July 24, 1907


Honolulu Letter.


Hilo, H. I., July 24.--


I have been to the Infernal Regions and back. That is I have been about as close to them as I care to go. I might say in this connection that it is one of the most beautiful and interesting trips I ever expect to take. The little inter-island steamer, Kinau, is not such a boat as I would choose to ride were I in the least adicted [sic] to sea sickness, but as I am never troubled with mal de mere [sic] I enjoyed every minute of it, even when the waves from the storm tossed sea were encrusting the top of the smokestacks with salt.

The coast of the island of Hawaii, largest of the group, and the one on which is located the volcano, is a precipitous bluff, rising more than a thousand feet sheer from the sea. Over this cliff tumble hundreds of wondrously beautiful waterfalls, some of them reaching clear to the ocean, but most of them shimmering away to mist before they touch the water below.

Rounding into the harbor of Hilo the steamer stopped in water so clear that we could see the fish on the bottom 120 feet below. We had to make our landing in small boats and lighter, as the steamer could not get close to the shore, and this was the only part of the voyage that was at all dangerous. Once on shore the charm of Honolulu was fortoggen in the greater charm of Hilo. The little village nestles so closely in the dense tropical foliage of vine and palm that it can scarcely be seen. It is just such a place as one could lie in and dream his life away with never an effort at support. Fruit of all sorts and flavors abound and is to be had for the taking. I entered a little store and wanted to buy some bananas and was looked upon with suspicion by the proprietor who asked why I did not pick them from the trees if I wanted them.

But it is of the volcano that I started to write. The trouble with this country is that there is so much to tell about that one's pen goes wandering off into all kinds of tangents. We went to the volcano in a stage driven by an old time California stage driver, and he regaled us for the entire thirty miles with tales of early California state driving days. When we reached the Volcano House it was dark and except for the glow from the pit of the crater two miles away we could not tell that anything unusual was around us, except for the fact that the gound was in a constant tremble. But when morning came and I looked out of my window, I felt that I must be mighty close to the jumping off place, for in every direction little jets of steam were coming from the ground while in the distance rose the smoke of the volcano.

Near the hotel were a lot of little houses, and if one wanted a hot sulphur bath all he had to do was to go into one of them and Nature would do the rest. He got it fresh from the lower regions. A party of us tramped across the lava beds to the mouth of the crater, and it was considerably hotter under foot than over head. The ground in some places was so hot we had to walk fast in order to keep from getting scorched. In one place the guide took us down into a hole in the lava and it was so hot that we had to keep moving to prevent the heat from taking off the soles of our shoes.

The volcano was not active at the time of our visit, consequently we not only went to the edge of the crater but went down inside a short distance. There we could see the lake of fire, boiling and bubbling, all the world like pictures in Dante's Inferno. Pieces of wood thrown down into the pit would catch fire and blaze up, while the awful cauldron continually boiled and emitted jets of sulphurous steam. Some idea of what this volcano is may be obtained when I tell you that its crater is a mile across, and the old crater, which is filled with molten lava when it is in activity, is four miles across.

Back at the hotel we listened to stories of people who had lived there when the volcano was spouting fire, and sending streams of lava down to the sea. We saw strands of hair from the goddess Pele-- a peculiar hair like substance which forms near the mouth of the crater, and heard of the strange rites of natives who throw cherished things into the volcano to propitiate the goddess, notwithstanding the fact that they were supposed to be good Christians. We inscribed our names in the register, added our mite of sentiment to the gems of thought which had been inscribed by the thousands who had preceded us, and are now back at Hilo enjoying a most delightful time under the shade of a bamboo tree.

C. E. E.


Source:  Crittenden Record-Press. (Marion, Ky.) 1907-1918, November 28, 1907, Image 8 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.


[My comments are in brackets.]