John W. Hilton 1904 - 1983

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Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery | 1785 Coast Highway One, PO Box 325 Bodega Bay, CA 94923
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"Nascent Lava" 1968
Halemaumau Crater, Kilauea, Volcano National Park
Oil on board, 20 x 34

John W Hilton Nascent Lava Valcano National Park Kiluaea Big Island Hawaii 1968

Photo of Halemaumau June 2007
Distant View of Halemaumau Crater, June 2007, a much calmer scene.

Kilauea's Halemaumau Crater erupted for one hundred years between 1823 and 1924. Since then, its most active eruption took place in 1967, and John W. Hilton was there.

In the mid 1860's, about forty years after the hundred year eruption began, Mark Twain came to the Sandwich Islands, "the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean." Of his experiences at Kilauea, in his famed Letters from Hawaii, he quipped, "The smell of sulfur is strong, but not unpleasant to a sinner."

Around 1900, forty some years after Mark Twain's visit, Jules Tavernier, David Howard Hitchcock and Harry Cassie Best all visited and painted the erupting Kilauea. Tavernier's and Hitchcock's paintings hang in the Volcano House on Kilauea's rim, and a photo of Harry Cassie Best's painting resides in the Jaggar Museum at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory located on Crater Rim Drive.

Halemaumau Crater Plaque
This photo is of a plaque near Halemaumau Crater.

Halemaumau's hundred year eruption ended about the time John W. Hilton celebrated his twentieth birthday. John's experience with Pele would have to wait.

Early in his adult life, John had a keen interest in gems and jewelry, and he grew to to know much of geology as he explored the deserts east of San Diego. In the early 1940's, his geological experience lead him to mine the California desert for calcite, a crystal used in gun sights during WWII.

Long after the war, John. now well into his 60's. still held his passion for geology and he had an opportunity to visit Pele in all her erupting glory. Like artists and writers who visited Pele before him, John expressed his impressions with his art.

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Read more ... Kilauea's Halemaumau Crater
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