Wednesday, August 24, 2016

SearchResearch Challenge (8/24/16): The mystery of the Hawaiian posts on the North Shore

It was a beautiful morning... 

... and I was running on a jungle path, getting my morning exercise while staying on the North Shore of Oahu.  

As I run or bicycle, I regularly discover small mysteries on the land.  In 2013 I wondered "Why is this tree here?," and in 2014 I wondered "What are these things that I see on the horizon?"  

So it should come as no surprise that I would find something even more mysterious while running in Hawai'i.  

I was jogging along the path in the middle of what seems to be just a regular forest--lots of trees, vines, well-developed understory--when I run past this: 

That seems odd and out of place.  Perhaps it's just a light pole that's been forgotten about.  

A little farther down the trail, I find this.  Another light pole?  Was there a road here that was built, but never fully completed?  

But then I started finding more and more of these poles--some just a few feet high.  The one shown below is around 6 feet (2 meters) tall.  The poles varying in height from 1 meter to 3 meters tall.  

These poles were standing by themselves, and not in any obvious pattern that I could see. They didn't seem to line up.

But then I found this collection.  

I'm not sure how many I found, but there are at least 30 poles like this of varying heights, all "lost" in the forest.  In Hawai'i, I might have thought this was the work of the menehune, the mysterious builders of Hawai'i that come and go out of human sight. But this was suspicious--someone was making something very mysterious.  

(And although I looked, there were no signs telling me what's going on here, or marks on the poles that would give us a clue.  They're just concrete poles of varying lengths.)  

By now, I'm curious, and looking all around.  I DID find a cache of them!  (See below.) 

Having once worked in a trucking company, I recognize this as a temporary cache of poles, all stacked atop a pair of poles laid sideways at right angles to the main pile.  This makes it easy for a forklift to come and pick one or two up off the pile and carry it to the next workplace.   (Yes, I know how to drive a forklift; the things you learn when working to pay for college...)  

No matter how many poles I found, whoever was doing the building clearly had to abandon the project in the middle.  

I'll save you the metadata EXIF extraction:  these photos were all taken within a 100 yard radius of 21.698574, -158.005291  

1.  What's the story with these mysterious poles in the jungle?  Why are they there? 

Fair warning:  I do NOT know the answer to this Challenge, so I'll be searching for the answer along with you.   

If you figure it out, be SURE to tell us what you did to determine the answer.  I've only spent a few minutes on this, but I suspect this will be a tough Challenge.  

Search on! 


  1. I think there is reasonable evidence that they are left over from the OR&L railroad or structures supporting the railroad. Steps I took to reach that conclusion:

    1. Entered LAT/LONG into Google Maps and noted the nearby place names (Kawela Bay being the most prominent). Also in Satellite view, you can see the shadows of the poles on the ground and thus see where they are!
    2. Search for: "construction hawaii kawela bay" - not much, an entry on the nearby Turtle Bay resort gave useful context and background.
    3. Tried searching"history development kawela bay beach park" and came across a student's thesis about the area.
    4. Thesis was mostly about the shoreline, but quickly perusing the document I came across an interesting (and very specific) term.
    5. Searched against the term "Kawela Bay Subsurface Cultural Deposit 2899" and found a result for an Archaeological survey related to the nearby Turtle Bay resort. Apparently performed as part of the development process.
    6. The report (scanned document, with no good OCR) has lots of maps of the area, but the scan is poor enough that many of them are too hard to identify details around the poles. I kept making my way through the document and came to a reference of an old abandoned Army Airfield that looked promising, until I determined that it wasn't in the right location. Kept going - and discovered *lots* of references to burial grounds all around the Kawela and Turtle Bay lands. LOTS.
    7. Some maps had what looked like the symbol for a railroad, but without any text description, it was hard to confirm. Page 65 of the document (76 of the PDF) has a map with an arrow pointing to the OR&L railroad in the same location as the poles. It looks like it ran just a bit south from the exact location of the poles, but that could just be the resolution of the map.

    8. Searching for "Hawaii OR&L railroad" results in a Wikipedia article, a youtube video and a site with historical resources. Interestingly the map ( ) does not align with the location of the tracks from the archaeological survey document.

    9. Searching "USGS Historical Maps Hawaii" leads to with several historical resources for O'ahu.
    Looking at Kahuku and Waimea quadrangles show that the Kawela station was probably not too far to the south west of the location of your poles.

  2. I think if they are concrete they are "pillars" and not "poles" - this suggests they are from a planned and cancelled casino project? ( search for concrete pillars kewala )

    1. Excellent catch, Ed. One of the things to be careful about is overcommitting to a term (e.g., "pole" vs. "pillar").

  3. Good day, Dr. Russell and everyone.

    1. What's the story with these mysterious poles in the jungle? Why are they there?

    I am thinking is not for light so maybe for an atraction and/or for discovering the majesty of North Shore.

    Tried last photo adding " concrete poles oahu" Found an article that says: "With Hawaii Island’s power supply riding on wooden, flammable utility poles, what can be done when they’re threatened by 2,100-degree molten lava?" It is hard to imagine whhy they will choose wood.

    [727.jpg with "oahu jungle poles"]
    Maybe for something like this?

    [kawela bay beach park projects]

    [north shore concrete poles projects]

    Marconi Road
    Kawela Bay links to
    North Shore org But not mention anything about poles

    ["marconi road" oahu intext:poles]

    Tsunami sirens?

    Need to search for more

    1. [Photo 623.jpg adding concrete pillars oahu] Result talks about expansion and how that was stopped.

      Then searched for:

      [kawela bay casion construction]


      [turtle bay resort expansion site]

      North Shore of Oahu's Turtle Bay Resort reveals maps of expansion plans (May 10, 2016)

      [turtle bay resort expansion kawela beach park]

      But in 1986, all residents from the bay's east point to the center were evicted to make way for a resort that was never built Includes link to beautiful Bayan tree used in Lost and Pirates of the Caribbean.

      Turtle Bay expansion (2011)

      [turtle bay resort expansion construction]

      Hotel guests to help foot bill for Turtle Bay preservation

      Apparently poles are for the constructions that never took place but not evidence at the moment.


  4. 1988 article - it looks like casino started construction but then gambling was NOT legalized

    The Japanese firm intends to build another hotel on adjacent Kawela Bay, a project that had received all necessary permits before the sale. Two more hotels, another 18-hole golf course and a second equestrian center also are planned, along with 2,000 condominium units.

    It is difficult to find stories about laws that did not change....

    1. prefabricated concrete piles ( see photo )

      They were likely driven into the earth until they reach rock. That is why they are different heights.

  5. search = turtle bay concrete piles,d.dmo

    In the late‐1980s, the residential cottages along Kawela Point and the eastern half of Kawela Bay were demolished, structural fill was brought in, and construction of the foundations for a new multi‐story hotel structure began. The structure was never completed, but underground utilities and *****numerous concrete piles***** remain today. At this time the 18‐hole Palmer Golf Course was built and the Fazio Golf Course was reduced to 9‐ holes. Punaho`olapa Marsh was enhanced by the construction of a moat around much of its perimeter. The original wastewater treatment plant was decommissioned after a more modern facility was constructed mauka of Kamehameha Highway. Around 2002, the Fazio Golf Course was reinstated back into an 18‐hole golf course.

  6. 2006 map - show where 2 hotels would be on that peninula -
    map -

    current map - trust for public land -

    Wow! - what a great job of preserving this beautiful area. Turning it into a state park.

  7. think I got LOST near the Banyan tree… anyway

    pilings look similar over in Honolulu - date is ambiguous… surprised about the graffito… maybe it was the Menehune?
    too bad you can't steam Bay to Bay…
    the 100 yard radius & shadows
    like your previous "barren patches"… impressive that many of the pre-cast pilings are so visible in Maps… especially their shadows…
    Kawela Bay Beach Park
    SS City of Honolulu
    94 years ago
    handsome poster

    a small taste…KA-V-LAH
    were you chased by a Segway?
    fwiw: neat pic, no concrete… I looked at airfields, RRs, sugar mills & military installations too… seems to be bad 80s economic mojo… before the Japanese yen morass…
    Oahu RR

  8. Hello Dr. Russell! Not related to this Challenge but related to Hawaii. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument will contain some 582,578 square miles, more than twice the size of Texas. Now that you were there, how people feels there about this news?

    Fantastic day!

    1. Sr. González - your ? prompted me to look around a bit too; albeit, without the benefit of Dan's ground truth…

      big doings in the coming week… good thing Dan cleared Oahu before the crush…
      IUCN World Conservation Congress Hawaii 2016 Honolulu
      Thursday, 9/01/16 on Midway
      1,316.23 mi (2,118.27 km)
      Midway Atol
      gooneys, Oct-Jan - 30± live-on hominoid residents
      Gooneyville Lodge
      edge of Midway
      Proclamation Papahanaumokuakea
      politics aside, Pete Souza takes good pics

      at rest
      16,650', 2775 fathoms
      Japanese account

      " A Laysan albatross, named Wisdom, on Midway Island is recognised as the oldest wild bird in the world; she was first banded in 1956 by Chandler Robbins."
      "Wisdom" picture

      10 Years of Papahānaumokuākea Ka Pae`aina o Hawai`i Loa
      2014 visit

    2. Hello Remmij! Thanks for the links. They are incredible! I like the albatros and their Gooney name is interesting but at moment didn't find why that name. At first thought it said "Goonies" like the movie.

  9. Query [kawela bay construction halted]

    Quote "Japanese based Asahi Jyuken, had driven more than a hundred concrete pilings into the ground fronting Kawela Bay and the other side of Kawel Point to build a hotel 25 years ago before an economic downturn stopped construction."


  10. 1. What's the story with these mysterious poles in the jungle? Why are they there?

    We instantly discover its related, probably, to Marconi Radio Station. A popular waypoint for runners.

    But the jungle soaked poles ? Hmmm.

    Here it is back in the day

    Kahuku is the location.

    The Marconi system of wireless telegraphy is in successful operation...
    The poles of the wireless stations range from 125 to 175 feet in height above sea level. The Morse cable code is used.

    The Electrician (London), February 7, 1902, page 600:

    An Anti-climax in Marconi Telegraphy.--The following telegram from the New York correspondent of the Standard appeared in last Monday's issue of that paper :-
    The first and, it may be, the sole commercial application of the Marconi system has ended unfavourably. The Hawaiian islands, requiring many short links, offered a unique opportunity. A company organised with 100,000 capital, after two months' working is unable to pay its operators. The bank balance is 5dols., and is garnisheed upon a debt of $9,000. After early difficulties the system worked perfectly upon such tests as synchronising the island's official clocks from Honolulu. A large proportion of messages were also transmitted accurately. But there seemed to be no security regarding any particular message. Many unaccountable and total disappearances of messages undermined public confidence, leading to disuse of the installations, which were by Marconi experts. Litigation is threatened over any attempt to substitute another system.

    Lost time with grankids and reading about the Overland Telegraph in ancient newspapers

    jon, who totally missed these while travelling the same area some years ago

    Poles lying on ground because new owner can't figure a way to restore everything and still make money.

    1. But what if Dan ran to the Marconi building site? And ran past these old concrete pole section just where he says he did ?

    2. As you saw from the answer, it has nothing to do with the Marconi Radio Station (that's way to the east).

      But as you can imagine, I ran over there too... and found that the site has been purchased, and is in the process of being developed. They're working on the remaining Marconi building, but it's hard to see what they're doing--much of the interior has been stripped out. I HOPE they're going to fix it up and preserve it as a museum of some kind.... but I'm not optimistic about this. Time will tell.

    Poles lying on ground because new owner can't figure a way to restore everything and still make money.

  12. how to kill a year in Hawai'i
    apparently Mars is here… or a state of mind…
    can you tweet from Damon's Uranus?
    no. IV, keeper of Phobos & Deimos - 2nd smallest, must mean war…
    day late, € short
    not to be confused with:
    D.C. - Catholic University of America, September 22 - 25, 2016
    orange is the new interplanetary…
    What is a Mars Analog?
    Musk Observatory
    "The MD80 portion of the Mars 160 mission is scheduled to begin at MDRS on September 24, 2016, coinciding with the 19th Annual International Mars Society Convention, which will be held September 22-25. Just before commencing the mission, the crew will hold a Skype telecom with the convention, allowing those in attendance to meet and talk to them before the simulation begins."
    Mars 160 Mission
    Mars on Flickr
    Devon Island 165 kilometers north east of the hamlet of Resolute in Nunavut, Canada
    non Mars related…
    or this one (what's that plastic case wheely thing with the black spaghetti?)
    fwiw, small mods

  13. how come "google translate" doesn't show Hawai'i that way?
    "ka mamao o Hawaii, mai Mars ... e I pono ka overnight eke?… pela hooluolu mai iaʻu kahaha"

    goes to the earlier distance question… depends on variables and what the meaning of "far" is…
    Mars to Oahu
    frequent flier miles would accrue

    Vasimr engine
    39 days
    Wolfram query
    Plasma Rocket