Volcanoes National Park in Hawai’i

Michael Bushnell
Publisher


This week our tour of National Parks takes us to the Big Island of Hawaii as we visit Volcanoes National Park.


On August 1, 1916, House Resolution 9525 was signed by President Woodrow Wilson, creating Hawaii National Park. The newly christened park became the 11th national park in the United States, and the first ever established in a US Territory. Hawaii did not become a US State until 1959. The park was renamed in 1961 after the park was split and the Hawaii National Park portion was moved to the island of Maui and re-named Haleakala National Park. Volcanoes National Park remained on the big island and remained Volcanoes National Park.


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park encompasses K’lauea and its Halema’uma’u caldera, originally considered the home of the volcano Goddess Pele. Native Hawaiians often traveled to the crater to offer gifts to the goddess. It is said that in the late 1700’s, a war party was in the area and was trapped by an eruption of the volcano Kilauea. The eruption killed a number of warriors, women and children. Some of their footprints were left in the molten lava and can be seen today as part of the park.


The first western visitors to the site were Missionary William Ellis and Asa Thurston, who visited the K’lauea site in 1823. Ellis recorded his reaction to the volcano in his diary: “A spectacle, sublime and even appalling, presented itself before us. We stopped and trembled. Astonishment and awe for some moments rendered us mute, and, like statues, we stood fixed to the spot, with our eyes riveted on the abyss below.”


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was depicted in 2012 on the 14th quarter of the America the Beautiful Quarters series. It and its sister park Haleakal’ National Park on Maui recorded over two million visitors in 2018.


This continental-sized chrome postcard showing the Sheraton Volcano House was published by WW Distributors of Honolulu, Hawaii. It was mailed on December 31, 1979 to Florence Phillips of San Francisco, Calif. The personal message reads: “Dear Florence, We had the most wonderful time I ever had on this trip, everyone is so friendly. We are staying at the Hilton Kona. It’s a beautiful hotel. I had a couple of drinks, I hope you can read my writing. Aloha, Mary.”

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