Although just a speck in the Pacific Ocean, Midway looms large in the hearts and minds of many Americans. This tiny stage was the center of dramatic episodes in history. Midway has been a safe haven for shipwrecked sailors, a critical link in trans-Pacific communication and early air travel and the focus of a momentous Pacific war battle. Remnants of those and more recent periods in history are found at Midway, as are memorials in honor of those who fought and died during the Battle of Midway. One of the principal goals of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is to preserve and interpret these unique historic resources. While Midway is best known for its pivotal role in World War II, its rich history dates back well over a century. This section provides an in-depth review of the historic milestones that help make this place so special.
The four main Cable Company buildings, constructed of steel beams and concrete with twelve-inch thick first-story walls, have fought a tough battle with termites, corrosion, and shifting sands for nearly a century.
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.
"A day that will live in infamy".
After the Battle of Midway, the Japanese fell back into a defensive posture for the remainder of World War II, and never threatened Midway again.
In 1988, Midway Atoll became an "overlay" national wildlife refuge, still subject to primary jurisdiction of the Navy. In 1993, Naval Air Facility operations shutdown completely.
The Navy has been the steward of Midway's historic resources for several decades. The Federal statutory responsibility for this effort is defined by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966).
Events from 1859 through present day.
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During the breeding season, tropicbirds form a group of 2-20 birds and fly around one another, swinging their tail streamers from side to side for several minutes to attract the female bird. Their courtship displays are complex and consist of flying backwards, vertically, and in large, vertical circles.