Ward Cove lighthouse with bald eagles perched on its rails

Guard Island Lighthouse

Man taking a photo near Guard Island Lighthouse, AKCompletely circumnavigate this United States Coast Guard Light Station, which became a lighthouse by presidential proclamation in 1903 in the interest of public safety and national security.

This 100+ year-old beacon has assisted Alaska's fishermen, ship captains and pleasure boaters along the unpredictable seas of Clarence Strait to find their way safely to and from Ketchikan, as it stands as a primary sentinel in the Inside Passage. The Guard Islands are now home to a family of Harbor Seals, numerous species of sea birds and a nesting pair of American Bald Eagles.

The area is often visited by Humpback whales and Orca "Killer" whales. Learn the historical significance of this site and enjoy the stories and folklore surrounding the lightkeepers and their families who once called this ten acre island their home. Marvel at the ecology and abundant wildlife that surrounds this microcosm of Southeast Alaska's environment.

What Became of the Historic Guard Island Homes?

Young men and women started living in the island homes when they were abandoned by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1969. It was rumored that these young people were, perhaps, cohabiting without a license and growing questionable plants in the garden.

When the Coast Guard found out what was going at the abandoned homes, they decided to evict the young men and women. After having evicted them, they destroyed the two homes and remaining buildings by burning them to the ground and returning to dynamite the foundations to oblivion. The only evidence we have of those homes having once existed are the few historic pictorial records and remaining piles of foundational “oblivion" – some of which is visible during the tour’s circumnavigation of the island.

Protection for the Coast Guard Lighthouse

Lighthouse Excursions, Inc. needs to go on public record for thanking President Clinton for a very good deed. President Clinton, one month before he left office, signed the Lighthouse Preservation Act. This federal law allows local, nonprofit organizations to apply for and attain ownership of lighthouses for educational, historical, and public access purposes.

In 2001, a local organization, Guard Island Heritage, Inc., was formed in Ketchikan to help maintain the historical, educational, and cultural relevance of the lighthouse. Their plans stipulated that the lighthouse be repaired for historical and educational purposes, and that the boathouse is to be repaired in order to provide overnight shelter for boy scouts, girl scouts, and church youth groups. Additionally, the plans call for a boardwalk to be built around the perimeter of the island so that all future foot traffic on the island will be on a walkway in order to preserve and protect the plant and animal life.

They also aim to construct an amphitheater and a marine dock facility. The Coast Guard lighthouse will become a maritime museum and gallery while the boardwalk is to become a self-guided nature trail where visitors can identify all the plants and animals that make their homes at or around Guard Island.

Sign Up for Memberships During Lighthouse Excursions

Memberships for Guard Island Heritage, Inc. are sold on board for $10 for a yearly membership and $25 for a Lifetime Membership. Your name, hometown, and state will be listed on the non-profit’s web pages. Lifetime members will receive their choice of a copy of the limited edition print by Brenda Schwartz entitled, “Guard Island” or you can choose a historic black and white photo.

Both feature gold, embossed matting stating, “Guard Island Heritage, Inc.’s Lifetime Member.” Please see any of our crew to get your membership. You may pay by cash, check, or credit card, and your payment is tax deductible, as Guard Island Heritage, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. Nearly all 50 states and several foreign countries are now represented by the membership rolls on the web site. Please consider becoming a lifetime member today and choosing either the limited edition print or the black and white photo to take with you.

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