Haunted H1 Highway
The beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. Looking around at its stunning white beaches, palm trees swaying in the breeze, and crystal blue waves, it’s easy to see why. But beauty aside, the island is also believed to be among the country’s most haunted. The H1 highway, the massive freeway cutting through the Koolau Mountains, is widely believed to be haunted. Since its construction, rumors of otherworldly spirits and haunted happenings have plagued the area. So if you find yourself driving down the H1 on your way to a nice, relaxing day at the beach, be sure to keep an eye out; you might come back with more than just a tan.
A 7 Year Journey
Speeding down H1 highway today, Hawaii’s busiest freeway, it’s difficult to imagine it being anything other than that – a highway. But legend has it that construction of the now-massive, roaring speedway disturbed the slumber of long-dead Hawaiian warriors. Similar to the Manoa Falls Trail, locals believe the spirits of these warriors still haunt the area.
The construction of the highway was a long and arduous one. In 1960, the Statehood Act authorized the initial roadwork to begin. The section of H1 running through Honolulu’s busy downtown opened in 1953 and was then known as the Mauka Arterial. This section was eventually added to the interstate system when Hawaii became a state in 1959. And since the 1950s, this particular stretch of the highway has remained largely unchanged. Suffering from too many off/on ramps, ramps too short in length, and on-ramps entering the highway almost immediately before an off-ramp, the opposite of what we’re used to on most highways, the Mauka Arterial was no doubt in need of an update.
However, Hawaii wouldn’t see this update until the 1980s. By then, the city’s population and economy had expanded so much that the need for a larger, more efficient highway could no longer be ignored. Construction of the new and improved stretch of H1 began in 1979, but would not be completed until 1986.
The day construction began was hot and humid, as most days are in Hawaii in summer. But the sweat dripping down construction workers’ brows wasn’t their only concern that day. Almost as soon as they began digging, their tools struck against something solid. They dug further around until they uncovered a human skull. They didn’t stop there. The workers continued digging until they had excavated a previously undisturbed mass grave of human bones. Panicked, several of the construction workers left the site, not wanting to catch any negative energy from unearthing someone’s final resting place. The city was notified, and the bones were removed from the site. The tools and the few constructions works still at the site remained. But by the next day, even the bravest of them would run for the Koolau Mountains.
Employees reporting to work at H1 Highway early the following morning were already feeling unsettled by the previous day’s discovery. As they arrived one by one, whispers of restless ghosts filled the air. Before the sun had risen, their worst fears were confirmed. At around 6:45 in the morning, the construction works reported hearing the distant yet unmistakable beat of war drums. Terrified, several of them dropped what they were doing immediately and fled the site. Those who remained continued working. But the beating of the drums was soon followed by a band of ancient warriors materializing in the hot morning air. As the ghostly figures grew ever closer, their drums grew louder and louder, until the few remaining workers were so petrified they ditched their equipment and made a break for it.
By the end of the day, the construction manager was left without a single worker. But the city had ordered a highway, and a highway they would get. A fresh batch of workers was swiftly hired, and construction resumed the same week. However, it wouldn’t be long before they too would run for the hills. By the end of the first day of work, the new batch of employees had all quit on the spot, refusing to work another day.
For over seven long years, this pattern persisted. With so many people refusing to work at the site, progress slowed to a crawl. Eventually, construction was completed and the H1 was opened in late 1986. But reports of unexplained events didn’t stop when construction did. Ever since its inception, the H1 has been known as one of the most haunted places in all of Hawaii.
Since the 1980s, drivers making their way through the busy interstate have reported paranormal activity on H1 Highway, from Kapolei to Pearl Harbor. Some reports detail a strange, uneasy feeling when speeding down the H1, and not just the kind when no one will let you over and your exit is fast approaching. Drivers have reported the uneasy feeling getting particularly strong when passing through one of the many tunnels running through the freeway. Once inside, some report hearing the strange, ghostly war cries of the ancient warriors. Others have reported spotting broken spearheads scattered along the side of the road, which strangely disappear the next time they drive by.
Honolulu tourists speeding through certain sections of the freeway in cabs have reported hearing the same strange, inexplicable sound of war drums. Confused, these passengers ask their driver, usually a Hawaiian local, where the sound is coming from. Most drivers have long since grown used to hearing the chilling beat of drums, and simply tell their frightened passengers not to worry, it’s just the ghosts of Hawaiian warriors forever awakened from sleep by the roaring of the highway.
While many locals have long since gotten accustomed to the sound, some residents refuse to use the highway altogether. They claim that the spirits of the dead are angered by the removal of their bones, and feel betrayed by Hawaiian natives using the highway that desecrated their graves. Many believe only bad luck can come from taking the highway, and that you’re better off sticking to feeder roads and backstreets any day.
Strange sounds aren’t the only haunted happenings to be reported along Highway H1. Drivers have also claimed to see the ghostly apparitions of not only ancient warriors but a whole host of undead. One group of travelers visiting the island of Oahu report a particularly strange story. The group was speeding down a busy section of the freeway when they spotted the figure of a woman standing by the side of the road. Though they only caught a glimpse, they could tell that her clothes were bloody and torn. They found this strange, along with the fact she was standing on the side of a busy freeway with cars roaring past at over 60 miles per hour. They continued on and soon forgot all about her. An hour later, as the group passed a more isolated stretch of road, they saw the woman again. This time, they pulled over.
When they asked the woman if she needed a ride, she readily agreed. She climbed into the backseat, and one of the passengers noticed that she failed to buckle her seat belt. They continued driving and asked the woman where she was going and where she was from. But when they asked her about her torn, bloody clothing, she got quiet. Just then, an 18-wheeler blared its horn as it nearly collided with their car, swerving out of the way just in time. Terrified, the driver pulled over to make sure everyone was ok. It was only after they had all calmed down did they notice their strange new passenger had mysteriously disappeared. Could she have been the ghost of a hitchhiker who died in a car accident, perhaps trying to prevent them from meeting the same fate? The driver remarked that whoever she was, he thinks of her whenever he gets into a car and always remembers to buckle his seatbelt.
Despite the freeway’s modern reputation as Hawaii’s busiest freeway, the haunted H1 highway is no doubt a favored path of the dead. The highway has no shortage of spooky stories, from ancient Hawaiian warriors to phantom hitchhikers. So if you find yourself driving down the freeway, be sure to listen for the beating of drums, and keep an eye out for any hitchhikers looking for a ride; they might just save your life.