“There are a few, very small fishing villages, Alae, Alika and Papa, which are reached by poor trails from the mauka road. It is necessary to travel from Hookena mauka to the main road to Papa, and thence by either road or trail to Hoopuloa, the last steamship landing in Kona.”
“This is another village which is dwindling in population, only a few Hawaiians and a couple of Chinese storekeepers remaining. A fair road leads across a barren a-a flow to Miloli‘i, the largest and best specimen of an exclusively Hawaiian village on the Island, which is seldom visited.”
“It is splendidly situated by a sand beach, the sea coming right up to the yard wall, and is inhabited by a rather large population of Hawaiians, who prosper through the fishing which is almost phenomenally good…”
“This region is seldom visited. Its chief points of interest are the remains of a heiau, mauka of the Catholic church at Milolii, some fine papa konane at the south end of the same village a well preserved kuula (still used) where fishermen offer offerings of fruit to insure a good catch, by the beach south of Milolii, where the Honomalino Ranch fence crosses the trail; while all along the trail are smaller kuulas, and at many points the foundations of villages, where old implements may still be found.” (Kinney, 1913)
“Hoopuloa was one of the few typically Hawaiian villages remaining in Hawaii. It comprised of a cluster of 10 to 15 homes of old Hawaiian style and boasted a population of approximately 100 persons … The wharf was a port of call for the Inter-Island steamers”. (Honolulu Star Bulletin, April 19, 1926)
Then … “The number of earthquakes recorded for April  was 671 (compared with monthly average of 52 for the preceding 3 months. … The maximum daily frequency of earthquakes in the 1926 eruption was on April 15 (86 shock), the first day of free-flowing flank eruption …” (Jaggar)
Edward G Wingate, USGS topographical engineer, was mapping the summit of Mauna Loa in 1926, changing campsites as the work progressed. On April 10 his camp was along the 11,400-foot elevation, well into the desolate upland above the Kau District.
An earthquake wakened the campers about 0145; as they drifted back to sleep, a further series of quakes had them sitting up, talking, and wondering. About 0330 Wingate braved the cold and wind; with a blanket wrapped around him, he went outside and stood bathed in reddish light. (USGS)
There was a brief summit eruption, followed by 14 days of eruption on the southwest rift zone. “About 3 am April 10 (1926,) glowing lava spouted along the upper 3 miles of cones and pits of the Mauna Loa rift belt, immediately south of Mokuʻāweoweo, the summit crater. … The actual beginning shown at Kilauea by seismographic tremor was 1:36 am, followed by two pronounced earthquakes.” (Jaggar)
For three days the HVO party surveyed the sources of the eruption; then they descended and moved into Kona District, where roads, houses, and other property were threatened by the flows. Wingate and his crew stayed behind. Much of the area already mapped was under fresh lava, and there was a lot of remapping to do. (USGS)
“A crack only 1 to 3 feet wide opened southward from a point tangent to the ease edge of the bottom of the south pit of Mokuʻāweoweo, vomited out pumiceous silvery pāhoehoe froth lava, and extended itself S.30oW. past the next two pits and over the brow of the mountain down to an elevation of 12,400 feet.” (Jaggar)
“Fortunately the main gushing of this first phase ceased about 5 am the same forenoon, after flowing 5 hours. … (Then,) The vent crack was splitting itself open downhill. The source pāhoehoe changed itself by stirring into scoriaceous aa half a mile from the vents”. (Jaggar)
“When it got close to the upland of Hoʻopuloa, the flow of lava separated into two, and one of the flows went straight for the village of Hoʻopuloa and the harbor, and the second flow went towards the village of Miloliʻi.” (Hoku o Hawaii, April 20, 1926)
“(T)he Honomalino flow to the west finally dominated, … This was also aa. … It crossed the belt road at 12:22 pm April 16, 3 miles above Hoʻopuloa village.” (Jaggar)
On April 16, Jaggar scratched marks about a foot apart across the rutted, gravel road (the only road) between the Kona and Kau Districts. A lava flow was approaching, and Jaggar wanted to measure the flow’s speed as it crossed the road.
St Peter’s Chapel, sometimes referred to as Ho‘opuloa Catholic Church, was on the makai side of the road. Perhaps a hundred people were waiting around the Hoʻopuloa Church, on the uphill side of the road, and at the Kana‘ana house opposite, on the downhill side of the road.
They had seen and heard the flow, 15-20 feet high and more than 500 feet wide, as it moved through the forest uphill. When it neared the road, people who lived on the Kona side of the flow moved off to the north, and those who lived on the Ka‘u side moved to the south, so they could go home after the road was closed. (USGS)
Jaggar recorded that it reached the uphill, inland side of the road at 12:22 at an estimated speed of about 7 feet/minute; within two minutes the road was crossed. Jaggar and his assistant, HS Palmer, stayed on the Ka‘u side. (USGS) St Peter’s Chapel, sometimes referred to as Ho‘opuloa Catholic Church, was on the makai side of the road.
“The Catholic church, where many Hawaiians worshipped, was one of the first building to be destroyed in the flow which buried Hoopuloa.” (The Star, NZ, May 21, 1926)
“It is true that I saw the church destroyed by the lava tide, which moved onward with irrevocable majesty, entering the house of worship by way of the open front door.”
“Through the windows I observed the red mass proceed to the alter as the whole structure, capable of seating 20 worshipers, burst into flames.”
“Most dramatic of all was the moment when the slow moving red-hot deluge, pressed on by the mass of lava from the rear, tipped the church from its foundations and set it careening upon the molten river.”
“Straightaway, the bell, which hung in an open steeple, began ringing. It pealed above the roar of the flames and the grinding of the blazing substance surging onward.”
“A dozen doleful strokes of the iron tongue echoed farewell before it fell from the cross beam ringing its own requiem.” (Father Eugene Oehman, Honolulu Advertiser, July 31, 1932)
A memorial to the church was erected; the plaque on the monument reads “1926 Hoopuloa Catholic Church.” “Under the cross, 25 feet below the surface is all that remains of a small Catholic church, over which the lava flowed without a moment’s halt.” (Honolulu Advertiser, July 31, 1932)
“The fiery lava engulfed the harbor and village of Hoʻopuloa, and now they are but a heap of pāhoehoe lava.” (Hoku o Hawaii, April 20, 1926)
“Families of Ho‘opuloa were forced out of their homes by the flow, and many eventually settles in Miloli‘i on state land. The displace families remained on the land although they had no legal title to the property.” (Hawaii Tribune Herald, July 10, 1985)
In 1932, St. Peter’s Catholic Church at Miloli‘i was built by Father Steffen to replace an earlier St. Peterʻs destroyed by the 1926 lava flow. (PaaPonoMilolii)
In 1982, the State Legislature passed Act 62 which designated 52.6 acres of state land to be leased to the refugees and the descendants of the Ho‘opuloa lava flow.”
The Act also created the criteria by which people could qualify fo5 65-year leases” Initial implementation of the Act took place July 12, 1985 with the signing of 12 long-term leases for families living on the designated property. (Hawaii Tribune Herald, July 10, 1985)
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