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Midway Islands

  • Also Known As: Brook Island
  • Also Known As: Middlebrook Island

  • Vicinity: Midway between Asia and North America
  • Type: US Territory

The US took formal possession of the islands in 1867. The laying of the trans-Pacific cable, which passed through the islands, brought the first residents in 1903. Between 1935 and 1947, Midway was used as a refueling stop for trans-Pacific flights. The US naval victory over a Japanese fleet off Midway in 1942 was one of the turning points of World War II. The islands continued to serve as a naval station until closed in 1993. Today the islands are a national wildlife refuge and are the site of the world's largest Laysan albatross colony. From 1996 to 2001 the refuge was open to the public; it is now temporarily closed. - The World Factbook 2013

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Midway Islands
World War II Facilities at Midway

Geography »

Physiographic Data
Highest Point: unnamed location: 13 m
Lowest Point: Pacific Ocean: 0 m
Area: 6 sq km

Information »


Atoll in the North Pacific Ocean 1260 nm (2334 km) northwest of Honolulu near the end of the Hawaiian Archipelago, about one-third of the way from Honolulu to Tokyo? - The World Factbook

Data »

Particulars for Midway Islands:
Locale Type US Territory
Historic Event World War II

History »


In 1935, Pan American Airways' Clipper operations came to Midway. This large flying boat island-hopped from San Francisco to China, providing the fastest and most luxurious route to the Orient, and bringing tourists to Midway until 1941. Only the super rich could afford a Clipper trip, which in the 1930s was over three times the annual salary of the average American. Only folks like Ernest Hemingway had the honor of meeting the goonies face to face. The large seaplanes landed in the quiet atoll waters and pulled up to a float offshore. Tourists were loaded onto a small powerboat which whisked them to a pier, where finally they would ride in "Woody" wagons to the Pan Am Hotel or "Gooneyville Lodge."

Over the years, Pan Am used several different models of "Clippers". The book, "Wings to the Orient", deeply details the associated aviation history for those who wish to explore the design variations further. Based on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, the Clippers flew from Honolulu to Midway, then on to Wake, Guam, Manila, and Macau. Other routes were also explored, especially with the onslaught of the Pacific war, which ended Clipper operations at Midway on December 8, 1941. In 1947, a Clipper landed at Midway again, in the faded hope that somehow the Clipper days could be revived, but with the new aircraft technology developed during World War II, the days of the Clipper were over. - US Fish and Wildlife Service

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