Alex Bell & Rally Greenwell – 1944
By Dr. Billy Bergin
You are reading Part 2 of a 4-part story series. Read Part 1 here.
Richard Penhallow, upon succeeding the stoic Hartwell Carter as manager, took a very different direction, wanting to “open the gates of the ranch.” His plan was to let the public in an organized manner, enjoy the beauty, splendor, and natural resources of the ranch through tourism and engagement of interest groups encouraged to come to Waimea. The great bird hunting community of the Islands and mainland quickly organized successful field trials, and Pukalani Stables, albeit a stallion station, became the headquarters for the Parker Ranch Riding Stables with Leroy Lindsey as head trail guide.
The office for the riding stables was a small 12X24 foot single man’s cottage moved from the main highway adjacent to Church Row in which apprentice saddle maker Patrick Kauwe lived. It was moved to the present junction where Pukalani Road meets the Breaking Pen and Blacksmith shop turn-offs.
Jesse Hoopai and his family occupied the serially expanded house that once housed his parents Kimo and Lehua Hoopai and Jesse’s older brother Shane. Louis Akuna and his wife Pat as well as Joey and Pier Schutte and much later Gary Rapozo and his wife Darellyn also resided in the cottage. All lived in this house that at one time served briefly as the riding stable office. By 2020 the cottage became the home of Tyler Cox, La‘akea Bertelmann and their two sons Cade and Hagen.
Leroy Lindsey served as an affable trail guide, readily charming the malihini (visitors), especially the ladies. Aged and gentle cow horses were the trail horses and the rides varied from two to four hours depending on the rate. As it is today, the Pukalani area offered a lot to see with the busy Breaking Pen to the north and Pu‘uhihale Corral to the south. On a lucky day, riders could enjoy close-up observations of nearby cattle movements. On very special occasions, brandings might be taking place at Pu‘uhihale Corral for visitors to observe as many as 500 or more head being processed.
Despite the birth of the Gold Coast’s hotel array with Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, the Parker Ranch Riding Stable venture failed to become a viable business and the program was scrapped when Rally Greenwell succeeded Penhallow at the ranch helm in 1962. Mauna Kea Beach hotel provided the service exclusively for its guests at the Carter Stables immediately behind the sprawling manager’s home that became the summer lodge for Laurance Rockefeller who financed the construction of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. Hans Weiss, an earnest Austrian baker, left the hotel kitchen to become the trail guide. In the mid-1980s, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel moved the riding stables back to the former Surgery Barn area that was operated by Frank Loney.
When I began my professional relationship with Parker Ranch in July 1970, Pukalani housed only four stallions in the “off season” as pasture breeding became the mode of choice for producing future cow horses. The spare stalls were used for injured or sick horses under my care until the surgery barn was completed.
In 1972, the Rubel and Lent team assumed ranch management. Livestock manager Walter Slater immediately established the orphan calf program and Pukalani Stable became the home for between twenty to thirty dogey calves. Fred Stevens did a good job as caretaker of these calves as well as maintained the grounds in a respectable manner.
As plans again surfaced for developing a stake in the visitor industry, the ranch built a standalone orphan calf barn directly across Pukalani Road to the west. Pukalani Stables was again made available to the visitor industry when ranch owner Richard Smart, formed the Parker Ranch Visitor Center (PRVC).
In the summer of 1988, Smart announced that the visitor center would expand the museum and historic presentation at the Parker Ranch Shopping Center. A van tour program was launched opening the ranch doors to the public.
The expansion included two options—a shorter continuous running version with visits to the historic homes at Pu‘uōpelu and Pukalani Stables and a more comprehensive three-hour version that included lunch and visit to observe cowboys in action working cattle in addition to the museum experience. The longer tour offered on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings was coordinated by Jack Baird, a kama‘āina tour executive who gave the public an opportunity to learn more about the ranch’s history, culture, people and operations.
Pukalani Stables was renovated to allow public access to view various ranch exhibits artisan/crafting demonstrations and visits with retired ranch cowboys. While prices were reasonably ranged between ten to forty dollars per person, the project collapsed having no coordinative support from the tourist industry.
In the last few years before the Richard Smart’s death, there was a gradual decline in maintenance of some of the ranch facilities and Pukalani Stables fell into disrepair mainly from lack of use. Fortunately, the adjacent lū‘au house (later renamed Hale ‘Āina by Paniolo Preservation Society) was used for employee and community gatherings which kept the premises status quo.
In early 1990, two commercial ventures used the south wing of the stables. First, the developers of Holoholokū Cottages used the existing visitor center display fixture as photographic narrative advertisements for the planned subdivision. Later, Taikobo, a Japanese tourist venture used the south wing as a stop-over site for ranch visits.
Behind the actual stables, Cowboys of Hawai‘i, a Maui-based horseback venture leased the entire surgery barn area that for a brief period included ATV rentals. The venture eventually folded for inactivity.
By early 2010, Paniolo Preservation Society was in dire need of a headquarters to accommodate the burgeoning ephemeral and artifactual collections. It was Brandi Beaudet, then head of the ranch’s commercial properties who convinced PPS to consider Pukalani Stables as a permanent home. PPS began negotiations with the ranch to lease the south wing of Pukalani Stables to house its archival collections and displays, and engaged the services of Dr. Tom Woods of Making a Sense of Place who developed an impressive planning document along with conceptual renderings by local architect, Rhoady Lee.
Parker Ranch stepped forward with a generous offer giving PPS an opportunity to utilize the entire barn including Hale ‘Āina and the adjacent north stallion pens. In April 2011, PPS executed a five-year lease that rendered two products: a permanent home for PPS and its archives, artifacts and photographic collects, perpetual stewardship of a horse barn that is the cornerstone of Hawai‘i’s horse industry as well as the enduring symbol of paniolo heritage.
Stay tuned for Part 3, coming in April, 2022!