Forgotten Honolulu: Hawaii Maritime Museum

This post is part of an on-going series, Discover Honolulu, where we highlight the historic and cultural attractions of Hawaii’s largest city.  Located near Aloha Tower Marketplace, the Hawaii Maritime Museum offered visitors a unique look at Hawaii’s history. Unfortunately, Bishop Museum closed the venue in 2009. 

Hawaii and the Ocean

The story of Hawaii was created by the ocean. From the water’s depths rose volcanoes that spewed molten earth. Thousands of years passed and new islands were formed. It was only a matter of time before oceanic voyagers arrive at the Hawaiian Islands. Following the arrival of the Polynesians, Hawaii continued to interact with the sea in the changing modern world.Foreigners from Europe and America arrived, bring with them massive sail boats. The cargo industry boomed as Honolulu’s harbor became an important trading point in the Pacific. And Duke Kahanamoku immortalized the sport of surfing on the beaches of Waikiki and beyond.

The famous ship, Falls of Clyde

Learn more about this National Historic Landmark without having to visit the museum (after all, it’s been closed since 2009 with no apparent plans of reopening.)

Falls of Clyde

From Nearly one hundred years ago, one of Honolulu’s early newspapers, the Hawaii Herald, noted that “… the first four-masted iron ship with yards on each mast that ever came into the harbor flying the Hawaiian flag…” had arrived in Honolulu. That ship was the Falls of Clyde and the date of her first arrival in Hawai`i was January 20, 1899. It may have been a first for Honolulu Harbor, but it was far from the first port of call for the Falls of Clyde. After being built in Glasgow, Scotland, she began her shipping career with the British Falls Line in 1879 and for decades, carried cargo around the world. The harbors of Shanghai, Auckland, Melbourne, Bombay, Bangkok, Cape Town, London, Liverpool, Hamburg, Rio de Janeiro, New York and San Francisco were all visited by the ship in the 70 voyages of her first 20 years of service. Records show the Falls of Clyde carried a broad spectrum of goods in those years, ranging from coal, salt, cement and phosphate, to teak, jute, rice and wool. In November, 1898, William Matson, in the process of building his shipping fleet, spotted the Falls of Clyde in San Francisco. The ship was purchased for $55,000 and was soon in service carrying sugar and passengers between Hilo and San Francisco. (One way fares were $40.) From 1899 to 1907, the Falls of Clyde made over 60 of these voyages, with an average trip lasting 17 days.  

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