Scenic USA - Alaska

Eldred Rock Lighthouse

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Eldred Rock Lighthouse - Juneau, Alaska

Photos by Dan Kehlenbach
Dan's Portraits of Alaska

     Not long after the United States purchased the enormous Alaskan territory from Russia in 1867, the discovery of gold brought a horde of miners and maritime traffic to the coastal region. Recognizing the hazards in Alaskan waters, a string of hastily-built wooden lighthouses were erected during the turn of the century.
     Before lighthouses marked the channel, a passenger ship named the Clara Nevada started her journey southward from Skagway to Seattle. Loaded with passengers and a shipment of dynamite, the steamer ran aground at Eldred Rock and exploded. It didn't take long before the Lighthouse Board took action, approving plans for a lighthouse on Eldred Rock in 1902.
     Today, the Eldred Rock Lighthouse is the only remaining light-station from the first chain of octagonal wood-frame lighthouses on the Alaska coastline. Eldred Rock Lighthouse - Juneau, Alaska With construction finishing up in 1905, the date makes this the oldest lighthouse in Alaska. After being replaced with an automated beacon in 1976, the original Fresnel lens became the property of the Alaska State Museum. The lens was put on display at the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center in 1981.
     Because of Alaska's harsh winter storms and extremely wet climate, on-going lighthouse maintenance is a must. Even though the U.S. Coast Guard has done some repairs and put on a coat of paint, Eldred Rock Lighthouse Committee recognized the need for a major renovation once it obtains the lighthouse through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. Although Eldred Rock is located on a remote island in Lynn Canal, the lighthouse committee hopes to restored the light-station and open it for public tours.

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