Museum Memories: Feb. 24, 2018

The rush to Alaska at the turn of the century for gold, copper, coal and salmon led to increased ship traffic and accidents at sea. In 1910, Congress authorized Alaska as a lighthouse district. On the list of lights were Cape Hinchinbrook and Cape St. Elias.

Construction of the Cape St. Elias light began in the spring of 1915, on what is regarded as the most dangerous point along the Pacific Coast. St. Elias was a third order double flash group two Fresnel lens.

A one-year tour of duty at the Alaskan lighthouses, manned by the U.S. Coast Guard, was a challenge.

“A year, day by day, is a terribly long time,” remarked one Coast Guard keeper, “especially at age 19.”

Lit in September of 1916; maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters including the Haida and Sedge, it was decommissioned in 1974.

The Cape St. Elias lens now is restored and on display in the Cordova Historical Museum.

This photo came from the archives and collections of the Cordova Historical Society housed within the museum. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays.