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::: Overland Mail Routes - Islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai Routes :::

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Maui mail routes rev

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.

Maui mail man 10Apr66

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 grid.

West Maui Routes:

Maui mail routes - west rev1

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.

Neg M C.B.Andrews 23Aug71

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.

Lahaina 242_13 11Sep_

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:

Maui mail routes - central rev

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 shore.

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).

Hono 4Dec76 cover

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.

Ulupalakua ms 31a Aug64

A cover sent by the mail carrier from Ulupalakua to Lahaina in August, 1864. The stamp is canceled with the rare Ulupalakua manuscript.

UPSS 7 Hono 23Aug90 and 43

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:

Maui mail routes - east rev 1

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).

Scott 28 with red Hono 243_03 20May

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:

Molokai and Lanai mail routes

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 (black line).

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.

Lahaina 17Feb68 Forbes

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.

Hono 7Aug72 cover

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.

Ocean Routes:

Lahaina 238_02 5Sep79 35

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 Central Maui.

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.

Hana 281_11 27Oct94 75

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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