Kapoho Town – Kapoho Village

Kapoho was a town in the Puna District on the Big Island of Hawai’i located near the easternmost tip of the island adjacent to Cape Kumukahi. The Kapoho area lies 8 miles east from the town of Pahoa on the eastern slopes of Kīlauea Volcano’s east rift zone. Kapoho was a farming town that included stores, a church, school, a small resort and several residential homes.

On January 12, 1960 residents of Kapoho experienced over 1000 small earthquakes shaking the area. Large ground cracks formed in the town. The eruption began on the night of the 13th, spilling lava out in the middle of a sugar cane field near Kapoho. Although the main flow of lava flowed into the ocean, a slow-moving offshoot crept towards the town of Kapoho. Despite frantic efforts to divert the flow with earthen barricades and attempts to harden it by spraying water on the flow, on January 28 the lava flow entered and buried the town. Nearly 100 homes and businesses as well as a hot spring resort were destroyed. The Cape Kumukahi Light (lighthouse) east of Kapoho was spared and continued operation, although the keeper’s dwellings were destroyed.

1960 Kapoho eruption

There has been no lava activity in Kapoho now for over 50 years. While the original town is gone, the name Kapoho remains associated with the area. Today, the natural tide pools, black sand beach, warm hot springs, and untouched secludedness make Kapoho an attractive spot to live and/or visit.

More on the 1960 Kapoho Eruption of Kilauea Volcano at USGS.

1960 Eruption Video

“In 1960, ground cracks opened up in Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii, followed by a fissure eruption. Residents had superb views of lava rivers and fountains. Unfortunately, the lava began to slowly head towards the town of Kapoho, destroying papaya fields along the way. Homeowners had plenty of time to evacuate, but eventually the stores and homes were burned and then covered by the lava. Video includes the photographer rescuing his car from an advancing aa flow, the Kapoho schoolhouse burning, and the formation of black sand as lava enters the sea. Professional photographer Fred Rackle filmed the eruption with a B&H movie camera and a tripod. Decades later, he donated a narrated SVHS copy to CSAV, with permission to distribute. Now, 50 years after the eruption, we are pleased to honor Rackle by sharing this astonishing video with the world. Visit our new Fred Rackle web page, to learn details of this photographer’s life and adventures.”

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