Our quest to
photograph every lighthouse in the United States took us over 12
years, most of our time and most of our money. It was a wonderful
journey that took us all over the Continental United States, to
Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. We had some grand adventures and
met many nice people, many of whom helped us on our way.
quest, every adventure, has to have an end. On the North end of the
Big Island, Hawaii, when we photographed Kauhola Point Lighthouse,
we had photographed every standing lighthouse in the United States.
guide, Bill Wong, of ATV Outfitters, drove us out on the muddy,
rutted road in a 4wheel drive truck, to the lighthouse. When we
were done with our photos, he took a photo of us and said “NOW
you are ALL PAU!” (Hawaiian for all done). This lighthouse is
very special to us. A fitting finale to a long journey, it sits on
a windblown cliff looking out over the Pacific.
The first light on Kauhola Point, known as the
Kohala Beacon, was built in 1897. It was a 40 foot wooden tower
with an enclosed lamp room on top. By 1904 it was called the Kauhola
Point Light and was in bad condition, needing to be repaired.
In 1917 a frame tower with a lantern room and a lens, lighted
by oil, took the place of the original lens-lantern. This structure
was meant to be temporary, but stood for 14 years, even through a
fire in 1931. The heat of the fire shattered the lantern windows
and damaged part of the lens. It was repaired so the light could be
shown, but it needed replacing.
In 1933 a new tower was built, a twin of the Nawiliwili light
on Kauai. It was 86 feet high and had a “lantern deck” and not a
lantern room. It never had a Fresnel lens, but had 2 36 inch airway
The keepers’ house was built in 1914, and later other
outbuildings were constructed. Now only the beautiful lighthouse
stands and one little outbuilding to keep it company.
The road to Kauhola Point can be very difficult. If it’s
muddy, it is impassible and if it is in good condition, it is still
a long hike. The road winds through what were once sugar mills and
sugarcane fields, now gone back to jungle.
October of 2006, Hawaii had an earthquake. It struck Kauhola Point
and part of the cliff fell into the ocean. Now, the 86 foot tall
tower is not only perilously close to the cliff, a Coast Guard
contact tells us there are cracks in the earth within a foot or two
of the lighthouse. A lighthouse friend sent us the current photos of
the lighthouse showing the damage that started our quest for
contacted a Coast Guard retired friend in Hawaii. He said: “From
the sounds of it, the cliff is now very close to the light and it is
going to be a very dangerous evolution to move or recover what was
lost. It might even be dangerous servicing the light with most of
the bluff gone from around the light. I would imagine that the rest
of the ground around the light is very unstable and it could fall at
any time. That would certainly be a bummer if the light is lost.”
also talked to a several other civilian and Coast Guard contacts in
Hawaii. In September, the difficult road to the Kauhola Point
Lighthouse was leveled so that heavy equipment could go out there to
drill soil samples. That will tell how far the damage has gone. A
decision will be made some time this winter as to what can be done.
believe the time for saving it has gone by, as heavy equipment could
probably not get close enough on the unstable earth to stabilize,
secure or move it.
Sometime in the next year or so we will most likely be saying
“Aloha” to a lighthouse that has a special place in our hearts.