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Cape Spencer Light

July 22, 2019
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Cape Spencer Light, entrance to Cross Sound and Icy Strait, Alaska

CAPE SPENCER LIGHT

ENTRANCE TO CROSS SOUND/ICY STRAIT
Station Established: 1913
Year Current Tower(s) First Lit: 1925
Operational? YES
Automated? YES 1974
Deactivated: n/a
Foundation Materials: ROCK
Construction Materials: CONCRETE
Tower Shape: SQUARE ON CENTER OF FOG SIGNAL BLDG
Markings/Pattern: WHITE ART DECO
Relationship to Other Structure: INTEGRAL
Original Lens: THIRD ORDER, FRESNEL 1925

HISTORICAL INFORMATION:

  • Requests for a light at this location began as early as 1906.  In 1913 an unmanned beacon marked the entrance to Cross Sound.  A station was finally authorized and construction began in May of 1924 and completed in December of 1925.
  • In 1926 a radio beacon was installed, the first to be established in Alaska within the boundaries of a national park.
  • A post-World War II Coast Guard press release noted: "Cape Spencer Lighthouse, Alaska, is a primary light, fog signal, and radio-beacon station, marking the northerly entrance from the Pacific Ocean into the inside passages of southeastern Alaska. It is on a route much frequented by vessels seeking to avoid the often stormy outside passage.  Cape Spencer is one of the most isolated of Alaskan lighthouses, where the keepers must go 20 miles for their mail, and where the nearest town of any size is 150 miles away.  The station was commissioned in 1925, and is fitted with the most modern types of signaling equipment.  From the top of the tower is shown a light of 500,000 candlepower, and in time of fog a diaphone fog signal is sounded at regular intervals.  The radiobeacon, established in 1926, and the first radiobeacon in Alaska, is of high power, with a range of 200 miles and more at sea.  The station buildings are of reinforced concrete construction."
  • The station was automated in 1974.  In December of that year it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Reference Number #75002160
  • Original third order Fresnel lens was replaced in 1998 with a solar powered VRB-25 Vega optic.  The original lens is in the Alaska State Museum.
  • As of May 2005, the light is still an active aid to navigation.