A Fascinating Historical Overview of Haleakala Trail
The summary and linked documents below provide a summary of the Kingdom of Hawaii’s, then the Territory of Hawaii’s work building and improving the Haleakala Trail for the public. For the very brief story of Haleakala Trail, go here.
Kingdom of Hawaii Improvements (circa 1889)
THE KINGDOM OF HAWAII APPROPRIATES PUBLIC FUNDS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF EXISTING HALEAKALA TRAIL
- There was a long-standing public route from Makawao to Haleakala that dated back to at least the early 1800s, as illustrated by the account of Maui in the Merchants’ Magazine and Commercial Review from 1864, which describes the road as “not bad” and the map of Haleakala Crater from 1869 (republished by Nordhoff, 1873) that shows a “Road to Makawao” leaving the crater:
- In August 1888, H.P. Baldwin (a Noble in the Legislature and soon to be co-founder of Haleakala Ranch) moves to have $2,000 added to the appropriation bill for an improved road between “Makawao to Haleakala”, as reported in the Hawaiian Gazette (p.5, columns 1-2). During the debate, the appropriation is defended as a necessary because: “This proposed road is for the public benefit and not for tourists alone.”
THE KINGDOM EXPENDS PUBLIC FUNDS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF EXISTING HALEAKALA TRAIL
- In 1889, H.P. Baldwin (Haleakala Ranch’s then President) encourages the government to expend the public funds recently appropriated on improving Haleakala Trail. An excerpt from a government letter from May 1889 reads as follows:
Dear Sir[:] At a meeting of the Makawao Road Board on Saturday last, H.P. Baldwin called the attention of the Board to the appropriation of $[2,000] made in the last Legislature, for the road to the Summit of Haleakala, and recommended the use of the money at the present time from Olinda to the top if this money is at the disposal of the Board: he further stated that if this was done he would put at the Summit a stone house for the use of visitors and tourists.
- In August 1889, the government issues a contract for construction on Haleakala Trail, and work begins shortly thereafter when Randall von Tempsky is hired to complete the work, and is completed in October 1889 as stated in the following government letter:
The road to summit of Haleakala, the direction of which was given to this Board, has been completed in accordance with the Contract on file in your office, and payments made as per vouchers sent at the time drafts were made on your department.
DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATING PUBLIC’S USE OF HALEAKALA TRAIL AFTER THE KINGDOM’S IMPROVEMENTS
- In 1890, H.M. Whitney’s Tourists’ Guide Through the Hawaiian Islands, is published.
- The guide advertises to tourists and the general public the recent improvements to the Haleakala Trail as follows:
The old bridle-path from Olinda has recently been improved, and is not difficult to follow even by the dim light of the stars. From Olinda there are no diverging paths to mislead, and the road is plainly outlined. This part of the journey too is, as a rule, still more steep than either of the two preceding sections; but even here the traveler will be agreeably surprised to find no very steep or difficult places…
TERRITORY OF HAWAII IMPROVEMENTS (CIRCA 1905)
THE TERRITORY APPROPRIATES PUBLIC FUNDS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF EXISTING HALEAKALA TRAIL
- In the 1903 Legislative Session, H.P. Baldwin (then president of Haleakala Ranch) and C.H. Dickey are the senators from Maui, and Senator Dickey moves to increase an appropriation from $3,000 to $5,000 for “New Trail to summit of Haleakala”, as reflected in the Senate Journal, excerpt below:
- On May 23, 1903, the Maui News reports that “[t]he Maui Senators and Representatives have completed their caucus on the items in the Loan Bill which belong to Maui County.” Among the items are appropriations for public roads and buildings, including $5,000 for “Trail to summit, Haleakala”.
THE TERRITORY EXPENDS PUBLIC FUNDS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF EXISTING HALEAKALA TRAIL
- On March 2, 1905, Senator Dickey provides the government with his ideas on how the new trail should be constructed, including relocating a portion of the trail so that it ascends at a lower grade. An excerpt from the letter is below:
- On March 28, 1905, the Hawaiian Gazette publishes an article titled “Public Works”, which explains “nothing should be allowed to block the construction of a road so important to tourist travel”:
- In June 1905, in the Maui News, the government advertises for bid proposals for the construction of “trail to the Summit of Haleakala, Maui”
- Later in June 1905, the government issues a contract for the construction of the improved Haleakala Trail to L.M. Whitehouse as shown in a government letter to Hugh Howell, the supervising engineer of government road work in Maui:
- In August 1905, another contractor, J. Duggan buys the rights from L.M. Whitehouse to construct the new trail to Haleakala, as noted in the Hawaiian Gazette.
- Later in August 1905, the Hawaiian Gazette reports that there would be “quite a number of guideposts along the new summit road to Haleakala” which would be “painted white with black figures indicating the miles and tenths of the miles from the top.”
- In October 1905, the Maui News publishes that the Haleakala Trail will soon be finished and would include sign posts at convenient distances up to the summit, many places only two tenths of a mile apart as the road demands “so that tourist can reach the summit without the aid of guides if they desire.”
- On November 4, 1905, the Maui News publishes an article reporting that the “Haleakala Trail” is now complete, which states:
Contractor J. Duggan of Honolulu had the Contract to open the trail[,] cleared out the loose stones and cut and cleared away the bush to a width of twenty feet. The finger boards are set one fifth of a mile apart and give the distance on each.
And in between each finger board post is a plain guide post so that any one should find his way without difficulty.
- The article is republished on November 7, 1905 by the Hawaiian Gazette.
DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATING PUBLIC’S USE OF HALEAKALA TRAIL AFTER THE TERRITORY’S IMPROVEMENTS
- The Maui News article from November 4, 1905, observes that what had “hither to been a somewhat difficult trip is now made easy to any one who can ride horseback” and conclude, “Come one; come all: and view this the grandest sight of Maui”.
- In 1905, the Hawaiian Star reports on the “New Road Up to Haleakala,” and explains that W.O. Aiken was encouraging the Secretary of the Hawai‘i Promotion Committee to ascend the new trail so that he could “describe its beauties to visitors to the islands”. (Aiken — a big promoter of Haleakala Trail — ran a commercial tour guide business on Haleakala Trail that took thousands of tourists to the top of Haleakala. The tour business ran for about twenty five years, starting in 1901.)
- In 1908, the Territory of Hawaii publishes The Hawaiian Forester and Agriculturist.
- The journal republishes an article titled Roads of Hawaii, written by the Oahu County Engineer G.H. Gere (with input from the Maui County Engineer Hugh Howell), that identifies the Haleakala Trail as one of the roads of Maui County, with the following detailed description of the trail andits significant use by tourists:
- Circa 1915, the Hawai‘i Promotion Committee circulates a tourist brochure showing Haleakala Trail.
- Thrum’s Hawaiian Almanac and Annual for 1924, a popular resource for tourists, published an article entitled “Maui No Ka Oi” (p.54) that describes Haleakala Trail as follows:
A well-marked horse trail guides the visitor over fertile pasture lands, up through the rocky, stunted timber country, to bare volcanic rocks, where the climate is like that of Pike’s Peak in summer.
- In 1925, the Hawaii Tourist Bureau (the successor to the Hawaii Promotion Committee) circulates a tourist pamphlet that shows Haleakala Trail on a promotional map.
- On September 23, 1931, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin ran a story with the title, “WALSH ACQUIRES MAUI BUSINESS OF WORTH AIKEN, that describes that Walsh will be buying and continuing the commercial tourist business up Haleakala Trail:
E. J. Walsh, manager of the Grand hotel, Wailuku, Maui, has purchased the Haleakala horse transportation business and equipment from Worth O. Aiken, and has leased the Idlewilde property for a number of years. . . .Mr. Aiken, former Maui resident, who now lives in Honolulu, has handled trips to the summit and crater of Haleakala for the last 30 years, having been among the first men in the territory to see the tourist possibilities of Haleakala. . . .Management of the Haleakala trips will be carried on much the same as under Mr. Aiken’s administration. Arazumi [sic], official guide on the crater trips for more than 20 years . . . has agreed to return to the service and will be in charge of all mountain trips under the new management.