The story of Morgan’s Ponds, the pools at Lydgate Park

In 1958, while vacationing in Europe, Native Hawaiian Wailua Houselots resident Albert S. Morgan Sr. (1908-2001) and his wife, Helen Morgan, visited Sorrento, Italy, located on the coast south of Naples and east of the island of Capri, and noticed that Sorrento’s beaches were protected from the open sea of the Bay of Naples by stone breakwaters lying roughly 100 yards offshore.

Upon his return home to Kauai, Mr. Morgan looked over the photographs he’d taken at Sorrento and reckoned that building a breakwater at Lydgate Park similar to those he saw at Sorrento would improve the park’s swimming area considerably.

Morgan then contacted William “Billy” Fernandes, (territorial and state representative from 1953-1956 and 1959-1964, and state senator from 1965-1970), and together they submitted a proposal to the state of Hawaii for an allocation of funds for the construction of a 2.6-acre rock barrier offshore of Lydgate Beach that would enclose a body of seawater comprised of a children’s wading pool and a larger swimming area.

As a result, the state appropriated $18,000, and the barrier and pools at Lydgate Park were built in 1964 utilizing a crane leased from Kauai Machine Works and boulders donated by Lihue Plantation Co.

On Aug. 31, 1964, the crane operator, Manuel Fernandes of Kalaheo, had completed work on the barrier and was driving the crane to another section of the park, when his pants leg became caught in an exposed clutch in the crane’s cab and his leg was pulled into a narrow space between the clutch and a big brake drum.

A bone in his right leg was fractured and most of the skin between his knee and ankle was lost.

He was trapped in the cab for nearly an hour before park caretaker Edward Santos discovered his plight and immediately shut off the crane’s engine – action that likely saved Fernandes’ life.

Fellow employees John Tremaine and Bernard Kanahele then freed Fernandes after dismantling the brake mechanism, and Fernandes was rushed to Wilcox Hospital where he underwent surgery.
Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: and here Hank can be reached at

  1. WestKauai November 20, 2018 5:10 pm Reply

    It would be impossible to build Morgan’s Ponds today. It would require a Special Management Permit, an Environmental Impact Statement, among the hurdles. If permitted, the Surfrider Foundation and others would protest, file suit, and eventually cause the effort to be halted…

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