Walter Murray Gibson, an adventurer from the southern United States, settled at the Palawai Basin on Lanai in 1862. He was a representative from the church of the Latter Day Saints and was tasked to develop a Mormon colony for Native Hawaiians in the area. But, after a few years, he lost interest and used the church's money to buy some land properties to start his interest in ranching.
One of the properties he bought was an area called Koele. Koele got its name from the ancient Hawaiian word, ko'ele, which literally means a small land, cultivated and farmed for the sustenance of a village chief. Figuratively, Koele describes the dark rainy clouds, drawn down across Koele from Kaiholena Valley and the slopes of Lanaihale (Lanai's highest peak) that lie above.
A great ranch complex sprang from Koele and scattered around Lanai, which has a perfect climate for raising livestock. Some 45,000 - 50,000 sheep and lambs, 600 horses, 500 horned cattle, goats and hogs and numerous wild turkeys inhabited the island in 1893. Koele evolved from a small village to a 250-people ranch complex, which had 30 residences, a local store, a one-room school house, offices and outlying buildings. Everything was focused on ranching.
By 1950, the pineapple industry on Lanai flourished. The livelihood in Koele changed from ranching to farming. At present, Koele is a prime tourist destination. One of the most popular places to stay in Koele is the Four Seasons Lodge, which is a luxury hotel that offers guests activities like horseback riding, golf and other outdoor activities.
- Location of former ranch complex
- Today, the luxurious Four Seasons Lodge at Koele is located here
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