The Beginning of Hawaii Electric Light
In 1890, lumber and building supplies valued at $132,000 poured into Hilo as sugar-related industries boomed. The Hilo Road Board was considering a petition to open Kukuau Street, and work was progressing on a new road to Volcano.
But perhaps the single biggest story of the city’s progress was unfolding at the Hilo Boarding School where electricity was introduced. Hilo at the time was a busy little port town of 8,000 residents. A water-driven dynamo was installed on an irrigation ditch at the Hilo Boarding School. It was only a small direct current machine, capable of powering about 12 bare bulbs. But, the school pioneered another innovation at the same time by attaching a half-ton ice plant to the dynamo.