The small community of Puuanahulu is located at Kona’s northern edge near the furrowed cinder cone called Puuwaawaa. (Some Kona residents refer to it as Plum Pudding, Pumpkin, Cupcake or Jello-mold Hill because of its distinctive shape.) Puuanahulu sprang to life in the 1890s when the Hawaiian government provided homestead lands in the area to small farmers and ranchers. Among those who took advantage of this opportunity were Eben Parker Low and Robert Hind, who started raising sheep and cattle at what would become Puuwaawaa Ranch. Until then, the region had been sparsely populated by families raising dryland crops.
Puuwaawaa Ranch included pastures and lava fields that stretched from Hualalai’s forested slopes to Kiholo Bay. Ranching in this terrain challenged the ingenuity and endurance of both man and beast. Building fences and stone walls over the jagged lava was a back-breaking job, and, with earthquakes, destructive wild pigs, and goats, frequent repairs were necessary. Collecting enough rainwater in tanks and reservoirs to keep horses and cattle alive was a constant worry. Branding herds of thousands of cattle required the help of many hands. Two-day cattle drives to Kiholo Bay with half-wild cattle kept men and horses on their toes. No wonder the people of Puuanahulu were known to be expert horsemen and skilled ropers.
Puuanahulu’s cluster of small homes is a reminder of the days when ranching was the backbone of Kona’s agricultural economy. The little Protestant church was built in 1918 by the Reverend Albert S. Baker to serve the growing number of residents. For many years the town had its own elementary school, which closed in 1964.
For many reasons, ranching at Puuwaawaa Ranch is no longer economically feasible. Puuanahulu’s dramatic bluff has been subdivided for private residences and a new golf course, which was changed the rural atmosphere.
Copyright 1998 Kona Historical Society. Reprinted by permission.