::: Overland Mail Routes - Islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai Routes :::
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Maui's first mail route (green line) started at
Lahaina and proceeded around the south side of West Maui and then across the isthmus to
Wailuku. From Wailuku, the mail man traveled (red line)
to Makawao via Haiku, through upland Kula to Ulupalakua and returned by the same route.
At times, the carrier made a circuit by going from Ulupalakua down to the coast at
Makena and back to West Maui along the shore of Maalaea Bay. A spur eventually was added
from Wailuku to Waihee on the north-east side of West Maui. Another mail man traveled
from Ulupalakua to Hana (blue line) via Kaupo and
Kipahulu. The last mail route, added in the 1880's, was from Hana to Haiku (brown
line) via Keanae and Huelo. From Lahaina, boats were used to carry mail to and from
Lanai or to and from East Molokai (black lines).
Lahaina spur routes were also added to Kaanapali (green line
going north from Lahaina). The Kaanapali route eventually reached at least to
Honakahau and likely connected all the way to Wailuku via Waihee. The Kahului Railroad
ran between Wailuku on the west and Paia on the east (blue line).
On Molokai, a carrier covered the south coast and another carrier went to Kalawao on
Kalaupapa Peninsula via Kalae (Molokai green line).
Mail service on Lanai was handled privately from the landings
(Lanai green lines). Arid Kahoolawe, an island lying
to the south of Maalaea Bay, was unpopulated most of the time except an effort to raise
sheep had a family there for a short time but otherwise only a few shepherds with mail
delivered to Makena and taken over by private boat.
Whitney's January, 1854, announcement called for a mail carrier to leave Lahaina every
Tuesday morning on a route around the south end of West Maui to Kahului and then to
Spencer's store at Makawao. On Wednesday morning, the carrier left Makawao to return
to Lahaina via Kula, Torbertsville and Kalepolepo. This plan omitted the entire Hana
District of East Maui.
In 1866, Postmaster General Brickwood described the overland routes on Maui as: the
mail carrier leaves Lahaina every Wednesday morning for Wailuku, crossing the mountain
toward the south end of West Maui, and then on to Waikapu, Makawao, Haiku and
Ulupalakua, returning by the same route to Lahaina on Friday. Another carrier traveled the south side of
East Maui, leaving Hana on alternate Tuesdays for Capt. Makee's residence at Ulupalakua
and returning to Hana on Friday. The north sides of East and West Maui were omitted.
In January, 1867, a semi-monthly route was added from Hana to Haiku alternating weeks
with the Ulupalakua route, thus completing the circuit of East Maui. Further service
expansion over the ensuing decades eventually covered all of West Maui except the
remote and sparsely populated north shore between Honakahau and Waihee.
A letter carried in the late 1860's by the Maui Mail Man from the area of Makawao to
Lahaina, where the stamp (Scott No. 31a, 2nd printing) was canceled with the Lahaina
West Maui Routes:
This map shows mail service on West Maui (green line).
The main route went south to Olowalu and crossed the mountain to Waikapu on the isthmus
mid way between Maalaea Bay (red box) and Wailuku
and Kahului (blue box), a journey of about five
hours by horse. By 1892, carrier service from Lahaina reached around the north end of
West Maui to Kahakuloa and most likely connected Kahakuloa and Wailuku via Waihee.
From Rev. C. B. Andrews at Makawao to Rev. Serano Bishop at Lahainaluna and docketed
August 21 and 23, 1871. This letter was carried to Lahaina by the overland route on
the return trip from Ulupalakua via Wailuku and across the mountains of West Maui from
Waikapu to Olowalu. One cancel is a strike of the rare negative "M" used at Makawao.
A letter carried from Lahaina to Makawao bearing Lahaina postmark 242.13 dated
September 11, probably in the time frame 1875 to 1878. Miss Carpenter operated a girls
school at Makawao. Clara Bingham was the wife of Rev. Hiram Bingham II and lived in
Honolulu from 1875, after serving as missionaries for many years in the Gilbert Islands.
She was probably visiting on Maui when this letter was addressed to her.
During Henry Whitney's term as Postmaster General in the mid-1880's, the Lahaina
carrier went to Ulupalakua via Wailuku and returned. Another carrier went from Lahaina
to Kaialiilii (1884) or Kahakuloa (1886) and returned to Lahaina. Twice a week, a
carrier went from Lahaina to Oluwalu and returned. By 1888, weekly service from
Lahaina through Kaanapali extended at least as far as Kahakuloa (in 1892, the route was
operated every ten days). However, overland service between Lahaina and Central Maui
was terminated as was the spur route to Oluwalu. Mail between West Maui and the
isthmus was carried around from Lahaina to Kahului by Wilder's steamers. The steamers
stopped at Lahaina on the way down from Honolulu. After picking up mail, the steamer
rounded the north coast of West Maui and landed mail at Kahului. The steamer then
proceeded along the north coast of East Maui, stopping at various ports, to Hana and
then retraced its stops to Kahului and Lahaina before returning to Honolulu. In 1898,
the overland route between Lahaina and Wailuku was restored with the carrier making
three trips per week.
Central Maui Routes:
Central Maui mail service used Wailuku as the hub, with a spur to Waihee. Mail for
Wailuku usually was landed at Maalaea Bay (red box)
and taken by carriage to Wailuku and Kahului (blue box)
until Kahului was developed. The main overland route
(red line) from Wailuku went east to Haiku and then
upland to Makawao, through Kula to Ulupalakua. In the early years, the carrier
returned by the same route. At times, the carrier made a circuit by proceeding from
Ulupalakua to Makena at the shore of Maalaea Bay and heading back to Wailuku along the
Carriage roads covered much of Central Maui, connecting Maalaea and Wailuku, Wailuku
and Ulupalakua with a spur from Haiku to Huelo. Another road connected the landing at
Makena with Rose Ranch at Ulupalakua. Thus, one could drive a carriage in a complete
circuit of Central Maui, leaving Wailuku via Makawao and returning via Maalaea Bay. In
the late 1870's Kahului was dredged to create a deep water port where trans-Pacific
ships could dock for loading. Only Honolulu and Kahului were deep water ports in the
19th Century. In the early 1880's the Kahului Railroad was built and it was used to
carry mail between Wailuku, the port at Kahului and the sugar plantations at
Spreckelsville and Paia (blue line).
A December, 1876 cover from Waihee bearing the rare Waihee postmark type 237.02. This
cover was taken via the Wailuku carrier and forwarded to Honolulu, probably by a
steamer using the Maalaea Bay landing.
A cover sent by the mail carrier from Ulupalakua to Lahaina in August, 1864. The stamp
is canceled with the rare Ulupalakua manuscript.
Letters were carried on the Kahului Railroad and this cover bears the "CANCELLED"
handstamp used by railroad employees. This August 22, 1890, UPSS 7 cover with a Scott
No. 42 added for the 5¢ foreign mail rate entered the mail at Wailuku and was carried
on the train to the port at Kahului, sent from there to Honolulu and transshipped for
the trans-Pacific trip to Port Townsend, Washington.
During Henry Whitney's term as Postmaster General in the mid-1880's, a carrier worked
between the landing at Maalaea Bay and Wailuku about 2 or 3 times a week as necessary
to connect with the steamer schedule. In order to increase efficiency, the steamer
purser was required to send advance notice of the expected arrival of the steamer at
the landing, explaining the many post cards from the Wilder's purser to the postmasters
at Wailuku and Kahului announcing the schedule for arrivals and departures at the
landing. Daily trips were made between Wailuku and the railroad depot at Kahului and
by railroad daily from Kahului to Paia. Three times a week a carrier went between
Wailuku and Waihee. Other carriers were: Makena to Ulupalakua and return; Kahului to
Makawao and return; Haiku and Paia (twice weekly) and Paia Harbor (1886).
By 1891, Paia was the hub of mail routes on the west slopes of East Maui. The Kahului
railroad delivered mail between Kahului and Wailuku and between Kahului and Paia on a
daily basis. Kahului now was the port for Wailuku and runs between Wailuku and Maalaea
Bay were discontinued. From Paia, daily mail runs were made to Makawao and Haiku,
semi-weekly runs were made between Paia and Huelo and a weekly run was made between
Paia and Ulupalakua via Makawao. Steamer service connected the various ports on the
north west coast of East Maui with Kahului in addition to the overland carrier. In
1897, service between Paia and Ulupalakua via Makawao was increased to daily, but
service between Paia and Huelo was cut to weekly in 1894.
East Maui Routes:
Overland service on East Maui originally operated only between Ulupalakua and Hana
(blue line) passing through Kaupo and Kipahulu.
Soon an overland route was established to traverse the north coast of East Maui between
Hana (blue line) and Haiku, via Nahiku, Keanae and
Huelo (brown line).
From Honolulu to Hana via Lahaina and then by the overland mail carrier from Lahaina to
Ulupalakua via Wailuku and Makawao. At Ulupalakua, the carrier dropped the letter to
be picked up and carried overland to Hana via Kaupo and Kipahulu. This letter was
written by Dr. Rufus Anderson, secretary of the American Board of Foreign Missions who
was visiting Hawaii. In his book about this journey he mentions wanting to see Rev.
Bishop but having too little time to travel to Hana.
The original East Maui overland route was between Ulupalakua and Hana. That route
continued as a weekly route through the balance of the century.
Starting in January, 1867, a semi-monthly route existed between Hana and Haiku via
Keanae, thus completing the circuit of East Maui. This route across the north west
coast of East Maui was unpredictable due to weather. Mules, rather than horses, were
necessary because the trail dropped steeply into one gulch after another, the constant
wet weather left the trail badly rutted and there was danger of stumbling in hidden
holes. A writer who made the trip in 1880 described himself as "floundering and
creeping along at anything but a lively pace."
During Henry Whitney's term as Postmaster General in the mid-1880's a carrier went
between Ulupalakua and Hana and returned. Another carrier went between Hana and Haiku
and returned. This weekly arrangement lasted at least to 1900, the only change being
to make Paia the terminus of the Hana route across the north west coast of East Maui,
rather than Haiku.
Molokai and Lanai Routes and Sea Routes to Lahaina:
Mail routes on Molokai (green line) covered the
south coast from Halawa Valley on the east to Kaunakakai on the west and from
Kaunakakai across the mountain range to Kalaupapa Peninsula on the north coast. Mail
from Molokai in the early years often was by sailing ships or small interisland
steamers from the harbor at Pukoo to Lahaina (black line)
where it was sorted and transshipped to its destination. Mail to or from Lanai was
handled privately by ranch personnel through one of two landings used
(green line) and by ranch boat to Lahaina
Molokai overland routes first were established in 1860 by the postmaster at Lahaina and
later were appointed by the postmaster at Kaluaaha, the main post office on the island
in the early years. Later, R. W. Meyer, the postmaster at Kalae/Kaunakakai, became the
principal figure in postal affairs on the island and controlled the appointment of mail
carriers. Overland service connected the various hamlets along the south coast of East
Molokai with ports at Kamalo, Pukoo and Kaunakakai. Another overland service connected
Kaunakakai with the leper colony on Kalaupapa Peninsula. There were no permanent
settlements on arid West Molokai.
During Henry Whitney's term as Postmaster General in the mid-1880's, mail routes on
Molokai ran between Kaunakakai and Kalawao, between Kaunakakai and Pukoo, between Pukoo
and Kalawao and between Kaunakakai and Kalae.
This cover was sent in February, 1868, by A. O. Forbes, postmaster at Kaluaaha, Molokai,
to Keaiwa, in Ka'u, Hawaii. It traveled by workboat to Lahaina, Maui and then by the
inter-island steamer Kilauea to Kawaihae, Hawaii, and overland by horse through Kona to
Ka'u. Kaluaaha was without stamps at the time so a 2¢ manuscript mark was put on the
letter and it was franked at Lahaina with the 2¢ Scott No. 31a.
Lanai's only mail service apart from having an official post office designation was
handled privately for the island's small size and sparse population. The only overland
carriage necessary was between the landing and the ranch headquarters at Keole.
Keomuku received and sent mail directly from its landing.
The postmaster of Lanai (Walter Murray Gibson) sent this letter via the workboat to
Lahaina (backstamp) where it was forwarded by the regular mail to Honolulu and thence
to his in-laws in South Carolina. Gibson wrote a manuscript postmark ("Lanai P. O.")
and dated it July _, 1872. The Honolulu office postmarked the cover on August 7, 1872
with postmark type 277.12.
Dated at Lahaina with postmark type 238.02 on September 5, 1879, this letter arrived in
Honolulu in time to be postmarked there on September 6. Interisland service between
Lahaina and Honolulu was frequent and direct.
Ocean routes between Honolulu and Maui ports were fairly straightforward. Schooners
coming down from Honolulu made Lahaina Roads in a day or less with little difficulty in
most seasons. The first regular Lahaina packet was the Kamehameha III. The schooner
Ka Moi was the main Lahaina packet in the 1850's. During frequent interruptions in the
schedule of the steamer Kilauea in the 1860's, service to Maui was regularly sent by
the Kate Lee. The schooner Moi made regular weekly trips between Honolulu and Kahului
in the mid-1870's. Vessel traffic between Lahaina and Honolulu was relatively frequent
even in the Pre-Postal Period. In addition to vessels running directly between Lahaina
and Honolulu, many vessels running between Big Island ports and Honolulu stopped at
Lahaina as did vessels using Maui ports on Maalaea Bay, increasing the traffic at
Lahaina. Also, schooners made stops at out of the way landings on the north coast of
West Maui. The steamer Kilauea, when operating, used Maalaea Bay as its landing in
By 1884, all inter-island mail for Maui was being handled by steamers. Steamer service
in 1890 included both Wilder's Steamship Company and Inter-Island Steam Navigation
Company vessels. Wilder's ships stopped at Lahaina, Maalaea Bay and Makena on Maui's
leeward coast before proceeding to Mahukona and other ports on the Big Island.
Wilder's steamers also serviced windward ports at Kahului, Huelo, Keanae, Hana, Hamoa
and Kipahulu on a route from Honolulu via Pukoo, Molokai (some landings got infrequent
service – Keanae being a stop only about once a month, for example). The steamer
Mokolii was among those serving these ports. The steamer Kilauea Hou ran a direct
route to Kahului, leaving Honolulu every Monday afternoon and arriving at Kahului in
about fifteen hours. Inter-Island steamers stopped at Lahaina and Maalaea Bay on a
route between Honolulu and the Big Island.
A cover sent from Kahului on October 27, 1894 to Paia, but carried by the steamer to
Hana, where it was postmarked on October 27, and then returned to Kahului where it was
postmarked again on October 29, and then carried to Paia where it was postmarked on
October 29. These postmarks illustrate the steamer connection between Kahului and Hana.
Kahului was designated a Port of Entry in 1878, soon after dredging was completed for a
deep water port. Ships sailed regularly between Kahului and San Francisco, carrying
milled sugar for the San Francisco Bay Area refineries. However, no foreign covers
going direct from Kahului in this time frame are recorded.
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