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100 years A century of light

5-day centennial celebration begins today with reopening ceremony of Kilauea Point Lighthouse

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Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 12:45 am | Updated: 8:42 pm, Wed May 1, 2013.

LIHU‘E — At 6:15 p.m. on Saturday — 100 years and four days after its first gleam at passing ships — the Kilauea Point Lighthouse will briefly cast its protective beacon across the waters of the Pacific once more.

By the time the switch is flipped, the newly-restored lighthouse will have been officially rededicated as the Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse, in honor of the late senator.

Inouye was a key player in the establishment of Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge in 1985 and a supporter of the lighthouse’s $2 million restoration, which began in 2009.

“During the Capital Campaign to Restore the Kilauea Lighthouse, a wonderful spirit of giving occurred, as donations ranging from $1 to $150,000 flowed in to the Kilauea Point Natural History Association,” wrote Jane Hoffman, executive director of the KPNHA.

Hoffman said one of the highlights for her came during the public campaign kick-off in April 2009, when Inouye spoke about his connection to both the lighthouse and its home at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

“He then promised to ask the Senate for an appropriation of $1 million dollars for the restoration. … Four years later, with his help and contributions from over 1,600 donors, the goal to restore the lighthouse has been realized in time for the 100th anniversary,” she wrote.

The renaming ceremony begins at 5 p.m. Saturday and is part of the lighthouse’s centennial celebration, which begins today and runs through Sunday. Immediately following Saturday’s ceremony, the lighthouse bulb will be relit for the first time in three years.  

It will remain on for about 30 minutes, according to Jennifer Waipa, supervisory park ranger of the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

On April 4, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the renaming of the historic lighthouse on Kaua‘i’s North Shore, recognizing Inouye’s distinguished career and longtime support of conservation in Hawai‘i.

“Dan and I visited the Kilauea Point Lighthouse a few years ago and were taken by the overwhelming community support for its preservation,” Inouye’s wife Irene said in a statement earlier this month. “Dan’s grandparents arrived on the island of Kaua‘i at the turn of the 1900s to begin a new life. It is most fitting that the Department of the Interior’s site, which will bear his name, is on the island where it all began.”

Ron Sakoda, the late senator’s former Kaua‘i field representative, said Inouye was passionate about many environmental and cultural issues.

“In his life, throughout, he tried to support the things that were precious to him … keeping the history and, as he said, the ‘treasure of the islands,’” Sakoda said.

Inouye considered the lighthouse special.

“If he were to look at it and be able to be here, he would be greatly appreciative and humbled,” Sakoda said.

An official reopening ceremony at 10 a.m. today kicks off the 5-day centennial celebration. It will mark the first time in three years that the lighthouse will be open for public tours.

Lighthouse history

Kilauea Point is the northernmost point of land on the inhabited Hawaiian Islands. Due to its location and height, the 31-acre site was purchased by the American government in 1909 for the construction of a lighthouse, according to information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The price tag for Kilauea Point was $1.

Work on the 52-foot tower began in August of 1912. The revolving lens — manufactured in France at a cost of $12,000 — was first illuminated on May 1, 1913.

“As part of a day-long celebration that preceded the first lighting, the entire population of Kilauea town was invited for a luau, featuring pig baked in the ground, sweet potatoes and poi,” according to lighthousefriends.com. “Also included in the festivities was a shark shoot. The station derrick was used to lower a cow carcass into the waters at the landing cove, where sharks attracted to the bait could be easily shot.”

Originally lit by an incandescent oil vapor lamp, the lighthouse lens produced a 250,000-candle-power double flash every ten seconds, visible up to a distance of 21 nautical miles. The bulb assembly weighed about 4.5 tons and floated on 260 pounds of mercury and pressurized air.

In 1930, electricity allowed the lamp to be replaced by a light bulb. The wattage was increased twice, eventually reaching 2.5 million candle power in 1958.

David Kahaunaele of Anahola served as the lighthouse keeper from 1957 to 1962. He described the job as a joy and said he and the two men working under him became like a unit.

“Everybody chipped in,” he said.

Kahaunaele reminisced about shining and polishing the giant lens ever two weeks, fishing with locals on Kilauea Point and cleaning up fallen trees, which he said kept them busy.

Although he has nothing against the late senator, Kahaunaele said he would have preferred that the lighthouse kept it original name.

“But either way is fine,” he laughed.   

After World War II, radar and other technological advances made lighthouses obsolete as navigational aids. In 1976, although still operable, the U.S. Coast Guard deactivated the lighthouse after 63 years of guiding ships and boats along Kaua‘i’s rugged North Shore.

The Kilauea Point Lighthouse and three lighthouse keepers’ homes were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Located two miles north of Kilauea town, the KPNWR includes 203 acres of protected land and is one of the few Hawaiian refuges open to the public, attracting more than 500,000 visitors each year. It is the fourth most visited refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Biggest lamp in the world

“Biggest lamp in the world flings signal of protection to the sailor boy; Mountains and shores are dotted for miles around by anxious throng to see the first gleam; Light can be seen for twenty miles; Is one hundred-and-eighty feet above water line and ‘winks’ at Old Neptune every 10 seconds”

“From a projecting point of land near Kilauea, and 180 feet above sea level, the Kileauea Point Lighthouse, like the famous Cyclops of old, which swept the sea with their one fierce eye, burst forth its shining eye of warning to the mariner last Thursday evening while hundreds of country people who had gathered to witness the wonderful sight, made the shores and hills ring with astonished delight. Superintendent Palmer, under whose able direction this excellent piece of construction has come into existence, accompanied by Manager J.R. Myers of the Kilauea Plantation and other leading citizens, touched the button which set in motion the 25,000 candle power lamp which responded as if by magic, not the slightest obstruction in the perfect working apparatus being observed. The lighthouse was begun in August of last year and Mr. Palmer has been on the job constantly ever since, and deserves much commendation for his personal and pains-taking care in every detail of its construction.”

- Article published in The Garden Island, May 6, 1913

Kilauea Point Lighthouse Centennial Celebration, May 1-5, 2013

Enjoy daily guided tours of the lighthouse which will enable a close up view of the interior of the restored Kilauea Point Lighthouse. Meet on the refuge at the contact station, which is next to the lighthouse, to sign up for tours. All tour participants must wear special booties (provided) and be at least 44 inches tall.

Saturday and Sunday will free days at the lighthouse. A shuttle to the refuge will be available both days about a mile from the refuge in the heart of Kilauea Town, at 4244 Kilauea Road. Parking is also available on the refuge, except on Saturday, when all visitors will be required to take the shuttle.

For more information visit kilaueapoint.org.

Wednesday, May 1

• 10 a.m. — Official lighthouse re-opening ceremony at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge open to the public.

• 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Lighthouse tours take place every 30 minutes.

• 4 p.m. — Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge closes to the public.

• 6 p.m. — Evening slideshow at Princeville Library on the history of the Kilauea Lighthouse.

Thursday, May 2

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. —Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge open to the public

• 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Lighthouse tours take place every 30 minutes.

• 4 p.m. — Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge closes to the public.

• 6 to 7:30 p.m. — Meet and greet with artists displaying their work at the Kilauea Lighthouse Art Show Reception at the Kong Lung Center.

Friday, May 3

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge open to the public

• 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. — Lighthouse tours take place every 30 minutes.

• 4 p.m. — Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge closes to the public.

Saturday, May 4

Free day of entertainment and activities at the Kilauea Point Lighthouse

• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. — Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge open to the public

• 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Lighthouse tours take place every 30 minutes.

• 5 p.m. — Official Recognition and Renaming Ceremony at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. The Kilauea Point Lighthouse will be renamed the Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse, in honor of the late senator.

• 6:15 p.m. — Relighting of the lighthouse beacon.

Sunday, May 5

The grand finale to the festivities will be the Kilauea Community Parade and Party In The Park. The Kilauea Neighborhood Association will also kick off the 150th anniversary of Kilauea town. There will be another free day at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge open to the public.

• 10:30 a.m. — Parade in Kilauea. The Centennial Celebration in Kilauea Park will immediately follow.

• 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Lighthouse tours take place every 30 minutes.

• Chris D’Angelo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or lifestyle@thegardenisland.com.

© 2015 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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