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Guard Island Lighthouse


The Guard Island Lighthouse is located on a small island near the entrance to the Tongass Narrows, in Clarence Strait in southeastern Alaska. The lighthouse location was prioritized in 1901 to assist shipping along Southeast Alaska's Inside Passage, at the north end of the Tongass Narrows, considered "one of the more difficult passages along the route" of Klondike Gold Rush-related shipping to Juneau and to Skagway.

Construction of the Guard Island Lighthouse began in the summer of 1903 and was completed by September 1904. It included one contributing building, one contributing structure, and one contributing site on a 10.4-acre area. The 34-foot (10 m) wooden tower housed a fourth-order Fresnel lens that produced a fixed white light that was illuminated for the first time on September 15, 1904.

Problems began less than two decades later when the wood used for Guard Island Light Station, as well as for several other Alaskan lighthouses, soon deteriorated in the harsh Alaskan weather conditions. By the 1920s, all the lighthouses except Eldred Rock were falling apart, and in 1922, Congress authorized the reconstruction of Guard Island Light. In 1924, the dilapidated light tower was replaced with a new single-story rectangular tower of reinforced concrete. An acetylene light placed inside a drum lens in the tower’s helical-bar lantern room produced a double flash every six seconds. A type “C” diaphone fog signal was placed in operation on February 25, 1924, sounding a five-second blast every thirty seconds during thick weather.

Guard Island initially had a head keeper and an assistant, but the position of assistant keeper was discontinued by 1913. The station was automated by the Coast Guard in 1969. The lighthouse was listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

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A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Guard Island Lighthouse

Many lighthouse crews had pets, but during the mid-1960s, the station was well-known for its pet deer, Wickie and Kado, believed to have been orphaned.

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