Chris J LeBlanc Photography - Lighthouses
Providing details and historical information of lighthouse pictures taken during my travels
Guard Island Lighthouse
Guard Island, Alaska
© 2012 - Chris J LeBlanc Photographer
Location: Located twelve miles northwest of Ketchikan on Guard Island, marking the northern entrance to the Tongass Narrows from Clarence Strait.
Latitude: N 55.44596
Longitude: W 131.88143
Year Constructed: 1924 (station established 1904). Active
Tower Height: 30 feet Focal Plane: 74 feet
Square cylindrical reinforced concrete tower with lantern and gallery, centered on the roof of a square concrete oil house; . Lighthouse is white concrete; lantern painted black.
- Location: TONGASS NARROWS ENTRANCE/CLARENCE STRAIT
- Station Established: 1904
- Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1924
- Foundation Materials: CONCRETE
- Construction Materials: CONCRETE
- Tower Shape: SQUARE ON OIL HOUSE
- Original Lens: FOURTH ORDER, FRESNEL 1904
- Construction began in the summer of 1903 but halted for the winter. The light was completed in lit by September 1904. Classified as a minor light it had a fixed white fourth order lens. This was one of only three stations in Alaska where families were permitted to live.
- Improvements were made in 1922 when a reinforced concrete fog-signal building replaced the bell struck every 20 seconds by clock work machinery. The original bell tower was also improved and heightened.
- In 1938-39 a radio telephone and a radio beacon monitoring system were installed.
- In 1956 the radio beacon was modified for both marine and aircraft navigation.
- Station was automated in 1969.
Guard Islands, a pair of small, rocky islets, stand sentinel over the northern entrance to Tongass Narrows, which leads south to Ketchikan. Atop the larger of the two islands sits Guard Island Lighthouse. In November of 1903, construction began on Guard Island. Illuminated for the first time on September 15, 1904, the 34-foot wooden tower housed a minor optic lens lantern that produced a fixed white light. Mounted on the north face of the tower was a fog bell, mechanized to strike every twenty seconds. Also on the island were a 1 ½ story frame keeper’s cottage, a boat house, and an oil storage house.
However, the wood used for Guard Island Light Station, as well as for several other contemporary Alaskan lighthouses, soon deteriorated in the harsh conditions. In 1924, the dilapidated light tower was replaced with a new single-story rectangular tower of reinforced concrete. The antiquated bell signal was replaced with a diaphone air signal that gave a five-second blast every 25 seconds. Additionally, another keeper’s house was built to provide quarters for two keepers and their families.
The final entry in the station’s Register of Visitors, made on July 31, 1960, reads “Disestablished Guard Island Light at 14:45 this date.” Thus ended the reign of keepers on the island.
Guard Island Lighthouse Links
Guard Island Lighthouse with Dwellings