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Extraordinary Vintage Photos Reveal Hawaii's Hippie Treehouse Community

From 1969 to 1977, the hippies at Taylor Camp on Kauai lived in treehouses, preferred to go nude, and smoked a lot of weed.

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The camp was named for its benefactor — Howard Taylor, the brother of Elizabeth Taylor — who let the hippies take over a 7-acre parcel in 1969 along Kauai's North Shore after he was told by the state he would not be allowed to build on it.

A then 23-year-old John Wehrheim moved to Kauai in 1971 and happened upon Taylor Camp.

"This is a place with no TV, no electricity," Wehrheim told BuzzFeed News. "They didn't have have running water — it was from the stream, no telephones, and they had to go nine miles into town to get mail."

Wehrheim returned in 1976 and started photographing the camp in earnest. By this time, the community was well-established and had a toilet, a cess pool and running water.

Even though people loved to be naked at Taylor Camp, "free love" wasn't the norm — most people coupled up, forming relationships that for some have lasted a lifetime.

John Wehrheim

Andy and Patricia Leo, who are still together more than 30 years later, pose.

The community built a church, which served as a spiritual center for the camp.

John Wehrheim

"The church wasn't like a normal church. We would talk about spiritual things... It was about finding out who we were, working out our problems, our questions," Bruce Kramer said in Taylor Camp.

Sports in general were very popular among members of the community. Yoga was another common activity.

"It was a great experimental living situation," Cherry Hamilton said in Wehrheim's book titled Taylor Camp. "There would be wild full moon parties, thirty foot waves rushing under our houses, bongos playing madly at midnight and babies being born."

Pot was grown in the garden, which became a means to connect with some of the local community, which was looking for new ways to make revenue in the wake of closed pineapple plantations on Kauai and the loss of jobs.

Taylor Camp was still met with hostility from some locals, who called them haoles — a slur for white foreigners — and did not endorse their alternative lifestyle.

In 1974, after the Kauai newspaper the Garden Island published several negative reports about disease and other problems at the camp, the state decided to intervene and acquired Howard Taylor's land.

Most people left on their own accord, but some stayed till the bitter end, forcing officials to burn the treehouses to the ground in 1977.

Nearly 40 years later, Haena State Park is still open for people to explore.

To learn more about Taylor Camp, please check out John Wehrheim's book and documentary. Also, find out more about Wehrheim's work through his website.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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