Some of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have been known to humans for well over 1200 years while others were only discovered as recently as 1859.

Necker Island
Click photo for larger view

  Necker (above) and Nihoa, the islands that are closest to the main Hawaiian islands, have archaeological sites including agricultural, religious and habitation features.  Radiocarbon dates from Nihoa date habitation there from at least the 7th century AD.

  Though Hawaiian traditions retained the names of a handful of islands in the Northwestern chain, regular contact had long ceased by the time of Captain Cook's first visit in 1778.  Many of the reefs and atolls in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands were discovered accidentally throughout the 1800's when ships ran aground in the shallows.

  The Bishop Museum's Tanager Expedition was first major scientific examination of the NWHI 1923-4.  On this trip scientists studied the geology, archaeology, and animal and plant life of many of the NWHI.

  In the 1930's Midway was a stop-over for the famous "China Clipper" flying boats (above). Pan American Airlines built a hotel with a swimming pool for overnight passengers to rest before continuing their trans-Pacific flights.

  In the summer of 1942, on and around the Midway Islands, one of the most important naval battles in history took place.  The Battle of Midway changed the course of World War II, beginning the long road towards the United States' defeat of Japan in 1945.

History Links

Photo by Monte Costa, Painting by Frank Sierra/USFWS

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