
4. To distinguish between main arteries, secondary arteries, and side streets...”

Additionally, he proposed a detailed plan for the section extending from Ward to Houghtailing in the East-West direction and between the waterfront and Judd Street inland. He recognized, however, that “this section of the city has been studied by many people, numerous schemes have been laid out, but in turn each had to be abandoned for lack of funds.”

The proposed classification of roadways into three categories would serve a dual purpose: It would affect “an equitable division of assessment ... upon abutting property owners” and it would determine the pavement structure that was appropriate to each class. Thus, the report considered “equitable” to set the distribution of costs between abutting property owners and the rest of “the district benefited” to 60/40 in the case of main thoroughfares, 80/20 in the case of secondary arteries and 100/0% for side streets.

As for pavement structures, the main arteries would feature a 6” concrete base with proper expansion joints topped by “a wearing surface from 4” to 6” thick” consisting of “vtrified [sic] brick,” stone or wood blocks. In the case of secondary roads “an asphalt macadam, mixing method, will probably give as serviceable a pavement for low cost,” whereas “for side streets the concrete base may usually be omitted and in general an oil bound macadam would serve.”

Good Old Professor Keller offered a plethora of spot improvements, street extensions and new roadways to provide access, reduce congestion and address military needs. For example, “the westward end of Queen Street should be extended parallel to the old O. R. & L. tracks around Moanalua where a connection could be made with the present Pearl Harbor Road. This road would be extremely useful for the military...” At the other end, “Queen Street should be extended to Ala Moana. This is only a few hundred feet but would at once open a second direct route from central Honolulu to Waikiki.” Additionally, “in order to further relieve the congestion on South King Street a second thoroughfare to Waikiki should be afforded by the extension of Hustace Street parallel to Queen Street to Ward Avenue thence across the swamp lands to Kalakaua Avenue.” Some of the many ideas espoused by Keller were “the removal of two closed spots on Young Street, one at Punahou, and the other at Artesian Street” that would, without much expense, give relief to King Street congestion” and a plan that “McCully Street, from King to Kalakaua Avenue, now only a street car right of way, should be open to vehicles as well as pedestrians.”

Interesting stuff!

​O. R. & L. was Benjamin Franklin Dillingham’s Oahu Railway & Land Company, built on the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries (see the June and July 2000 articles in this series). Pearl Harbor Road and Hustace Street are nowhere to be found on 21st century maps, the “few hundred feet” between Queen and Ala Moana were never built, and the “swamp lands” predate the Ala Wai Canal and modern environmental concerns regarding wetlands! The private streetcar right of way along McCully belonged to the H. R. T & L Co., The Honolulu Rapid Transit and Land Company (see February 1996).

Relating to Loy’s observation about accommodating horses, the 1914 report states:

“In this day of the automobile we are apt to forget the horse ... that is still with us and probably will continue to be for many years.” The suggested solution to steep streets that were slippery due to oiling was to provide a “rough section paved with such material as will give the horses proper foothold.”

According to my notes, it was but only a few years earlier, on December 14, 1906, that the Hawaiian Star bemoaned that “AUTOMOBILES INVADE MAUI” because “three new machines arrived.” The same issue of the newspaper published the list of all 100 registered automobile owners and the number and types of automobiles each owned!

December 2005:  Leaks Like a Sieve
By: C. S. Papacostas

“That thing leaks like a sieve,” Prof. Peter G. Nicholson, past-president of the Hawaii Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), said to reporter Karen Blakeman according to the October 23, 2005 issue of “The Honolulu Advertiser” (HA). “That thing” is the Nu`uanu Dam No. 4 which is currently owned by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, a City and County entity established by the 1929 Territorial Legislature.

As chair of national ASCE Geo-Institute Committee on Embankments, Dams and Slopes, Peter was the team leader for the assessment of the performance of New Orleans levees after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana on August 29, 2005. It was judicious, I think, for the newspaper reporter to also ask about the state of earth dams in Hawai`i.

Peter was the right person to ask because he had been involved in many dam safety inspections over the years, including one of Nu`uanu Dam No. 4 which he undertook with Ernest K. Hirata and Mehran Esmaili in 1992. Their findings are documented in a 1993 report issued to the Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources by the Soils and Foundation firm of Ernest K. Hirata & Associates, Inc.

By happenstance, while compiling information for an article about the Kohala Ditch on the Big Island that appeared in this column in March 2004, I had uncovered a fascinating reference to the Nu`uanu Dam next to a June 13, 1906 front-page story in “The Pacific Commercial Advertiser” (PCA) announcing the opening of the ditch. It was a story entitled “Concealing Bad Work - Serious Charge About Nuuanu Dam Methods,” the opening sentence of which went like this: “Assistant Inspector Patterson claims that an attempt is being made to cover up part of the work at the Nuuanu reservoir No. 4 before examination can be made by Engineer H. Clay Kellogg, who has been summoned from California...”

Thinking of this discovery as possibly the loose end of an unraveling yarn, I checked to see what “The Hawaiian Star” (HS) of the time had to say about it. And this is what I found under the title “Fears of Flood From the Big Dam,” on page 1 of the June 5, 1906 issue:

“A revival of misgivings about the safety of the big reservoir dam in Nuuanu Valley has been the cause of protests to the governor, and a commission will probably be appointed to examine the report upon the dam.”

A related HS story on the next day asserted, “Bringing an engineer here from the mainland to make a thorough investigation of the Nuuanu dam and give an authoritative opinion as to its safety, is the latest suggestion...”

Fear of dam failures was truly real in 1906 Hawai`i. For instance, a Hawaiian Star story from Wailuku dated April 23, 1906 started thus: “About 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, the new Emmesly reservoid [sic] above Waikapu, broke its embankment and rushed madly down the steep hill to the vegetable and taro lands below where a number of Japanese were peacefully sleeping, five of whom were to awaken only for a moment before beginning the great sleep that must come to all.”

In a mental flush flood I realized that the dam controversy had a longer chronology than I initially thought, but I had to set it aside for some time, pursuing instead the subject of the Kohala Ditch, but, all along, intending to get back to it at some future date.

When I saw Peter Nicholson giving an interview on a TV news program about levees and dams and after reading the HA story where he also said “this dam is leaking badly, and has been for nearly 100 years,” I knew the future was now!

So I walked the 70 or so feet from my office to his to find him absorbed in finalizing the testimony he was about to give on November 2, 2005 to the U. S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on behalf of ASCE. He did take the time to talk to me excitedly about the 1992 inspection of the Nu`uanu Dam and particularly about a layer of permeable scoria that ran diagonally for a distance on one end of the dam. He also pointed me to the 1993 Hirata report that, fortunately, I located at the University of Hawaii Hamilton Library.

The report includes a short history of the dam, appropriately emphasizing its design aspects that were relevant to the safety inspection from an engineering perspective. The general history began with the following sentence: “Construction of a dam at the present location of the Nuuanu Dam No. 4 was first proposed during 1882-1884, by Major A. S. Bender, in a preliminary report regarding the water supply of the City of Honolulu.”

This meant that, to unravel the rest of the story, I’d have to engage in the tedious task of searching old documents that have not as yet been systematically indexed!

I am on my way, I promise...

History & Heritage 2005

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