Wednesday, July 23, 2014


The total land area of Lānaʻi is 89,305 acres, divided into 13 ahupua‘a (traditional land divisions.)  In the traditional system, respective konohiki served as land managers over each. These konohiki were subject to control by the ruling chiefs.

At the time of the Great Māhele (1848,) lands on Lānaʻi were divided between lands claimed by King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) (40,665 acres,) which were known as the Crown Lands, and the lands to be claimed by the chiefs and people (48,640 acres,) which were called the Government Lands.

By 1907, more than half the island of Lānaʻi was in the hands of native Hawaiians. Just 14 years later, in 1921, only 208.25 acres of land remained in native Hawaiian ownership. By 1875 Walter Gibson had control, either through lease or direct ownership, of nine‐tenths of Lānaʻi’s lands. (Lānaʻi Community Plan)

When James Dole bought Lānaʻi, ranching was a thriving business under the control of George Munro. Shortly after the purchase, Dole got Munro working at removing cattle from potential pineapple lands. As soon as cattle were fattened they were sold. Ranching operations became a secondary priority to pineapple development.

During 1923, the company embarked on making major improvements to the island of Lānaʻi.  At first, Dole wanted to name the town Pine City, but the post office department objected because there were too many "pine" post offices in the mainland United States.  So the plantation town was called Lānaʻi City.

Dole hired Mr. Root, an engineer, to lay out and plan the town. Root arrived at Mānele Bay to begin his work. He designed the central park with a symmetrical grid of residential streets, which remains the configuration of Lānaʻi City today.” (Lānaʻi Community Plan)

Between 1922 and 1992, pineapple plantation operations provided the people of Lānaʻi with a way of life.  James Doles’ Hawaiian Pineapple Company evolved and many of the innovations in cultivation, equipment design, harvesting, irrigation and labor relations developed on the Lānaʻi plantation, and came to be used around the world. (Lānaʻi Culture & Heritage Center)

Mānele Bay was the main port of entry for Lānaʻi; its primary purpose was to ship pineapple off the island. On the eastern side of the island, remnants of Halepalaoa Landing can be seen; this was used primarily to ship cattle. It's also reported that in the late 1800s, a steamer landing was located on the western shore of Lānaʻi Island and served as a docking grounds.

A new harbor was needed.  In 1923 to 1926, Kaumālapaʻu Bay, a natural, sheltered cove on the southwest side of Lānaʻi, was developed into the main shipping harbor from which pineapple and all major supplies for Lānaʻi were shipped and received.

“… we learned that the breakwater is composed of 116,000-tons of rock blasted from the cliffs and dropped into the water.  The Kaumalapau harbor entrance is 65-feet deep, and the minimum depth of the harbor is 27-feet.  The wharf is 400-feet long and the boat landing is 80-feet in length.”  (Lanai “The Pineapple Kingdom, 1926)

Bins filled with pineapple were unloaded from the trucks (steam cranes were still used through the 1960s), and placed on the barges for shipping to the cannery at Iwilei, Honolulu, Oʻahu. Tug boats were used to haul the barges - empty bins and supplies to Lānaʻi, and filled pineapple bins to the cannery.

Because of the demands of work at Kaumālapaʻu, Lānaʻi’s “second city” was developed, and known as “Harbor Camp.” The Harbor Camp included around 20 homes and support buildings, and sat perched on the cliffs above Kaumālapaʻu Bay.  (Lānaʻi Culture & Heritage Center)

Surmising from the vast archaeological features on the cliffs above Kaumālapaʻu Gulch, Kaumālapaʻu Harbor was probably a very important settlement (seasonal and/or permanent) for native Hawaiians. (Social Research Pacific)

Access to fishing, whether by boat or off the shoreline, is easily attained at Kaumālapaʻu.  One of the sites immediately mauka of the harbor is called “Fisherman's Trail.” In the 1862 letter requesting settlement and use of Lānaʻi, even Gibson indicated the importance of fishing as the primary source of subsistence for the island's inhabitants.

The village of Kaunolu, just to the south of Kaumālapaʻu was known as a "fishing village". Given its proximity to Kaumālapaʻu, it is highly likely that neighboring Kaumālapaʻu also offered good fishing grounds to Hawaiians. The Kaumālapaʻu Trail extends from Lānaʻi City down to Kaumālapaʻu.   (Social Research Pacific)

In the Māhele, the ahupuaʻa of Kamoku and Kalulu (which adjoin the existing Kaumālapaʻu Harbor) were retained by the King (Kamehameha III), though the 'ili of Kaumālapaʻu 1 & 2 were given by the King to the Government.

The Kaumālapaʻu Harbor breakwater was in disrepair for many years following several hurricanes and seasonal storms.  Completed in 2007, 40,000-tons of new stone was added to the reshaped breakwater, 800 concrete Core-Locs (each weighing 35 tons) were put in place and a 5-foot- thick concrete cap was cast on top of the breakwater to complete the project.  (Traylor)

Today, as in the early 1920s, Kaumālapaʻu Harbor is the main commercial seaport and Lānaʻi’s lifeline to the outside world, with weekly Young Brothers’ barge and other commercial activity in and out of Lānaʻi.

The image shows initial construction of the Kaumālapaʻu facilities (1924) (Lanai-PineappleKingdom.)  In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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