Scenic USA - Alaska

Sentinel Island Light

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Sentinel Island Lighthouse - Juneau, Alaska

Photo by Meri Cheatham
Inset photo - Courtesy of Lighthouse Friends

     Completed in 1935, the Sentinel Island Lighthouse marks the entrance to Sentinel Island Lighthouse Lynn Canal, part of a 23 mile Inner Passage which stretches from Juneau to Skagway. With depths reaching 2000 feet, Lynn Canal is the deepest fjord in North America, as well as the longest. This treacherous section of icy Alaskan water near Juneau masks the treacherous Vanderbilt Reef during high tide. In late October, 1918, the SS Princess Sophia ran aground during gale force winds. Even with light-station personnel nearby, sadly, not a soul could be rescued.
     Marking this dangerous section the the channel, a wooden lighthouse structure came on line in 1902, later replaced in 1935. The Sentinel and Five Finger Island lighthouses, two of a few dozen Alaskan lighthouses, were the first light-stations put into service in the state.
     Ownership of the Sentinel Island Light was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the Gastineau Channel Historical Society (GCHS) in 1998. The historical society is committed to preserve and provide public access to this historic site. The lighthouse, accessible only by boat or float plane, is available for day tours and overnight stays, albeit primitive ones.

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