The other islands. Hawaii pt 3

by Jim Morgan

Maui, lying 26 m. N.W. of Hawaii, is composed of two mountains connected by an isthmus, Wailuku, 7 or 8 m. long, about 6 m. across, and about 160 ft. above the sea in its highest part.

Mauna Haleakala, on the E. peninsula, has a height of 10,032 ft., and forms a great dome-like mass, with a circumference at the base of 90 m. and regular slopes of only 8 or 9. It has numerous cinder cones on its S.W. slope, is well wooded on the N. and E. slopes, and has on its summit an extinct pit-crater which is one of the
largest in the world. This crater is 7-48 m. long, 2-37 m. wide, and covers 19 sq. m.; the circuit of its walls, which are composed of a hard grey clinkstone much fissured, is 20 m.; its greatest depth is 2720 ft. At opposite ends are breaks in the walls a mile or more in width one about 1000 ft., the other at least 3000 ft. in depth through which poured the lava of probably the last great eruption. From the floor of the crater rise sixteen well-preserved cinder-cones, which range from more than 400 ft. to 900 ft. in height. Along the N. base of the mountain are numerous ravines (several hundred feet deep), to the bottom of which small streams of water fall in long cascades, but elsewhere on the eastern mountain there is little erosion or other mark of age. That the mountainous mass of western Maui is much older is shown by the destruction of its crater, by its sharp ridges and by deeply eroded gorges or valleys. Its highest peak, Puu Kukui, rises 5788 ft. above the sea, and directly under this is the head of lao Valley, 5 m. long and 2 m. wide, which has been cut in the mountain to a depth of 4000 ft. This and the smaller valleys are noted for the beauty of their tropical scenery.

Kahoolawe is a small island 6 m. S.W. of Maui. It is 14 m. long by 6 m. wide. Its mountains, which rise to a height of 1472 ft., are rugged and nearly destitute of verdure, but the intervening valleys afford pasturage for sheep.

Lanai is another small island, 7 m. W. of Maui, about 18 m. long and 12 m. wide. It has a mountain- range which rises to a maximum height, S.E. of its centre, of about 3480 ft. The N.E. slope is cut by deep gorges, and at the bottom of one of these, which is 2000 ft. deep, is the only water-supply on the island. On the S. side is a rolling table-land affording considerable pasturage for sheep, but over the whole N.W. portion of the island the trade winds, driving through the channel between Maui and Molokai, sweep the rocks bare. Kahoolawe and Lanai are both privately owned.

Molokai, 8 m. N.W. of Maui, extends 40 m. from E. to W. and has an average width of nearly 7 m. From the S.W. extremity of the island rises the backbone of a ridge which extends E.N.E. about 10 m., where it culminates in the round-topped hill of Mauna Loa, 1382 ft. above the sea. Both the northern and southern slopes of this ridge are cut by ravines and gulches, and along the N. shore is a steep sea-cliff. At the E. extremity of the ridge there is a sudden drop to a low and gently rolling plain, but farther on the surface rises gradually towards a range of mountains which comprises more than one-half the island and attains a maximum height of 4958 ft. in the peak of Kamakou. The S. slope of this range is gradual but is cut by many straight and narrow ravines, in some instances to a great depth. The N. slope is abrupt, with precipices from 1000 to 4000 ft. in height. Extending N. from the foot of the precipice, a little E. of the centre of the island, is a comparatively low peninsula (separated from the mainland by a rock wall 2000 ft. high), on which is a famous leper settlement. The peninsula forms a separate county, Kalawao.

Oahu, 23 m. N.W. of Molokai, has an irregular quadrangular form. It is traversed from S.E. to N.W. by two roughly parallel ranges of hill separated by a plain that is 20 m. long and in some parts 9 to 10 m. wide. The highest point in the island is Mauna Kaala, 4030 ft., in the Waianae or W. range; but the Koolau or E. range is much longer than the other, and its ridge is very much broken; on the land side there are many ravines formed by lateral spurs, but to the sea for 30 m. it presents a nearly vertical wall without a break. The valleys are remarkable for beautiful scenery, peaks, cliffs, lateral ravines, cascades and tropical vegetation. There are few craters on the loftier heights, but on the coasts there are several groups of small cones with craters, some of lava, others of tufa. The greater part of the coast is surrounded by a coral reef, often half a mile wide; in several localities an old reef upheaved, sometimes 100 ft. high, forms part of the land.

Kauai, 63 m. W.N.W. of Oahu, has an irregularly circular form with a maximum diameter of about 25 m. On the N.W. is a precipice 2000 ft. or more in height and above this is a mountain plain, but elsewhere around the island is a shore plain, from which rises Mount Waialeale to a height of 5250 ft. The peaks of the mountain are irregular, abrupt and broken; its sides are deeply furrowed by gorges and ravines; the shore plain is broken by ridges and by broad and deep valleys; no other island of the group is so well watered on all sides by large mountain streams; and it is called ” garden isle.”

Niihau, the most westerly of the inhabited islands, is 18 m. W. by S. of Kauai. It is 16 m. long and 6 m. wide. The western two-thirds consists of a low plain, composed of an uplifted coral reef and matter washed down from the mountains; but on the E. side the island rises precipitously from the sea and attains a maximum height of 1304 ft. at Paniau. There are large salt lagoons on the southern coast.

Information taken from Encyclopaedia Brittanica 11th Edition Volume XIII p. 83-93. The Encyclopaedia Brittanica 11th Edtion is in the public domain.