Umatilla Lighthouse

Umatilla means “water rippling over sand,” which sounds like a right good name for a shoal or reef, but surprisingly, this name was not given to Umatilla Reef directly.

Umatilla Lighthouse History

In February 1884 the steamer Umatilla was sailing along the Washington coast in high seas and blinding snow, when it ran aground on a reef four miles off Cape Avala. Although the Umatilla was worked free and towed away following the storm, its name has remained attached to the reef ever since.

Fourteen years after the Umatilla grounded, the first Lightship Umatilla (LV 67) was anchored near the reef to prevent other vessels from experiencing the same misfortune as the Umatilla.

Cape Avala Reef

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