Sentinel Island Lighthouse

The original Sentinel Island Lighthouse was the only one of its kind built in Alaska. The lighthouse consisted of a square wooden tower attached to the center of the westerly front of a keeper’s duplex, which was a large, two-story building with hipped cross gables.

Sentinel Island History

The inspector and engineer of the Thirteenth Lighthouse District sailed for Alaska on June 23, 1900 to select lighthouses, and after their return in August, they submitted a joint report recommending eleven lighthouses in Southeast Alaska and four in Western Alaska. All eleven of the lights recommended for Southeast Alaska would be built over the next five years, but those at Five Finger Islands and Sentinel Island were considered the most important.

George James, a Juneau resident, was awarded a $21,267 contract for the construction of Sentinel Island Lighthouse, and work on the project commenced on July 25, 1901, when men and materials were landed on the island. To reach the six-and-a-half-acre island from Juneau, one had to sail along Gastineau Channel to Auke Bay, and then follow Favorite Channel to its northern end where it joined Lynn Canal, a total distance of twenty-three miles.

Atop the tower stood a helical-bar lantern room that housed a fixed, fourth-order Fresnel lens, manufactured in Paris by Henry-LePaute. The focal plane of the lens was forty-two feet above the island, and eighty-two feet about the surrounding water at high tide.

At Sentinel Island

About Us

Lighthouses are a beacon. Properly used, they’re a beacon of hope to ward off impending danger, yet protecting from and warning of danger is exactly what they’re for.

The earliest lighthouses go back to biblical times, all with a mission to protect mariners. Navigating boats & ships safely means that aids to navigation had to be used to warn of the rocks & shoals, the sudden changes of seascape, and other hazards that prevented safe passage.

The lighthouses of Alaska, which you’ll find in this site, are testament to the challenges of marine navigation, life along the coast of Alaska, and the inherent dangers that can swell up and crush a concrete structure in moments, witness Scotch Gap. Yet for the many lives that have been lost, the lives saved because of these amazing aids to navigation can barely be quantified. We hope you enjoy our site.

Alaska History is Waiting