On December 19, 1853 the Privy Council awarded a monopoly to The Hawaiian Steam Navigation Company to operate steamers inter-island. In 1860 a propeller steamer Kilauea made its appearance; however she had a checkered run due to being laid up for repairs or lack of coal on many occasions.
In November, 1868, the SS Kilauea was withdrawn and the islands were without inter-island steamer service for two years. Sailing ships in the coasting trade filled the void created by the withdrawal of the Kilauea in 1868 until she was refit and returned to service in October, 1870. (HHF)
In the mid-1870s interisland transportation consisted of one steamer and around 30 sailing schooners, sloops and other boats. During this era the sugar cane industry utilized these vessels. In 1871 Samuel G. Wilder became the agent for the government-owned SS Kilauea and started Wilder & Company in 1872. (HHF)
Competitors Wilder Steamship Co (1872) and Inter-Island Steam Navigation Co (1883) ran different routes, rather than engage in head to head competition.
Inter-Island operated the Kauaʻi and Oʻahu ports plus some on Hawaiʻi. Wilder took Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Maui plus Hawaiʻi ports not served by Inter-Island. Both companies stopped at Lāhainā, Māʻalaea Bay and Makena on Maui’s leeward coast. (HawaiianStamps)
Later, inter-island trade was carried almost exclusively by the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Co, the successor to the firm of Thomas R Foster & Co (the original founders of the company) and which, in 1905, acquired the Wilder Steamship Co. (Congressional Record)
“The Inter-Island Steam Navigation Co, established in 1883, own(ed) and operate(d) a fleet of first-class vessels engaged exclusively in the transportation of passengers and freight between ports on the islands of the Hawaiian group.” (Annual Report of the Governor, 1939)
Regular sailings of passenger vessels are maintained from Honolulu four times weekly to ports on the island of Hawaiʻi, four times weekly to Molokaʻi, twice weekly to Kauaʻi, three times weekly to Lānaʻi and daily, except Monday and Saturday, to ports on the island of Maui. Included in the fleet are 12 passenger and freight vessels.” (Report of the Governor, 1930)
During the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, Inter-Island Steam Navigation had the SS Haleakalā, Hualālai, Kilauea and Waiʻaleʻale. There were others that carried 12-passengers such as the SS Humuʻula, which was primarily a cattle boat.
On the Maui and Molokai Route, Wilder’s had the main service for most Maui and Molokai ports. Wilder’s steamers ran a “milk run” stopping at Molokai ports before arriving at Lahaina on the run from Honolulu.
From Lahaina, they proceeded around northern West Maui to Kahului and thence to Hāna or Kipahulu and then retraced their route stopping at various ports along northern East Maui, Kahului, Lahaina and Molokai.
The steamer route along the northern East Maui augmented the often unpredictable overland route between Hāna and Haiku. When overland service between West Maui and Wailuku/Kahului was terminated in 1888, the steamers carried all the mail from Lahaina to Kahului or other parts of Maui.
At Hāna, Maui, a series of landings, jetties, and pier had been in use since at least 1882 – the landing was located near the foot of Keawa Place.
In March 1902, the Hāna Landing was “washed away by the great storm of the first of the month.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, March 31, 1902)
It was replaced in 1903. “The wharf measures about sixty feet by thirty feet and has a shed of corrugated iron over the end toward the water measuring forty-nine by thirty-eight feet.”
“A wall of solid masonry was also constructed near the northeast corner of the landing to protect it against heavy surf, which in times of storm has often lined the platform from its foundations.”
“Hāna people are much pleased with the new structure. The covered wharf will make an excellent dancing pavilion, inasmuch as those who have the festivity in charge intend that the floor shall be covered with smooth tongue and groove lumber.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, June 29, 1903) (A July 4 luau and dance were held that year.)
But the location of the landing had its challenges. “Unusually stormy weather has been reported from Hāna this week. On Tuesday two of the Claudine’s shore boats were tossed high upon the beach at the Hāna landing by the strong surf running, but no serious damage resulted.” (Maui News, November 5, 1915)
The decision was made to replace the smaller landing with a larger pier. Original drawings were produced by the Board of Harbor Commissioners. They are dated from September 1918 to March 5, 1919, and are signed by Lyman H. Bigelow, Chairman.
The pier at Hāna Bay (also historically known as Kauiki Bay ca. 1920, and as Kapueokahi Bay ca. 1882) was completed in the first half of 1921.
When the 1921 structure was built, it was referred to as “Hāna Wharf”, not as a pier (as it is known today). Because of a manpower shortage due to the military draft for service during World War, about 60 prisoners were used to man its construction.
When the pier was constructed, sugar had been grown commercially in Hāna for about 70 years. The Kaeleku Plantation Company was then the only plantation operating in the Hāna vicinity.
Bagged sugar from the Kaeleku mill was transported to Hāna Pier via the plantation railway system. From the wharf, the bagged sugar would often be lightered to a waiting transport ship anchored a short way offshore. Between 1922 and 1945, all of Kaeleku Plantation Company’s bagged sugar was shipped out of Hāna Pier. (HHF)
It was originally a commercial harbor under the jurisdiction of HDOT. The facility was transferred to the Department of Land & Natural Resources Boating Division in the early 2000s, then conveyed back to HDOT in 2010.
Shortly after the transfer, investigations of the facility determined it was unsafe and the pier was condemned and closed. In 2016, due to safety hazards, the decision to remove the pier was made.
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