The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Kauai

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Edition of 1879. See also Kauai on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

KAUAI, the principal N. W. island of the Hawaiian group, in lat. 22º N., lon. 159º 30' W.; area, 527 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 4,961. It is irregularly circular, about 28 m. in diameter, and mountainous. Waialeale, the highest peak (about 6,000 ft.), is a little E. of the centre. West of this summit is a table land of nearly 40 sq. m. and about 3,000 ft. high; it terminates in a steep precipice on the coast. At other parts of the island the shore is generally a sandy beach interrupted by basaltic cliffs from 10 to 150 ft. high. The rock of the mountain is a compact ferruginous basalt. The shore ridges contain less iron and are more cellular; they vary in their structure from a compact phonolite to a heavy basalt. Crystals of quartz and iron pyrites are found in various parts. On the W. coast is a steep sand bank about 60 ft. high, known as the “barking sands,” formed by the action of the wind, and constantly advancing on the land. Visitors slide their horses down the face of the bank, when a noise as of subterranean thunder is heard. The valleys are deep and numerous, and every ravine is a watercourse. Kauai has a larger proportion of arable land than any other of the Hawaiian islands, its lowlands being mostly on the windward or rainy side. In the valleys the soil is sometimes 10 ft. deep. Hanalei, on the N. side, is reputed to have a larger rainfall than any other place in the group. The leeward or S. W. districts are comparatively dry and barren. The largest river, the Hanalei, empties into a tolerable harbor of the same name; Koloa (the principal town) and Nawiliwili have also good anchorage. Kauai is regarded, on account of the greater decomposition of its lavas, the degradation of its ridges, and the absence of recent volcanic products, as the oldest member of the Hawaiian group. The whole island, however, bears clear traces of its volcanic origin. In most parts the scenery is of extreme beauty. The chief product of Kauai is sugar; the raising of cattle is also a considerable business, hides, tallow, and wool being exported. Breadfruits, kalo, bananas, cocoanuts, oranges, and other tropical fruits grow abundantly. The native population of the island is decreasing.