Sugar Water: Hawaii's Plantation Ditches

Paperback: $29.00
ISBN-13: 9780824820442
Published: October 1997

Additional Information

206 pages
  • About the Book
  • Hawaii's sugar industry enjoyed great success for most of the 20th century, and its influence was felt across a broad spectrum: economics, politics, the environment, and society. This success was made possible, in part, through the liberal use of Hawaii's natural resources. Chief among these was water, which was needed in enormous quantities to grow and process sugarcane. Between 1856 and 1920, sugar planters built miles of ditches, diverting water from almost every watershed in Hawaii.

    “Ditch” is a humble term for these great waterways. By 1920, ditches, tunnels, and flumes were diverting over 800 million gallons a day from streams and mountains to the canefields and their mills. Sugar Water chronicles the building of Hawaii's ditches, the men who conceived, engineered, and constructed them, and the sugar plantations and water companies that ran them. It explains how traditional Hawaiian water rights and practices were affected by Western ways and how sugar economics transformed Hawaii from an insular, agrarian, and debt-ridden society into one of the most cosmopolitan and prosperous in the Pacific.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Carol Wilcox, Author

  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • The story [Wilcox] tells is not simply the fascinating one of an industry plundering the resources of one place to enrich the resources of another. [She] documents who profited, who lost, who got used in the process. She also raises questions about the uses of that sugar water now that King Cane no longer drives the economy.
      —Honolulu Advertiser
    • This book is an example of how a well-researched documentary project can be prepared for a wide public audience.
      —Industrial Archeology
    • Sugar Water is a nicely balanced introduction to the ventures that got us where we are today. . . . The first four chapters, which give a general history and statement of the situation, should be of interest to anyone who lives here. . . . Water is undoubtedly a complicated matter, and Wilcox has the first, not the last, word on the subject of surface water.
      —The Maui News
  • Supporting Resources