VAC and Martha Hoverson present “Peter Lee and the Road Ahead”

  • Courtesy of HAWAIIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY A horse-drawn carriage carries passengers along the carriage road from Punaluu.

  • Courtesy of HAWAII STATE ARCHIVES Peter Lee at the Volcano House front desk.

If you have ever looked closely at a topographic map of the Ka‘u District, you might have noticed a pair of dashed lines identified as “Peter Lee Road.”

Built in 1888 and running roughly parallel to today’s Highway 11, this carriage road was mainly intended to transport people from Pahala to the new Volcano House Hotel perched on the rim of Kilauea Caldera. Intrepid travelers would first arrive at the Punaluu boat ramp landing and ride a plantation train to Pahala before starting up the carriage road.


Martha Hoverson, retired librarian and a volunteer for the Cultural Resources Management Division of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, has researched the road’s history and the man who built it. She will present “Peter Lee and the Road Ahead” at 7 p.m. today (Aug. 8) at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village.

In her talk, Hoverson will discuss the role Peter Lee, an immigrant from Norway who owned a hotel in Punaluu, played in the early development of tourism in Hawaii. Lee served as a hugely popular manager of the Volcano House Hotel from 1891-98, and later opened his own hotel, the Crater Hotel, in Volcano. It was located near the Volcano School of Arts and Sciences campus on Old Volcano Road.

This presentation will provide a glimpse of the Volcano area during a pivotal time in Hawaii’s history.

This event is free, although a $5 donation to Volcano Art Center is greatly appreciated.

This evening is part of a once-a-month Thursday night series at Volcano Art Center focusing on art, Hawaiian culture and the environment. The series is intended to inspire and enhance the appreciation of art and life experience, while fostering community connections.

A tour of Ka‘u’s Kapapala Ranch on Saturday, Aug. 24, hosted by the Volcano Community Foundation will give participants a chance to experience parts of Peter Lee Road first-hand and learn more about the rich history of the ranch and the road.

That program, set to begin at 9:30 a.m., will conclude with a catered gourmet lunch and an optional walk on a portion of the road.

Fee for the tour and lunch is $50. Advance registration is required; limited space is available.

To reserve a space, email or call 895-1011. A sign-up sheet will also be available during today’s presentation.

Registration confirmation and additional program information will be emailed to those attending prior to the tour.


Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus is located at 19-4074 Old Volcano Road.

For more information, call VAC at 967-8222 or visit

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