Little Island, Favorite Channel

Little Island, Favorite Channel

by | Oct 24, 2018

Little Island is in Lynn Canal at the north end of Favorite Channel, 0.4 miles (0.6 km) north of Ralston Island, and about 67 miles (108 km) south of Skagway and 28 miles (45 km) northwest of Juneau, Alaska. The descriptive name was given in 1880 by Lieutenant F.M. Symonds of the U.S. Navy who surveyed the area on the USS Jamestown in 1880. The name was first published by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1883. Only a small portion of Little Island is exposed at high tide, and the majority of the island is a wave-cut platform exposed only at low tides. Wave-cut platforms created by erosion and are often most obvious at low tide when they become visible as huge areas of flat rock.

On October 24, 1918, SS Princess Sophia sank at Vanderbilt Reef, a wave-cut platform about 4 miles (6.5 km) north-northeast of Little Island. Princess Sophia departed from Skagway for Juneau, Alaska on October 23, 1918, more than three hours behind schedule. Onboard were 75 crew and about 268 passengers, including families of men serving overseas in the war, miners, and crews of sternwheelers that had finished operations for the winter. Fifty women and children were on the passenger list. Four hours after leaving Skagway, while proceeding south in Lynn Canal, the steamship encountered heavy blinding snow driven by a strong and rising northwest wind.

At 2 am on October 24, 1918, Princess Sophia struck and grounded hard on Vanderbilt Reef. The ship remained lodged on the reef for 40 hours, and rescue attempts were delayed when another severe storm developed. The ship broke apart the following night and all 343 passengers and crew died in the incident. The wreck of Princess Sophia was the worst maritime accident in the history of British Columbia and Alaska. Read more here and here. Explore more of Lynn Canal here:

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