Eldred Rock Lighthouse – Alaska - Atlas Obscura

Eldred Rock Lighthouse

The oldest original lighthouse in Alaska that was born out of a tragic shipwreck.  

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Eldred Rock Lighthouse, located in the middle of the remote Lynn Canal in the Alaskan Panhandle has a very storied, and in some cases, tragic history.

This lighthouse along with nine others were commissioned after a series of deadly shipwrecks in the vicinity. The most notorious of these was the wreck of the Clara Nevada steamship, which ran aground on Eldred Rock in February of 1898. The vessel burst into flames and sank, claiming as many as 75 lives. It’s also believed that hundreds of pounds of gold were lost in the disaster. The gold has never been recovered.

The lights cut on in the lighthouse around 1906 and its been in operation since. It’s the only lighthouse from the original ten that still remains standing. Sporting an octagonal frame, the lighthouse was constructed using concrete and large timbers. Eldred Rock Lighthouse was much larger than the other lighthouses, which may account for its longevity.

Manned until 1973, there were several other tragedies at the rock. In 1910, two assistant keepers were on there way back to the island but were lost to the canal. The Eldred Rock Lighthouse and surrounding structures are all listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Know Before You Go

There are no tours of the lighthouse, and there is no dock or facilities on the island. Most people will only get to see the lighthouse from the deck of a passing cruise ship, ferry, or personal boat. The original Fresnel lens for the lighthouse is on display at the Sheldon Museum in Haines, AK.

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