This year the Hana Highway was dedicated in a ceremony that designates it as a Millenium Legacy Trail. This is Hawaii's representative among 50 US roadways designated as Legacy Trails. A weekend full of events marked the significant occasion.
The Road to HANAThe Hana Highway truly represents the essence of Hawaii. The town of Hana, situated on east Maui, was the site of a royal court in the early 15th century. There were 2 kingdoms on Maui, the other based in Lahaina on the west side of the island. When Pi'ilani conquered Hana, the footpath from Wailuku to Hana was constructed. The trail fell into disrepair in the 1700's, but reopened again when Kahekili, the king of north Maui, reconquered Hana. When sugarcane and agriculture blossomed in the late 19th century, the need for a real road caused the construction of 15 miles of paved road, from central Maui as far as Kailua. Another 15 miles was paved at the turn of the century. From 1905 -1912 several of the first concrete bridges were built.
The unique highway as we know it today was basically finished by 1940. It's still the only car route that connects the village of Hana to central Maui. Now there are 52 bridges along the way, many of them single lane only. Since this road has been designated as a legacy trail the bridges will be preserved and restored instead of being replaced with modern versions.
Even though the monument marks the beginning of the trail at the junction of Highway 36 and Highway 360, many people feel that the Hana Highway really begins at Kahului, or at least Paia. But in the old days, the trailhead was the place to regroup and prepare for the adventure of the journey that lay ahead. At this point many parents would leave their children playing under a mango tree while they scouted on ahead to see if the way was clear of landslides, flooding, fallen trees or whatever. It must have been a really rugged trail back then, as you can imagine. Even today many tourists return and swear they will never do that again! It can be a little hair-raising in more than one place.
The people of Maui would like to see the unique character of this trail be maintained for future generations. In this way the Hawaiian lifestyle that's lived by the people in the many communities along the road will be perpetuated.
Stop at Twin Falls along the Hana Highway, just past the 2 mile marker.
For general info on the Millennium Trails:Dolly Strazar
State Foundation on Culture and the Arts
Friday August 18, 20002:00 pm Dedication - Hana Highway at Kaupakalua Road
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when Sam Ka'ai opened the ceremonies with the blowing of a conch shell. Many Maui residents, and lucky guests, gathered on this property at the start of the Hana Highway to dedicate a special monument to this road, once a footpath that linked both sides of the island.
Local artisans had spent the last few days and nights creating what will be a lasting reminder of the rich natural and cultural history of the winding "Road to Hana". The monument is built of stones from all along the road, from every community along the way, from Paia to Kanaio. And not just the pretty rocks, ugly rocks too, the ones that jumped out and begged to be included. All the stones are different, to represent all the kinds of people who make up a community. The builders have also inscribed the names of these communities into some of the various rocks embedded in the monument.
The event was attended by numerous special guests, including Congresswoman Patsy Mink and Mayor James "Kimo" Apana, and lots of the old timers from Hana and along the way. Plenty of good stories were told, and refreshments were on hand. It was one of those times I wish I had brought my camera! But anyway, here are some pictures of the monument since then.
3:00 - 4:30 pm Relay - Valley Isle Road Runners relay to Ke'eanae
Joe Alueta and Nancy Roberson carried young banana plants, representing wealth and prosperity, along the way, as the crowd cheered them off to a good start.
Saturday August 19, 2000A bunch more stuff including a Ho'olaule'a in Ke'anae and country dance at Hana Bay.
Sunday August 20, 2000A bunch more stuff including:
11:00 am - Paniolo Parade in Hana
12:00 - 3:00 pm - Coors 2000 series Hana Millenium Lagacy Trail Rodeo at Hana Ranch Arena.
9:00 am - 5:00 pm - Hana Cultural Center Arts & Craft Fair.