Haleakala National Park was originally a section of Hawai‘i National Park. Hawai’i National Park was established by Congress in 1916 to include the Haleakala volcano on the island of Maui and the Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes on the island of Hawai‘i.
(The bill to designate Haleakala Section as a separate National Park was introduced in Congress and approved in 1960. The formal dedication for Haleakala National Park was held on July 1, 1961, at the summit in the Haleakala Visitor Center parking lot. (NPS))
Between 1934 and 1941 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) operated work camps at Haleakalā. The CCC was a federally funded work relief program designed to generate income for young unemployed men during the Great Depression.
At Haleakalā National Park the CCC was engaged in a variety of projects. CCC enrollees removed invasive plants and feral animals such as pigs and goats and constructed a number of trails and structures in the park. They had a base camp at Pu‘u Nianiau.
In 1940, “the Army sought sites on both Haleakala and Mauna Loa for ‘unspecified defense installations.’ A ‘thorough’ study was referred to, but only the very tops of both peaks were surveyed. It was determined that the ‘two sites selected in the National Park offer the only sites which are suitable for these proposed defense purposes.’”
“The National Park sites were ‘not only the most suitable but also the only acceptable sites.’ The Mauna Loa site was approved by the National Park Service for Army use in November 1940, but no work was ever done there by the Army.” (Jackson)
“By April 1941, the War and Interior Departments had worked out an agreement for the use of the area. A Special Use Permit was signed on April 29, 1941, covering a six acre installation site at Red Hill, and the Army agreed to use for its base camp the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp at the 7,000 foot elevation which would be vacated by the CCC in May 1941.” (Jackson)
The Pu‘u Nianiau area of Haleakala National Park was used by the US Army as a base camp from 1941 to 1946 for facilities being operated at the summit of Haleakala.
After the Army’s departure, base camp buildings were used in 1947 for the ‘Haleakala Mountain Lodge’ by Robert “Boy” von Tempsky who held a concession with the park.
Mr. von Tempsky offered saddle and pack trips through the crater as well as bus transportation from docks, landing fields and hotels in Maui.
The name of the facility was changed to the ‘Silversword Inn’ under new operators in 1958. “Just above the park entrance, Silversword Inn, a National Park concession, offers meals, rooms, souvenirs, horseback riding and guided horseback trips into the crater.” (The silversword (ʻāhinahina) is a rare plant (one of the rarest species in the Hawaiian Islands) found on Haleakala.)
“Haleakala Crater is a favorite with those who like the back-country; its inspiring scenery and restful solitude are great reward for time and effort. The National Park Service maintains three cabins on the crater floor and 30 miles of well-marked trails for hikers and horseback parties.” (Hawaii Nature Notes, NPS Haleakala Guide, 1959)
The Silversword Inn in the park closed in 1961 (the concession agreement expired and, after a national advertisement, no one bid for the construction and operation of a new 30-room lodge. (Star Bulletin, Sept 4, 1961).
Shortly after, the news reported, “Hale Moi‘ Lodge at Kula will now be called Silversword Inn”; the property had been run by Glenn and Cathy Simons and was subsequently operated by Florence Ellis. The Elisses “formerly operated the Haleakala National Park lodging and restaurant concession as Silversword Inn.” (Honolulu Advertiser, March 16, 1962)
Just the year before, Hale Moi Lodge had “Opened on a small scale by Glenn and Kathy Simons … The first of six chalet-type studio cottages under construction has just been completed and the others will follow.” (Star Bulletin, March 27, 1961)
Then, in the early-1970s and beyond, the property was plagued with litigation – there were transfers of ownership, defaults and bankruptcy. At one point, the Court started a filing asking “Who owns the Silversword Inn?”
“This seemingly innocuous question has been litigated vigorously for nearly two decades in various bankruptcy proceedings and in the state courts of Hawaii.” (US Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit)
Later, as part of the County’s Community Plan that included the Kula area, Maui County designated the “Silversword Inn Project District 2” allowing 12-hotel units and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Tourism Research Visitor Plant Inventory report notes such.
But the name (and ownership) of the place changed again and searches for the old name and address (15427 Haleakalā Hwy) lead you to Kula Sandalwoods Café & Inn. It notes “Our Tradition – Hospitality 60 years of Aloha” with its restaurant and “6 comfortable hillside view cottages”.