The first missionary arrived in Maui in 1820, and the missionary influences remain clearly visible in Lahaina.
As Western traders and seamen flocked to Maui, commercial growth expanded. Lahaina became a major port during the whaling era, and by the 1840s, hundreds of ships anchored there. However, the discovery of oil in 1850 spelled doom for the whaling industry.
As whaling declined, agriculture became the dominant industry in the Lahaina area. Sugar and later pineapple plantations flourished in West Maui. During 1853-1854, a smallpox epidemic killed many native Hawaiians, depleting the work force. Immigrants from China, Japan, the Philippines were brought to Maui to work in the sugar cane fields. The influence of these immigrants can still be seen.