Diamond Head Charlie

In the late 1800s, a ship coming to Honolulu Harbor was big news. It meant arriving people, goods, and mail.

John Charles “Charlie” Peterson watched for arriving ships from Diamond Head from 1885 to 1907. Looking through his five-foot-long telescope, the former sailor could recognize ships from thirty miles, day or night regardless of weather. Peterson was known for his accuracy. Whenever Peterson spotted a ship, the Swedish immigrant called the Hawaiian Electric Company and say “Ste-e-e-mer–off Koko Head!” in his Swedish accent. HECOs’s whistle would scream three long blasts for all Honolulu to hear. This meant the ship would arrive in two hours, and people rushed to the harbor. Read more.