“All visitors to Honolulu, even those who only have the few hours during which the Australian steamers remain in harbour, drive up the lovely Nuʻuanu valley to the Pali, a great precipice 1000 feet above the sea, over which all travellers must pass in crossing the island.”
“It is a seven miles’ drive, and generally a delightfully cool one, as the trade winds blow down through the pass. In the early missionaries’ days, travellers had to lower themselves down into the valley below by means of iron rods, from hand to hand. Now, however, there is a good road.” (Owen, 1898)
Before the construction of the Pali Road, residents living on the windward side of Oahu would travel over the Ko‘olau Mountains by foot, along a treacherous path, to reach Honolulu.
In 1876, improvements were made to the trail to allow horses access to the trail as well. Regardless of these improvements, the trail was still quite dangerous, and took time to travel.
In 1897, plans for the construction of Pali Road were initiated. Engineered by Johnny Wilson and Lou Whitehouse, after its completion, it was considered one of Oahu’s major roadways. Pali Road, connecting with Nu‘uanu Avenue (the present Pali Highway,) officially connected the windward side of the island with downtown Honolulu. (NPS)
“Perhaps no better point could be found along the road from which to look back upon the town and harbor than the veranda of Mr (TB) Arcia’s Half-way House.”
“A pleasant hostelry and a genial host are just the proper accompaniments to such a view; they are garnishing of the feast, which being good in themselves make all the rest the more enjoyable.”
“From here is to be had a panoramic view of town and shipping, suburban villas and the deep blue sea, towering peaks and rich tropical forest, verdant meadow dotted with Taro patches, banana groves and the huts of Kanakas. From here to the seashore is but four miles, but the change was most delightful from the daily surroundings of town life, even in Honolulu”.
“The Halfway House is conducted by Mr. Arcia on temperance principles, so the traveler whose first sensation on seeing an hotel is a craving for ‘old Bourbon’ or ‘lager,’ will not find all that satisfies him in the place. But a good meal is always available there on short notice.”
“If the tourist is bound for the Pali only, and intends to return at once to Honolulu, he cannot do better than order his lunch or dinner to be ready for him here on his return. He will get what is good, and can indulge in a delightful view whilst he is eating it, which is something he cannot secure in the town.”
“From the Halfway House to the Pali is a distance of two miles. As it is at least four miles from the middle of the town to Arcia’s inviting resting place, it is evident that whoever christened it the Halfway House took into account the amount of exertion to be undergone rather than the mere lineal distance.”
“And now for the Pali, of which every one arriving here hears so much beforehand, that he may reasonably expect the reality to disappoint him. Before it is reached, the road breaks into sharp ascents, winding among the projecting masses of the hills. “
“Just as I round the last corner, the wind coming up from the sea and pressing through this narrow gorge, is something terrific. The beauty and interesting character of the view, however, compensate for the blow, and, so far as I am concerned, I do not find any exaggeration in what I have heard about it.” (Polk, 1880)
Then, “Emil Wery, a Belgian, arrived in Honolulu, on the Island of Oahu, in or about the year 1878. His trade was that of a bricklayer”
“Shortly after his arrival he married a Hawaiian woman whose given name was Hattie, who, at the time of her marriage, was working as a nurse-maid … (they) had three children – Emily (now Emily Hudson… born in 1882, William, born in 1884, and Julius, born in 1896 or 1897.”
“Soon after William’s birth the family moved to a place a few miles outside of the city and there conducted a wayside tavern locally known as the ‘Halfway House.’”
“Wery, while there, worked at his trade and was also employed as overseer and caretaker of the nearby Nuʻuanu Valley reservoir, and his wife Hattie ran the tavern, assisted by Wery when he was not otherwise engaged. The family in 1893 abandoned the Halfway House and moved back to Kalihi, Honolulu.” (US Circuit Court of Appeals, 1937)
Later it was noted, “AF (Adelino Ferreira) Franca (a salesman Hawaiian Wine Co) will open the Pali Saloon in the vicinity of the Government Electric Lights to∙morrow morning for the sale of light wines and beer under the now license system. A free lunch will be set and everything will be in first-class style.” (The Independent, November 30, 1898)
And then, “AF Franca announces his Pali resort ready for business. It is half way between Honolulu and the Pali, and will prove a great accommodation to travelers.” (Hawaiian Star, December 1, 1898)
Although advertised as “Light Wines and Beers Served except Sundays,” Franca was “charged with selling on Sunday.” (The Independent, June 17, 1904)
Later, “Judge Geer began the hearing of the case of AF Franca, charged with selling liquor without a license at the Halfway House on the Nuʻuanu Pali road.” Franca was acquitted of the charges by the jury. (Hawaiian Star, September 20, 1904)
The property appears to have had different owners/operators and was identified under several names – Halfway House, Pali, Saloon, Pali Resort.
It was situated near Nuʻuanu Reservoir #2. As far as where that is today – it was about where the Old Pali Road ends (at a fence and gate.) (Old Pali Road and Nuʻuanu Pali Drive generally parallel the Pali Highway.) On Nuʻuanu Pali Drive there is a small hairpin turn with a small waterfall and pool – the way house would have been above that to the left (in the direction of Pali Highway.)
There are four dam-impounded reservoirs in Nuʻuanu Valley. They are numbered from 1 to 4 as one travels mauka. No. 1 is located near the O‘ahu Country Club on the ‘Ewa side of Pali Highway and No. 4 is to the right of the highway (it’s now known as Nuʻuanu Reservoir.)
“The construction of storage reservoirs in Nuʻuanu, and in connection therewith the utilization of the water power for the purpose of lighting the city” was among the topics that the Superintendent of Public Works WE Rowell discussed in his 1890 biennial report to Lorrin A Thurston, Minister of the Interior of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i.
He also said that “two reservoirs have been completed and the third is nearly so. In each case the same general plan of construction is followed viz: a dam of earth compactly rolled.”
“Reservoir No. 1 is located at the Electric Light Works, was completed in August 1889 … capacity of 23,240,000 gallons. Reservoir No. 2, located at the half way bridge, was completed in June, 1889, … with a capacity of about 7,959,000 U.S. gallons (and) Reservoir No. 3 is located about one-fourth mile mauka than No. 2.” (Papacosta)