Midway is at the western end of the Hawaiian archipelago with Kure Atoll being the last in the chain and almost touching the international date line. We will be among the last people to ring in the new year.
The Polynesians were the first to occupy these islands and lived off of the land and sea for thousands of years before others discovered the islands. On July 5, 1859, Captain N.C. Brooks made the first recorded landing on Midway. In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt charged the Navy with safeguarding native birds from Japanese feather poachers. Midway became an “unorganized, unincorporated insular area” of the United States. To this day, you must have a valid passport to reenter Hawaii. Midway is not considered part of the state of Hawaii.
In 1902 the Commercial Pacific Cable Company began installing telegraph cables to connect San Francisco, Midway, Honolulu, Guam, Manila, China and Japan. There is only one of the 4 original cable houses still in existence. The other 3 were torn down this past year. The remaining Cable house has been re-roofed and the exterior repainted.
The larger of the 2 islands is Sand. It has the airstrip that is used for all arrivals and the occasional emergency landing. A Delta 747 landed here in 2011 because of a cracked windshield. Two planes had to come out, one to pick up the passengers and the other with a new windshield and a repair crew. Midway is a crucial point for such emergencies. It is also used to MedEvac people who get injured or gravely ill on ships. All the runways you see on the island to the right were the runways used during WWII.
At the time that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Sand Island was much smaller and without a protected harbor. After WWII was over, Sand Island was enlarged so that a new airstrip could be built and a protected harbor was created. All of the added land was created by dreading the harbor and ship channels. You can see the extra depth indicated by the darker blue water. In the 1941 photo above, the red lines indicate the added land mass and the green lines show where the current airstrip is.