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One Hundred Years Ago: February 1924


This is entry #109 in my series of short reprints of a 100-year-old National Geographic Magazine.


Cover Image courtesy of Scott Shier 

The sole article in this month’s issue is entitled “The Hawaiian Islands” and was written by Gilbert Grosvenor, LL. D., President National Geographic Society, author of “The Land of the Best,” “Peary’s Polar Explorations in the Far North,” “Young Russia, the Land of Unlimited Possibilities,” “The Capitol – Wonder Building of the World,” etc., in the National Geographic Magazine.  It has a subtitle, both on the cover and internal that reads “America’s Strongest Outpost of Defense – The Volcanic and Floral Wonderland of the World” and is an address delivered before the National Geographic Society in Washington, D. C.  A breakdown of the article’s “134 Illustrations” is as follow: eighty-nine Black-and-white photographs, of which thirty-one are full-page in size; twenty-one colorized black-and-white photographs, of which thirteen are full-page in size to be discussed later (these are the “Sixteen Pages of Illustrations in Full Color” listed on the cover); sixteen full-page duotones to be discussed later; six sketch maps of Hawaii and its position in the Pacific (the first three were missed by Philip Riviere), the first, on page 116, is of the Pacific Ocean and Hawaii’s Strategic Location,

The second, on page 123, is a full-page sketch map of the Main (Eastern) Hawaiian Islands with an inset of the entire archipelago,

The third, on page 127, shows the migration routes to Hawaii from Asia,

The fourth, on page 134, is of the Island of Oahu,

Relief Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

The fifth, on page 145, is of the Island of Maui,

Relief Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

And the sixth, on page 183, is of the Island of Hawaii;

Relief Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

One Sketch Drawing, on page 127, of Father Damien;

And one Sketch Diagram, on page 139, showing a pie chart of the population demographics of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Hawaiian Islands were the most isolated inhabited islands in the world, more than 2,000 miles from their nearest neighbor, California.  They had been built along a crack on the ocean bottom by a string of volcanoes.  On a map they looked like pin-pricks.  Some of the author’s friends, who were not Society members, asked him and his wife how they could entertain themselves in such a small place.  The members of our Society knew that the Hawaiian Islands were one of the wonderlands of the world.  Here, American ingenuity, courage, and energy had wrought seeming miracles, unsurpassed elsewhere, and achieved discoveries beneficial to all mankind.  When discovered, the Islands were already inhabited by a handsome, semicivilized race, a happy and kindly people, but subject to a harsh form of religion, of which the tabu was the principal feature.  The tabu was especially severe to the women, who could not eat with men.  The Hawaiians were sufficiently removed from the Tropics to be compelled to work for a living, and thus became intellectually and physically more alert and vigorous than the islanders of the South Pacific.  Life in the sea, from which much of their food was obtained, developed superb and agile figures, making them the most daring and powerful swimmers in the world.  They had been living on those islands for untold centuries before the advent of Cook, in 1778.  They had come in canoes hollowed out from single logs.  Some were 70 feet long and could carry 50 or more men.  It was believed that the Polynesian race, to which the Hawaiians belonged, originated in India.  Their voyages across the seas rivaled those of the Vikings.  With no compass, and only the stars to guide them, they journeyed 2,000 and 3,000 miles in their frail but unsinkable craft.  From the bark of a small bush, they made paper cloth, which they dyed using juices from berries.  A gift of that lovely tapa cloth was the most highly esteemed present.  Cook received a number of those valuable pieces of tapa from native chiefs.

The people were governed by kings of giant stature, who were absolute and had power of life and death.  Those rulers were believed equal to the gods, and the common people were made to lie on the ground when the king came forth.  The king was clad in a feather robe.  One of those royal feather cloaks, in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, was valued at one million dollars.  It took 100 years to make one, since it used feathers from a rare bird.  So irregular were marital relations that the Hawaiian language when Cook arrived had no word for “father”, and the climate was so even, that it had no expression for “weather.”  When Cook landed, in 1778, he was greeted as the God Lono.  When one of Cook’s men died, the white men were recognized as mortal.  Cook was killed in a fight, his flesh stripped from the bones and fed to dogs, and his heart preserved and hung in the rafters of a hut, where it was found by some boys, mistaken for the heart of a pig, and also eaten.  Their ceremony of eating was far superior to those of Europe.  Trunks of trees were fashioned into bowls and polished.  There was no hasty use of both hands over fish, fowl, or pig.  The Chief used the fingers of one hand to separate the flesh, and each morsel was conveyed to the lips with delicacy and grace.  The priesthood of Hawaii was closely akin to that of the Jews in ancient Palestine – even in the manner of constructing their temples.  The Hawaiians had their Temple of Refuge, where an accused person could seek shelter until the temple authorities could determine guilt or innocence.  They had their purification of the temple with salt, similar to the ceremony in Palestine.  They performed circumcisions as it was done in the Holy Land.  They had their ashes and sackcloth.  The priesthood was related to the government and to the direction of the habits of the rulers as the priesthood was related to the rulers in Palestine.

American interest in the Hawaiian Islands really began with the sailing from Boston of the first company of missionaries in the fall of 1819.  That little band embarked on the Thaddeus October 23 to take religious liberty and light as they conceived it to others.  Some Hawaiian boys had been brought to New England by American Whalers.  Their stories of the godlessness of their native islands inspired the people to send missionaries to the islands, then called the Sandwich Islands.  Revival meetings were held and volunteers called for.  Many offered service but only a few were chosen.  Those were young men of virtue and intelligence.  Most of them were unmarried, so volunteers were called for from among the young women.  Among the chosen was Lucy Goodell, teacher.  Four weeks later Lucy Goodell, as the wife of the Rev. Asa Thurston, sailed for Hawaii in the First Company.  They were among several young couples, one of which included their five children.  The Hawaiian Islands were very near, in 1924.  Soon, there would be daylight flights from Honolulu to San Francisco.  The author theorized a tourist going from Boston to Hawaii in three days by air transit.  But so distant were the Islands from Boston in 1819 that it took seventeen months after the Thaddeus sailed for word of their arrival reached Massachusetts.  The young missioners were pleasantly surprised when they landed in Hawaii.  The climate was equable and healthful, and the natives were hospitable.  They had not been advised that a few months before they had embarked Kamehameha the Great had died, and that his favorite widow had induced the people to shatter the old practices of tabu and idolatry, and had influenced the new king to eat in the company of women for the first time.  The Hawaiians, having discarded their old rites as barbaric, were agreeable and receptive to new teachings.  To win their confidence and support, all the Company needed was tact and evidence of character and sincerity, all of which they had in abundance.

The queen welcomed the New England costume as passionately as our modern ladies greeted the latest styles from London and Paris.  One could not understand the story of Hawaii without the story of the Thaddeus and the other little ships which carried successive bands of missionary pioneers.  The spiritual ideals which those devote men and women planted on those Islands were bearing fruit in 1924.  In six years, they translated the Bible into the Hawaiian language, which they had reduced to writing; in 30 years they taught the entire nation to read and write.  They saved the Hawaiian race from such ravages of disease and ignorance that had decimated the islanders of the South Pacific.  They had hitched Hawaii’s wagon to a star.  It was their children and grandchildren who guided the successive sovereigns of Hawaii in preventing its absorption by European powers, and who led the movement for independence and ultimate entrance of the Territory of Hawaii as an integral part of the U. S.  The annexation of the Hawaiian Islands by the U. S. had turned out to be as good a bargain for the entire U.S. as it had proved for the Islands themselves.  Great as was the value of Hawaii as the first line of America’s military and health defense in the Pacific, those advantages were ours without spending a single dollar of mainland money.  The people of Hawaii paid for the operation of their own government and contributed to the National Treasury for the Territory’s defense.  In fiscal year 1921, they paid, in customs duties and taxes, $22,000,000; in 1922, they paid more than $16,500,000.  The cost to maintain a customshouse and postal service represented a very small fraction of those Federal taxes.  Easily, the net payments in 1921 and 1922 were much more than the outlay in recent years for fortifications and naval-base improvement, which benefited the whole U. S.  Indeed, those payments went far toward covering the cost of maintaining troops for the Islands’ protection.

The people of Hawaii paid for the maintenance of their own schools and roads, police protection, agricultural research, health agencies, etc.  The quarter century that had passed since the American flag first floated over Hawaii had seen its people develop a loyalty to that flag as strong as that of “The Original Thirteen.”  The people of Hawaii were sensitive of the score of popular misconception in America that their territory was an insular possession of the U. S.  By treaty rather than purchase or conquest, the Islands became an integral part of the U. S.  Their citizens were entitled to all the benefits of congressional legislation.  Nineteen States paid less in taxes than Hawaii and got Federal aid, but the Territory of Hawaii was excluded.  The author and his wife’s visit to Hawaii was in June and July.  The voyage from the mainland occupied six or seven days, through quiet seas.  They were not ready for the great enterprising metropolis of Honolulu which greeted them.  The mercury stood at 80 degrees F., but there was no sultriness; a sea breeze and a mountain breeze fanned the town, and the purple nights were cool and delicious.  Their first excursion was up Nuuanu Valley to view the grand panorama from the precipice called the Pali, which was Oahu’s scenic lion.  They looked down into what was left of an immense volcanic crater, which, in ages past, was 25 miles in diameter.  One-half of the crater had sloughed off into the sea.  Pali was a natural wonder.  From its sheer edge, the splendid panoramic view of the windward side of the island was spread out at the observer’s feet – a view of rugged mountain cliffs, of country side, of quiet bays, of coral strands, and of open sea.  With its long, vertical crater wall standing abreast of the northeast trade winds, and with the elevation favorable to bring about abundant rainfall on the leeward side, it had been furrowed from end to end into a series of deep lateral valleys.  Perhaps their most vivid memories of that world-famous view were the enchanting notes of the Manchurian thrush which, imported some years prior, nested abundantly among the peaks and cliffs.

Judging from their experience, the trades rushed across the Pali with as great a force as when Admiral Wilkes visited 80 years before 1924, and noted in his record, “… the trade is blowing strong, it is impossible to stand with safety.”  Those trade winds brought from the sea their burden of moisture.  Yet on the leeward slopes were found a dry realm of such startling contrast that much substantiation was necessary to be convincing.  Awini, at an elevation of 2,100 feet, in the North Kohala hills of Hawaii, had an annual rainfall of 167.68 inches, while the yearly amount of only 16.60 inches was gaged at Mahukona, about nine miles leeward.  Nahiku, windward of Haleakala, Maui, received annually about 300 inches, while Waiopai Ranch, leeward of Haleakala, only 25.39 inches.  Puu Kukui received normally 370 inches, while Camp No. 7, only 8½ miles distant, received only 15.66 inches.  In 1918, Puu Kukui received 562 inches, while Camp No 7 received only 2½ inches of rain in 1912.  The wet places mentioned were dry when compared with Mt. Waialeale, Kauai, elevation 5,080 feet, with a normal precipitation of 476 inches annually.  Only some fourteen miles leeward of the mountain was Waiawa, receiving 22.31 inches of rain annually.  The higher levels of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and Halekala, Maui, were frequently white with snow, and transient snow had been seen on the crest of Mt. Waialeale, Kauai.  It was doubtful that frost ever formed below the 2,500-foot level over the entire group of islands, and rarely below 4,000 feet.  From the warmth of summer to the chill of high-level winter, from the arid plains to zones of heavy rains, from sunshine to fog-draped crests, one found, perhaps, greater climatic changes than could be found elsewhere within so limited an area.  Roughly computed, the annual mean temperature was 75.55 degrees F., with a divergence in either direction of 7.55 degrees.  As a rule, the temperature was cooler by four degrees for every thousand feet in altitude.

The 47 sugar-producing corporations of the Islands had combined to support a world-famous experiment station in Honolulu, so knowledge could be shared on improving production and lowering cost.  Samples of soil from every cane field were sent to the station yearly, where they were analyzed and an appropriate ration was formulated for each field.  Soil analysis, seedling introduction, cane-disease prevention, variety adaptation, and parasite elimination had all served to enable Hawaii to lead the world in the acreage production of sugar.  On the windward side of the island of Hawaii, sugar could be grown without irrigation. On the leeward side of that island, the crop was produced entirely by irrigation.  Irrigated, Maui Island produced about 15,000 pound of sugar per acre per year; Hawaii, 8,000 pounds; Cuba, 4,900 pounds; while Louisiana produces only 2,620.  The record for one acre on Maui was 10½ tons.  On the island of Kauai, two plantations had forty miles of tunnels and ditches for irrigation.  A plantation on Oahu had an aqueduct nearly fifteen miles long; it pierced the Koolau mountain range with a tunnel 14,443 feet long.  Vast reservoirs for impounding water were constructed to maintain a constant supply, which at times reached 50,000,000 gallons a Day.  One plantation used as much water as San Francisco.  Through selection of cane varieties and matching them to the right soils, Hawaii was able to nearly double Cuba’s per acre yield, with Hawaii’s cane yielding more sugar per ton.  Most of Hawaii’s sugar was produced on irrigated land; Cuba’s was not.  Much of Hawaii’s cane was transported to the mills by flume; Cuba’s could not.

There was no phase of Nature in Hawaii more interesting than the struggle between the sugar planters and the insect enemies of cane.  Nowhere else in the world better exemplified the ravages of invasive species than Hawaii.  Its climate was ideally suited for numerous tropical and subtropical insects.  With no natural predators, they began to spread, rapidly colonizing the country.  Typical among the stowaways that came to Hawaii were the cane borers and the cane leaf hoppers.  The borer was a beetle and the hopper a kind of plant louse.  They effected their entrance on importations of cane seed and cuttings.  As years passed, they both became so numerous that they threatened to destroy the sugar industry in Hawaii.  The sugar planters organized an experimental station whose duties included the discovery and importation of natural enemies of the borers and hoppers.  In 1906, Mr. F. Muir began the quest for the enemies of the cane borer.  First, he went to China but found no borers.  Then he tried Malasia, Java, and Borneo with no luck.  He sailed to the Molucca Islands Visiting Amboina of that group, he still found no trace.  He visited the islands of Larat, via Kei and Aru Islands, and finally located the borer, not only in cane, but also in pinang and sago palms.  Next, he searched for their parasites, but found none on Larat.  Realizing the borer also attacked sago palms, Mr. Muir returned to Amboina and found the borer abundant in them.  There, he found it attacked by a little fly that laid its eggs in the borer’s larvae.  After repeated efforts to import the flies to Hawaii failed, with the flies dying before reaching their destination, finally, on August 16, 1910, he arrived at Honolulu with living flies.  Once safely in Hawaii, the flies began to spread rapidly and to work havoc among the borers.  So effective were those parasites that the borer had become a negligible factor in cane-growing.

An even greater threat to the sugar industry than the borer developed two decades prior when the leaf hoppers grew numerous.  On a single infested plantation production fell from 19,000 tons to 3,000 in three years.  It was ascertained that the pests had been imported as stowaways on seed cane brought from Australia.  Studying the hopper in its native habitat, one by one its enemies were discovered.  One was almost microscopic, laying eggs in the hopper which hatch and devour the pest.  Another insect had an even more successful campaign against the hopper.  It laid its eggs in the hopper’s eggs.  So again, the Hawaiian sugar industry was saved.  There were other insect pests imported which did not affect the sugar crop.  One was a fly brought from Mexico on a shrub called the lantana.  That fly had no natural enemies and spread rapidly.  In a few years, that Mexican shrub was relegated to the conquered dangers.  Two other pests had been smuggled into Hawaii that were proving dangerous to the fruit and melon crops – the Mediterranean fruit fly and the melon fly.  The fruit fly was one of the most dangerous of all fruit pests.  It attacked 72 different kinds of fruit.  It had reached Honolulu in 1910 by way of Australia, and had spread to every island within four years.  The female drilled little holes through the rind and laid her eggs in them.  When the maggots hatched, they feasted on the fruit.  One fruit, the papaya seemed immune to the fruit fly.  It possessed a rich supply of vegetable pepsin that quickly digested the fly’s eggs.  Four species of parasites that laid their eggs in the fruit fly’s larvae had been imported from Africa and Australia.  The melon fly attacked melons in much the same way as the fruit fly.  Its parasites had not yet been found, since the economic interests of the melon growers had never been important enough to warrant a search.  Both those flies were potential stowaways to the U. S., and the Department of Agriculture was sparing no effort to keep them out of the country.

The author’s party visited a pineapple cannery in Honolulu which employed 4,000 people, two-thirds of them women.  Long trains of freight cars loaded with golden fruit were arriving every few minutes. The women were separated according to their race; the Chinese at one set of tables, the Japanese at another, etc.  Each group strove to outdo the other in production.  Once discarded as rubbish, the pineapple, in 1924, constituted the second industry of the Territory, its crop valued only below that of sugar.  The first pineapples were brought to Hawaii from the East Indies and were planted in Oahu.  The endeavor failed due to its own success.  The markets in Honolulu were flooded with the fruit; prices fell, and the planters suffered a big lose.  Most plants were destroyed, but a few homesteaders, enamored with the flavor of the new fruit, planted some in their gardens.  In time they established a cannery for the surplus fruit, and from that modest beginning had developed into an industry which, in 1923, shipped more than five million cases of the canned fruit to the markets of the world.  Sugar had brought the Islands great wealth, but also the most complicated racial mixture and problems to be found anywhere in the world.  To work the fields, many thousands of Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Koreans, and Filipinos were brought to the Islands.  The population in 1924 was about 41.7% Japanese, 8.6% Chinese, 8.4% Filipino, 14.8% Hawaiian and semi-Hawaiian, 12.4% Latin (mainly Portuguese), and 11.8% White.  Since 1914, the death rate for the pure Hawaiian had exceeded the birth rate.  Filipinos were attracted by high wages, move to the Territory.  Among the best workers were the Ilocanos, who brought cock-fighting with them.  The Japanese did not intermarry with other races.  The birth and death rates were favorable to the Japanese.  By 1940, about 47% of the voters would be of that race.

The author’s party attended a dance given to the graduating class of the normal school in Honolulu.  It was an inspiring example of the beneficial influence of the American public-school system.  The bright faces of the boys and girls revealed many racial mixtures.  They especially admired a young Chinese couple.  Both were born in the Territory of Chinese immigrants.  She had graduated the school and held a secretarial position in the U. S. customs.  The young man had studied at the University of Kansas.  They also attended an illustrated lecture given for the benefit of the Red Cross by Ex-Governor George R. Carter in a country schoolhouse, on the island of Hawaii.  The first two rows were packed with jolly, mischievous boys of 8 to 12 years of age of all racial mixtures.  A glance at a map of the Pacific reminded the reader of the geographical importance of the Islands.  They commanded every trade route of consequence to China and the Orient across the Pacific.  The Islands were in fact the key to the Pacific, a lonely American sentinel on guard for American interests.  Their strategic importance to the U.S. had been vastly increased by the recent extraordinary improvement of airplanes and airships.  A way had to be found to keep the Territory American, even with the oriental elements so predominant in the population.  It would be difficult to overestimate the strategic value of the Territory of Hawaii in the protection of our West Coast from invasion.  Happily, the treaties drawn by the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armaments had been ratified by the U. S. and Japan and the prospect of war between them had hopefully disappeared.  Before that conference the distrust of each of those countries was leading them towards a struggle which neither of them desired and both dreaded; but none the less a struggle for which each felt it must be prepared.

The military and naval authorities of the U. S. had made a careful study of the course such a war would take and the role Hawaii would play.  With an adequate naval base at Pearl Harbor, and the American fleet stationed there, Japan could not make a dangerous assault upon the mainland coast or the Panama Canal.  Her navy would have come six thousand miles, and would face a stronger fleet between it and home.  On the other hand, Hawaii could not be used as a base of direct attack against Japan.  The distance from Honolulu to Yokohama was 3,400 miles.  The naval authorities of both countries recognized that fact.  So far from our continental coasts, then, as to be an effective and specific guarantee against attack from the Orient, and at the same time so remote from the Asiatic shores as to not menace them, Hawaii served an admirable role strategically, so long as it was held by our forces, being the impregnable outer defense of our coastline and at the same time not a peace-time menace to any possible enemy.  In outlined the probable course that a war between the U. S. and Japan would take, it would start with the conquest of Guam by Japan followed by an attack on the Philippines.  After that, Japan might settle down and await the U. S. counterattack, with Japan being in a strong, defensive position.  To assure holding the Philippines in case of war with Japan, the U. S. would have to fortify Guam and make a major naval station there.  Such a station would menace Japan as much as protect the Philippines.  Under the naval treaty, the naval base at Guam would not be built, and the menace to Japan would disappear.  Pearl Harbor was one of the finest natural naval bases in the World.  It was impossible and unnecessary to fortify the Hawaiian Islands; there were no other Hawaiian harbors that would have given a hostile navy a foothold from which to defy our fleet.

But Hawaii was valuable strategically not only from a military and naval standpoint.  It was equally important as an outpost against oriental diseases, many of which would get a foothold on our shores except for the watchfulness of our quarantine officials.  Most of the passengers who traveled from Asia to the West Coast took passage on ships stopping in Honolulu, where ship and passenger inspection were required.  That inspection, after 4,500 miles at sea, revealed the heath status on board, and thus Hawaii became the heath sentinel of America.  Hawaii was also placed strategically in the crossroads of Pacific commerce.  Honolulu was the transfer point for the freights of five continents, and the majority of the trans-Pacific lines made it a port of call.  The visitor to the Territory was continually astonished at the variety and magnificence of the scenery afforded by the different islands.  Kauai, called the Garden Island because of the luxuriance of its vegetation, possessed a series of canyons that were remarkable in their splendor of color.  Oahu’s loveliness of mountain and forest was supplemented by the manifestations of the inventiveness of Americans.  The little double island of Maui contained the greatest extinct volcano in the world, Haleakala, gulches overgrown with weird plants, a canyon reminiscent of Yosemite, and sea drives with cliffs and water reminiscent of the Amalfi coast of Italy.  The largest island, Hawaii, had the only active volcanoes in the group – the red lake of Kilauea, easily accessible by automobile road to its brink, and Mauna Loa, the world’s greatest active volcano.  The naturalist and student could find enjoyment for a lifetime in investigating and collecting shells, plants, and folklore.  The tiny islands at the western end of the Territory formed the Hawaiian Bird Reservation.  They supported the most interesting bird colonies in the world.  These included plovers and other migratory birds.  Some would travel over 6,000 miles between winter and summer nesting grounds.

All the larger islands of the Territory possessed numerous remains of ancient Hawaiian temples, fish ponds of enormous size and cleverly constructed, and curious artificial slides that were used for a sport called summer tobogganing.  The goddess of the volcano, Pele, was supposed to delight in those contests, coming disguised in some earthly form.  The sport had long been lost, but fortunately, another exciting sport, surf-riding, was revived, before it had become a lost art.  Upon arriving in Honolulu, the visitor’s first question was “Where are the volcanoes?”  Shells of dead craters marked the Islands everywhere.  Diamond Head, and the Punch Bowl, in the city itself, were perfect tufa cones.  But the most interesting volcanic creations were on the islands of Maui and Hawaii.  After a horseback excursion to Iao Valley and lunch in the tropical gardens at Wailuku, Maui, on mangoes, avocado, and breadfruit, swiftly by automobile the author’s party ascended from rice and sugarcane fields to acres that shipped wheat, potatoes, and corn to California in the Gold Rush of ’49, proceeding from the tropics to the temperate zone in less than an hour.  From Olinda, about 4,000 feet up on the flank of Haleakala, they took horses to the edge of the mammoth crater.  In four hours, they had mounted from sea level to far above the clouds.  There, at an elevation of nearly two miles, they found a large stone house with room enough for twenty people to bunk comfortably.  The panorama of cloud and mountain and valley and the glories of sunrise and sunset from the Haleakala crater rim had been described y Mark Twain and other gifted writers.  In succeeding days, they descended into the vast crater abyss.  Their host, and companion, was a banker and pineapple grower who had come to the Islands from the mainland as a young man and succeeded.  He was a member of the second shipload of missionaries.

Hilo, the capital of the island of Hawaii, was an enchanting little city of about 10,000.  It stretched along the bay of the same name.  It was situated on the slopes of the two active volcanoes of Kilauea and Mauna Loa.  There were records of as many as 70 earthquakes daily for a month.  The quakes, most of them imperceptible, were not dangerous, nor were the outburst from the volcanoes.  During more than 100 years since missionaries had landed, there had not been a single death in the Territory caused by volcanic eruption.    The same could not be said of the tidal waves that had raged against all the shores of the island and at times brought great destruction.  Though called a mountain, Kilauea Volcano had not the slightest resemblance to a mountain, being a great cup-like depression in an extensive plain.  In the center of the depression was a deep throat in which red-hot lava rose and fell like mercury in a thermometer.  Perched on the edge of the volcano was the laboratory and home of Dr. Thomas A Jaggar, who for 15 years had been the Director of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.  Forewarned of prospective eruptions by the earthquakes his instrument recorded, Dr. Jaggar would proceed to the locality to photograph and take notes of the eruption.  He secured a complete photographic history of the Alika river erupting from the flank of Mauna Loa in 1919, one of the tremendous lava flows of the century.  The author’s party tarried several days around Kilauea, but ever on the horizon towered Mauna Loa.  A half-way house had been built at 10,500 feet, and a trail broken to the summit by a company of American soldiers.  With the help of Dr. Jaggar, they hired seven mules and two guides and were off.  Their trail was fairly even and the grade of ascent so gradual as to be almost imperceptible.  No chasms or ravines interrupted their progress, as on the older islands, their absence attested the youth of that part of the mountain.

Several miles out they passed through a forest of giant koa, some of which had straight trunks running up 50 feet without a limb.  The vegetation soon became sparce, and then the last vestige of green disappeared.  Mauna Loa, above 8,000 feet, proved to be a frightful desert.  That desert was composed of a great sea of lava.  At the end of nine hours of easy traveling, they reached the rest-house at Puu Ulaula, where they spent the night.  They had been keeping a strenuous program for some weeks, and enjoyed the comfort of that rest-house, with its roomy bunks, wood stove, and tight walls, which shut out the cold and wind.  Resuming their journey to the crater the next morning, they passed strings of “coke ovens,” originally gas vents whose domes had collapsed.  The ascent continued so gradual that they were hardly conscious of the fact that they were mounting with ever step.  A few miles farther on, thy traversed a lumpy, rolling sheet of colored glass, extending as far as the eye could reach, glistening at times.  Next, they passed a perfectly symmetrical blood-red cone in a frozen jet-black sea of obsidian.  A few hundred yards farther on were a red cone and a black cone side by side.  An hour later, they noticed a tongue of brilliant red AA lava which had thrust across a field of yellow volcanic sand.  As they crossed a jet-black flow of congealed lava, they skirted a bright red-brick cone.  They traveled through that frightful waste on a well-marked trail, comfortable on their able mules.  About noon they reached the edge of the crater.  Several hundred feet below them stretched the crater floor, an extensive gray, slaty, hard surface, rather rough and exhibiting no sign of warmth or activity, except in the further corner where some steam was slowly rising.  That gray floor temporarily capped a gusher that had been operating for thousands of years.

There were four great mountains which formed the island of Hawaii, Mauna Kea was 13,823 feet high.  After it was raised, new outlets formed – Hualalai, 8,269 feet, and Kilauea.  Then the energies erected Mauna Loa, the giant of them all – a tremendous turtle-back 60 miles across and 200 miles circumference at sea level.  Mauna Loa was probably still in its prime.  It was so lofty that the lava now found egress from its flanks rather than from its summit crater.  They could not linger more than an hour at the crater rim, as it was essential to return to the half-way house before dark.  Someday, they hoped that the marvelous experience which had been their privilege would be available to many.  At present [in 1924], the excursion to the summit was not popular.  For the traveler afoot the distance between rest-houses was taxing.  For those who rode, it was difficult to rent mules.  Later, Mauna Loa would be made accessible by easy trails, hotels, and rest-houses, and be, like Etna, in Sicily, or Haleakala, on Maui, the common resort of tourists, alpinists, and the people of the Islands.  Its wonderful forest glades, deep clefts, lava cones and pits, cliffs, vistas, and climates were, at present [in 1924], unknown; and yet that volcanic height was one of the marvels of the world, unique among our national parks.



As mentioned above, the article contains a set of sixteen full-page duotones from page 159 to page 174.  These duotones have the internal title “Some of Nature’s Scenic Gifts to Hawaii.”  Duotones, formerly called photogravures, are transfers produced using acid etched metal plates, with the resulting image impinged to paper.  The deeper the etch, the darker the transfer.  They use a special ink.  The ink used in this batch has a distinct brownish tint.

A list of caption titles for these duotones is as follows:

  • “A Hawaiian Landscape”
  • “A River of Molten Lava from Mauna Loa Pouring into the Ocean”
  • “Heavy Seas Girdle the Islands with Perpetual Thunder: on the Oahu Coast”
  • “A Sailing Double Canoe Skirting the Shores of Coconut Island Near Hilo”
  • “An Afternoon Shower: on the Right of a Field of Sugar in Flower: Hilo”
  • “A Giant Tree Fern on the Island of Hawaii”
  • “The Roadside at Lahaina: The Island of Maui”
  • “In the Harbor of Honolulu”
  • “A Sugar-Cane Flume North of Hilo”
  • “Flowering Rice Fields with Water Buffalo: Oahu”
  • “Children Clothed in Nothing but Sunshine”
  • “The Imposing Cliffs of Iao Valley, on the Island of Maui: The Dark Vertical Streaks Become Waterfalls During Rainstorms”
  • “A Cliff Side in a Luxuriant Glen on the Slopes of Haleakala, Maui”
  • “A Gulch in Kauai, Hawaiian Islands”
  • “Wailua Falls, on the Island of Kauai”
  • “The Famous Silver Sword Plant of Haleakala, Found in the Extinct Crater of Haleakala, on the Island of Maui”



As also mentioned above, the article contains sixteen color plates containing twenty-one colorized black-and-white photographs.  These plates are numbered I through XVI in Roman numerals, and represent pages 191 through 206.  These plates have the internal title “Colorful Wonders of the Hawaiian Islands.”

A list of the caption titles to the twenty-one color photos together with plate number are as follows: (Note: three plates have more than one photo on it.)

  • “A Hawaiian Chieftain of the Old Days Wearing Costly Robes of Feathers and Feather Helmet, and Carrying a Kahili, or Fly-Flap, Also Made of Feathers” (I)
  • “Waimea Canyon on the Island of Kauai” (II)
  • “The Queen’s Mantle – The Feather Cloak of Kiwalao” (III)
  • “Gazing into the Pit of Everlasting Fire: Halemaumau, Kilauea” (IV)
  • “A Giant Fountain of Flame in the Fiery Lake” (IV)
  • “A View of the Lake, Showing Several of the Islands, or Crags” (IV)
  • “A Row of Fountains Playing in a Tunnel Beneath One of the Crags Out in the Lake” (V)
  • “Ravenous Billows of Lava Undermining Cliffs of Adamantine Rock” (V)
  • “A River of Fire: Hawaii National Park” (V)
  • “A Dying Cone Which Has Emitted a Flow of Lava as Black as Ink on the Slopes of Mauna Loa” (VI)
  • “A Close View of the Fiery Lake, Halemaumau, Kilauea” (VII)
  • “Entering the World’s Vastest Extinct Crater, Haleakala, on the Island of Maui” (VIII)
  • “Two of the Sixteen Gorgeously Colored Dead Cones, Varying from 600 to 1,000 Feet in Height” (IX)
  • “Riding the Surf at Waikiki, Honolulu” (X)
  • “A Field of Pineapples on the Island of Oahu” (XI)
  • “Tree Shells (Achatinella) of the Hawaiian Islands” (XII)
  • “Bougainvillaea-bowered St. Clemens Church, Honolulu” (XIII)
  • “The Flame Tree, or Poinciana regia, in the Garden of William R. Castle” (XIII)
  • “Hanalei Bay, Island of Kauai, One of the Scenes Which Has Won for the Hawaiian Islands the Name “Paradise of the Pacific”” (XIV)
  • “As Dies the Day in Hilo, Island of Hawaii” (XV)
  • “Fishing at Night in Hawaiian Islands” (XVI)



Tom Wilson

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Back in August 2014 my wife and I took a vacation to Hawaii for our 35th wedding anniversary.  Here are a few photos I took while we were there:

Overlooking Honolulu with Diamond Head in the background:

Waikiki Beach:

Pearl Harbor:

Central Oahu:

Eastern Oahu:

Tom Wilson



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