This page last updated: 10 July 2000

::: Overland Mail Routes - Island of Oahu Routes :::

Back to Overland Mail Routes.

Oahu mail routes rev

Another map from Whitney's 1890 Guide serves as a backdrop for this illustration of the Oahu mail routes. From Honolulu, the mail carrier made a "circuit" of the island (red line), skipping eastern Oahu, by crossing the island on the Pali road to Kaneohe and then traveling north along the windward side of the island to the north shore, then down to Waialua and rounding Kaena Point to return to Honolulu via Waianae. From Kaneohe, a mail carrier covered the eastern windward side to Waimanalo (blue line). Later, the circuit was altered to return to Honolulu directly from Waialua by crossing the plain in the saddle between the two mountain ranges (green line). When that change was done, a separate carrier left Honolulu following the red line as far as Waianae and returned. The Oahu Railway, starting in 1890 and completing in 1898, followed the red line to Waianae and continued around Kaena Point to Kahuku via Waialua. Steamers served various ports at times (black lines).

Oahu mail service in the earliest years was by schooners making runs between Honolulu and landings at Waianae, Waialua, Punaluu, Kaneohe, Waimanalo and perhaps others. Schedules were irregular and mail service was spotty. All of the island was accessible on horseback so when the overland routes were set up in 1856, weekly service to almost all the towns was set up. Starting in 1884, mail was also sent by steamer from Honolulu to landings at Waianae and Waialua. In the 1890's, the Oahu Railway was built to Kahuku via Ewa and Waianae. This page illustrates all of the mail routes serving Oahu: horseback, steamer and rail.

Roads on Oahu were fairly decent by the mid-1860's. An account in 1858 described driving a four wheel carriage from Honolulu to Kahuku, via Ewa and Waialua, and back. Despite grumblings about the condition of the road, on the return the travelers made it from Kahuku to Honolulu in seven hours with time for lunch in Ewa. Even in the mid-1860's some stream crossings on the windward coast lacked bridges and were unpredictable. By the 1890's, Oahu boasted a railroad around Kaena Point to Waialua and Kahuku, steamer service to most landings, a stage road across the pali to Kaneohe, stage roads through the windward districts and between Waialua and Honolulu via the saddle. Getting around Oahu was fairly easy to accomplish particularly compared to travel on the other islands.

Windward Routes:

Oahu mail routes - windward rev

A carrier left Honolulu crossing the Nuuanu Pali for Kaneohe every Monday from the start of overland service in 1856 until the 1880's when service was improved to semi-weekly (red line). On the windward coast, the carrier stopped first at Kaneohe and dropped mail for Waimanalo and other parts south east of Kaneohe. The Waimanalo carrier left Kaneohe when the Honolulu carrier arrived (blue line). The Honolulu carrier then proceeded north to Kahuku, passing through Kualoa, Kahana, Punaluu and Laie. From Kahuku, the carrier proceeded on to Waialua and the trail is picked up in the next section. In 1881, the Honolulu carrier's departure from Honolulu was changed to Wednesday to fit better with the arrival of steamer mail from San Francisco. In 1893, carriers traveled the main circuit route twice weekly rather than once a week, leaving Honolulu for Kahuku via Kaneohe on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Kaneohe to Waimanalo carrier left Kaneohe upon arrival of the carrier from Honolulu, but it is unclear if this service was now made semi-weekly. By 1898 there was a stage road across the Pali and daily mail was made up for windward Oahu to Laie. Mail for Waimanalo was dispatched twice weekly by steamer (black lines).

UX1 Waiahole 5JUn89

This UX1 postal card (missing a stamp) dated June 5, 1889 was carried from Waiahole on windward Oahu to Honolulu by the overland route via Kahuku. By this time, the route skipped Waianae and the carrier went direct from Waialua to Honolulu through the saddle.

Heeia 281_01 blank 31pr

This undated cover from Heeia to Maui was sent in the early 1890's by the overland carrier passing through windward Oahu.

UX8 Heeia 281_03 15Sep97

A UX8 postal card dated September 15, 1897, carried by the overland carrier via Kahuku and the saddle to Honolulu.

Waialua, Waianae and Central Oahu (Saddle) Routes:

Oahu mail routes - Ewa rev

From 1868 to 1884, the overland circuit of Oahu went around Kaena Point and through Honouliuli on the return to Honolulu from Kahuku (red line). In 1884, the circuit was switched so the rider passed through the saddle (green line) allowing him to arrive a day sooner in Honolulu. Few people inhabited the high ground of the saddle between Oahu's two mountain ranges in those days and it was largely grazing land. Also in 1884, another overland route was established to carry mail between Honolulu and Waianae (following the red line). Steamer routes to Waianae and Waialua operated in the 1880's (black lines). When the Oahu Railway was built to Kahuku, it passed through Waianae and rounded Kaena Point (following the red line) on the way to Waialua and Kahuku.

Starting in 1884, the steamer James Makee was scheduled to leave Honolulu each Friday for Waianae and Waialua. The steamer schedule was fairly irregular and the name of the steamer as well as the exact frequency and departure dates from Honolulu was more vaguely stated in 1886. In 1888, steamer service to Waianae and Waialua was increased to twice weekly. The steamer Kaala was the regular steamer in 1888 and the steamers Waimanalo and C. R. Bishop were performing this twice weekly run in 1889. Steamer service was unreliable and generated complaints from people in Waialua and Kahuku. References to "White's Express" are made in contemporary post office correspondence and it is clear Waialua and Kahuku and other post offices preferred receiving mail by White's Express instead of by the steamer. The reference is unclear and I have found no express company by that name.

Construction of the Oahu Railroad started in 1889. On November 16, 1889, the line was opened to Aiea and on January 1, 1890, the rail reached Pearl City to service the immediate vicinity of Ewa and Honouliuli. Track was extended to Ewa Mill by August, 1890. Construction of new track for the Oahu Railway was suspended until 1895.

In 1891, the steamer run was dropped and an overland carrier took mail three times weekly from Honolulu direct to Waialua and Kahuku via Pearl City. Mail to Ewa was dispatched daily by the railroad. Waianae still had only a weekly carrier service. In 1894, service to Waianae improved to three times a week by train (the track had not yet reached Waianae but it was carried by train to the railhead). Service to Ewa and Honouliuli continued to be daily by train. Waianae service improved to daily once the track reached there on July 4, 1895. Otherwise, routes remained unchanged from 1895 to 1898. Major changes took place in 1898. Daily mails left Honolulu for Ewa, Pearl City, Peninsula, Waipahu, Honouliuli, Waianae, Waialua and Kahuku. The Oahu Railway track reached Waialua on June 11, 1898 and Kahuku on January 1, 1899. Mail for the central saddle plain was sent twice weekly by train to Pearl City and then by carrier to Wahiawa.

UPSS 20 Kahuku 253_02 28Apr96

A UPSS 20 envelope mailed from Kahuku on April 28, 1896, before the railroad reached there. This cover was carried by the overland carrier through the saddle to connect with the railroad at Pearl City.

UX8a Kahuku 29May00

Dated May 29, 1900, this UX8a postal card was carried to Honolulu all the way on the Oahu Railway daily service. After reaching Honolulu, it was carried back on the railroad to Pearl City for delivery in Waipahu.

UX1 Waialua 18Feb89

A UX1 postal card dated February 11, 1889 at Waialua with postmark type 282.013 and carried through the saddle to Honolulu.

Waialua 282_013 5Mar90 39

Another Waialua postmark type 282.013, this one dated March 5, 1890, and also carried through the saddle route to Honolulu.

UPSS 3a Waianae 282_016 11Dec91

A UPSS 3a envelope dated at Waianae on December 11, 1891, with postmark type 282.016. This cover was carried to Ewa and then to Honolulu on the Oahu Railway.

Pearl Harbor Environs:

Oahu mail routes - Hono environs

With the rise of sugar production and the coming of the Oahu Railway, towns sprung up in the Ewa region and around the lochs of Pearl Harbor. Ewa's post office declined, but Aiea, Peninsula, Waipahu and Honouliuli were added as post offices, with mail service by the Oahu Railway. Residential developments turned the peninsula in Pearl Harbor near Pearl City a suburb of Honolulu.

Aiea 255_01 21Apr00 Honolulu Plant

Aiea was the first stop on the Oahu Railway. However, no post office was located there until 1899. This cover from the Honolulu Plantation Co. was carried into Honolulu on the daily mail service provided by the railroad.

Honouliuli 253_02 13Jul96

Honouliuli post office opened about the time the railroad reached Ewa Mill around August, 1890. Most mail in the region of Ewa was handled out of the Honouliuli office after it opened. This cover with a Scott No. 76 was postmarked at Honouliuli on July 13, 1896 with postmark type 253.02 and was carried into Honolulu on the daily train service.

UX9 Honouliuli 15Aug99

A UX9 postal card to Japan sent from Honouliuli on August 12, 1899 and postmarked with type 281.02. This card was carried to Honolulu by the railroad for shipment direct to Japan on the mail steamer.

UX9 Waipahu 255_01 1Nov98

A UX9 postal card from Waipahu dated November 1, 1898 with postmark type 255.01. This card was carried to Honolulu by the daily mail service on the Oahu Railway.

Oahu R&LCo 22Dec96

An advertising cover dated December 1, 1896 for delivery in Honolulu as a drop letter. Honolulu depot on the Oahu Railroad is pictured in the advertisement.

Back to Overland Mail Routes.

Copyright © 1999 - 2004 POST OFFICE IN PARADISE. All rights reserved.