Cape Hinchinbrook Light, Hinchinbrook Island

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Cape Hinchinbrook is a headland on the south point of Hinchinbrook Island, about 35 miles (56 km) southwest of Cordova, Alaska. The cape was named in 1778 by Captain James Cook, of the Royal Navy, for Viscount Hinchinbroke, and afterward the name was used on charts by several other navigators. Hinchinbrook Island is at the southeast entrance to Prince William Sound.

On the night of September 13, 1906, the steamship Oregon, captained by H.E. Soule, was en route from Seattle, Washington to Valdez, Alaska with 50 passengers and about 900 tons of freight aboard. Due to heavy fog, the vessel was 3 miles (4.8 km) off course when it ran hard aground on rocks 150 feet (46 m) offshore from Hinchinbrook Island. This point of land, which marks the eastern side of the entrance to Prince William Sound, had long been a menace to navigation, and just a few months prior to the Oregon’s accident, a Congressional act had authorized the construction of a light and fog signal station there. Providently, the lighthouse tender Columbine was surveying the area for the pending construction of Cape Hinchinbrook Lighthouse and was able to pick up the castaways and safely deliver them to Valdez the next day.

The Cape Hinchinbrook Lighthouse was first established in 1910 to mark the entrance to Prince William Sound. Due to the earthquakes in 1927 and 1928, which caused instability in the cliff around the lighthouse, it was felt a new light should be built on solid rock. A new octagonal tower, 67 feet (20 m) high, was completed in 1934. The lighthouse was automated in 1974 and a solar-powered Vega lens was installed. The original third order Fresnel lens is now on display at the Valdez Museum and Historical Archive in Valdez. Read more here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore Cape Hinchinbrook. 


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