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VOL. V NOVEMBER 1953 No. 2

The House of the Sun

The arrival of Dr. Jaggar at Kilauea early in 1912 was timely, for as soon as he got his research program under way he was able to devote time toward helping Thurston in the promotional work leading to the establishment of the park. On a visit to Washington the year before, Jaggar had talked with the Secretary of the Interior about the park proposal and had left with assurances of assistance from the cabinet member, who told him that there was no parallel to the area.

Jaggar's first of many talks and articles stressing the proposed park came at a Hilo Board of Trade banquet in the fall of 1912. Here he urged a big national park—one that would include Hualalai, practically all of Mauna Loa, and Kilauea. And it was on this occasion that he suggested—for the first time—the inclusion of the summit of Haleakala in the park. Jaggar had no difficulty in selling Thurston on his Haleakala idea, for Thurston had known and loved Haleakala Crater from his boyhood.

Haleakala came by its name through the legend of Maui's snaring of the sun. Maui lived on the island which bears his name with his father and Hina, his mother. Hina made tapas, the bark cloths of the islands, and she set them out in the sun to dry. But the days were short and she went to great trouble in hanging them out and taking them in day after day until they were dry. Taking pity on his mother, Maui decided to make the sun move more slowly across the sky to enable Hina to dry her tapas with less effort. He went to east Maui to observe the motions of the sun and then to Haleakala, where he observed that, in its course, the sun passed directly over the mountain. Returning to the beach, Maui cut a great number of coconut trees and gathered the fibres of the coconut husks, which he manufactured into a strong cord.

Cord in hand, Maui went to Haleakala again, and when the sun stood above him he made a noose of the cord and cast it upward, snaring one of the sun's larger beams and breaking it. He cast his noose time and again until he had broken all of the sun's strong rays. Then Maui said to the sun: "You are my captive and now I will kill you for going so swiftly." The sun said: "Let me live and you shall see me go more slowly hereafter. Haven't you broken off all of my strong legs and left me only the weak ones?" Then and there an agreement was made and Maui permitted the sun to move on—slowly—enabling his mother to dry her tapas with appreciably less effort.

The possibilities of Haleakala Crater as a scenic attraction were foreseen as early as 1894 when C. W. Dickey, of Honolulu, acting upon the inspiration of his late father, one of the early Haleakala promoters and enthusiasts, circulated a subscription list on the Island of Maui and secured $850 for constructing a resthouse on the crater rim to supplant the Little Flea and Big Flea Caves theretofore used by visitors. Labor for the erection of the shelter was furnished by the local sugar plantations through the interest of H. P. Baldwin. The laborers who built the shelter travelled the 25-mile distance to the construction site on foot, and the journey up the trackless mountain took a full day. Except for the stone, all materials were transported on packmules.

This first resthouse was completed in two months and served for some three years until a heavy storm unroofed it. Some time later, Worth O. Aiken, Chairman of the Haleakala Rest House Committee for many years, raised another community fund which was used to reroof the building, lay a concrete floor, and equip it with a metal door, window frames, and shutters. With the increasing number of visitors to the crater, the resthouse became inadequate and, at the Territorial Civic Convention of 1914, which was held on Maui, Thurston started a subscription list for a new resthouse. The $1,500 fund raised by Thurston and others was turned over to the Maui Chamber of Commerce as a nucleus for the new shelter, and through Aiken's efforts it swelled to $5,000. With this money, the new building was constructed and made ready for occupancy by the spring of 1915.

As time passed, the 1915 building also became inadequate because of the constantly increasing use it was receiving. In 1924 and 1925, Aiken, as Chairman of the Maui Chamber of Commerce Rest House Committee, and the "Superintendent of Haleakala National Park" ("self-imposed," he would say) raised $11,000 which was used to add two dormitories, an observation room, and a water tank to the 1915 structure. Vandals unfortunately made liberal use of some of the building's materials for firewood to keep warm, and the Maui Chamber of Commerce was hard put to it to keep up with them.

Ownership of the resthouse was relinquished in 1934 to the National Park Service by the Maui Chamber of Commerce, which for so many years ably and public spiritedly looked after the affairs of the Haleakala Section of the park. Completion of a paved highway to the summit of Haleakala in 1935 made unnecessary the continued operation of the rest house, for the once tortuous trip could now be made in an hour's instead of a day's time. The old resthouse, which for many years provided many happy hours for many people, remains yet on the north rim of Haleakala Crater like a sentinel watching over the superb scene almost 3,000 feet below. This old structure is to give way in the future to a lookout building to be constructed by the Park Service on the same site, from which thousands of visitors have marvelled at the splendor of the House of the Sun.

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