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Minor light of Maui - Pa'uwela Point, HI     

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Minor light of Maui - Pa'uwela Point Lighthouse

In 1910, acreage was acquired on Pa置wela Point from the Haiku Sugar Company for the establishment of a coastal beacon to mark the eastern approach to Kahului Harbor. A temporary acetylene light was activated on the point in August of that year, until a keeper痴 dwelling with a wooden light tower mounted on its roof could be completed. Philip Kepilino was the first keeper of Pa置wela Lighthouse and served until the light was automated in 1921. At this time, an acetylene light was installed atop a new metal, pyramidal tower, and the keeper痴 dwelling was sold at auction.

Pa置wela Point Lighthouse in 1915
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
By 1936, all the lighthouses on Maui had been automated, but in 1937, the Bureau of Lighthouses decided to install a powerful airways revolving beacon on Pa置wela Point that required an attendant. The new light produced a beam of 560,000 candlepower, much more than the 480 candlepower of its predecessor, and was situated atop a seventy-two-foot reinforced concrete tower located near the engine house that sheltered the beacon痴 generators. Equipped with a green lens, the piercing light was easily distinguished from automobile lights or the numerous other white lights on the island.

John Enos kept the light, which was Maui痴 brightest, from 1937 until he was sent to the Moloka段 Lighthouse during World War II, leaving coastguardsmen to run Pa置wela Point Station. In 1946, Edward Marques was transferred from Moloka段 to Pa置wela Point, where a forty-eight-foot, steel skeletal tower had replaced the concrete tower. The dwelling where Keeper Marques lived with his wife and family was the same structure built in 1937 and consisted of a living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a porch. Electricity was only available at night when the generators were powering the navigational aid, so the house was equipped with a gas-powered washing machine and a refrigerator and stove that ran on kerosene.

When Ed Marques accepted the position at Pa置wela Point, he agreed to the following list of duties supplied by the Fourteenth Coast Guard District. 的 must exhibit the light; care for buildings, grounds, equipment, and supplies, and make emergency repairs thereto; operate radio telephone equipment; order, receive, store and account for supplies; make periodical and/or special written reports to the District Commander, and perform related duties as assigned. Operational inspections of the following aids to navigation are made quarterly and emergency servicing performed as required: Nakalele Point Light; Kahului Harbor Entrance Front and Rear Range lights; Kauiki Head Light; Hanamanioa Light; Hawea Point Light; and Lahaina Light. Later, Marques was required to inspect the automated lights every two weeks, which was a difficult assignment as reaching some of the automated lights required lengthy drives over winding and poorly maintained roads followed by hikes over lava beds or rocky hillsides, and he had to be back at Pa置wela Point thirty minutes before sunset to activate that light.

Pa置wela Point Light Station
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
Marques was forced to resign in 1962, after twenty-six years of lighthouse service, as arthritis had started to cripple his hands. His replacement was Robert Hearn, who was assisted by his wife Elizabeth after Robert was seriously injured in an automobile accident. The couple痴 job was made somewhat easier when they received the following automation notice that allowed them to be absent from the station past dark. 鄭t 1200 local time, 1 September 1964 your station will discontinue functioning as a Light Station and commence operating as Pauwela Point Light Attendant Station. When the Hearns were later replaced, it was recommended that two coastguardsmen be assigned to the station as the assignment was considered too much for one person working alone.

At some point, Coast Guard personnel and all buildings were removed from Pa置wela Point, and the skeletal tower was replaced by a light atop a pole. On March 30, 1981, the General Services Administration approved the transfer of the excess land on Pa置wela Point to Maui County for the establishment of a park. Anyone who makes the 1.2-mile drive down the rutted, red clay road to Pa置wela Point today will acquire an immediate appreciation for the effort required of Keepers Marques and Hearns to leave their station, reach another light located as much as fifty-miles away, perform any required tasks, and return home thirty-minutes before sunset.

Head Keepers: Philip Kepilino (1910 1921), John Enos, Jr. (1937 1942), Edward Marques (1946 1961), D.L. Speelman (1961 1962), Robert Hearn (1962 1964).


  1. The Lighthouses of Hawai`i, Love Dean, 1986.

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