Historic Lahaina Lighthouse Landmark

December 9, 2014

In our previous blog we provided you with some interesting facts about Hawaii Ocean Project's history and our dedication to marine conservation.  This week we'd like to tell you about one of the oldest standing landmarks in Lahaina, located just steps away from our loading dock: the Lahaina Lighthouse.

In the 1800's, historic Lahaina was a popular whaling village.  Consequently, Kamehameha III commissioned for a 9-foot tall wooden lighthouse tower to be built, in order to guide the abundance of ships entering the harbor.  Using whale oil to fuel the lamp, it was first lit on November 4, 1840.  According to the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, this landmark became the first lighted navigation tower in all of the Hawaiian Islands, also predating any lighthouse on the U.S. Pacific Coast.

In 1866, improvements were made to increase the height to 26-feet tall, with a ladder leading to the top where the, now kerosene, lamp could be lit.  Ownership of this lighthouse passed through multiple hands, until a new lighthouse was constructed, by the U.S. Lighthouse Board, in 1905.  This new lighthouse featured a 55-foot tall wooden pyramid, equipped with a Fresnel lens.  In 1916, this lighthouse was dedicated to the U.S. Coast Guard.  In 1917, the wooden structure was reinforced with concrete and an automatic light was installed.

By 1937, the lighthouse was being powered by electricity, it has since advanced to solar power.  In 1996, the Lahaina Restoration Foundation signed a 30-year lease with the U.S. Coast Guard and assumed responsibility for maintenance of the site.  Today, the Lahaina Restoration Foundation offers a map of a historic trail, where you can get more information about the Lahaina Lighthouse and many other landmarks in Lahaina.

We hope you enjoyed learning the brief history of how the Lahaina Lighthouse has evolved since it's construction in 1840.  Before or after joining us on one of our Maui whale watch or other boat tours, be sure to check out this historic landmark.

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