Scenic USA - Alaska

Point Retreat Lighthouse

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Point Retreat Lighthouse - Admiralty Island, Alaska

Photo by Dan Kehlenbach
Dan's Portraits of Alaska

   Across the strait from Juneau, on the northern point of Admiralty Island, stands the Point Retreat Lighthouse. This Alaskan landmark is viewed by thousands each summer as cruise ship passengers are funneled through Stephens Passage, bound for Glacier Bay. The Point Retreat area falls within the boundaries of the Tongass National Forest and the small outpost was governed by the U.S. Coast Guard. Outliving its usefulness and falling into disrepair, ownership of the light-station and surrounding property was transferred to the Alaskan Lighthouse Association. Amendments to the lighthouse transfer bill included the original 1500 acre reserve setup by President McKinley. This giveaway of national forestland outraged groups of environmentalists and resident island Natives. Crying foul, the locals went on to voice their concerns of the measureís failure to state land-use restrictions.
   One of nine remaining southern Alaska lighthouses, the combination, Point Retreat Lighthouse and fog signal, dates to 1924. Automation left the station vacant for years until the lighthouse association stepped in. Planning on restoration and a bed and breakfast conversion, the light-station received new paint and the airway beacon was replaced with an authentic lantern room. Plans found in the National Archives guided the Seidelhuber Iron and Bronze Works in constructing a suitable replacement. The lantern room was installed just in time for a centennial celebration. The associationís long term goals include lighthouse preservation, as well as the creation of a maritime heritage museum and natural history center.

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