Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Royal Navy Mapped 1825 Malden Trail On University of Hawaii West Oahu Campus

Royal Navy Mapped 1825 Malden Trail On University of Hawaii West Oahu Campus

By John Bond

The 1825 Malden Trails would be a really great visitor attraction with likely state and federal 
funding, as well as serve as a walking and bicycle path across the Ewa Plain from Fort Weaver 
Road to the campus of UH West Oahu and then on through Kapolei and the Leeward coast. It 
would be an historic, cultural and environmental preservation win-win for everyone...but right 
now they are on the verge of being bulldozed unless action isn't taken immediately!

The 1825 Malden Trails, mapped during an expedition of the British Royal Navy HMS Blonde to Oahu, showed the trail connections between various locations of native Hawaiian communities at the time of early Western contact.

Two routes of the trail run by the UH West Oahu campus which is located on former Ewa Sugar Plantation on the Ewa Plain. The plantation maintained a detailed sugar cane field map for many decades and fortunately most of the agricultural cane fields can still be seen from the air, especially using a GIS software tool like Google Earth.

Plotting the trail route was a matter of reviewing many older USGS maps and air photos taken by the US military that reveal where the oldest roads appeared. In reviewing the history of trails in the continental US, in most cases early trails were made by Indians migrating from place to place.

When Western settlers arrived trail scouts showed them the Indian trails to follow. Originally with ox drawn wagons, trails were improved for carriages, early automobiles, then becoming improved roads, etc.  

On the Ewa Plain there was one single land owner, James Campbell, who leased out the ancient coral reef plain to the Ewa Plantation Company. The plantation cane haul roads and railway network largely followed existing trail ways made by native Hawaiians. 

By overlaying the 1825 Malden Trails map, which was not made with the benefit of air photos or Google Earth, the best fit is made where the oldest main roads and plantation cane haul tracks appeared as the plantation expanded. They often ran side by side.

While not perfect, the 1825 Malden Trails shown below in a modern geographic context are the most likely ancient routes that could still be preserved as the traditional native Hawaiian rights of way under the Na Hele trail program. This should be done before it is too late. 


The Honolulu City Council in 2012 passed a resolution to preserve the trails, but nothing was ever followed up. Land developers continue to bulldoze everything without any regard for cultural history and State law protecting these very important native Hawaiian trails.

Despite Hawaii State Law, Ancient Historic Ewa Plain Trails Being Destroyed By HART Rail Land Developers


Above, the UH West Oahu campus with Ewa Plantation field numbers for reference.

The western trail ran from the village of Honouliuli to Kahe Point. A mauka trail branched off to Palehua. Over time trail roads were somewhat straightened out for cane railway and cane trucks.

The 1825 Malden Trails as overlaid on a 1939 Ewa Plantation field map.

UH West Oahu campus in relation to Ewa Sugar Plantation with main road and rail routes

Ewa Plantation and villages as seen from Makakilo. On the right side is MCAS Ewa Field

The Ewa Plantation maintained their own railway. The original Ewa hospital 
location is believed to be where the 1825 Malden Trails branched off to the 
makai shoreline communities of  Kualaka'i and One'ula. 

Ewa Plantation with some modern developments around the remaining agriculture fields. 

Another view of the 1825 Malden Trails with still remaining Ewa Plantation sugar fields.

The overall view of the 1825 mapped native Hawaiian trails on the entire Ewa Plain.

Area circled in red is the HART Rail Area of Potential Effect (APE).

HART Rail And The State of Hawaii Should Preserve the Historic Trails of the Ewa Plain

The Governor of Hawaii, The Hawaii State Legislature, The Mayor of Honolulu and the Honolulu City Council should absolutely and unequivocally follow state law and preserve the ancient historic native Hawaiian trails of the Ewa Plain as originally identified in the British Royal Navy surveyed map of Oahu published in 1825. A City Council resolution passed in 2012 urged the same initiative.

Honouliuli Ewa Plain Pueos

The Disappearing Sacred Guardians Of Native Lands On The Ewa Plain

The HMS Blonde played an important role in early Hawaiian history, see link:

Honolulu City Council RESOLUTION 12-172, CD1 (2012) passed unanimously: