Hawaii April 05, 2018
Most People Have Long Forgotten About This Vacant Ghost Town In Rural Hawaii
There is something strangely beautiful about man-made structures being taken back by the land – and Hawaii definitely has its fair share of abandoned places and artifacts. When people move on and industry crumbles, the remains are often abandoned amid the landscape. One such place is the little-known ghost town of Keomoku. Located on the small Hawaiian Island of Lanai, the story of Keomoku is not only fascinating but truly heartbreaking as well.
Located on the eastern shore of Lanai, Keomoku was a sleepy fishing village until the late 1800s, when the Maunalei Sugar Company came to town, turning this quaint little village into a bustling sugar plantation town. In its heyday, the town was home to approximately 2,000 residents and was the first non-Hawaiian settlement on Lanai.
Approximately 500 workers were brought here to work in the fields. Additional housing structures, a pier, hospital, various stores, and a railroad were constructed to accommodate the sugar
However, it didn’t last long, and in 1900, the plague that began in Honolulu hit the village. Many workers died, and when the freshwater sources used to irrigate the fields turned brackish, the Maunalei Sugar Company was forced to shut down its operations in 1901.
Local legend has it, however, that when the Maunalei Sugar Company built their railroad, they damaged the sacred stones of a nearby heiau, angering the gods and causing the water issues and epidemic that wiped out the population.
Laborers left the village in droves, and at one point, the island’s population dwindled to approximately 125 residents. It took the island 20 years to recover, and in the 1920s, Lanai City began to grow as the Dole Plantation brought workers to the area. By the 1930s, Keomoku was largely forgotten.
Today, Keomoku lies abandoned and is often referred to as one of Hawaii’s only ghost towns. There is little evidence that this spot was once the site of a town, and you will find only a few structures still standing, including a few old wooden houses, and the original structure of the Ka Lanakila o Ka Malamalama Church. You might also find an old locomotive and a few train tracks.
This abandoned town is only accessible in a 4WD vehicle via a long dirt road (Keomoku Road or Route 430) and is rarely visited by tourists.
For a trip back in time to a different era of Hawaiian history, visit Keomoku, where you will find a few abandoned structures, sweeping panoramic views, and plenty of history.
Have you ever heard of Keomoku Village? If you’re interested in Hawaii’s plantation history, you’ll love reading about
this abandoned sugar mill on Kauai, as well as these 10 historic plantation towns.