Elements taking a toll on Mala Wharf in Lahaina
Mala Wharf shows its age in these photos taken last week. The steel-reinforced concrete structure was completed in 1922 at a spot locals warned would be less than ideal due to waves and strong currents. According to a story in The Maui News, the interisland steamer Onomea was the first ship to tie up alongside Mala Wharf, arriving on Feb. 22, 1922, to load and transport the equipment used in its construction. A Maui News story dated April 7, 1922, describes the luncheon and speechmaking held at the wharf after passengers on the interisland steamer Mauna Kea became the first to ever step from steamer to shore on Maui.
SECOND PHOTO: The dire predictions proved true not long after the wharf opened, however, with steamer captains unable to safely dock due to ocean conditions. Smaller boats ended up using the wharf as well as shuttle craft carrying passengers and goods. It was reportedly a busy place during World War II. The wharf was already is disrepair on Sept. 11, 1992, when giant waves spawned by Hurricane Iniki collapsed its end.
THIRD PHOTO: The toppled pilings and slabs have became an artificial reef and dive spot, while the rest that remains standing slowly succumbs to the elements.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos