By report dated November 25, 1910, Major Eveleth Winslow of the Corps of Engineers provided “a report upon the preliminary examination of the ‘harbors of the island of Kauai, with a view to determining the best location for a port, Hawaii.’”
That report concluded, “it is believed that the present and prospective commercial importance of Kauai is sufficient to justify the United States in developing one good and commodious harbor, if this can be done at a reasonable cost.”
“After a personal inspection of the coast of the island and a careful consideration of all the papers presented by the persons interested in the development of the different harbors, I am convinced that the only ones worthy of more careful study are Nawiliwili, Koloa, and Hanapepe”.
“The improvement of any one of these places will consist merely in providing a harbor for seagoing vessels, and no water power will be created for industrial or commercial purposes.”
Not noted in the final list of prospective landing sites was, apparently, the first deep-water port to be used, and by 1898, the Lihue Plantation Company was using both Ahukini and Hanamaulu for shipping. (KHS)
The Corps report noted “Two landings have been provided in this bay – one on the north shore, formerly known as Hanamaulu, and one on the south shore, formerly known as Ahukini, though sometimes now called Hanamaulu.”
“Both of these landings were formerly in use for handling the sugar grown on their respective sides of the river, but a few years ago a long and high railroad trestle was constructed across the bay, about one-half mile from its mouth, and the sugar from both sides is now handled from the Ahukini landing, on the south side of the bay.”
“Here a warehouse has been constructed on the top of the hill, with mechanical means for handling sugar and carrying it down to a boom located on the end of a wharf and dumping it directly from the boom into the holds of the ships, which are able to come in close enough for this purpose.”
“This bay, however, opens directly onto the northeast trade winds, and the sea inside of the harbor, under ordinary conditions, is too rough to permit vessels to actually lie at a wharf, though they can moor a few feet from it.”
“Within the bay there is a channel extending a few hundred yards above the wharf and having a depth of 5 fathoms over a width of 600 feet, not large enough to handle a large vessel, though ample for smaller vessels.”
“By the use of breakwaters and at no very great expense it is undoubtedly true that a good harbor for interisland traffic could be constructed at this point, but it is believed that the construction of a harbor large enough for ocean liners is not practicable at this point.”
“As regards its location, the harbor is much more favorably situated with regard to the commercial interests of the island than any so far considered, but on account of its small size it is not considered worthy of selection as the best port for development by the United States.” (Congressional Serial Set, House, 62d Congress, 2d Session, 1912)
Nevertheless, Ahukini was chosen by Lihue Plantation, and with the signing of a 50-year lease on July 20,1920 and construction by the Ahukini Railroad Company (formed by Lihue Plantation Company to fulfill this need) supplied the site with a breakwater, concrete reinforced wharf, sugar warehouse, railhead with supporting structures. (KHS)
Lihue Plantation Company originated in 1849 as a partnership between Charles Reed Bishop, Judge William L. Lee, and Henry A. Pierce of Boston. H. Hackfeld & Co. served as agents.
The Līhu‘e Plantation became the most modern plantation at that time in all Hawai‘i. It featured a steam-powered mill built in 1853, the first use of steam power on a Hawaiian sugar plantation, and the ten-mile-long Hanamā‘ulu Ditch built in 1856 by plantation manager William H. Rice, the first large-scale irrigation project for any of the sugar plantations. (Maly)
In 1922, American Factors, Ltd., successor company to H. Hackfeld & Co., acquired control of Lihue Plantation Company with the purchase of stock. (HSPA)
The selection of Nāwiliwili as the harbor of the future on Kauai was preceded by a year’s worth of debate between advocates of Port Allen and Nāwiliwili. By 1924, a total of 1,454 feet of breakwater had been set in place. (Cultural Surveys)
With the construction of Nawiliwili Harbor, the bulk of Kauai’s cargo began moving through Nawiliwili and inter-island service to Ahukini stopped. Port operations at Ahukini closed in 1950. (Soboleski)
State Parks subsequently took over the Ahukini Landing and it now serves as a State Recreational Pier. Seaward of the pier is a Fisheries Management Area; fishing regulations around the pier allow recreational fishing; swimming at and around the pier is prohibited.
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