“Auto that sails the seas and boat that runs on land”
“An Alaskan expedition to study explosive Mount Katwain in 1927 furnished Dr (Thomas Augustus) Jaggar with the motive for developing an amphibious motor car.”
“After several months of experimentation, he completed his pioneer water bug and dubbed it ‘Ohiki,’ which is Hawaiian for sand crab.” (Popular Mechanics)
“In preparation for this expedition, the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory machine shop built a wooden amphibious boat around a ‘low-geared small motor car with balloon tires,’ that Jaggar had used over tundra and beach of the Alaskan Peninsula in 1927.”
“Inlets, rivers, and rocks were obstacles that made Jaggar mentally design modifications of the car into a ‘car-skiff.’”
Jaggar invented the first practical wheeled amphibian. (Popular Mechanics)
“She first took to the sea at Ninoʻole Cove in the Kaʻū District, and she quickly revealed the need for additional work.” (USGS)
“Several hundred skeptical spectators witnessed the formal launching January 17, 1928, at Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Many wagers were lost as the Ohiki lumbered off the highway and trundled along the beach into the water.”
After modifications (freeboard raised, length slightly increased, paddle-wheels enlarged, a winch and cable mounted in bow, 5-horsepower outboard motor added,) an extended trip was made along the west coast of the Island of Hawaii to make beach and sea tests.
Lorrin Thurston went along as a passenger and publicity man; Mrs Jaggar served as stewardess. The car with the boat body excited all the roadside children of Kona with delight. (USGS)
“Dr. Jaggar’s initial amphibian was a skiff 21-feet long with a beam of five feet four inches, mounted on an elongated Ford chassis … just forward and mounted through the sides of the boat was a Ruckstall axle to which sidewheel paddles were attached … the front wheels were disked and served as rudders.” (Popular Mechanics)
“Jaggar’s Ohiki made a speed of about 4 mi/h in water with the combined power of paddle wheels and outboard motor… It made more than 20 mi/h over highways.” (USGS)
He later created another amphibian, the Honukai (sea turtle;) it was a twin-screw steel amphibian, built in Chicago by the Powell Mobile-Boat Corp.
In 1928, when the National Geographic Society joined with the USGS to sponsor an expedition with Jaggar in charge to map, photograph, and survey in the Aleutians around Pavlof Volcano, the Society supplied an amphibious boat.
In the 400-miles along the coast of Alaska, from Shumagin Islands to King Cove, the expedition did not even have to pump up the tires. (USGS)
The Honukai’s numerous excessively low gears even enabled them to drive up to the snowline and bring out the heavy fur and bones of a bear that Jaggar had shot on the snowy volcano, Mount Dana. Jaggar brought the Honukai back to Hawaii with him and based it in Kona. (Popular Mechanics)
“As a result of his experiences and design work with the Ohiki and the Honukai, Jaggar was later able to help the US Army with the design of amphibious vehicles for World War II, and he received in 1945 the Franklin L Burr Prize of the National Geographic Society for this work.” (USGS)
In 1942, the Army, faced with challenges in landing troops and supplies, modified a 1 ½ ton GMC truck – it was called the DUKW (D = built in 1942; U = amphibious 2½ ton truck; K = front wheel drive and W = rear wheel drive.) (Army Transportation Museum)
Today, we simply call these vehicles ‘Ducks.’
Jaggar was considered grandfather of the ‘Duck,’ which has played a prominent part in amphibious landings both in the European and South Pacific theaters of war. (Mount Caramel, February 27, 1945)
(Lorrin Thurston and George Lycurgus were instrumental in getting the volcano recognized as Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. In 1912, Jaggar moved to Kilauea to start the observatory, studying volcanoes.)
(On August 1, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the country’s 13th National Park into existence – Hawaiʻi National Park (later (1961) split into Haleakalā National Park and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.)