ʻEwa was comprised of twelve ahupuaʻa. Some stories, when first recorded in the 19th- Century, refer to ʻEwa as the first area populated on Oʻahu by the immigrant Polynesians. Puʻuloa or Ke Awa Lau O Puʻuloa (the many harbored-sea of Puʻuloa) is situated here.
The first known foreigner to enter the area, Captain George Vancouver, started to explore the area, but stopped when he realized that the entrance was not deep enough for large ships to pass through.
“If the water upon the bar should be deepened, which I doubt not can be effected, it would afford the best and most capacious harbor in the Pacific.” (Commodore Charles Wilkes, 1840)
Puʻuloa and Ke Awa Lau O Puʻuloa are just a couple of its traditional names. It was also known as Awawalei (“garland (lei) of harbors,”) Awalau (“leaf-shaped lagoon”) and Huhui na ʻōpua i Awalau (The clouds met at Awalau.) Today, we generally call this place Pearl Harbor.
In 1872, Major General John M Schofield, Commander of the Army Division of the Pacific, came to Hawaiʻi on a mission to evaluate the defense possibilities of various Hawaiian ports.
Recognizing the potential importance of Puʻuloa (Pearl Harbor) that could be inexpensively and effectively defended, he recommended that it be developed as a military base.
As a means of solidifying a site in the central Pacific, the US negotiated an amendment to the Treaty of Reciprocity with King Kalākaua in 1887, adding a clause granting to US vessels the exclusive privilege of entering Pearl Harbor. The US then began building a coaling and repair station there.
As part of the defense of Pearl Harbor and nearby Honolulu, the US Army constructed forts and artillery batteries at the mouth of Pearl Harbor and along the southern shores of Oʻahu, beginning in the early twentieth century.
These fortifications were constructed for defense purposes and had the capability to fire ordnance (projectiles ranging in size from small arms up to 16-in) beyond the shores of Oʻahu in the event of enemy attack.
The batteries were dispersed for concealment and spaced to insure that enemy fire striking one would not thereby endanger a neighbor. They were open to the rear, to facilitate ammunition service at a rapid rate.
The Army acquired land along the ʻEwa shoreline in about 1905 to support the coastal defense. The Navy took control of the property in August 1916.
It became known as Puʻuloa Military Reservation of Oʻahu. The Navy developed this area into a small‐arms range, and by 1927, the Puʻuloa Naval Reservation became known as the Navy Rifle Range.
Until 1922, the coastal defense portion of the place was also known as Iroquois Point Military Reservation. The name “Iroquois Point” was derived from the name “USS Iroquois;” it is believed that the ship was anchored nearby while serving in the Marine Hospital Service. Her name was later changed to Ionie.
In 1922, the coastal defense facility was named Fort Weaver; named after Erasmus Morgan Weaver, Jr, a US Army Major General who served as the first chief of the Militia Bureau and the Chief of the Army’s US Army Coast Artillery Corps.
Fort Weaver consisted of Battery Williston (1924 – 1948,) Battery Weaver (1934 – 1944,) four Panama mounts and Anti Motor Torpedo Boat Battery #1 (1943 – 1945.)
Construction on Battery Williston began in October 1921 and was transferred for service on September 19, 1924. This was a two gun 16” all round fire battery emplaced in the open on circular concrete pads. These guns were mounted on long range carriages that elevated to 35 degrees for maximum range.
After activation, Battery Williston was serviced by troops who arrived by boat from nearby Fort Kamehameha (across the entrance channel into Pearl Harbor.) Later a small facility was built on site to accommodate the soldiers, there.
In 1934, Battery 155 – Fort Weaver was positioned in front of Battery Williston. This battery consisted of four 155-mm guns on mobile carriages placed on fixed concrete Panama mounts.
Located more towards ʻEwa Beach was Naval Antiaircraft Shore Battery No. 3 (1942 – 1944,) with four 5-inch naval guns, adjacent to the Navy’s Fleet Machine Gun Training School.
The fire power of coast defense remained the heavy gun, the 1919-model sixteen-inch rifle – a 79-foot, 187-ton weapon that could fire a 2,340-pound projectile over 28-miles with overwhelming accuracy.
The guns were protected only by camouflage netting and paint (they were not protected with concrete encasements, like many of the other Forts and Batteries on O‘ahu.)
Numerous training activities at the forts and artillery batteries conducted up until about 1948 involved firing into waters of the south shore in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor.
Since the guns’ barrels only had a useful life of about 120-rounds, the Army adopted a plan to store spare barrels at the various batteries.
In 1949, Fort Weaver was transferred to the Navy (as the Puʻuloa Naval Reservation) and, since the 1950s, has been used for military housing. The site of the Fort and Batteries is between the present-day USMC Pu‘uloa Rifle Range and the Pearl Harbor entrance channel.