Tree Point Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Board approved the construction of Tree Point Lighthouse on April 24, 1903, and just over a year later, the light was activated on April 30, 1904. The lighthouse was the first, and only lighthouse, to be built on mainland Alaska.

Tree Point History

Tree Point seems a fitting name for almost any protuberance along the coast of Southeast Alaska, as most of this area is part of Tongass National Forest, a temperate rain forest. There are, however, several gnarled, dead trees clearly evident in photographs taken of Tree Point throughout the twentieth century, which makes one wonder if perhaps these white, weathered giants were once used as a navigational reference and gave rise to the point’s name. Although this theory on the origin of the point’s name makes a good story, more likely than not the dead trees are simply byproducts of logging.

A couple of reasons convinced coastal surveyors that Tree Point was a prime spot for navigational aids. First, there is a straight route from Tree Point to the open Pacific Ocean via Dixon Entrance, and second, Tree Point, situated just seven miles north of the Canadian border, is located along the Inside Passage roughly midway between the two largest cities in the area: Ketchikan, Alaska and Prince Rupert, British Columbia.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 Tree Point

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