West Side Caves

Sunday July 22, 2012

Hike # 49


In early July there was a brush fire that burned off just about all the vegetation on the flats of Keawa`ula and the slopes going up to the Air Force tracking station.  We knew there were some historical sites there and decided to take advantage of the burn to see what could be seen.  This is the story.

Here is a Google Earth photo taken before the burn to give you an idea of what once was growing there.

This is a panorama taken from the back wall of the "thick walled enclosure" looking makai, (toward the ocean).  Use your scroll arrows to see it all.  Not sure who built this.  Seem to remember reading once about a goat ranch around here and there is this "water trough" here.

Behind the above enclosure  is the entrance to the cave.  A few million years ago when the sea was higher this area was under water and a relatively flat reef was built.  When the sea level dropped, fresh water began do dissolve the limestone reef forming caves.  Inside the cave are some petroglyphs and some graffiti.  There is also a small fresh water pool that the ancient Hawaiians used as a water source.  Later people living here also tapped the water.  There was evidence of pipes that perhaps once brought water up to the trough.

Sorry none of my photos of the petroglyphs came out useable.  This "junk" picture is of the fresh water pool.  There is a better view of it in the video that follows at the end.  There were many side caves or passages off the main one, but most were two small for a human to enter.  I wonder if there are bigger "rooms" beyond the tiny passages.

This is also a panorama.  One hundred and thirteen years ago, almost to the date, someone climbed into this cave and into one of the side "room" and painted the date on the overhead.  He must have worked for the Oahu Railroad and Land Company as below the date he wrote "O. R. L. Co.".  Can you imagine him there  on his pack w/perhaps a kerosene lantern a can of paint and a brush doing this in almost total darkness?

After leaving the cave we headed toward Kaena Point through the burn.  We found another walled structure, as seen in the video.  Much longer that the first, but the wall was not as high or as massive.  Farther on there were signs of even older walls that must have been taken apart to create "newer" walls.  Here you ca see a couple or rocks that would have been the outer walls but every thing between is missing.

This large pohaku (rock) was interesting as it seem to once have had a little wall built around it.

More evidence of an old wall that was "harvested" for rock.  I you look hard through the brush you can just about make out how the wall once continued on.

There was a spur rail road line off the main line that ran along the coast to Kahuku to haul sugar.  The spur was used by the town of Wai`anae to dump garbage.  From what was laying all around for a few acres it looked like is was mainly a dump for bottles.


When we reached the end of the paved road we followed it back to the bathroom parking lot where we left my truck.  Along the way there is a small area fenced in w/what looks like a water pump in a depression.  I wonder if once this was a cave like the one we went into and there was a fresh water source there.   The electric boxes seem to be painted Board of Water Supply green.  The second photo is the pump.  I don't think it's still in use today.


Here is a Google Earth photo of the left or north end of Keawa`ula valley.

This is the right end.

After leaving Keawa`ula we stopped on the way at the Kaneana cave.  You can see the inside at the end of the VIDEO I took of todays adventure.


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