The Lava Flow That Came to Hilo: Mauna Loa 1880–1881

January 12, 2016 @ 5:00 am – 6:30 am
Lyman Museusm
276 Haili St
Hilo, HI 96720
Free to Lyman Museum members; $3 nonmembers.

Sketch by Joseph Nawahi and courtesy of National Park Service, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park; HAVO 394 Volcano House Visitor Records, 1873-1885; p. 356. (More information available at National Park web site


In the past 160 years, five volcanic eruptions have sent lava flows to within ten miles of Hilo Bay.  The flow from the 1880-1881 Mauna Loa eruption came the closest, posing an immediate threat to Hilo and its beautiful bay.  During the eruption, Princess Regent Lili`uokalani and Princess Ruth Ke`elikōlani came to Hawai`i Island and led the efforts to save Hilo town.  As residents offered both Christian prayers and appeals to Pele, preparations were also made to dig ditches, construct rock barriers, and blast dynamite in attempts to divert the advancing lava streams.  After more than nine worrisome months the flow stopped—less than a mile from the bayfront.  Tonight Jim Kauahikaua and Ben Gaddis, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist and volunteer photo archivist, respectively, tell the fascinating story of this Mauna Loa eruption using maps, art, and photographs of the lava flow that came to Hilo.


Free to Lyman Museum members; $3 nonmembers.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for evening public programs.

Limited seating; first come, first seated.  Additional parking next door at Hilo Union School. 

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