A notation on this Scott No. 31a cover sent from Wailuku, Maui, on April 10, 1866, to
Lahainaluna, Maui, states it was sent "With a pair of saddle bags by the Mail Man."
The Maui Mail Man was a constable who rode a route on horseback covering the central
part of the island and West Maui. He must have carried quite a load and was very
accommodating to carry the mail plus saddle bags and other things entrusted to him.
Whitney tried to start an overland carrier system in 1854. On August 16, 1854, the
Legislature adopted a law authorizing employment of mail carriers and appointment of
postal "agents" on Hawaii, Maui, Oahu and Kauai. Mail carriers were to be employed by
the sheriffs of the respective islands and paid from appropriations for police. Agents
were to be appointed by the Postmaster of Honolulu and their service was to be
gratuitous. The 1854 mail carriers act included specific directions for locating
The sheriff on Hawaii had only enough surplus police funds to employ a carrier for the
route between Hilo and Kawaihae via Hamakua and Waimea. Other sheriffs had no surplus
at all to hire mail carriers. In 1855, funds were made available to start overland
routes on Maui and Oahu, but all routes were suspended in October, 1855, when the
funding stopped. Finally, on January 1, 1856, carriers were again traveling overland
routes. From January 1, 1856 to the end of Hawaii's independent postal service,
overland carrier routes were operated on the larger four islands with some alteration
and expansion over time.
Overland carrier routes on the Big Island eventually
made a circuit of the entire island except an impassable stretch in North Kohala
between Waipio and Niulii. For more specifics about the overland carrier routes on
Hawaii, see Island of Hawaii Routes.
Maui is almost two islands with both ends connected
by a flat and narrow isthmus. Lahaina, the principal Maui town and port for much of the
19th Century, is located on West Maui. Wailuku is located on the isthmus side of West
Maui. Hana and Makawao are located on East Maui. Once sugar became the dominant
economic engine after 1876, Wailuku eclipsed Lahaina as the principal Maui town.
Wailuku was serviced by the port of Kahului, on the north shore of the isthmus, and by
landings on Maalaea Bay, located on the south or leeward shore of the isthmus. Upland
Kula farms and ranches on East Maui were also served by landings on Maalaea Bay. In
the early 1880's the Kahului Railroad was opened and eventually its tracks covered the
northern isthmus from Wailuku to Paia. For more detail on overland routes on Maui, see
Islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai Routes.
Oahu had the principal port and city of Honolulu
and all mail routes commenced from there. Although the literature refers to the mail
carrier making a "circuit" of the island, from more specific references it appears the
carrier traveled the Pali route across the island to Kaneohe and skipped south-eastern Oahu
altogether. Also, western Oahu was covered only up to Waianae. The Oahu Railway
opened its first stretch of track in 1889 and eventually connected Honolulu to Kahuku
on the North Shore, via Kaena Point, the western most tip of Oahu.. For more detail on
the overland routes on Oahu, see Island of Oahu Routes.
Kauai mail routes made almost a complete circuit of
the island except the impassable Napali Coast on the north west corner. These routes
were hardly changed from the time they originally were established in 1856. This
island had no railroads other than short plantation tracks. For more detail on the
overland mail routes of Kauai, see Islands of Kauai and Niihau Routes.