Scotch Cap Lighthouse

Scotch Cap Lighthouse 1903
The Scotch Cap Light in 1903.

The Scotch Cap Light was the first lighthouse on the outer coast of Alaska. It was built on Unimak Island in the Aleutian Chain in 1903.

Scotch Cap Lighthouse
Scotch Cap Light in 1940

In 1940, a new Scotch Cap Light was built out of reenforced concrete and a fog signal was added. From the beginning, the lighthouse was the scene of several shipwrecks, including the Columbia in 1909, which forced the crew of 194 to spend two weeks on Unimak as guests of the lighthouse keepers until they could be rescued. And in 1930, a Japanese freighter became lost in a snowstorm and beached in front of the light.

The 1946 Aleutian Islands Earthquake hit the chain of islands on April 1 of 1946. The 8.1 magnitude quake generated a Pacific wide tsunami. The massive wave wiped Scotch Cap Light right off the face of Unimak Island. Anthony Petit, the lighthouse keeper, and his five man crew were killed by the wave that is estimated to have been at 130 feet high.

Unimak Island 1946
Unimak Island after the 1946 tsunami.

The tsunami that resulted from the Aleutian Earthquake killed 165 people: 159 in Hawaii and six in Alaska. It took the tsunami 4.5 hours after the quake to hit Kauai and 4.9 to strike Hilo, causing over $26 million in damage. After the destructive tsunami, the Seismic Sea Wave Warning System was established in 1949, eventually becoming the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Hilo 1946 Tsunami
Residents of Hilo, Hawaii fleeing the 1946 tsunami.

Photos of Unimak and Scotch Cap courtesy of USCG. Hawaii photo courtesy of NOAA

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends. View all posts by icefogger

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: