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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Downtown Juneau in Juneau Borough, Alaska — Northwest (North America)
 

Sentinel Island

 
 
Sentinel Island Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, September 3, 2021
1. Sentinel Island Marker
Inscription.  Sentinel Island Lighthouse guards the entrance to Favorite Channel, linking Lynn Canal to Juneau's Auke Bay. The original, wood frame structures included a keeper's house with an attached light tower and out-buildings, including a wharf and boathouse.

An infamous image of Alaska history shows the passenger steamship, Princess May, hard aground on Sentinel Island's northern reef on August 5, 1910. All aboard were rescued, but the vessel remained high and dry on her precarious perch for a month before tides grew high enough to float her again.

Wooden buildings proved hard to maintain in the rainforest climate of Southeast Alaska, so many of the early lighthouses were replaced with new ones of reinforced concrete. In 1935, an Art Deco style, concrete lighthouse was built near Sentinel Island's pioneer buildings. The new lighthouse still stands. The original building burned in 1971, after it was automated and keepers were no longer needed at the site.

The Sentinel Island Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the site is owned by the Gastineau Channel Historical Society.

At-a-glance
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• Location: Lynn Canal, 23 miles northwest of downtown Juneau
• First Lighted: March 1, 1902
• Original Optics: fourth-order Fresnel lens
• Automated: 1966

Captions (Top to bottom)
• The new lighthouse with original building on right. (US Coast Guard Photo courtesy of Joe Leahy)
• Original Sentinel Island Lighthouse (US Coast Guard Photo)
• S.S. Princess May aground on Sentinel Island. (US Coast Guard Photo)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: CommunicationsDisastersWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Lighthouses series list. A significant historical date for this entry is March 1, 1902.
 
Location. 58° 17.913′ N, 134° 24.326′ W. Marker is in Juneau, Alaska, in Juneau Borough. It is in Downtown Juneau. Marker can be reached from Marine Way. Marker is on the Juneau Harbor boardwalk, south of Marine Park and across from the cruise ship berths. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 252 Marine Way, Juneau AK 99801, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Five Finger (here, next to this marker); Mary Island (here, next to this marker); Cape Decision (here, next to this marker); Tree Point (here, next to this marker);
Sentinel Island Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, September 3, 2021
2. Sentinel Island Marker
Lighthouses of Alaska (here, next to this marker); Guard Islands (here, next to this marker); Patsy Ann: her statue (here, next to this marker); Point Retreat (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Juneau.
 
Also see . . .
1. Asset Detail | Sentinel Island Light Station. National Register of Historic Places registration (PDF) and photographs (PDF). (Submitted on September 12, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 

2. Sentinel Island Lighthouse. Lighthousefriends.com overview of the lighthouse, the only one of its kind built in Alaska, and its history. Also includes information on the Princess May and other nearby shipwrecks, including the infamous S.S. Princess Sophia sinking that claimed almost 350 lives. (Submitted on September 12, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 

3. SS Princess Sophia: Canada's Titanic. Short ShawTV South Vancouver Island documentary on the disaster. (Submitted on September 12, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 

4. The Princess Sophia: The Unknown Titanic of the West Coast. Article about the ill-fated ship's last
Sentinel Island Lighthouse (original) image. Click for full size.
United States Coast Guard, 1902
3. Sentinel Island Lighthouse (original)
Pictured here not long after it began operation.
voyage, by the National Park Service's Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park unit. Includes rare photographs of the ship as it was sinking. (Submitted on September 12, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) 
 
Sentinel Island Lighthouses image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller
4. Sentinel Island Lighthouses
The lighthouse on the left was built in 1938 to replace the one on the right, which remained a keepers quarters but was vacant when it was destroyed in a 1971 fire.
The <i>S.S. Princess May</i> aground near Sentinel Island image. Click for full size.
William Howard Case (via Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division), August 5, 1910
5. The S.S. Princess May aground near Sentinel Island
It took almost a month for salvagers to wrest the heavily damaged steamer from the reef, but remarkably there was no loss of life.
<i>S.S. Princess Sophia</i> grounded on reef image. Click for full size.
Winter and Pond (via Alaska's Digital Archives) / Public domain, October 24, 1918
6. S.S. Princess Sophia grounded on reef
This photograph, presumably from a nearby vessel, was taken less than 12 hours after the ship hit the reef. The ship's condition did not initially appear dire — its captain at first waved off any attempt at disembarking passengers as it would haven been extremely risky — but the reef prevented any rescue attempt when weather conditions worsened overnight. By next morning, the Princess Sophia was lost.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 13, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 12, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 293 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 12, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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Mar. 1, 2024