You are the owner of this article.

Spots On The Rock

Hike into history

5 spots preserving Guam's past

  • 4 min to read
Haputo

You could dive into the dusty old pages of a textbook or visit the local museum, but to get an exciting experience learning Guam history, head to the boonies!

Students crave interactive lesson plans and classes that engage them outside the typical textbook and lecture. Where's the fun in flipping through pages all day?

Take advantage of Guam's tuition-free classrooms in the great outdoors, where living museums sprout to life just around the river bend.

Learn about ancient CHamoru civilization in the coastal jungles of southern Guam by the Sella and Cetti bays, and keep an eye out for preserved latte stones at pristine Pågat.

Get up close and personal with World War II weaponry and early American architecture around the island, from Japanese coastal defense guns fixed into a Piti hillside to a 20th-century dam slowly being reclaimed by surrounding jungle.

Who knows what history lies beyond the next step?

Check any or all of the following hikes for a firsthand lesson on Guam history. For more detailed directions including maps and photos, scan the QR code or search the hike name at www.PostGuam.com.

Pågat

One of Guam's more preserved, ancient CHamoru villages, Pågat contains some of the island's largest concentrations of latte stones, lusongs and other indigenous artifacts.

The historic area is one of four villages the Spanish are believed to have settled shortly after colonizing Guam in the 17th century. The ancient village also was partitioned as one of four original church sites with the introduction of Christianity to the island in 1672.

Archaeological records suggest Pågat had been occupied by CHamoru people up to 1,000 years before the Spanish arrived. However, the area was never resettled after the Spanish settled in 1668.

The remnants of Pågat presently lie among the limestone benches of the northeastern coast, one of four recorded latte sites in that particular area of Guam, according to Guampedia.

There are at least 15 recognizable latte stones and 35 other basalt slabs believed to have been parts of the ancient settlement.

The area was added to the Guam Register of Historic Places, as well as the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation included Pågat on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2010.

Sella and Cetti bays

Two remote bays off Guam's southwestern coast lie, for the most part, undisturbed with many hidden gems serving as keyholes to peer into the island's past.

Sella Bay is a popular hiking destination with pristine waters for snorkeling and its signature old Spanish bridge.

In the late 1600s, the island's Spanish colonizers attempted to connect their southern ports in Umatac to the growing capital of Hagåtña.

The rustic bridge at Sella Bay was part of the unfinished road project known as El Camino Real, Spanish for "The Royal Road."

To the south of Sella lies Cetti Bay, the site of an ancient CHamoru village formerly known as "Jati," housing at least two latte structures and numerous Spanish pottery shards, Guampedia states.

Today, what remains of the village are ancient latte stones and other artifacts scattered across Sella and Cetti bays' jungle landscape, treasured trophies of the island's CHamoru and Spanish past.

Both bays and the surrounding foothills of the coastal area are currently preserved as part of Guamʼs Territorial Seashore Park. Cetti is additionally on the Guam and national registers of historic places.

Haputo

A contender for the island's best beach, Haputo, or "Apoto," is the site of another ancient CHamoru settlement home to stunning latte stones and a flourishing jungle.

Archaeologists believe Haputo was occupied almost 2,000 years ago, Guampedia states, with ceramic artifacts in the area dating back to between A.D. 100 and 400.

Notably, some of the island's most well-preserved latte stones still stand near the limestone cliffs of Haputo. At least 23 latte stone sets in the area have been identified by archaeologists.

Numerous Spanish pottery shards and other CHamoru artifacts can be found throughout the jungles just beyond Haputo.

Not much is known about the area, but historic accounts say the village was burned by Spanish colonizers on their way to Tarague in 1678.

In 1984, Haputo was designated an ecological preserve covering 252 acres of coral reef and limestone forest.

The area today sits on military owned land, near the Naval Communications Station in Dededo, and is protected by the Navy. It also is listed in the Guam and national registers of historic places.

Piti Guns and Asan Beach

Coastal defense guns, cliff line fortifications, pillboxes and other remnants of WWII history are scattered throughout the villages of Piti and Asan.

The Piti Guns unit of the War in the Pacific National Historical Park is the site of three Vickers type Model 3 140 mm coastal defense guns, installed by the CHamoru as part of forced labor under wartime Japanese occupation.

The guns were placed strategically in defense of what the Japanese expected to be a flank of the island's western side by approaching American forces.

Not one of the three guns was fully operational by Liberation Day on July 21, 1944. None were ever fired, though each was capable of firing across 10 miles.

Up the street is Asan Beach, the site of a confluence of history between the CHamoru, Spanish, Germans, Filipinos and Americans. The Spanish first arrived in the central village and set up minor settlements in the late 17th century.

Remnants of this multinational history lie around Asan Beach. Japanese fortifications along the western side of the beach, as well as pillboxes atop the hill, still are standing and are preserved. Additionally, there are plaques commemorating American history around the park.

Fonte Dam

It's hardly Hoover Dam but, by Guam standards, the Fonte Dam is a man-made wonder all its own!

The historic dam lies isolated within the Nimitz Hill valley, heavily contrasted against the surrounding jungle that has slowly grown around the structure.

While the base and side structures of the dam are made of concrete, the front-facing wall of the dam was made with red bricks, though the rusty color is often covered in mud and grime during the wet season.

The dam's concrete base is about 150 feet wide and 24 feet high, built in 1910 by the Navy to supply the island's capital with a reliable water source.

Following the river at the dam downstream is one option to reach a few small swimming holes, but another option includes following the old pipeline!

Rusted and run-down, the old piping system that fed water to Hagåtña also remains in the jungle and travels downstream past striking jungle scenery.

The dam was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 and is a popular hiking destination.

Reporter

The Scoop coordinator, Spots on The Rock columnist and Life documenter. Email: tihu@postguam.com. Follow Tihu on Twitter and Instagram at @tihualujan.

Recommended for you