|ASCE Historic Civil Engineering
Landmarks in Hawaii
East Maui Irrigation
System (Designated in 2002)
Underground Fuel Storage Facility (Designated in 1994) - link to ASCE National
V Post Office Building (Designated in 1987) - link to ASCE National Website
EAST MAUI IRRIGATION
SYSTEM HONORED AS HISTORIC CIVIL ENGINEERING LANDMARK
The East Maui Irrigation
System has been designated as an ASCE National Historic Civil Engineering
Landmark. The dedication ceremony was held on February 26, 2003 at
the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum in Puunene, Maui, Hawaii.
Among the participants in the dedication ceremony were ASCE President Thomas
L. Jackson, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, Maui City Council Chair Dain Kane,
ASCE Hawaii Section President Horst Brandes and ASCE Hawaii Section History
and Heritage Committee member Richard Cox.
It began with the construction
of the Old Hamakua Ditch built between 1876 and 1878. The terms of
the lease from King Kalakaua providing a right-of-way and water capture
from lands of the Kingdom required completion in two years. All construction
was by private enterprise. It is a tribute to the foresight of Samuel
T. Alexander and Henry P. Baldwin, sons of missionaries to Hawaii and early
sugar cane growers in the then Kingdom of Hawaii. Nine subsequent
ditches were constructed by private enterprise between 1879 and 1923.
The East Maui Irrigation
(EMI) System demonstrated the feasibility of transporting water from steep
tropical forested watersheds with high rainfall across difficult terrain
to fertile and dry plains. Sugar production dramatically increased
with irrigation and improved cultivation practices. Sugar yields
increased from 2 tons per acre to over 13 tons per acre grown with 2-year
The construction of the Old
Hamakua Ditch sparked major irrigation aqueduct construction on the Hawaiian
Islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii. Eventually sugar production
from these islands exceeded 1.2 million tons per year, comprising the major
economic sector of Hawaii for 100 years.
The EMI System was also the
forerunner of major aqueducts in the Western United States by the Bureau
of Reclamation, irrigation districts and regional domestic supplies.
Engineer M.M. O’Shaughnessy, in charge of constructing the Koolau Ditch
in 1904 and 1905, subsequently built San Francisco Hetch Hetchy water system.
Other engineers involved in Hawaii aqueducts subsequently worked on major
domestic water aqueducts in the western United States.
Today, the EMI System conveys
62 billion gallons per year from steep tropical forested watersheds with
high rainfall on the Windward side of Haleakala to the semi-arid Maui isthmus
for sugar cane cultivation. The EMI System consists of 74 miles of
tunnels, ditches, inverted siphons and flumes. The system provides
for over half the irrigation requirements for the Hawaiian Commercial &
Sugar Company plantation, a division of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc.
The plantation, with a cultivated area of 37,000 acres, is a combination
of earlier smaller plantations in the Maui isthmus. Hawaiian Commercial
and Sugar Company produces 230,000 tons of sugar annually and is the largest
plantation in Hawaii. During the 1980’s Hawaii plantations provided
one-sixth of the sugar produced in the United States and was Hawaii’s principal
economic sector for over 100 years.
The EMI System is the third
National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in the State of Hawaii.
The other two landmarks are the Kamehameha V Post Office Building, dedicated
in 1987, and the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility, dedicated
ASCE established the National
Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Program in 1966 to recognize civil
engineering works that have made a significant contribution to the development
of the United States and to the profession of civil engineering.
Sections and branches may propose to the Society’s History and Heritage
Committee that projects in their area be accorded landmark status.
The committee passes its recommendations to the Board of Direction, which
makes the final decision.
in the EMI System dedication ceremony were (L-R) ASCE Hawaii Section History
and Heritage Committee member Richard Cox; EMI employee Jackie Honokaupu;
Alexander and Baldwin, Inc. Vice-President Meredith Ching; Maui City Council
Chair Dain Kane; EMI Manager Garrett Hew; EMI employee Mark Vaught; Maui
Mayor Alan Arakawa; EMI employee Albert Honokaupu and ASCE President Thomas
Manager Garrett Hew with ASCE President Thomas L. Jackson
pipeline which forms the U-shaped inverted siphon was a sizeable installation,
underscored by the barely discernable men who pose on platforms and adjacent
The Maliko Siphon is part
of the Kauhikoa Ditch and it transported water down, then back up the other
side of the 450-foot deep Maliko Gulch.
picture was taken in 1909, during installation of a pipeline for Haiku
ditch water under the steel railroad bridge crossing the Maliko Gulch.
The pipeline is part of the
vast East Maui Irrigation System on Maui, which began with the building
of the first, most famous, Hamakua ditch, built by Alexander & Baldwin
between 1876 and 1878.
photo was taken in the late 1950s, as these men, Ephriam Bergau Sr. (left)
and Joseph ‘Ace’ Akiu Sr. (right) dug a tunnel to replace a wooden flume
structure on the Center Ditch near Punaluu. The excavated tunnel
material was removed via a tunnel cart utilizing steel tracks, as seen
on the bottom of the photo.
the 1960s, these men are doing maintenance, clearing gravel and debris
from a tunnel and open ditch section on the Center Ditch near Oopuola using
a rickshaw cart (still in use today). Left front, Joseph Honokaupu Jr.;
right front, John Nishioka Jr.; left rear, Pablo Castillo and, right rear,
John “Mack” Emmsley.
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Civil engineering has shaped
the history of our nation and every community within it. To celebrate
the profession, ASCE established the History and Heritage Committee (HHC)
in 1964. The mission of this committee is to enhance the knowledge
and appreciation of our history and heritage.
For consideration as a National
Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, an ASCE Section (such as the
Section) must officially nominate a project by forwarding information to
the HHC. To ensure that the designation of a project by ASCE as a
National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark has real and lasting significance,
HHC carefully studies and evaluates the data submitted by the nominating
Section. Not only must the specific merits of the nominated project
be weighed, but it also must be compared to similar projects, including
those that may or may not have been nominated and/or designated as landmarks.
It is essential that detailed documentation be provided to support statements
or claims made in the nomination.
National historic significance
is not a quality or characteristic that lends itself to easy evaluation.
As a result, HHC uses the following guidelines as it considers the merits
of a specific nomination:
1. The nominated project
must be of national historic civil engineering significance. Size or technical
complexity of design or construction is not sufficient in itself.
2. The project must represent
a significant facet of civil engineering history, but does not have to
be designed or constructed by a civil engineer.
3. Projects must have some
special uniqueness (e.g., a first project constructed); or have made some
significant contribution (e.g. the first project designed by a particular
method); or utilized a unique or significant construction or engineering
technique. The project itself must have contributed to the development
of the nation or at least a very large region. Thus a project that
did not make a contribution, did not lead to some other development, or
was a technical "dead end" may not be of national historic significance,
although it was the "first" (or only one) of its kind.
4. Projects should be generally
available to the public view, although safety considerations or geographic
isolation may restrict access.
5. Nominated projects should
be at least 50 years old from the substantial completion at the time an
ASCE plaque presentation is desired.
HHC takes very seriously
its responsibility for recommending National Civil Engineering Landmarks
to the National Board of Direction. Each nomination can take up to
one year to review. If the Board of Direction approves a Section's
nomination for designation as a National Civil Engineering Landmark, the
Section plans the plaque presentation event.
To date, less than 200 projects
have received the designation of National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
These projects include the Erie Canal, Brooklyn Bridge, Washington Monument,
Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, U.S. Capitol, and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
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