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Panorama Volcano Kilauea - Expo Chicago 1893

Panorama Volcano Kilauea at the Exhibition Expo Chicago 1893

The volcano of Kilauea, that great one of the Hawaiian Islands, is shown in a cyclorama west of the Algerian Village. It is an immense painting, depicting the weird sublimity of the “Inferno of the Pacific.” Over the entrance portal of the building stands the figure of the goddess of fire of Hawaii, Pele. The building which houses this panorama is polygonal in shape, one hundred and forty feet in diameter and sixty feet high. Around its walls hangs a canvas fifty-four feet high and four hundred and twelve feet long, upon whose surface the artist has depicted this world’s greatest volcano. The actual crater is a huge depression or pit about three miles long and two broad. The walls are mostly precipitous though quite irregular, and the floor is some three hundred feet below the surface of the island at that point. In the reproduction, the point of view selected for the visitor is the centre of the crater. Io this point he is transported for the time being, and upward and around him he gazes upon bubbling and seething pools and lakes of fire, toppling masses of rocks and outpourings of lava. Fathomless pits yawn below him, huge puffs of smoke arise from the earth, and from innumerable rents and fissures in the ragged edges of the crater fierce flames and sulphurous gases escape.' intermingled with the long glassy thread which the natives call “ Pele’s Hair,” after the dread goddess of the crater. At one point he beholds an inky lake of molten lava slowly pulsing and throbbing, through whose waves burst forth jets of many-colored flame. Beyond this he looks down into a perfect sea of fire, and the sight is absolutely indescribable. Of all this the cyclorama gives a vivid representation, with its built-up foreground, which blends imperceptibly into the painting on the canvas, aided by skilful pyrotechnic displays, colored electric light and other mechanical means. Thus one has in miniature every feature of this grand crater, whose circumference is more than nine miles. It is the only volcano whose terrific fires never die out and which is ceaseless in its awful activity. In the background one sees the snow-capped peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Ivea, each of which is about 15.000 feet high. Opposite them is the mighty Pacific, its waves lighted by a full moon, and its surface glittering like silver. Over the entrance portal of the building stands the figure of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. It is built of wood, covered with staff to represent stone, and is the work of Mrs. Ellen Rankin Copp, of Chicago. The post of .this awful divinity was suggested by an island legend which tells of a race between the. goddess and a native prince. Winning at the first trial, he taunted her to try again, and looking back beheld her seated on a wave of molten lava in fierce pursuit, her hands bearing firebrands which she hurls after him as he takes refuge in the sea.

©The World's Columbian Exposition 1893