Lorrin Andrews Thurston was born on July 31, 1858 in Honolulu. His father was Asa Goodale Thurston and Sarah Andrews. On his father’s side he was grandson of Asa and Lucy Thurston of the Pioneer Company of missionaries; on his mother’s side, he was grandson of another early missionary, Lorrin Andrews.
Thurston was fluent in the Hawaiian language and gave himself the nickname Kakina. He attended Oʻahu College (Punahou,) and, later, law school at Columbia University.
He followed his father and became a member of the Hawaiʻi Legislature. In 1887, Thurston authored what became known as the Bayonet Constitution. He became the Minister of Interior.
In 1892, Thurston led the Annexation Club and participated in the revolution and overthrow of the constitutional monarchy (1893.) Thurston headed the commission sent to Washington DC for American annexation. (Smith)
A volcano enthusiast, in his childhood on Maui, he would act as an informal tour guide; Thurston first visited Kīlauea on the Island of Hawaiʻi in 1879 at the age of 21 with Louis von Tempsky. Thurston wrote that “we hired horses in Hilo and rode to the volcano, from about eight o’clock in the morning to five in the afternoon.” (NPS)
Ten years later Thurston’s first mark upon the Volcano landscape appeared. In 1889, using his position as Minister of the Interior, he oversaw the construction of an improved carriage road from Hilo to Volcano.
The road was completed in 1894 allowing four-horse stages to transport visitors from Hilo to Volcano in seven hours. This feat would greatly increase the number of people able to view the volcano at Kīlauea. (NPS)
In 1891, Thurston bought the Volcano House in the Island of Hawaiʻi.
George Lycurgus first left his native Sparta in Greece around 1876, when he was about 17 years old. He served in the Greek Army for 18 months. George sailed from Greece to Liverpool sometime in 1880 and from there docked in New York. Here the young boy, not knowing any English, started out by selling lemons.
The later found himself in San Francisco; however his brother John and a cousin, Peter Kamarinos, were in Hawaiʻi. By the fall of 1889, George was sailing on the ‘Australia’ to Hawaiʻi.
Lycurgus opened the California Wine Company in Honolulu. Another Lycurgus enterprise in Honolulu during those years was the Union Grill. He then got in the hotel business, with the ‘Sans Souci’ in Waikiki. (Maggioros)
“In 1893 Sans Souci was a rambling hostelry, nestled among the coconut and palm trees of Waikiki Beach. The guests occupied small bungalows, thatched-roof affairs about ten by twelve, the bed being the principal article of furniture. It was in one of these bungalows that Stevenson had established himself, propped up with pillows on the bed in his shirt-sleeves.” Scribner’s Magazine, August, 1926.
Lycurgus was a royalist and was implicated with other counter-revolutionists in supplying arms (1895.) He was arrested, thirteen counts of treason were filed against him and he was held at ‘The Reef’ (Oʻahu Prison) for 52-days. (Chapin)
Later, Thurston sold the Volcano House to Lycurgus. (Smith)
Starting in 1906, Thurston, a revolutionist, and Lycurgus, a counter-revolutionist, started to work together to have the volcano area made into Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
In January 1912, geologist Thomas Jaggar arrived to investigate the volcano. A building for scientific instruments was built in a small building next to the hotel. Jaggar stayed in Volcano for the next 28 years.
Thurston and Lycurgus were instrumental in getting the volcano recognized as Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. On August 1, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the country’s 13th National Park into existence – Hawaiʻi National Park. At first, the park consisted of only the summits of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa on Hawaiʻi, and Haleakalā on Maui.
Eventually, Kilauea Caldera was added to the park, followed by the forests of Mauna Loa, the Kaʻu Desert, the rain forest of Olaʻa and the Kalapana archaeological area of the Puna/Kaʻu Historic District.
The National Park Service, within the federal Department of Interior, was created on August 25, 1916 by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act.
In 1916, Thurston, recognizing the long tradition of soldiers and sailors who had visited the area, proposed the establishment of a military camp at Kīlauea. Thurston promoted his idea and was able to raise enough funds through public subscription for the construction of buildings and other improvements. By the fall of 1916, the first group of soldiers arrived at Kīlauea Military Camp (KMC.) (NPS)
Later, in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built research offices, hiking trails and laid the foundations for much of the infrastructure and roads within the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes and other parks across the country.
On, July 1, 1961, Hawaiʻi National Park’s units were separated and re-designated as Haleakalā National Park and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.