Haleakalā National Park, Haleakala Visitor Center
Backstory and Context
Haleakala Visitor Center offers maps, books, posters, and exhibits on the culture and history of the park. The history of the Haleakalā National Park started with its rise from the ocean 1 million years ago as continual lava flows built up the land. As the height of the mountain increased, gulches and valleys were formed by erosion from the rain captured by the mountain slopes. Between 100 and 600 A.D the first wave of Polynesian settlers arrived where the witnessed sparse landscape with upland forests taking hold at the highest level up the mountain. These settlers declared the mountain sacred and named the mountain Haleakala or “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian.
Native Hawaiians maintained their traditions of the mountain and its legend of Maui for centuries. In 1778, British Captain James Cook arrived in the islands in which marked the beginning of what would be a drastic change to life in the islands. Between the years 1819-1850, American missionaries and whalers arrived on Maui in great numbers in which significantly altered the daily lives of many Native Hawaiians. Soon after, sugarcane became an established industry in Kipahulu. Additionally, a diverse range of immigrants arrived to staff the sugar plantations. The sugarcane industry flourished until the mid-1920’s. Haleakala Ranch was established and cattle grazing began on Haleakala’s slopes shortly after the sugar industry gained a foothold. Ranching was established after sugar production came to an end in the Kipahulu region.
In the early 1900s, Lorrin Thurston, a businessman and grandson of two of the first Christian Missionaries to Hawaii, and Dr. Thomas Jaggar, a volcanologist and founder of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, advocated for the area to be designated as a national park. In 1916, this officially occurred as Hawaii National Park was established by Congress, including the Haleakala section. The official Haleakala Visitor Center was built by 1936 following with visitor cabins. Throughout WWII, the U.S. Army occupied Haleakala and used the area for various military installations. The Kipahulu Valley was added to Haleakala National Park by 1952. Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959 in which increased and visitation to Haleakala. This park offers various recreational activities today such as hiking, horseback riding, stargazing, camping, and wildlife sighting.
Valley Isle Excursions. 2018. Haleakalā National Park, Maui Hawaii. Website. https://www.tourmaui.com/haleakala-national-park/