Cape Spencer Lighthouse, Cross Sound

Cape Spencer Lighthouse, Cross Sound

by | Apr 19, 2021

Cape Spencer Light is on an island near the entrance to Dicks Arms on the north shore of Cross Sound, about 45 miles (73 km) northwest of Hoonah and 37 miles (60 km) southwest of Gustavus, Alaska. The cape was named in 1794 by Captain George Vancouver of the Royal Navy for Earl George John Spencer, who was a member of the English House of Commons and First Lord of the British Admiralty.

Cape Spencer is a prominent headland in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve marking the entrance to Cross Sound and Icy Strait. In 1924, a lighthouse station was built on an island that consisted of a boathouse, blacksmith shop, tram, and a single-story reinforced concrete building to house both the fog signal equipment and the lightkeepers. The summit of the rock island is at 70 feet (21 m), and the light tower rises from the center of the structure’s roof another 25 feet (7.6 m).

The island has sheer cliffs rising on all sides and no boat landing, so a landing platform, derrick, and hoisting machinery were built to facilitate the transfer of supplies and personnel. To get off the island the crane was hooked up to a boat 16 feet (5 m) long with an outboard engine, the men would climb into the boat and be swung by the crane over the edge of the island and dropped 60 feet (18 m) to the water. On one occasion, the boat was released from the cable but the outboard could not be started and the boat was swept out to sea in the strong currents. Returning to the island was no less hazardous, the boat had to be maneuvered under the hook at the base of the cliff, attached and lifted back up. Resupply was accomplished the same way, hoisting cargo nets of supplies up onto the boathouse deck. The small lighthouse is now accessed by helicopter and is still considered an important navigational aid and receives regular Coast Guard visits. Read more here and here. Explore more of Cape Spencer and Cross Sound here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

Please report any errors here

error: Content is protected !!