Hawaii National Park, Hawaiian Islands

IF this chapter is confined to the three volcano tops which Congress reserved on the islands of Hawaii and Maui in 1917, wonderful though these are, it will describe a small part indeed of the wide range of novelty, charm, and beauty which will fall to the lot of those who visit the Hawaii National Park. TOne of the great advantages enjoyed by this national park, as indeed by Mount McKinley’s, is its location in a surrounding of entire novelty, so that in addition to the object of his visit, itself so supremely worth while, the traveller has also the pleasure of a trip abroad.

In novelty at least the Hawaii National Park has the advantage over the Alaskan park because it involves the life and scenery of the tropics. We can find snow-crowned mountains and winding glaciers at home, but not equatorial jungles, sandalwood groves, and surf-riding.

Enormous as this element of charm unquestionably is, this is not the place to sing the pleasures of the Hawaiian Islands. Their palm-fringed horizons, surf-edged coral reefs, tropical forests and gardens, plantations of pineapple and sugar-cane are as celebrated as their rainbows, earthquakes, and graceful girls dancing under tropical stars to the languorous ukelele.

Leaving these and kindred spectacles to the steam-ship circulars and the library shelf, it is our part to note that the Hawaii National Park possesses the fourth largest volcanic crater in the world, whose aspect at sunrise is one of the world’s famous spectacles, the largest active volcano in the world, and a lake of turbulent, glowing, molten lava, “the House of Ever-lasting Fire,” which fills the beholder with awe.

It was not at all, then, the gentle poetic aspects of the Hawaiian Islands which led Congress to create a national park there, though these form its romantic, contrasted setting. It was the extraordinary volcanic exhibit, that combination of thrilling spectacles of Nature’s colossal power which for years have drawn travellers from the four quarters of the earth. The Hawaii National Park includes the summits of Haleakala, on the island of Maui, and Mauna Loa and Kilauea, on the island of Hawaii.

Spain claims the discovery of these delectable isles by Juan Gaetano, in 1555, but their formal discovery and exploration fell to the lot of Captain James Cook, in 1778. The Hawaiians thought him a god and loaded him with the treasures of the islands, but on his return the following year his illness and the conduct of his crew ashore disillusioned them; they killed him and burned his flesh, but their priests deified his bones, nevertheless. Parts of these were recovered later and a monument was erected over them. Then civil wars raged until all the tribes were conquered, at the end of the eighteenth century, by one chieftain, Kamehameha, who became king. His descendants reigned until 1874 when, the old royal line dying out, Kalakaua was elected his successor.

From this time the end hastened. A treaty with the United States ceded Pearl Harbor as a coaling-station and entered American goods free of duty, in return for which Hawaiian sugar and a few other products entered the United States free. This established the sugar industry on a large and permanent scale and brought laborers from China, Japan, the Azores, and Madeira. More than ten thousand Portuguese migrated to the islands, and the native population began a comparative decrease which still continues.

After Kalakaua’s death, his sister Liliuokalani succeeding him in 1891, the drift to the United States became rapid. When President Cleveland refused to annex the islands, a republic was formed in 1894, but the danger from Japanese immigration became so imminent that in 1898, during the Spanish-American War, President McKinley yielded to the Hawaiian request and the islands were annexed to the United States by resolution of Congress.

The setting for the picture of our island-park will be complete with several facts about its physical origin. The Hawaiian Islands rose from the sea in a series of volcanic eruptions. Originally, doubtless, the greater islands were simple cones emitting lava, ash, and smoke, which coral growths afterward enlarged and enriched. Kauai was the first to develop habitable conditions, and the island southeast of it followed in order. Eight of the twelve are now habitable.

The most eastern island of the group is Hawaii. It is also much the largest. This has three volcanoes. Mauna Loa, greatest of the three, and also the greatest volcanic mass in the world, is nearly the centre of the island; Kilauea lies a few miles east of it; the summits of both are included in the national park. Mauna Kea, a volcanic cone of great beauty in the north centre of the island, forming a triangle with the other two, is not a part of the national park.

Northwest of Hawaii across sixty miles or more of salt water is the island of Maui, second largest of the group. In its southern part rises the distinguished volcano of Haleakala, whose summit and world-famous crater is the third member of the national park. The other habited islands, in order westward, are Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, TOahu, Kauai, and Niihau; no portions of these are included in the park. Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Niihau are much the smallest of the group.