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49 T he tough men of the US Exploring Expedition spent three grueling weeks at the Pendulum Peak camp on the summit of Mauna Loa during the winter of 1840–1841. Thereafter, Charles Wilkes’ pioneering measurements of temperature, humidity, sunlight, and atmospheric electricity on the giant volcano were replaced by occasional eyewitness reports of the mountain’s periodic eruptions. Several hearty men and at least one woman who ascended the flanks and even the summit of Mauna Loa provided the only data about the eruptive history of the mountain for more than half a century. Among the earliest eruption observers was the Reverend Titus Coan, the highly regarded Hilo missionary who befriended James Dwight Dana when the US Exploring Expedition visited Hilo in preparation for its Mauna Loa ascent during 1840–1841. Coan and Dana did not always agree on the nature of Mauna Loa’s eruptions, about which they engaged in friendly correspondence that might serve as a model for today’s differences of opinion regarding various scientific matters. An example of this was given by Russell Apple (2000), who reported that Coan “hiked to and described almost every flank eruption of Mauna Loa between 1843 and 1880.” Dana had become an editor of American Journal of Science and Arts, to which Coan submitted a detailed report about the 1843 eruption of Mauna Loa. Apple reports that Dana didn’t always believe the testimony of the eyewitness. For instance, after Dana published Reverend Coan’s graphic and detailed description of the source and flows of Mauna Loa’s 1843 eruption, Dana followed with “Mr. Coan speaks of the lavas as flowing from an orifice in a broad stream down the mountain. It is probable that fissures opening to the fires below were continued at intervals along the course of the eruption, and that these afforded accession to the fiery flood. Any internal force sufficient to break through the sides of a mountain like Mauna Loa, must necessarily produce a linear fissure or a series of fissures, and not a single tunnel-like opening.” (Apple 2000 quoting Dana 1852) Apple explained how the dialogue between Coan and Dana inspired further exploration and study, the same motivators that drove Menzies and Wilkes to Mauna Loa and set the stage for the science that has been conducted at Mauna Loa down through the years: Arguments such as this could only be resolved by volcanologists doing the observing, but they served to publicize the need for further study. The Coan-Dana controversy helped raise questions that needed to be answered about volcanoes, thus helping pave the way for such institutions as the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. (Apple 2000) c h a p t e r f o u r Robert Simpson’s Dream The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 50 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY The establishment of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) in 1912 by Thomas A. Jaggar Jr. finally provided      +<  $    The US Weather Bureau approved the project and became a sponsor from 1919 to 1924 (Apple 2000). While the HVO’s studies of Hawaiian volcanism attracted the interest of the scientific community, the press, and the general public, there was still little interest in the potential for meteorological studies atop the island’s great volcanic mountains. Only a handful of hardy souls climbed Mauna Loa in the half century after the US Exploring Expedition, including the famous British traveler and author Isabella L. Bird (1875), who spent a frigid night at the snowy summit during the eruption of June 1874. The most important nineteenth-century scientific visit to the summit of Mauna Loa after the US Ex. Ex. was by Henry Brougham Guppy, a British surgeon, botanist, and geologist. Guppy apparently had help in transporting his supplies and provisions to and from the summit, but he camped there alone from August 9 to 31, 1897. For twentythree days, he made daily measurements of wind, precipitation , relative humidity, and temperature. In the appendix of volume 1 of A Naturalist in the Pacific between 1896 and 1899, Guppy lists his data, provides a detailed description of the wind and clouds, and gives details about his altitude sickness, static electricity, and other experiences on the summit (Guppy 1906, 588–592). He also describes his primary instruments: The instruments employed were a Sixe’s maximum and minimum thermometer made by Negretti and Zambra, several unmounted thermometers, and a reference thermometer (with a Kew certificate) by the above named makers, which was used as a standard. The freezing point was also tested for all the instruments on the summit in melting powdered ice. Guppy lacked instruments for measuring gravity, sound propagation, sunlight intensity, barometric pressure and other parameters pursued by the US Exploring Expedition . Nevertheless, he admirably demonstrated what can be achieved, measured, and published by a determined investigator working alone for three weeks on the unforgiving summit of Mauna Loa. It is likely that much could be learned by comparing his detailed measurements of temperature with those that were to come more than half a century later. Z             Mauna Kea, both of which were climbed by Bird, Guppy, and others. In 1892, Prof. W. D. Alexander, astronomer E. D. Preston, and others ascended Mauna Kea for the purpose of carefully surveying its summit cones. This highly successful expedition was sponsored by a grant from the Bache fund, which numbered among its trustees the same James Dwight Dana who served as mineralogist on the US Exploring Expedition (Alexander 1892). Before the expedition, the young Dana had published System of Mineralogy , which he updated throughout his life and in which he classified minerals using a system still in use today (USGS 2007). Like the Menzies and Wilkes expeditions, these and other nineteenth-century scientific studies on the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea were relatively brief. The permanent scientific observations begun in 1912 at the   €  œ  +<   volcanism, and there was no organized effort to conduct meteorological observations on Mauna Loa or Mauna Kea. Robert H. Simpson (1951) After a century and a half of occasional, brief scientific visits to the summit of Mauna Loa begun in 1794 by Archibald Menzies, a small weather observatory at the summit was formally dedicated on December 12, 1951. The facility was made possible by an unlikely alliance of the Weather Bureau, the US Navy, the Park Service, prison laborers, and a man who wanted to develop a ski resort. This complex array of collaborations would never have occurred were it not for the dream of Robert H. Simpson, a determined Weather Bureau meteorologist who worked far more hours than required by his government position and who envisioned a weather station atop the highest point in the entire Pacific Basin. The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 51 During a 1989 interview with Edward Zipser for the American Meteorological Society and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), Dr. Simpson discussed his life as a hurricane scientist and his work in Hawai‘i. Simpson’s background is well worth reviewing, for like Menzies, Wilkes, and others before him who made observations from atop Mauna Loa, a strong personality, flexibility, and a willingness to take risks made the difference between success and failure. During the UCAR interview, Simpson traced his interest in weather to a boyhood experience that he never forgot. In 1919, when he was not quite seven years old, a major hurricane devastated his home town of Corpus Christi, Texas. The storm surge flooded parts of the city, including Simpson’s house. The family had to swim, with me on my father’s back, three blocks in near hurricane force winds to safe shelter in the courthouse, the only high building in the downtown area. A lot of what I saw frightened me but also supplied a fascination that left me with a lifelong interest in hurricanes. (Simpson 1989) The hurricane devastated downtown Corpus Christi and killed from 250 to 500 people. Young Simpson and his family watched in horror as a man carrying a baby fell from a cistern floating down a flooded street below their vantage point in the courthouse. The man eventually surfaced but without the baby. He then quickly dove down into the water and was never seen again. When he was ninety-seven, Simpson vividly recalled the hurricane and described the experience as dreadful. It was a tragic experience that would eventually shape his career (personal communication with author, September 13, 2009). Simpson’s musical abilities earned him an invitation to attend Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where he majored in physics and mathematics. He then attended Emory University, where in 1935 his studies of piezoelectricityhelpedearnhimamaster’sdegreeinphysics. Those were depression days, and jobs for physicists were scarce. So Simpson fell back on his musical abilities to secure a series of positions in high school music programs. But his career interests were in science, so in 1939 he took civil service examinations in an effort to qualify for positions with the Weather Bureau, Bureau of Standards, and Geological Survey. The Weather Bureau offered him a position at Brownsville, Texas, which he accepted even though the pay was only a third of what he earned as a high school music supervisor. In 1941, Simpson accepted a six-month assignment as a meteorologist at Swan Island off Honduras in the west central Caribbean Sea, where he learned much about maintaining every aspect of a remote meteorological station. Each day the four observers recorded hourly weather observations, launched two radiosondes and four pilot balloons, and transmitted their reports by radio. The observers spent the rest of their time maintaining the facility’s instruments, power generator, and water and sewage systems. Simpson recalls how the Swan Island assignment prepared him for hurricane research and general meteorology (personal communication with author, September 13, 2009). It also grounded him in the fundamentals required to establish a remote weather station, experience that would guide him a decade later as he pursued a dream of an even more remote weather station on the top of a mountain in the center of the Pacific Ocean. During World War II, Simpson was assigned to a variety of Weather Bureau offices and became involved in serious hurricane research, including missions in which aircraft were flown into the giant storms. In 1947, he was transferred to the Weather Bureau headquarters in Washington, DC. The following year, Francis Reichelderfer , director of the Weather Bureau, asked Simpson to take over a project to consolidate weather operations in Hawai‘i. Simpson at first rejected the assignment. His family wanted to stay in Washington, and he was concerned that still another move would jeopardize his marriage . But Reichelderfer persisted and, as Simpson recalled years later, After two weeks passed with no agreement reached, [Reichelderfer] suggested, “I think you should write yourself a letter for my signature stating the circumstances 52 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY under which you will agree to take this assignment, which will probably be the biggest career opportunity you will have over the next ten years.” Simpson wrote a letter that specified the following: (1) while in Hawaii I would report directly to Reichelderfer for budget matters, personnel actions, research plans and activities, and for counsel and advice; (2) after four years, unless extended by mutual agreement, I would be returned to Washington into a job at or comparable to those of my peers who had been promoted while I was away. (Simpson 1989) Reichelderfer approved and signed the letter, and Simpson left for Hawai‘i in May 1948. There he occupied a position on the postwar Joint Meteorological Committee responsible for the transition of military weather operations to the Weather Bureau, a role that placed him on the staff of Admiral Arthur William Radford, commander in chief, Pacific. Years later, Simpson recalled that a benefit of his “membership on Admiral Radford’s staff at Pearl Harbor resulted in the establishment of the Mauna Loa summit observatory” (1989). But this is getting ahead of the story. Anticipating Simpson’s Dream During eighteen days of August 1920, almost exactly a year after the young Simpson and his family survived the Corpus Christi hurricane, a hundred scientists assembled in Honolulu for the first Pan-Pacific Scientific Conference. The conference addressed anthropology, biology, oceanography , climatology, and other scientific fields around and across the Pacific Ocean. The conference approved a series of resolutions on various matters, including three on meteorology that anticipated what was to come after Simpson arrived in Honolulu. Resolution 6 was general in nature and explained the need for meteorological observations and encouraged their widespread introduction across the Pacific to better understand weather patterns over both land and sea: Resolution 6. Meteorology Investigations in meteorology, or the physics of the atmosphere designed to lead to an accurate scientific knowledge of atmospheric phenomena are of recognized importance. Very little is known of the behavior of the upper air over the land, and still less over the ocean. The fundamental aspects of these phenomena are exhibited in their simplest manner over the greatest of oceans, the Pacific. Hence it is necessary to make meteorological observation over the Pacific for the use in studying the more complex condition over the land. Moreover, the collection and prompt dissemination of marine meteorological data are of great benefit to humanity in carrying on its commerce and in weather forecasting which is now limited by a lack of synchronized uniform, meteorological data over great areas not within the customary track of vessels. Observation at the place of origin of typhoons, hurricanes, larger cyclonic and anticyclonic areas, as well as the development, dissipation, oscillation, and translation of the same, are essential to successful forecasting and the study of ocean meteorology. Moreover the meteorological survey of these ocean areas has practical value; therefore the governments bordering on the Pacific ocean are invited to carefully consider these matters with a view to increasing the number of meteorological vessel and land stations within the confines of this ocean and on its borders, especially the establishment of vessel reporting stations in somewhat fixed positions. In considering these matters, it is believed that special attention should be given to increasing the number of stations in the well known “centers of action.” The Pan-Pacific Scientific Conference commends the ocean navigation companies and their masters of vessels for the valuable assistance they have rendered the meteorological services of the various stations, and urges them to further cooperate especially in the matter of transmitting their weather reports by radiograph as well as by mail. (Anon. 1920) The next two resolutions were recommendations for specific actions. Resolution 7 called for the prompt resumption of observations at the meteorological station on The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 53 Macquarie Island, which the resolution erroneously stated had been interrupted by World War I. Macquarie Island is located halfway between Australia and Antarctica, and it briefly served as a rendezvous point for the ships of the US Exploring Expedition that managed to find it during the winter of 1839–1840. An Australian government report on the “History of Macquarie Island” recorded that In 1822 Captain Douglass, of the ship Mariner described it as “the most wretched place of involuntary and slavish exilium that can possibly be conceived; nothing could warrant any civilised creature living on such a spot. (Department of the Environment and Water Resources 2005) How meteorology could be conducted at a site so wretched that no civilized creature could even live there has relevance to the history of the remote Mauna Loa Observatory . Accordingly, an inquiry requesting details was sent to the Antarctic Division of the Australian government. Dave Connell promptly replied that the Macquarie Island station provided data from 1911 to 1915. Unfortunately, the data from December 1913 to November 1914 were lost at sea when the relief ship carrying the data foundered (Van Rooy 1957). The ship was apparently the Endeavour, an Australian government research trawler that delivered supplies to the Macquarie Island meteorological station and then disappeared at sea on December 5, 1914 (Stone 2006). An extensive search by several ships failed to find any sign of the eighteen crew members. This tragedy, which occurred in the cause of expanding scientific knowledge, sheds new light on the PanPacific Scientific Conference resolution concerning Macquarie Island. The professional scientists at the meeting were conversing, dining, and relaxing in a pleasant and scenic setting in Honolulu to propose what should be done at the remote and dangerous island. None of the scientists would ever be stationed on the island, and the text of their resolution reveals that they had no idea why the vital observations at the island had come to an end. Moreover, while the resolution was well intentioned and scientifically justified, it offered no funds to carry out the task and no volunteers to brave “the most wretched place of involuntary and slavish exilium that can possibly be conceived.” The Macquarie Island weather station was not reopened until March 25, 1948, twenty-eight years after the passage of the resolution calling for its restoration. Thanks to improved technology and determined leadership , the station has provided regular observations ever since. Today anyone with access to the World Wide Web can visit the station and see the current weather conditions by means of the station’s Webcam ( asset/webcams/macca/default.asp). This brings us to the second meteorologically related action recommendation of the Pan-Pacific Scientific Conference of 1920, Resolution 8, which called for the establishment of a “Meteorological Station on Mauna Loa”: In view of the fact that Mauna Loa, Island of Hawaii, the highest accessible point in the central Pacific, offers exceptional opportunities for the exploration of the upper air, it is recommended that a station of the first order be established on its summit for continuous meteorological observations. (Anon. 1920) Implementing this resolution posed challenges even greater than those in Resolution 6. Apparently none of the conferees in Honolulu volunteered to organize or man the station, and there was no provision to provide a budget for its founding and operation. The US Exploring Expedition had camped at the summit of Mauna Loa for twenty days during the winter of 1840–1841. But the ascent was exceedingly difficult, and all supplies, water, food, shelters, and instruments had to be carried by the expedition and its Hawaiian porters. Severe storms were experienced, and Lt. Wilkes and his men often suffered with altitude sickness and freezing conditions. Establishing a modern meteorological station at the summit would require a usable access road, instrumentation capable of surviving the elements, and a crew of hearty men capable of running the station. All this would require considerably more funds than a routine weather observatory and pose a nightmare of logistical problems, not the least of which 54 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY was the likelihood that Mauna Loa might respond with one of its periodic eruptions. Resolution 8 of the Pan-Pacific Scientific Conference of 1920 remained an unimplemented goal until Robert Simpson arrived in Honolulu. Simpson soon came to the same conclusion about Mauna Loa’s potential for a weather station as had the conference that occurred twenty-eight years before his arrival, for, as he recalled during the UCAR interview, Shortly after arriving in Honolulu, I was interviewed by the science reporter of the Honolulu Advertiser, with the result that a front page article the next day proclaimed Mauna Loa to be an incomparable natural laboratory for study of atmospheric processes because of its smooth gentle slopes extending upward through the trade wind easterly to upper tropospheric westerlies where the atmosphere was free of pollutants, the nearest source being thousands of miles away. The article went on to suggest that an observatory near the summit would provide an unparalleled benchmark record for studying the structure of the atmosphere and of weather processes. (Simpson 1989) The newspaper article and Simpson’s membership on Admiral Radford’s staff at Pearl Harbor triggered the implementation of Simpson’s dream for Mauna Loa and the fulfillment of Resolution 8 of the first Pan-Pacific Scientific Conference. For Simpson was soon to lead the first effort to establish a permanent meteorological observatory at the summit of the mountain. Perhaps Simpson’s Scottish heritage also played a role, for Archibald Menzies and David Douglas, two of Mauna Loa’s earliest scientists, were from Scotland. Fulfilling Simpson’s Dream Simpson’s newspaper interview occurred at a fortuitous time, for on January 16, 1947, Hawai‘i’s territorial governor Ingram Stainback had announced plans for a “scenic highway” to the summit of Mauna Loa and that the road had reached “a densely forested area” at an elevation of 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) (Associated Press 1947). In his 1989 interview, Simpson discussed what happened after the 1948 newspaper interview was published: To my surprise, only two days later, I received a call from a man by the name of Tom Vance, Director of Institutions in Hawaii, who said, “I think we might be able to do business together in achieving our common interests in Mauna Loa. I have a prison camp at Kulani deep in the rain forest at the 5,000 feet level on Mauna Loa. The inmates there need a challenge to help equip them to be responsible citizens when they leave prison. They can help both in road building and in construction of the observatory building.” Not until later did he confide that what he really wanted to do was establish a ski lodge at the summit to be operated by the inmates. This at first seemed a questionable way at best to go about the establishment of the observatory, but after further thought and consultation with Dr. Reichelderfer I decided to pursue the matter further. Reichelderfer’s endorsement came during a trip Simpson made to Washington. While there, Simpson also met with Reichelderfer’s director of research, Harry Wexler (Simpson 1978). Thereafter, Simpson was on his own as he was granted permission for the project from the Department of the Interior, secured the loan for the necessary heavy equipment, and worked with Tom Vance to plan a road to the summit. Simpson’s dream was underway. Tom Vance and the Lions Club Pave the Way Thomas B. Vance, who headed the Department of Public Institutions of the Territory of Hawai‘i, had unknowingly prepared the way for the Mauna Loa Observatory by    +‚  ƒ ™ " "  %  ƒ ™ " prisoners were constructing the Hilo airport during World War II to a more remote location. Vance had to overcome considerable opposition in moving the prison to the site The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 55 he selected, especially from various officials and the Hilo %$ ™  |€  ‡`–` †    +‚   ƒ  Camp was established on the eastern slope of Mauna Loa. The prison was connected to Highway 11 south of Hilo by a new road built under Vance’s supervision. Governor Stainback, who visited the facility more than once, enthusiastically supported Vance’s work, and the prison road was named the Stainback Highway following a 1950 resolution to that effect by the Hawai‘i Lions Clubs. @+‚  ƒ ™ "     Vance began plans for extending the Stainback Highway " +‚   "      Simpson’s proposed summit observatory was but one of his goals, for Vance hoped to use prison labor for the road project as part of his rehabilitation strategy. Prisoners had served as bearers for James Jarves and J. P. Couthouy when they climbed Mauna Kea in 1840, and there was ample precedent for using prison labor to build a scientific facility in Hawai‘i. Thomas A. Jaggar’s first volcano observation   +<       founding of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, was handdug by prison laborers in 1912. The diggers were prisoners of the Territory of Hawaii, sentenced to a term of hard labor (HVO record book for 1912 . . .). Jaggar was not above using free labor, prison or otherwise, to help stretch his limited funds. Their prison camp was nearby at what is now Kilauea Military Camp in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The prisoners dug through almost six feet of volcanic ash and pumice to a layer of thick pahoehoe lava—a firm base for the concrete piers on which seismometers would be anchored. (Apple 2000) Vance lacked money to build the road, and territorial law blocked his plans to use prison labor. But his membership in the Honolulu Lions Club provided a potential solution to both issues. The law allowed prison labor to be used for nonprofit community service organizations, and the Lions supported a variety of charities and needs. Howard Ellis, who knew Tom Vance and who served on the staff of the slope unit of the Mauna Loa Observatory for more than two decades, summed up what happened next in his monograph , The Observatory: On Their Own (Ellis 1988): He went to the Lions Clubs of Hawaii and the Hilo Lions [Club] was specifically chartered to build a road to the summit of Mauna Loa. The Lions held their convention in Honolulu in the spring and came up with $300 for the project. The $300 donation, which amounts to $2,714 in 2010 dollars (Friedman 2011), followed a presentation by Vance at the annual Hawai‘i Lions Club convention in Honolulu in the spring of 1949 (Vance 1969). As for direct involvement by the Lions Club, the 1949 convention designated the Hilo Lions Club as the official sponsor of the road, and this met the requirement of territorial law. Thus, the Lions Club would supervise the road project, their grant would provide money for fuel and supplies, and the +‚   ƒ  ™ "   "      The Lions were enthusiastic about their involvement and even shared Vance’s goals for a recreational facility on Mauna Loa. As the press reported, “The Lions Club of Hilo is planning to erect a snowline lodge . . . for skiers, skaters and other lovers of winter sports and recreation” (Shiramizu 1951). Vance supplemented the Lions Club grant by selling lava rocks from Mauna Loa for a dollar each, or $9.05 in 2010 dollars (Friedman 2011). The Hilo Women’s Club,   ""  +‚  ƒ  was won over after Vance gave the members a tour of the facility and then escorted them to jeeps and trucks driven by prisoners for a bouncy ride along the newly extended Stainback Highway above the prison. The women, who didn’t realize that Vance and a detachment of guards were following the prisoner-led convoy, enjoyed the adventure of the experience, but they suggested that the road should be renamed the “Strainback Highway” (Vance 1969). They joined with Vance in proposing “Gardens of the World,” which reporter Hugh Lytle (1951) described as including “flora of all climates from that of the tropics to the arctic, growing along the highway as it soars from sea level to the snow.” 56 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY The Lions Club, Vance, and the prison workers even-   ` |‡~“ +‚   across the north slope of Mauna Loa before the $300 ran out (Vance 1969). This placed the end of the road at what       +‚             about 8,300 feet (2,530 meters). Meanwhile, Vance began work on a major new crossisland road project, the Konahilo Road, which the prison road-building crew accessed by making a right turn at +‚           "  ~^“   |–}  downslope toward Saddle Road. By January 1951 he had established Camp Jaggar, from where he had begun cutting a perfectly straight road toward Kealakekua on the Kona side of the island at a mile per month (Shiramizu 1951). At 7.75 miles (12.5 km), the road project came to a halt after Camp Jaggar burned. The abandoned Konahilo Road eventually became known as “The Road to Nowhere.” By February 20, 1951, the road to the summit had reached 9,100 feet (2,774 meters), which was about 3 miles|“+‚    Œ  œ  ™   ™ ”   "     +‚   ƒ  appeared before the Hawai‘i County Board of Supervisors and its chairman, James Kealoha, to request the use of three county dump trucks to assist in sealing the rough Mauna Loa summit road with cinders. Smith told the officials that a group of scientists would arrive on March 10 “to test the feasibility of establishing a laboratory at the summit of the volcanic mountain for the study of geophysics.” He then said, “The higher we can push the road by that time, the better will be our chances for the laboratory” (Honolulu Advertiser 1951). Smith’s request was approved, and on March 9, 1951, Tom Vance and James Kealoha met with the visiting scientists in Hilo (Fig. 4.1). While the details of the visit have yet to be found, it is likely that the visiting scientists were taken on a tour of the newly extended road. Meanwhile, Robert Simpson was looking for the roadbuilding equipment necessary to continue the road to the summit. The big question was how to acquire the road building equipment to construct the access road. To explore the options, I sought out my colleagues on the JMC/PAC at Pearl Harbor. I explained what we wanted to do and told them, “I can get the help of the Geological Survey at the Volcano Observatory to help stake out a roadway likely to be safe from lava flows, and can provide from my regional funds the cash to purchase building materials and equipment for the observatory. The territory (of Hawaii) can supply the labor to construct the building and to build the road. However, we don’t have the equipment to build the access road. Can you help us?” (Simpson 1989) Simpson recalls that his military colleagues on the committee were intrigued by his plan: The Navy member of the Committee suggested the Navy might be able to help, and offered to introduce me to Admiral Radford to see if he would approve it. When I explained the plan to Radford, he was quite interested. (Personal communication with author, January 24, 2008) He agreed to loan the project two big road building CATS and ship them to Hilo, providing others would pick up the cost of fuel and spare parts. I quickly agreed the Weather Bureau would do so. Over my signature as member of the JMC/PAC, the Navy supplied the two road building CATS, and therewith a project was set in motion supported officially only by a handshake or two, to establish an observatory at the summit of Mauna Loa just below the caldera of Makeoweoweo [sic] Crater at an altitude of 13,453 feet. It was a small but auspicious beginning. (Simpson 1989) The handshake agreements also included “the unfunded blessings of the Weather Bureau and . . . a preliminary endorsement of the Department of the Interior to enter National Park grounds for this purpose” (Miller 1978). There was good reason for Simpson to insert “unfunded” and “preliminary” into his recollection of the early status of the project. Simpson’s dream was well on the way to fruition when progress was threatened by a roadblock even greater than the lava boulders and fissures that blocked the way to the The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 57 summit. The proposed observatory and access road would occupy land under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, whose staff vigorously opposed the plan. Tom Vance provides details in his unpublished memoir: The Volcano National Park officials were expressing adamant opposition to the Mauna Loa summit road as an entrance to the summit extension of the Park via the back door. The Park Service said that public access to this portion would require supervisory personnel from the Park, personnel for which there were then no funds. The Honolulu Star Bulletin supported the position of the Park Service but the Honolulu Advertiser supported the plans of the Weather Bureau and the Kulani Prison Camp, proof that there is not collusion in the news media to consolidate their attack on an enterprise. Each FIGURE 4.1. The Mauna Loa site survey party on March 9, 1951, included (left to right) Charles M. Woffinden, US Weather Bureau; W. P. Mordy, head, Meteorology Div., Pineapple Research Co.; Tom Vance, County of Hawai‘i; Leon Sherman, UCLA; James Kealoha, chairman, County of Hawai‘i; Mr. Youman, US Weather Bureau; James Steiner, US Weather Bureau, Hilo office. (MLO archive.) 58 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY of the two leading Honolulu daily papers took an independent position and went its own way. In one of the meetings at Park headquarters, the Assistant Superintendent urgently requested authority to go to Washington so as to try to put a stop to the whole affair. Such authority was never granted. (Vance 1969) Robert Simpson had much to do with the reason the assistant superintendant was not granted authority to visit Washington. The Menzies expedition of 1794 and the US Exploring Expedition found a much friendlier reception from the Hawaiian leadership of their day than Simpson did, and this would not be the last attempt to block scientific studies from the summits of Hawai‘i’s major volcanoes . But Simpson persevered. As he recalled during his 1989 interview, The real fight came, however, after getting final approval from Dr. Reichelderfer, in persuading the Secretary of the Interior, Oscar Chapman, to allow us to use National Park land to build the road and erect the observatory building. This was a tough job. But with Reichelderfer’s help, we finally got approval, after strong objections by Chapman’s staff. The Road to the Summit Simpson recently provided new details about the construction of what came to be known as the Mauna Loa access road: Tom Vance and his staff supervised the construction. I visited the scene of construction and reviewed its progress perhaps half a dozen times between travels mandated by responsibilities elsewhere in the Pacific. I am reasonably sure that the road construction to the summit began  }›{{  ˆ+‚    ‰Z  summit on foot to stake out the routing of the road, and to select the observatory site began near that level after driving a 4-wheel drive vehicle from the prison to that level. (Simpson 2009) Simpson pursued the project with the same intensity he had pursued his meteorology career, but hiking to the summit of Mauna Loa was a good deal more difficult than his usual duties. During one of his hikes to the summit, the mountain reminded him to slow down. During the climb I did have quite an elevated pulse rate, which concerned me, and I stopped frequently to let it settle down from 150 to 100 before proceeding. The only pain I experienced was after I got back to sea level when I had a corker of a headache. Two days later my physician examined me and said “Forget it; you’re OK.” ( Personal communication with author, January 24, 2008) Simpson had assistance in planning the summit access road: Gordon MacDonald, Director of the Volcano Observatory , made a number of trips to the summit with me and on one occasion with Charles Woffinden [see Fig. 4.1], Head of the Weather Forecast Office at Honolulu, to stake out the access road. (Simpson 1989) Howard Ellis provided details about the construction of the summit access road in his monograph (Ellis 1988): Mr. Vance enjoyed describing his technique for building the road to the summit. He headed out with a small party aboard the two bulldozers [Fig. 4.2], loaded with bedding, food and other provisions. On the lava fields he sent a man out uphill with a hand-held level. The man would keep walking as long as he could sight back to the crew on the bulldozers. The machine operators kept the blades up. Their tracks left a fairly good road. They planned to back-blade on their way down and to work over some of the particularly bad spots. For meals and night time rest, they simply stopped wherever they were. There was a network of lava tubes along the route that the road took. Such a tube results from the flow of lava that courses down a channel between two previous flows and solidifies on top and continues to flow under- The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 59 neath. When the source stops, the last of the lava flows out the bottom leaving the empty tube. The lighter of the two bulldozers went first and the operator developed a special talent for feeling by the “seat of his pants.” Whenever he felt the ground shake excessively and in a certain way, he jumped from his machine until checks were made. On at least one occasion the bulldozer fell into a tube after the operator had jumped. This delayed progress only until the crew could get extra equipment and men from the base camp, get the machine out, and fill up the caved-in portion of the road. Mr. Henry Auwae, an instructor at Kulani, stayed with all the road building on Mauna Loa from the beginning and did most of the work and operational decision making. He said that they were out on the summit road project almost six months. (Ellis 1988) The road crew followed Vance’s alignment method as they continued the road in an almost straight line across the north slope of Mauna Loa. A change in plans occurred about 1.2 miles (1.9 km) beyond the site that would later be selected for today’s Mauna Loa Observatory. As Ellis notes in his history of the Mauna Loa Observatory, “it became obvious that they would have to go all the way around the top of the mountain before they could reach it if they continued with this method.” Ellis records what happened next: Mr. Auwae backed up a bit and made about a 100-degree turn to the left (east) and went back across the north face of the mountain for about five miles until the alignment with Hilo was reached and then switched back and forth, picking his own way to the summit. There were such cracks and awful features that he sensibly gave up on some starts. He tried to skirt close to cinder cones because of the good road surfacing material found there. It is a wonder that they made it without a serious accident. Aerial imagery generally affirms this account. At 1.2 miles (1.9 km) beyond the present site of the Mauna Loa FIGURE 4.2. In 1949 the US Navy loaned these two earth-moving machines for the construction of a rough  +‚     the summit of Mauna Loa. (MLO archive.) 60 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY Observatory, the road turns from southwest to due south and directly up the slope of the mountain for 270 feet (82 meters). The road then switches back to the southeast. After 2 miles (3.2 km), the road switches back to the southwest. Eventually the road reached 12,200 feet (3,719 meters), which was close enough to the summit to finalize Simpson’s selection of a site for the new observatory. Representatives from the Weather Bureau, Vance’s Territorial Department of Institutions, and the National Park Service gathered at +‚  ƒ    "  mit . Ellis’ monograph gives the date as September 6, 1951. The Honolulu Advertiser (September 11, 1951) reported that the party included James W. Steiner of the Hilo office of the Weather Bureau; Charles M. Woffinden and Arthur W. Youmans of the Honolulu office of the Weather Bureau; Harry Brisbane, Ishmael Manus, Donald J. Murray, and A. M. Huronymous of the Department of Institutions; Thomas E. Carpenter, landscape architect with the San Francisco office of the National Park Service; and Nash Castro and Ray Bolen of the Hawai‘i National Park. The Honolulu Advertiser reported that the party gathered for a predawn breakfast at the prison before heading up the newly constructed road by truck. At the end of the road, the party hiked some 2.5 miles (4 km) to a point about 1,000 feet (305 meters) northwest of the summit crater. Unlike the fresh lava flows they traversed at many points while driving the new road, here the lava was ancient and much less likely to be overrun in a future eruption. The newspaper reported that the elevation was about “13,450 feet,” which is quite close to the elevation of 13,453 feet (4,100 meters) given online by Google EarthTM (2009). The paper reported that “A large white flag was laid out on the ground as a marker for aerial photographs.” The party also laid out a route for the remainder of the road to the summit. The bulldozer crews soon resumed work on the road, and two switchbacks later the road neared the north pit of the summit crater. The men then continued another 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the site selected for the Mauna Loa Summit Observatory. While bulldozers can cut through lava with surprising efficiency, a drive along today’s Mauna Loa road illustrates the many challenges faced by the road crew as they drove their two bulldozers across the rough lava. There’s a story behind an upslope turnoff about 2.5 miles (4 km) from today’s observatory at an elevation of 10,232 feet (3,119 meters). The origin of this road, which is clearly visible in aerial imagery, was explained by Ellis (1988): When the [road construction crew] reached the top, a big snow storm came and covered the ground deeply for as far as they could see. They couldn’t find their road and might have been trapped, but Mr. Auwae acted quickly and loaded his crew on the two machines and headed direct for Hilo through the snow. They intercepted their first summit road about three miles down from the 11,000 foot level. This road that they made while coming down in the snow turned out to not only be straighter and about one third the distance as the first, but an allaround better one with an easier slope. The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory On October 18, 1951, the Honolulu Advertiser reported Thomas Vance’s announcement that the Mauna Loa road had finally reached the summit. The following day, an article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, noted that inmates from +‚  ƒ  "     the new observatory’s building, which they were constructing from plywood. The Weather Bureau provided $500 for the building and the instruments (Ellis 1988). Robert Simpson discussed the summit building in his 1989 interview: Plans were finally completed to put [up] a small observatory building, with heat and a cooking facility, a bunk for overnight visits, and oxygen to supplement the thin air, in addition to the autographic equipment and probe systems to record wind, temperature, pressure, and rainfall. The completed building was hauled in sections to the summit in a large truck and installed on the prisoner-built concrete slab, which remains on the mountain to this day. Aerial imagery suggests that the slab measures 13 x 15 feet (4 x 4.6 meters). Photographs of the building suggest The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 61 it measured 8 x 10 feet (2.4 x 3 meters), dimensions that are supported by press reports. A roof topped with corrugated metal extended about 3 feet (0.9 meters) out from the building’s walls. Cables connected the east and west sides of the roof to three eyebolts installed in both sides of the concrete slab. The little building’s base was secured to the slab by eighteen sturdy bolts, making it much more capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds than the tents of the US Exploring Expedition during its stay at the summit for nearly three weeks in the winter of 1840–1841. Shortly after the building was completed, meteorologist Joachim Kuettner accompanied Robert Simpson to the summit of Mauna Loa to visit the new facility. On November 27, 1951, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported that Mauna Loa began to tick Friday [November 23]—not volcanically but statistically—when the recently installed weather observatory started recording temperature, wind and sunshine data. The measuring equipment was installed by James Steiner, head of the local U.S. weather bureau, who hiked to the mountain top with two other weather bureau men, James Felgren, liaison inspector for the Pacific area from Honolulu, and Donald Yager, general maintenance technician. The new observatory had almost as many instruments as the US Exploring Expedition used at the opposite side of the summit 110 years before. The modern instruments were automated and required attention only every two weeks. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin article reported that the instruments included a hygrothermograph for recording temperature and humidity, a wind gauge for recording wind direction and speed, a sunshine switch for recording the duration of sunshine, and a rain recorder. The observatory was located very near where Henry Guppy had camped on the summit for three weeks in 1897, which suggests a future comparison of the temperature measured by Guppy and by the automated observatory fifty-four years later. After more than three years of planning and hard work, Simpson’s dream was finally in place at the summit of Mauna Loa, and meteorological data was being recorded just as proposed by a resolution of the 1920 Pan-Pacific Scientific Conference. Simpson had learned from the road-building project that promotion was important to the success of the mission. He therefore organized a dedication ceremony for the summit observatory to be held at the site in December 1951. He invited various dignitaries , including Secretary of Interior Oscar Chapman and Governor Oren E. Long, and he chartered a US Navy plane for the trip from Honolulu for $270. At 7:30 a.m. on December 12, 1951, some twentyfive people departed from Volcano House on the rim of +<  ™     "   Mauna Loa. Secretary Chapman turned down the trip to the dedication. Instead, he wanted to visit Volcanoes National Park, and Governor Long asked Tom Vance to escort Chapman on a tour of the park. Back on the mountain , the dedication group was driven in sedans through +‚  ƒ     ¦     " +‚       summit. Robert Simpson led the dedication group, which, he later recalled, included Washington representatives from the Departments of Commerce, Interior and Navy, as well as a number of scientists from universities and government laboratories. All were transported to the summit in four-wheel drive vehicles. The dedication by Governor [Long] took place during a light snowfall and was followed by an open-pit barbecue around a blazing bonfire. (Simpson 1989) Howard Ellis (1988) reported in his monograph that Dr. Simpson started the logbook and described the day as: cloudy, temperature 32 [degrees] F, wind SW 15 mph with occasional snow flurries. . . . Mr. Smith, who provided most of the labor and worked out the logistics details, said: “Hell, this place is so high and cold that I can boil water for coffee all day and stick my hand inside it and not get burned.” In a chapter for the 20th Anniversary Report of the Mauna Loa Observatory, Simpson closed his report on the dedication by noting that 62 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY The excursion in four-wheel-drive vehicles to the summit , punctuated by frequent stops for rests, for accommodation to the thin air, and for a few deep breaths from the “walk around” oxygen bottles borrowed from military supplies, was completed without incident. (Miller 1978) The dedication ceremony was more akin to a frigid adventure than a usual building dedication. Howard Pierce, a reporter for the Hilo Tribune-Herald, described the view of the snow-capped Mauna Kea and the patches of snow at his feet, which some of the participants made into snowballs. Photographs of the event (Fig. 4.3) show Robert Simpson, wearing a safari hat, amidst a group of obviously cold men huddled together against the front side of the tiny observatory building. Newspaper reporter Hugh Lytle (1951) described “the group of scientists and interested individuals as they stood before a bleak instrument shelter in a temperature slightly below freezing.” Lytle’s report includes a detailed account of Simpson’s address to the group: When something happens here, it can have an effect on the other side of the world two weeks hence. . . . This point is the highest accessible by car, above sea level, FIGURE 4.3. The Mauna Loa Observatory was dedicated under an overcast sky in frigid conditions on December 12, 1951. MLO founder Robert Simpson (center, with safari hat) and Saul Price (foreground, back to camera) were among those who spoke. (MLO archive.) The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 63 FIGURE 4.4. The Mauna Loa Observatory (right) at the summit of the mountain included an outdoor instrument shelter (far left), wind instrument mast (center), and precipitation collector (center). The observatory was abandoned in June 1954. (MLO archive.) that can be reached anywhere except in the continental regions. From sea level to 13,000 feet is reached in less than 30 air line miles. This is the only place in the world, where such a site is accessible, where the atmosphere is of a marine nature and free of continental influences. The climate all the way up the mountain side is determined by a marine, tropical air mass. Because of this we can make measurements which will be representatives of the free atmosphere in the tropics, and to make continuous recordings of these. Previously the only way we could do it was to send up sounding balloons. Simpson described the instruments at the site, which included an anemometer to measure the wind speed, a wind vane to indicate the wind’s direction, a sunshine recorder, and a microbarograph to measure the pressure of the atmosphere (Fig. 4.4). He said, “You can almost weigh a cloud with a microbarograph.” Simpson also anticipated greenhouse gas studies to come when he said that a spectrometer would be installed the following year to measure the total water vapor above the summit. This would permit a determination of the effect of water vapor on the temperature of the summit at night when energy absorbed from sunlight during the day is radiated outward to space. 64 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY A similar instrument would be installed at Hilo to compare the temperature under a moist sky with that under the very dry sky at the summit (Lytle 1951). The dedication speech was given by Emil J. Sady, chief of the Pacific Branch, Division of Territories, US Department of Interior. In his speech, Sady recalled the resolution of the Pan-Pacific Scientific Conference of 1920 that called for the establishment of a weather station atop Mauna Loa: It is seldom that a group of men have gathered together in awesome surroundings such as on this barren summit of Mauna Loa for a more significant purpose. . . . Through all the harrowing 31 years that have transpired since that resolution of the Pan Pacific Congress, the idea of a weather observatory has lived. It caused men of good will . . . to seize the opportunity to join together diverse federal, territorial, and civic agencies, the University of Hawaii, and universities on the mainland in a common effort to carry it out. A new instrument for understanding the earth and its atmosphere has here been founded. A new basis for faith in the enduring value of international cooperation has been established. (Pierce 1951) Sady acknowledged the vital roles played by the key play-    ‘” "Z € +‚   prisoners, and the Hilo Lions Club, which had worked tirelessly to sponsor the road construction project undertaken with the US Navy’s giant earth movers and prison labor. Alfred Bell of the Lions Club thanked the group for the opportunity to participate in the project with its sponsorship of the road. Loring G. Hudson of the Pacific Science Congress said that the “value of the observatory was worldwide, since weather knows no international boundaries” (Lytle 1951). Hudson also observed that the group was the largest to ascend the summit of Mauna Loa since the US Exploring Expedition of 1840–1841. After the group returned from the mountain, Emil Sady described for Tom Vance the awesome nature of his experience on the mountain: When we were seated at the dinner table at night, I asked Mr. Sady for a report on his trip. He replied saying : “It was the most awesome experience of my life. I was a witness to the continuing process of creation. I became aware of the fact that I was traversing an area where my Creator had been only yesterday. I was troubled by the thought that he might suddenly return. If so, what should I do? Should I introduce myself and what should I say? Washington has protocol for almost every circumstance but not for such as this. Admiration for our Creator grew as we realized that he had created this beautiful universe out of desolation such as this. We did get some relief from this horrible picture of utter desolation when we entered the snow-capped summit area but when we looked into the huge summit crater we get a picture of the violence which had created this great mountain. Unfortunately steam cracks were melting the beautiful snow cover and exposing the frightening picture of desolation. As we came back into the beautiful forest surrounding the prison camp and saw smoke rising from the chimneys of the camp, I breathed a sigh of relief, ‘Home at last.’ I never realized that a prison camp could look so good. I’m glad that I made the trip but I am even happier that I am not one of those who will be making this trip daily in the interest of scientific research. This awesome experience will doubtless become an interesting and pleasant memory but it will take quite some time to recover from the initial shock.” (Vance 1969) Maintaining the Observatory Additional men were added to the Weather Bureau office in Hilo to allow the staff to manage the mountain site. Simpson recalled later how an observer was scheduled to visit the summit each week to recover the chart recordings , replace paper and ink, and check the status of the instruments (Fig. 4.5). Besides the summit observatory, the staff also serviced instruments at three additional sites: +‚   “‡}{|‡“š`ª+‚     }›{{ feet (2,531 meters); and Mauna Loa Slope at 11,000 feet The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 65 (3,353 meters) (Ellis 1988). The latter two sites were to play a significant role in the future of the observatory. A first-person account of the summit servicing procedure was provided by James W. Steiner of the Hilo Weather Bureau Office in the 20th Anniversary Report of the Mauna Loa Observatory. Echoing others who drove the  +‚  ƒ    ”    the “Strainback” Highway, the name first used by the Hilo %$™     +‚      years earlier: How well I recall the weekly torture of driving to the summit site in the early fifties. As I recall, the distance to the summit from Hilo was about 50 miles. It took 4 hours for the drive: 2 hours to the 11,000-ft level, and then 2 hours for the last 10 miles to the summit. First it was in a reclaimed WWII ambulance-type vehicle, then in a new Dodge power wagon. (Steiner 1978) Steiner also related an interesting anecdote about how the Dodge was acquired, and Ellis (1988) and the Honolulu Advertiser (1952) provided additional details. Steiner recalled, “The impetus for the purchase of the new wagon was undoubtedly the fact that the old vehicle gave out near the summit when I was there with [Peyton Harrison] the director of what was then the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission .” The two men had driven to within a mile (1.6 km) of the observatory on April 15, 1952, when they were blocked by snowdrifts. They hiked through the snow to the observatory and returned to the truck at 12:30 p.m. to begin the descent. Unfortunately, the truck broke down at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) about 1.3 miles (2.1 km) north of where the slope unit of the Mauna Loa Observatory would be constructed in 1956. The two men walked some 10 miles (16 km) down to }›{{|^“›{ +‚     ment aviation transmitter was located. Finding the building locked, they continued walking down the road. Steiner wrote that, in total, “We walked for some seven hours, until about eight in the evening, before we were ‘rescued’ by prisoners from Kulani prison at about the 6,000-ft level of the road.” The prisoners had been sent to look for the men when they didn’t return through the prison as expected. According to the Honolulu Advertiser (1952), Harrison, who returned to Honolulu tired from the experience, explained that while there was a relationship between the new observatory and the aeronautics commission, “I won’t be going back up to check it.” Ellis (1988) records that the incident led to concerns about safety and liability: Mr. Steiner made an attempt to stem the flood tide of suggestions for emergency procedures—radios, safety equipment, liability insurance coverage, workers’ compensation , and on and on. . . . By May, emergency gear had been obtained, physical examinations at six month intervals for all employees making the trips were provided for, and a form was drawn up and needed to be signed by all non-employee passengers, freeing the WB [Weather Bureau] from liability. The instrumentation at the summit was subject to none of these contingency plans, and the instruments did not always work properly. Only a month after the dedication ceremony, the wind mast blew down. Because the weekly FIGURE 4.5. This five-channel chart recorder was installed inside the Mauna Loa Observatory. The gear assembly at right appears to be a weight-driven drive mechanism. (MLO archive.) 66 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY trip (Fig. 4.6) was so time consuming and tiring, the Hilo office tried to modify the instrumentation to increase the time between summit trips. As Steiner (1978) recalled, Because of the arduous trip all the way to the summit, attempts were made to modify standard instruments for 30-day operation. Several Rube Goldberg contraptions were designed by me and my staff in Hilo, but none was effective. We returned to standard operation and made weekly trips. Even then there were problems. The diurnal lifting of the inversion layer and the influx of marine air caused the ink to blot, caused the paper to stretch, and in general, was a thorn in the side. His work in Hawai‘i completed, Robert Simpson departed on May 18, 1952, exactly four years after he had left Washington for Honolulu. Simpson’s personal involvement and his creative ability to leapfrog bureaucratic hurdles, promote his dream through the media, and partner with the US Navy, Tom Vance, a prison, and a Lions Club had made possible the establishment of the first permanent observatory on the summit of Mauna Loa. Or, at least, permanence was Simpson’s intention. As so often happens when a leader leaves the scene, enthusiasm for the project began to crumble along with the poorly maintained road to the summit. As Simpson (1978) recalls in the 20th Anniversary Report, Unfortunately, after the road-building equipment was returned to the Navy, the road began to deteriorate rapidly , and getting to the summit site to service equipment and collect records became progressively more arduous. Failure to obtain funds to improve the road so that a standard passenger car could reach the summit prevented Tom Vance from establishing a ski lodge. Finally, in [1954] it was necessary to discontinue trips to the summit observatory, and observations started in [1951] were discontinued. In the MLO archives are two photographs from November 16, 1952, that illustrate the poor condition of the road, one of which is Figure 4.7. Captions suggest that former Governor Stainback made a trip to the summit of Mauna Loa along the road that bore his name. During the dedication of the little observatory on that cold December day in 1951, Simpson had voiced his prophetic dream for the facility: The weather bureau’s newest, and perhaps most unique observatory, outwardly appears to be an unimposing installation. Indeed it is an autographic weather station of humble proportions—but nevertheless of signal importance. This is a humble beginning of an operation which, because of its strategic location, may ultimately provide data and serve as the advance base for some of the more important geophysical research of the century. (Pierce 1951) Because of the continuing problems with the recording instruments and the difficulties of servicing them and retrieving the data charts, few records are available after the summit observatory opened for business in November 1951. The water vapor measurements proposed by Simpson were apparently never implemented. In June 1954, the little observatory on the summit of Mauna Loa was abandoned . Robert Simpson’s dream was placed on hold. A Virtual Visit to the Mauna Loa Summit Observatory Site After the Mauna Loa Summit Observatory was abandoned , the Park Service removed the building. All that remains today is the concrete slab on which the building stood (Fig. 4.8) and the crude four-wheel drive access road. Thanks to aerial imagery and Google EarthTM , anyone can visit the site from the comfort of a keyboard. The journey is begun by flying Google Earth ( to the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Zooming in on the center of the island will take the visitor to Mauna Loa. Its summit is just below the center of the island, and dark streaks of lava radiate outward from the summit crater. Continued zooming and steering will fill the computer screen with the giant crater. FIGURE 4.6. This four-wheel drive Dodge Power Wagon was used for weekly trips to the summit. The team shown here is checking a weather station near where the present slope unit of the Mauna Loa Observatory would be built in 1956. (MLO archive.) FIGURE 4.7. This trip to the summit on November 16, 1952, illustrates the poor condition of the road. A caption suggests that former Gov. Ingram Stainback was on this trip. (MLO archive.) 68 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY The concrete foundation of the abandoned Mauna Loa Summit Observatory is near the northwest side of the crater. The fastest way to find its approximate location is to steer toward it while referring to the geographic coordinates of the pointer given at the lower left corner of the Google Earth screen. The mouse or pointing pad should be tweaked until the pointer is at 19 degrees 29 minutes north latitude and 155 degrees and 36 minutes west longitude. Zooming in on this spot will reveal a white square on the lava at the end of a rough road from the northeast. This is the concrete foundation of the abandoned Mauna Loa Summit Observatory. The date of the Google Earth imagery of Mauna Loa may not be specified, and the images may be several years old. A more immediate view of the summit and its giant crater is available from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory of the US Geological Survey, which has installed an automated camera at the western side of the crater that rotates in five steps to provide a panoramic view of the entire crater . The image is updated at ten-minute intervals (http:// The view is sometimes blocked by ice, fog, and clouds, but generally a fine view of the crater can be had. The USGS camera is located about half a mile (805 meters) southwest of the concrete pad of the Mauna Loa Observatory site and is very close to the site of Henry Guppy’s 1897 camp. Salvaging the Dream After the summit observatory was abandoned, the Weather Bureau did what it could to continue monitoring temperature and rainfall at three elevations along the accessible   +‚  ƒ  and about 11,200 feet (3,414 meters). Meteorologist Howard Tatum had first been assigned to the Weather Bureau station in Hilo in September 1951. When he returned in January 1955, the Weather Bureau was making weekly trips up the mountain to service the weather instruments along the road. Tatum (personal communication with author, July 3, 2007) describes some of his adventures while taking part in the difficult drive along the road: FIGURE 4.8. This concrete slab, shown here in 1978, is all that remains of the Mauna Loa Summit Observatory. Mauna Kea is in the background. (John Miller. Used with permission.) The Mauna Loa Summit Observatory (1951–1954) 69 We had rain gauges (dip stick), weighing rain gauge, temp and humidity gauges and a barograph at three dif-  ’‡¡+  ƒ ^¡}›{{  ˆ+‚   Mauka], 3—very near the site of [the present] MLO. The only road in those days took us through the Kulani Prison and was only a very rough trail on up the mountain. We drove an old Dodge Power Wagon that didn’t have seat belts. [We] bumped our heads many a time on the roof. We also had no means of communication . So, as we went through the prison gate we told them we were on our way up the mountain. If we were delayed for any reason our wives would call the prison to find out if we had come back. If the answer was no, they would send up a rescue party. As we would change all the [recording] charts on our way up, we would check them on the way down. After having stopped at the 8,300 ft. site I drove on down and noticed that the Power Wagon WAS ON FIRE! I stopped and jumped clear. After waiting about 15 minutes I noticed no more smoke so decided to take a chance and drive on down. Got in the vehicle, took off the emergency brake and proceeded on down. No more smoke. You idiot, you were driving with emergency brake on since you stopped at 8,300, thus, the smoke. The boss and a new arrival had gone up on a very windy day. On their return, when they got a couple of miles from the prison there were several trees laying across the road. They walked down to the prison and got help. The meteorological measurements made along the Mauna Loa road were important, but they did not begin to meet the promise of the little observatory on the top of the mountain. With the summit station closed, the tenacity  % !      +‚   Prison would continue to play a role in salvaging what was left of Robert Simpson’s dream for Mauna Loa. References Alexander, W. D. 1892. The ascent of Mauna Kea, Hawaii: Report of W. D. Alexander on the Mauna Kea trip of 1892. Pacific Commercial Advertiser, September 14. From Kepa Maly, MAUNA KEA—KA PIKO KAULANA O KA ‘AINA, Kumu Pono Associates LLC. (Accessed at Anon. 1897. “Scientific Notes and News.” Science 6 (142): 443. ———. 1920. General resolutions of the Pan-Pacific Scientific Conference. Science 52 (1343): 286–287. Apple, Russell A. 2000. Thomas A. Jaggar, Jr., and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. (Accessed at http:// Associated Press. 1947. Plans scenic highway to Volcano. The New York Times, January 17: 25. Bird, Isabella. 1875. The Hawaiian Archipelago: Six months among the palm groves, coral reefs, and volcanoes of the Sandwich Islands. (Accessed at http:// Dana, Dwight. 1852. Note on the eruption of Manna Loa. American Journal of Science and Arts 14 (14): 79–80. DepartmentoftheEnvironmentandWaterResources.2005. History of Macquarie Island. Australian Government. (Accessed at mpa/macquarie/history.html.) Duncan, George. 1961. Account of an automobile trip in 1909 around the Island of Hawaii. In R. A. Apple, 1965, Trails: From steppingstones to kerbstones. Hawaiian Archeology. B. P. Bishop Museum Special Publication 53. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press. Ellis, Howard. 1988. The observatory: On their own. (Accessed at rabilia/Ellis%20booklet%20edited.pdf.) Friedman, S. Morgan. 2011. The inflation calculator. (Accessed at Guppy, H. B. 1906. A naturalist in the Pacific between 1896 and 1899. Vol. 2, Appendix, Note 61, Meteorological observations on the summit of Mauna Loa, 586–587. London: Macmillan and Co. (Accessed at Honolulu Advertiser. 1952. Mauna Loa Summit Rd. cleared of snow. April 18: 1–2. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 1951. New apparatus atop Mauna Loa now in operation. November 27. 70 H AWA I ‘ I ’ S M AU N A L O A O B S E RVAT O RY Lytle, Hugo. 1951. Unique isle weather post on Mauna Loa. Honolulu Advertiser, December 13: 1 and 10. Miller, John, ed. 1978. Mauna Loa Observatory: A 20th Anniversary Report. Washington, DC: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce. Pierce, Howard. 1951. Unique weather observatory on Mauna Loa dedicated. Hilo Tribune-Herald, December 13: 1–2. Shiramizu, Harry. 1951. New story of Kulani is in “the making.” Hawaii Times, January 22. Simpson, Robert H. 1978. Early days of the Mauna Loa Observatory. In John Miller, ed., Mauna Loa Observatory : A 20th Anniversary Report. Washington, DC: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce. ———. 1989. Interview by Edward Zipser, September 6 and 9, 1989, for the American Meteorological Society, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. (Accessed at publications/simpson-robert%20interview.pdf.) ———. 2009. Lifetime Acquaintances, Adventures & Exploration That Made a Difference: A Memoir, Sketches from the Life of Robert H. Simpson. July: 74–76. Unpublished . Steiner, James W. 1978. Introductory letter in John Miller, ed., Mauna Loa Observatory: A 20th Anniversary Report. Washington, DC: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce. Stone, Peter, ed. 2006. Macquarie Island shipwrecks. In Encyclopedia of Australian Shipwrecks. Yarram, Victoria : Oceans Enterprises. (Accessed at http://oceans1 USGS. 2007. Wilkes Expedition revisits Kilauea. (Accessed at .html.) Van Rooy, M. P., ed. 1957. Meteorology of the Antarctic. Pretoria: Weather Bureau. Vance, Thomas B. 1969. Unpublished memoir sent to Judith B. Pereira of MLO on December 9. ...


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