Cape Spencer Light, Cross Sound

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Cape Spencer is a point of land at the mouth of Dicks Arms, on the north shore of Cross Sound, about 45 miles (73 km) northwest of Hoonah, 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 at the entrance to Icy Strait, Alaska on the north shore of Cross Sound in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. A lighthouse station was built on an island here in 1924 that consisted of a boathouse, blacksmith shop, tram, and a single-story reinforced concrete building to house both the fog signal equipment and the light keepers. From the center of the structure’s roof, a light tower rose another twenty-five feet.

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 sixteen-foot boat 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 sixty feet to the water. To get back on the island 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, perched atop the seventy-foot-tall rock, is now accessed by helicopter and is still considered an important navigational aid and receives regular Coast Guard visits. Read more about the lighthouse here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore more of Cross Sound, Alaska.