Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Marbles and Landfills

I came across this tent at the swap meet where marbles were being displayed.  Normally, I woulda just glanced at the display and walked on . . . they were just marbles . . .  but the two circled here caught my eye and I asked to see um.

I held them up to the light. The color, the depth, the iridescence.   They were beauuuuutiful. They were also over $100 each.

The seller said that these were MF Christensen no. 9 slag marbles produced in the early 1900's.  The history of these marbles is so interesting.  You can find out more here.
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Here is the seller.  He said that he goes digging for these marbles on the Waianae Coast near Yokohama Bay.  I said, "Here, on this island?"  He said that up until the 1940's a train would dump trash in the area he described, and that that's where he goes with a  hand-held three-pronged garden rake looking for his marble treasure.  Isn't that cool?!
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My internet search into Oahu landfills led me to this interesting tidbit. 

Oahu, like many other oceanside communities, was ringed with swamps and tidelands. Most of the open, undeveloped areas indicated on the following 1906 map consisted of swampy land. The Kaimuki area was mostly dry wilderness.

At the turn of the century, the fishponds constructed by earlier Hawaiians were still in existence at the shoreline. Ala Moana Boulevard was built at the shoreline, and the broad areas on both sides of the future Kapiolani Boulevard consisted of rice fields. Palolo Stream and Manoa Stream did not have a definite channel to the sea; instead, the streams just spread out in the present Date Street area During the rainy season, Waikiki was flooded. Water from Makiki made the Sheridan Street area great for ducks.

The dredging of harbors, offshore areas and the Ala Wai provided fill for the reclamation of the swamps. The construction of the Ala Wai stopped the annual flooding of Waikiki. The residue from burned rubbish was also used to reclaim swamps. This residue provided a fill that was quite inert and solid. Thus, a rubbish dump was considered a cost-free method for a landowner to reclaim swampy land. Many property owners offered their swamps and lowlands to the City government for reclamation via open dump burning. Not all offers were accepted, however. The City declined sites offered when operating problems in filling the sites were foreseen. For example, the City more than once turned down the filling of sites that were actually wide stream beds. Major landowners and estates also had a practice of allowing the use of their land for dump sites. There was no payment by the City for the use of these dump sites. On one occasion, a landowner inquired with the City about sharing in the fees that the City charged to businesses that used the dumps. The City replied that revenue sharing was not justified because the increase in the value of the land reclaimed was sufficient payment. The landowner did not press the inquiry.

The filling of a swamp today to enable the building of a Waikiki or of an Ala Moana Shopping Center would be most difficult under present environmental laws, which prohibit the filling of wetlands unless there is no feasible alternative. The fillings that occurred in the past were probably justified at that time and good for the community at large. Yet, there is a sense of loss when places like Kekona's fish pond and Kekona's oyster pavilion, old-time gathering places, were lost to the advancing Waipahu dump. The same practice of filling swamps occurred in other cities, such as San Francisco, Boston and New York.

A 1925 report described refuse disposal in this way: "The present method of refuse disposal is by dumping same on waste land within the city. This method has been pursued in Honolulu for many years until now the available land for such purpose is nearly covered. At the very longest, from the present outlook, it is but a matter of a year or two until either a different method must be provided or additional lands allotted for the disposal of refuse."

The report held the hope that ocean disposal of refuse could be successful. A recommendation was made to expend $250 to conduct trials of dumping 10 scow loads of refuse at sea to prove either the practicality or impracticality of dumping at sea. But until the tests could be carried out, the report recommended the disposal of refuse by dumping on the shore side of Ala Moana Boulevard, Waikiki of Sheridan Road. This dumping was the start of Ala Moana Park.

You can find more info here.

6 comments:

Betty Townsend said...

Hi, Jalna,
Catching up reading your posts. Since I got my tablet, I am rarely on my desktop. This is an interesting article regarding landfills. You and your sisters have been finding some neat stuff at the swap meets. :)

K and S said...

amazing!

Erick said...

How cool, I going to buy one of those rake things and start digging. Thanks for the info.

jalna said...

Hey Betty!! Nice hearing from you again!

So neat yah Kat!

I wanna start digging too Erick.

Nippon Nin said...

Really fascinating story, made me sad little though. Let me know if you find some treasure.

jalna said...

I know what you mean Akemi. . . nostalgic feelings are kinda sad.