Hawaiʻiʻs Scenic Roads: Paving the Way for Tourism in the Islands
Dawn E. Duensing
Hardcover, 328 pp.
Hawai‘i's Scenic Roads examines a century of overland transportation from the Kingdom's first constitutional government until World War II, discovering how roads in the world's most isolated archipelago rivaled those on the U.S. mainland. Building Hawai‘i's roads was no easy feat, as engineers confronted a unique combination of circumstances: extreme isolation, mountainous topography, torrential rains, deserts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and on Haleakalā, freezing temperatures. \n \nBy investigating the politics and social processes that facilitated road projects, this study explains that foreign settlers wanted roads to "civilize" the Hawaiians and promote western economic development, specifically agriculture. Once sugar became the dominant driver in the economy, civic and political leaders turned their attention to constructing scenic roads. Viewed as "commercial enterprises," scenic byways became an essential factor in establishing tourism as Hawai‘i's "third crop" after sugar and pineapple. These thoroughfares also served as playgrounds for the islands' elite residents and wealthy visitors who could afford the luxury of carriage driving, and after 1900, motorcars.
The core of this book is the intriguing tales of road projects that established the islands' most renowned scenic drives, including the Pali Highway, byways around Kīlauea Volcano, Haleakalā Highway, and the Hāna Belt Road. The author's unique approach provides a fascinating perspective for understanding Hawai‘i's social dynamics, as well as its political, environmental, and economic history.