Diamond Head


100,000 to 500,000 years ago: For a few days, a series of post-erosional eruptions on Oahu shot volcanic ashes and particles into the air. In a circle surrounding the volcano, the ashes solidified to create tuff, a type of rock, and formed the Diamond Head crater. The same series of eruptions produced Punchbowl and Koko Head Crater.

400-1778 — ancient Hawaii: The ancient Hawaiians called Diamond Head “Leahi,” or the “brow of the ahi,” as it resembled the dorselfins of the ahi (bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna). In Hawaiian mythology, Diamond Head provided a resting place to Pele, the fire goddess, and her sister, Hiiaka, while they looked for a home in Hawaii. Thus, going inside the crater was kapu (forbidden), and Hawaiians generally did not go there. However, they built five heiau (temples) at the crater’s base and close to the summit, including Papaenaena, the most sacred temple. A small lake inside the crater would form during the rainy season and dried up during drier times.

1400-1500: The Hawaiians created navigational fires on the crater’s rim, and they also served as offerings to the god of wind, Laamaomao.

1778: From their ships, British sailors and western traders thought the calcite crystal glimmering in the sunlight on Diamond Head were diamonds, hence the name “Diamond Head.”

1884: The Hawaiian government claimed ownership of Diamond Head.

1895: The four-day counter-revolution in Hawaii started at Diamond Head. The royalist tried to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne, but failed.

1906: The U.S. military bought 729 acres in and around Diamond Head and built Fort Ruger, the first American reservation in Hawaii. The military filled the crater’s lake, destroyed the heiau, and used their stones to construct buildings.

1908: The 0.8-mile trail from the crater floor to the summit of Diamond Head was built for Oahu’s coastal defense system and went up to 560 feet to the summit.

1917: Bunkers and a navigational lighthouse were built and still stand in the same area today. The Diamond Head Lighthouse is a fifty-five-foot tower that stands 147 feet above sea level. Its 1,000-watt incandescent light, enlarged by the 7,300 candlepower lens, can be seen eighteen nautical miles away.

1940s: The Kahala Tunnel was constructed through the east side of the crater wall. Currently, it provides the primary access into the crater. Previously, the Kapahulu tunnel provided the primary access and currently provides a back-up access.

1955: The Hawaii State Civil Defense obtained land at Diamond Head. Today, it is still there, broadcasting weather advisories to the people of Hawaii.

1962: Diamond Head received the designation of a state monument.

1968: Diamond Head received the designation of a national monument.

1974: The Hawaii State Legislature funded the planning and construction of public access.

Today: About 800,000 people per year, locals and tourists, hike on Diamond Head’s trail.

Suggested Search Terms: [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Diamond Head, Leahi, lighthouse

Articles from Chronicling America

“Geology of the Islands: An Interesting Article by Prof. Albert B. Lyons”
The Hawaiian gazette, January 16, 1894, Page 6

“An Ancient Landmark His Home: Peterson’s Little Cottage on the Slope of Diamond Head”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, December 19, 1894, Page 5

“Diamond Head Stormed: Cannonading Against the Rebels from Three Points”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, January 8, 1895, Page 2

“Were Held by the Enemy: Experiences of Prisoners Taken at Diamond Head”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, January 9, 1895, Page 2

“Diamond Head”
Austin’s Hawaiian weekly, July 29, 1899, Page 5

“A Sharp Quick Eruption: Diamond Head Piled Up in Half an Hour”
The Hawaiian star, March 28, 1901, Page 6

“Diamond Head Was Made in Less Than One Hour’s Time”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., July 15, 1901, Image 9

“Rev. Mr. Azbill Comes to Defence of Diamond Head”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., July 20, 1901, Page 5, Image 5

“New Diamond Head Roadway: A Delightful Locality Now Opened Up by the Thoroughfare”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, August 12, 1901, Image 3

“A Diamond Head Site: New Insane Asylum May Now Go There”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, July 30, 1903, Image 1

“The Reef at Diamond Head”
The Hawaiian star, May 1, 1905, SECOND EDITION, Page 4

“Diamond Head, a Rarely Visited Local Attraction”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, January 17, 1906, Page 5

“Diamond Head Charlie’s Work”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, January 29, 1906, Page 8, Image 8

“Bids Invited for Forts Here: Material Needed in Work at Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, August 20, 1907, Image 1

“Diamond Head Lookout Dies”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, September 28, 1907, Page 3

“Dirt Flies on Fort Site: Work at Diamond Head Is Now Well Under Way”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, September 7, 1907, Image 1

“Cannot Haul over Bad Road: Local Men Refuse to Bid on Transporting Material to Diamond Head”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, October 24, 1907, Image 1

“Heavy Fine If Caught: Five Thousand Dollars or Imprisonment for Those Who Trespass on Diamond Head”
The Hawaiian star, December 16, 1907, SECOND EDITION, Image 1

“Heavy Ordnace to Be Hauled to Diamond Head”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, May 10, 1908, Image 1

“One Hundred and Fifty Men for Diamond Head: Mounting of Great Mortar Battery on Crater Fortications More Than Half Finished”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, December 1, 1908, Image 1

“Diamond Head: Uncle Sam’s Great Volcano Fortress in the Pacific Ocean”
Hopkinsville Kentuckian, September 14, 1909, Page 3

“Papers Served; Talk Revived: Rumored How that the Army Wants Campbell Place at Diamond Head”
The Hawaiian gazette, March 31, 1911, Page 2

“Fort Ruger: The Grim vs. the Picturesque”
Honolulu star-bulletin, June 7, 1913, 3:30 Edition, Page 17

“Guns in a Crater: Diamond Head, Uncle Sam’s Lava Fortress in Hawaii”
The Hartford republican, October 10, 1913, Image 2


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