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Flumin' Da Ditch


Tunnel Michael Maurice O'Shaughnessy, 1864-1934.  He served as Chief Engineer for the city of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.  He also is credited with building the Hetch Hetchy Project which pipes water from Yosemite to San Francisco.  What does this have to do with Hawaii?  Well, before becoming a big shot in San Francisco, O'Shaughnessy came to Hawaii to build an irrigation system for the sugar cane plantations.

When completed, the irrigation system was 22.5 miles long with 57 tunnels and 19 flumes.  It carried water from the wet mountain valleys to the drier plains where the sugar cane was grown.  The reliable source of water allowed the sugar plantations to be profitable even during drought years.  It was also a great past time for adventure seeking kids who were willing to risk danger and trespass on the plantations in order to go Flumin Da Ditch.

In 1975 the sugar plantations in the area were closed due to high labor costs.  Most of the ditch still exists and still carries water.  Today, for a not-so-small fee, you can take a guided kayak trip along part of the irrigation system.

Three short movies of us Flumin' Da Ditch
Floating across a flume
Tunnel In
Floating into a tunnel
Tunnel Out
Floating out of a tunnel

Feet It's a fun trip, especially on a hot sunny day.  The water moves along at a comfortable speed and there's no white water so it's a leisurely trip.  We were on the water for about an hour.  I can't remember how many tunnels we went through but there were a bunch of them.  Some of the tunnels were surprisingly long and had curves so you couldn't see the entrance or exit while inside.  I can't imagine how the workers managed to build all those tunnels using nothing but hand tools and dynamite.  There were also several flumes which are basically water bridges over the steep valleys.  Again, how the workers managed to climb and work in such steep areas is beyond me.

Pipe As tourists, we didn't have to do any climbing or digging, all we had to do is sit in the inflatable kayaks and enjoy the ride.  I had a kayak paddle but I didn't use it for paddling, only for pushing off from the edges of the ditch.

Some of the tunnels had spots in the roof that dripped water.  I could usually hear the dripping noise in advance and manage to put away the camera in time.  There was another spot where a large pipe was pouring water into the ditch.  I managed to steer the kayak so that the water missed me but got Valerie.  I'm an excellent steerer.  The only time I got wet was at the end of the ride where for some unfathomable reason, everybody suddenly decided they needed to splash me with their paddles.  Life is so unfair sometimes.

It was a great trip.  If I could remember how to get there and wasn't afraid of getting caught, I'd be tempted to take an inner tube and make the trip again on my own.  It makes me want to build my own flume across our property.  All I need is the help of 600 Japanese workers.
Ditch Tree

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