The most-visited tourist attraction in the state of Hawaii is the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (also known as the Pearl Harbor bombing site). The second most visited attraction is about 20 miles north: the Dole pineapple plantation. (Smithsonian)
“I first came to Hawaii … with some notion of growing coffee – the new Territorial Government was offering homestead lands to people willing to farm them – and I had heard that fortunes were being made in Hawaiian coffee.”
“I began homesteading a (64 acre) farm in the rural district of the island of Oahu, at a place called Wahiawa, about 25 miles from Honolulu.” (Dole; JPHS)
“On August 1, 1900 (I) took up residence thereon as a farmer – unquestionably of the dirt variety. After some experimentation, I concluded that it was better adapted to pineapples than to (coffee,) peas, pigs or potatoes, and accordingly concentrated on that fruit.”
The first profitable lot of canned pineapples was produced by Dole’s Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1903 and the industry grew rapidly from there. (Bartholomew)
The pineapple canning industry began in Baltimore in the mid-1860s and used fruit imported from the Caribbean. (Bartholomew) Commercial pineapple production which started about 1890 with hand peeling and cutting.
Operations soon developed a procedure based on classifying the fruit into a number of grades by diameter centering the pineapple on the core axis and cutting fruit cylinders to provide slices to fit the No. 1, 2 and 2-1/2 can sizes. (ASME)
Despite knowing nothing about canning, Dole opened the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1901, which the local press begged as being “a foolhardy venture.” And in its early years, it did indeed operate at a loss.
However, Dole invested in developing new technologies – notably hiring a local draftsman to develop machinery that could peel and process 100-pineapples a minute. (Smithsonian)
With the expanding plant, in 1927, the Hawaiian Pineapple Co, needed a water tower for its cannery’s fire-prevention sprinkler system. The company was enlarging its cannery operations, which now covered some 19 acres.
Hawaii architect Charles William Dickey (Dole’s brother-in-law) proposed to company engineer Simes Thurston Hoyt that the water tank might be fashioned to resemble a pineapple.
Hoyt designed a 100,000-gallon tank, complete with 46 leaves, in eight sizes, rotated “to avoid too much regularity.” The tallest leaf was nearly nine feet tall, the smallest three feet.
The tank would be 40 feet tall with a 24-foot circumference, constructed of 5/16 steel plates. He decreed that it should be painted in the “appearance of a pineapple.” (Honolulu Magazine)
Engineer Hoyt developed the tank design and contracted its manufacture to the Chicago Bridge and Iron Co. (CB&I) factory in Greenville, Pennsylvania. The tank was shipped to Honolulu in three pieces.”
“The Watertower, Chicago Bridge and Iron’s newsletter, predicted the tank would “no doubt be one of the important objects of interest to visitors at Honolulu.”
Erection of the tank was completed in January of 1928. The tank measured 24-feet in diameter and 40-feet in height. It was placed on top of a 100-foot steel structure.
When the delicate leafy crown and red aircraft beacon were placed, the Pineapple Water Tank stood out as the tallest structure in Honolulu.
Since 1968, land in central Oahu, once used to cultivate pineapple land, was being used for the development of the bedroom community of Mililani. Pineapple production on Oahu began a steady decline.
Finally, the Iwilei cannery ceased operations in 1992. Along with this, the Pineapple Water Tank, the largest pineapple in the world, that Honolulu icon for 65 years, had gotten old.
In 1993, the rusting tank and tower were taken down. The tank was “stored” in its original three pieces. It was treated like that once favorite toy of which the child had tired. Sitting in a vacant lot at the Cannery, it continued to corrode, eventually rusting into oblivion.
The Pineapple made CB&I famous and started a trend. CB&I later built other product based water tanks including the Gerber Baby Food Jar in Rochester, New York and the Sir Walter Raleigh Tobacco Can in Louisville, Kentucky. (Dannaway) Other product-based water towers were also built.
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