Guard Island Lighthouse
September 22, 2016
Located near the entrance to the Tongass Narrows in southeastern Alaska, the Guard Island Lighthouse was built to help shipping freights safely navigate one of the more dangerous passageways from Alaska to mainland America due to its shallow inlets and dense fogs. Once the gold boom of the late 19th century occurred, it became incredibly to ensure that ships would deliver their precious cargo.
Construction began in 1903 and finished a little over a year later. The tower is 30 feet tall (74 feet above sea level) and it’s square parallelepiped shaped, meaning each side of building is a parallelogram. Its fresnel lens can be seen from up 17 nautical miles away.
While its foundation is concrete, the Guard Island Lighthouse was initially built primarily from wood. Due to the lighthouse’s proximity to a very salty ocean and the intense amounts of rainfall that the area receives, the wood quickly deteriorated into a mush, and the lighthouse fell into disarray.
After congress was extensively lobbied for funds, renovations began on the lighthouse in the summer of 1922.
The lighthouse has a history to match its ominous name. People on the mainland claimed to be able to hear the squabbles of the lighthouse keepers. One particularly nasty argument in the 1920s ended in the assistant keeper’s wife being murdered after it was discovered that she was having an affair with the head keeper.
In 2004, Guard Island Lighthouse made the National Register of Historic Places. Although no longer in its original form and material, the lighthouse’s rich history is still evident as you tour it, which we do on the second day of our Northern Dream Lighthouse Tour.