The Stairway to Heaven on Haiku

Thousands of lives, millions of dollars’ worth of equipment hinged on the audacity of Bill Adams and Louis Otto.

Beginning in 1942, contractors for the U.S. Navy began construction of the Haiku Radio Station, a top secret facility that was to be used to transmit radio signals to the Navy ships that were then operating throughout the Pacific.


by David O. Woodbury

When I visited the U.S. Navy’s radio installation on Haiku Volcano in Hawaii, I was alarmed – and mystified. The Navy people hauled me in a sort of bosun’s chair 2000 feet straight up the sheer side of the mountain to the place where one end of a giant radio antenna was anchored. How, I wondered dizzily, could men ever have got up here to do the necessary work? When the Navy brought me down to earth again I found out.

The story started after the victorious Battle of Midway in the summer of 1942. The whole pacific was opening up, Vast, perhaps conquerable. The Navy commander in chef at Pearl Harbor had to maintain radio contact with every naval command, even be able to “speak” to an American submarine on the bottom of Tokyo Bay, 4500 miles away.

To see more of the story (click here)

Originally published in 1950, in the Denver Post

Stairway_to_Heaven - Copy

The Haiku Stairs, a.k.a. Haiku Ladder, Pali Ladder, and Stairway to Heaven, is a series of galvanized-steel ship ladders from valley floor to the top of Puu Keahiakahoe. At an altitude of more than 2,800 feet, the top of the Stairs is some 2,200 feet above the main building of the now decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard OMEGA Station and about 2,300 feet above the bottom step. – Haʻikū is a Hawaiian word meaning Kahili flower and has no connection to the Japanese word for a poetry genre.

The ladders are 18 inches wide and altogether about 4,000 feet long. The average slope is about 30 degrees, despite its reputation of being “nearly straight up.” Of course there are some sections that are quite steep, but others much less so. Each section of the ladder contains seven steps, and the sections are numbered consecutively to the top. There are other steps apart from the ladders themselves, however, which complicates the counting. Various counts have been made, but the most widely accepted is 3,922—the number on the Friends of Haʻikū Stairs T-shirts.

 Today the stairs are closed to the public, for more information visit the Friends of Ha’iku Stairs web site (click here)