Scotch Cap Light

Oct. 15, 2019

Scotch Cap Light, soutwest corner of Unimak Island, Alaska

Originally built in 1903, reinforced in 1940, destroyed in a tsunami in 1946 and rebuit through the 1950s with a temporary light used during construction.


Name of Lighthouse: Scotch Cap Light
Date Built: Original tower built 1903
Operational: Yes
Date Automated: 1971
Height: 35' above water
Foghorn: 10" air whistle fog signal
Builder: Lighthouse Board-hired laborers
Appropriation: $76,571.00
Original Lens: Third Order
Characteristics: fixed white light


  • Scotch Cap Light was built in 1903.  It consisted of a wood tower on an octagonal wood building 45 feet high and was 90 feet above the sea.  It was located on the southwest end of Unimak Island and on the east side of the Unimak Pass into the Bering Sea.  It was the first station established on the outside coast of Alaska.  Prior to the introduction of the helicopter, access to the stations was so difficult that it was impractical to arrange for leave of absence in the ordinary way.  Instead each keeper got one full year off in each 4 years of service.  The station was initially equipped with a third-order fixed white light.
  • The light station was witness to many ship wrecks.  In 1909, the cannery supply ship Columbia wrecked.  The 194 crew members were guests of the keepers for two weeks before a relief vessel could remove them.  In 1930 a Japanese freighter Koshun Maru beached near the light when it became lost in a snowstorm.  In 1942 a Russian freighter Turksib wrecked near the station and the 60 survivors were at the station for several weeks because rough seas prevented a rescue ship from reaching the station.
  • In the 1920s and 1930 the light station underwent many improvements. 1922-23, the Navy installed radio-telephones at the station.
  • In 1940 a new concrete reinforce lighthouse and fog-signal building was erected near the site of the original lighthouse.
  • On April 1, 1946 an earthquake-generated tsunami struck the station at 2:18 a.m.  Scotch Cap Lighthouse was completely destroyed and the entire five-man crew was killed.  They were: BMC Anthony L. Petit, MoMM 2/c Leonard Pickering, F 1/c Jack Colvin, SN 1/c Dewey Dykstra, and SN 1/c Paul James Ness.
  • A temporary unwatched light was established in 1946, consisting of a small white house exhibiting a light of 300 candlepower maintaining the former station characteristic of flashing white every 15 seconds, flash 3 seconds, eclipse 12 seconds.  A radiobeacon was temporarily reestablished at the radio direction finder station.
  • The new permanent structure was completed in the early part of 1950 and the temporary light and radiobeacon discontinued.  The new station consists of a 800,000 candlepower light exhibited from a white rectangular building with flat roof, a diaphone fog signal, and a radiobeacon.
  • Light was automated in 1971
  • A skeletal tower replaced the 1950s structure and the fog signal was discontinued.