ASCE HeritageIn March 1995, the Executive Board of the Hawaii Section approved a request by past president C. S. Papacostas to start a column relating to the History and Heritage of Civil Engineering in the Wiliki o Hawaii, the monthly engineering newsletter of the engineering societies in Hawaii. Listed below are (slightly edited) articles that have appeared in 2002. For other years, click on the above links.
This was after an attempt to establish cable telegraphy between Oahu and Molokai failed due to damage induced by the roughness and depth of the intervening channel.
According to the story, several unsuccessful attempts were made with direct help from Marconi company experts. According to another source, Robert C. Schmitt's "Firsts and Almost Firsts in Hawaii," our Mr. Fred J. Cross and R. D. Silliman, his partner in the Inter-island Telegraph Company, Ltd., successfully demonstrated the technology between Kaimuki and downtown Honolulu in June 1900.
They began offering their inter-island services to the public on March 2, 1901.
This was the first commercially viable wireless network that was being recalled by Lorrin A. Thurston when delivering his speech during the inauguration of the largest wireless transmitter of its time in Kahuku on September 24, 1914 as I mentioned last month.
The Kahuku station constituted the transmission half of the 1914 system, the receiving part having been located at Koko Head where, among the necessary support facilities was the "Koko Head Hotel" that served as an employee dormitory.
Well, that building was, according to the April 2001 issue of "Ka Wai Ola o OHA,"constructed by the Marconi Company on land leased from Princess Pauahi's estate using blue prints developed for another structure in Marshall, California, stone fireplaces and all included!
The land and building were bought and granted to the estate in 1927 by descendants of O'ahu Governor Ii (about whom I've written in the past). The first Lunalilo Home, an adult care facility, originally opened its doors per his will in April 1883 in Makiki at Kewalo ma kai, the present location of Roosevelt High School.
By sheer happenstance, I recently ran across a headline in the April 16, 1881 issue of the Hawaiian language newspaper "Ko Hawaii Paeaina" that described the then recent laying of the cornerstone of the first Lunalilo Home: "Ka Hoomoe ana i ka Pohaku Kihio ka Home Lunalilo."
By another fortuitous event, I also discovered that the Koko Head building has recently gone through an almost $4.5 million renovation and is again open to kahunas.
What about the Kahuku wireless station, you may ask?
Well, a May 23, 1933 Star-Bulletin story informs us that "the lofty wireless towers at Kahuku" were to be torn down. Thomas H. Mitchell, the local superintendent for R. C. A. Communications (as the Marconi Company was then known), stated that the company had not used the 800-900 ft. high towers for about three years, that is, since the adoption of short wave radio that only needed 100-foot antennas.
However, it was more economical to keep the old towers standing until the tax-assessor decided to include them in the company's taxable assets!
And yet another coincidence: At the August 2002 meeting of the Section, I introduced myself to a Mr. David Cox, Cultural Resource Specialist for the Hawaii Army National Guard who was there to talk about the Battery Harlow that was constructed in 1910 on the slopes of Diamond Head. Before completing my question about Kahuku, he proceeded to explain to me that the massive foundations of the huge towers, as well as the lighter underpinnings of other structures, are still visible in the semi-submerged section of the abandoned airstrip!
Incidentally, Guglielmo Marconi did not visit Hawaii until a one-day stopover on his way to Asia in November 1933. On that occasion he announced that "television for commercial purposes may come within a year" and that "static in radio will soon be a thing of the past."
Among the welcoming committee at the dock was "a delegation from the Engineering Association of Hawaii."
While searching the map of O'ahu to locate Marconi Road in Kahuku (which I did find), I also discovered Marconi Street, a north-south oriented roadway in the Lualualei Naval Reservation. Interesting!
Warren was referring to my comment in last month's article that, on September 24, 1914, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America inaugurated that era's largest wireless station in Kahuku.
The event was covered by both the Honolulu Star-Bulletin ("Great Marconi Plant is Opened. Celebration Marks Wireless Feat") and the Pacific Commercial Advertiser ("Marconi Wireless is Formally Opened by Governor Pinkham"). Most of the 198 invited guests rode a special train that left Honolulu at 9:00 a.m. Between thirty and forty of them drove their autos to Haleiwa and embarked the train there, as the roads between Haleiwa and Kahuku were in ill-repair. The train arrived at Kahuku at 11:40 a.m.
At ten minutes after noon, the Governor pressed a silver key to officially place "the greatest wireless station in the world in capacity and power" on line.
Nugent H. Slaughter, the "young" engineer-in-residence, explained that "the plant's capacity was between thirty and forty thousand words a day, a limit that would probably not be reached for some time." Lorrin A. Thurston was the first speaker during the ceremony. His "History of Communication in Hawaii," according to the Advertiser, "was interesting to all and illuminating to the few malihinis present, the speaker telling how Hawaii had a telephone system when the telephone was still regarded as a toy on the mainland, and how Hawaii had had the first commercial wireless system in the world."
Dozens of messages were exchanged between the Territory of Hawaii and various U.S. points. These included messages from U. S. President Woodrow Wilson and one from A. P. Taylor, officer in charge of the San Francisco office of the Hawaii Promotion Committee, the precursor of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, I presume!
Another message from a Major-General Carter to the Adjutant-General in Washington, D.C. emphasized the military implications of wireless over cable: "The radius of action is upwards of 5000 miles and insures communication in time of war, regardless of any cutting of the cable."
On the business side, W.P.S. Hawk, the city manager of the Marconi Company, announced the rates that the new company would put in effect. For example, the ordinary day rate on messages to San Francisco and Oakland was set at 25 cents a word.
An advertisement is the previous day's edition of the Star-Bulletin urged potential customers to register their "code address" at he company's office at "923 Fort Street, formerly occupied by the Hawaiian Trust Company."
Among the Kahuku buildings pictured in the Advertiser were the administration building, a glass-screened boarding house ("hotel") for company employees, and the power house.
The Star-Bulletin further explained that the Hawaii Marconi station actually consisted of two parts: the Kahuku complex and a smaller plant at Koko Head. Among the pictures accompanying its story were those of resident engineer Slaughter, Harry M. Dougherty (Superintendent for the J. G. White Engineering Company), the Koko Head Wireless Office, and the Koko Head Hotel (i.e., employee dormitory).
In 1927, the Koko Head Hotel became the Lunalilo Home when it changed its location from its original (1883) Makiki site now occupied by the Theodore Roosevelt High School.
But the telling of this intriguing story, along with the little-known "first commercial wireless system in the world," and the eventual fate of the Kahuku station must await their turn in future articles.
In this "new" age of wireless communication, this was a milestone event.
Born in Bologna on April 25, 1874, the self-taught Marconi conducted a series of practical experiments and by around 1895 clearly proved the feasibility of communication via electromagnetic waves between a transmitting and a receiving antenna.
Officials in Italy, his birthplace, scoffed at his 1896 patent for "a wireless system using Hertzian waves". Luckily, he was able to continue his work in England with encouragement from his Irish mother Ann of the "Jameson Whiskie Distillery," and with additional support from the British Post and Telegraph Company.
Having a pronounced entrepreneurial streak, he founded the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company at Chelmsford, England in 1898.
That same year, under commission
from aging Queen Victoria, he established communication between her residence
at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and the Royal Yacht where her son
and heir was recovering from a knee injury.
Marconi was immediately threatened with a lawsuit from the Anglo-Newfoundland (or Anglo-American) Telegraph Company for interfering with the company's exclusive rights to communication by "telegraph!" With a grant from the Canadian Government, he built a new station at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
By then, Marconi was well on his way to the Nobel Prize for Physics, which he received in 1909, and toward building a highly profitable global network.
A September 1912 "Popular Mechanics" article by Frederick Minturn Sammis, Marconi Chief Engineer of America, declared that "plans have been consummated for completely encircling the earth with a great chain of high-power Marconi stations... [T]he English government has arranged with Mr. Marconi to erect six high-power stations to be located at London, England; Cyprus, or Egypt; Aden, on the Red Sea; Bangalore, India; Pertoria (sic), South Africa, and Singapore..."
"Until the present time our country has not been entitled to boast of a real high-power station, but now plans have been finished that will place the United States in the first rank with respect to both size and number of these modern high-power stations, and which in conjunction with the stations being erected for the English government already referred to, will provide a commercial service that will encompass the earth. This station will be near New York City, at Belmar, N.J., where 500 acres of land have been acquired upon which the masts and plants will be erected. Transmission will be effected to the Panama Canal Zone and thence to Hawaii."
The Hawaii station (call sign KIE) was inaugurated on September 24, 1914. It was located at Kahuku, O'ahu and was, at the time, the largest in the world.
But, surprisingly, this was not Hawaii's first wireless station.
The first Hamakua Ditch on Maui was constructed between 1876 and 1878 without the services of a trained engineer. According to the record, Oahu College (i.e. Punahou) graduate Henry Perrine Baldwin, one of the founders of Alexander & Baldwin, was aided by a carpenter named Langford in completing what was originally called "The Big Ditch." About 10 years later, this Old Hamakua Ditch was abandoned and replaced by the New Hamakua Ditch (1904-05).
Hermann Schussler (1842-1919), was brought to Hawai'i in 1878 by his San Francisco-based Hawaiian Commercial Company partner Claus Spreckels, the "King of Sugar," to work on several ditches, including the Spreckels Ditch (1879-80), the Center Ditch (1878) and the Manuel Luis Ditch (1900).
Schussler studied at the Polytechnique Institute in Zurick. In 1872, he engineered the Pilarcitos Lake water system for San Mateo. He also designed two clay-core dams, one at Upper Crystal Spring and the other at San Andreas; both dams survived the 1906 San Franciso earthquake.
Between 1888 and 1902, Schussler was Chief Engineer on the construction of a pipeline under San Franciso Bay from Alameda County. In 1905, he was appointed by U. S. President Theodore Roosevelt on a multinational commission th at investigated Panama Canal alternatives.
Edmund L. Vander Neillen is also mentioned as an engineer brought to Hawai'i by Spreckels to work on Maui's Lowrie Ditch (1899-1901). The EMI nominating committee found little information about this engineer but a recent internet search I conducted showed him, or someone identically named, as the 13th person to be issued a Land Surveyor's License in California circa 1891.
Another of the early ditch engineers was Arthur W. Collins (1883-1932) who earned the B.S. in Civil Engineering at the University of Maine in 1905. A year later, he became engineer for the Maui Agricultural Company in Paia. He also served as engineer for Hawaii Commercial and Sugar Company as well as the Kahului Railroad. He was an engineer in charge of the construction of the Kauikoa (Kauhikoa) Ditch (1912-1915).
Collins was a prolific writer of technical reports. One of these reports, published in 1918 by The Hawaiian Gazette Co. Ltd., carries the title "Water Supply and Crop Development Since 1894 on Maui Agricultural Co. Lands, Island of Maui, Showing Detailed Costs of Kauhikoa Ditch."
John Harrison Foss, Sr. (1879-1946) was another engineer described in the EMI nomination document. Born in California, he earned the A.B. and C.E. degrees from Stanford in 1903. A year later, he became an engineer with the Maui Agricultural Company. Back in California between 1907 and 1918, he held the position of Associate Professor of Engineering at Stanford. He then returned to Maui and was the engineer for the Wailoa Ditch (1922-23).
In addition to his engineering and management positions, which included the presidency of Maui Electric Company, Foss was very active in community affairs. He also served as President of the Maui Chamber of Commerce and as Chairman of the Tax Review Board of Maui County.
I am sure that the next generation of Hawaii Engineers included graduates of the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts of the Territory of Hawaii, the precursor of the University of Hawaii.
It shows a group of kanaka maoli on horseback at the Nu'uanu Pali pass before Johnny Wilson and Lou Whitehouse built the first Pali Road in 1897-98 as I described in a series of articles beginning in October 2001.
And now back to the topic I embarked on last month: Water use licensing that facilitated the network of sugar plantation ditches.
Notable engineers and other professionals became involved in the construction of these ditches that were the forerunners of large irrigation projects in the Western United States. Among the engineers was Michael Maurice O'Shaugnessy who went on to build, among other projects, San Francisco's Hetch Hetchy system (see my August 1998 article).
Getting a government license for the ditches was one thing, but building them in Hawaii's rugged terrain was another.
As O'Shaugnessy put it in a report entitled "Irrigation in Hawaii" about the Koolau Ditch on Maui (1904-05),
"The country was so steep and precipitous that little ditching could be employed, and it was necessary to make four and one-half miles of wagon road and eighteen miles of stone paved pack trails to facilitate during construction the transportation of supplies..."
At the beginning, even the most basic necessities were lacking. This fact is evident in a hand-written letter dated September 13, 1883 by James M. Alexander to the Reverend S. Bishop, Principal of Lahainaluna School on Maui that we discovered at the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library:
I am inclined to buy an instrument for surveying like your Transit. As I would regret waiting for one to be produced from the U.S. while needing it at once, I would thank you to let me know whether you would be willing to sell yours, to send for another yourself. Perhaps it would not much inconvenience you to be without one for a few months while teaching school. I could possibly have the compass I now use which belongs to the Haiku Plantation with you a few months..."
This sounds like a good deal to me. It also shows that educational institutions have always been valuable resources to the professional community!
EMI was selected to be representative of the many "ditch" systems built in 19th century Hawai'i to support the sugar industry that dramatically changed the economy of the kingdom.
Two major ingredients were needed for the sugar industry to prosper: land and water.
As I have explained in earlier articles, a transition to private ownership of land followed the "mahele" (i.e., "division") of 1848. This development forever changed the use of land from the traditional system of self-sufficient ahupua'a supporting dispersed settlement to today's dispersed ownership of land parcels. Reverberations of this fundamental change are heard in modern controversies involving what came to be known as "ceded lands."
Water use has also had a complex and contentious history. My April 2001 article pointed out, for example, the interplay between ancient native practices, common-law riparianism, the concept of prior appropriation, and the 1987 State Water Code's establishment of the public use doctrine relating to water rights.
With only a single notable exception, traditional native practice did not involve the diversion of water away from streams and rivers. The famous "Menehune Ditch" on the west side of Kauai, with its unusual stone lining, was the exception; some even claim that this aqueduct anteceded the arrival of the kanaka maoli to Hawai'i.
Our nomination committee discovered a groundbreaking "Letter from Attorney General William R. Castle to His Excellency Wm. L. Moehonua, Minister of the Interior, dated 7 September 1876."
The Attorney General's opinion addressed an application by "Messrs Castle and Cooke, representing the Haiku Sugar Company, Alexander and Baldwin, James M. Alexander, the Grove Ranch Plantation and Capt. Thos H. Hobron ... to take water from several streams, in Koolau Maui, to be carried to their respective sugar plantations, for purposes of irrigation." His understanding was that the application was not "for land, nor ... for an absolute sale or grant of the waters... [but] for a license; the license to take and use water, conveying the same in part over several government lands."
The opinion favored the granting of the license partly because "[t]he Reciprocity Treaty having passed and a brighter future opening for the country, it becomes the duty of the Government to aid and foster in every possible way the agricultural interests of the country upon which our prosperity mainly depends."
AG Castle justified granting the license to private parties because unlike "the case in some of the European nations," the Hawaiian Government was "not prepared to engage in any such development of internal resources" and that "[u]ntil the government is ready to undertake such work - no obstacle should be thrown in the way of others, who are able and ready to commence such work."
And thus changed the flow of history!
Discussing georeferencing coordinate
systems and map projections in my Geographic Information System (GIS) class,
I point out to my students a log entry by Captain James Cook on his second
voyage to Polynesia:
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