Known as Alaska’s most accessible lighthouse, the historic Guard Island Lighthouse lit up for the first time on Sept. 15, 1924. The original 34-foot wooden structure deteriorated over the years due to severe weather conditions, but the lighthouse was rebuilt in the 1920s using white concrete to stand up to the elements, and the original fog bell was replaced with a diaphone fog signal.
Before the U.S. Coast Guard took over the lighthouse in 1969, two families lived on Guard Island and operated the structure. There are also chilling tales of two murdered bodies that may have been found in a vessel drifting nearby during Prohibition.
The Guard Island Lighthouse was particularly important during the Klondike Gold Rush, as it aided in shipping along the Southeast Alaska Inside Passage. In 2004, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and it is now known for its historical significance, peaceful beauty and abundance of seals.
The Guard Island Lighthouse is located 12 miles northwest of Ketchikan near the entrance to the Tongass Narrows in southeastern Alaska. The grounds are closed, but the site can be seen from a car by driving north on Tongass Avenue in downtown Ketchikan for 11 miles.