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Nonprofit pursuing lease of Alaska’s oldest lighthouse

May 2, 2019
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In this Monday, April 29, 2019 photo Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association Executive Director Sue York speaks to Marine Exchange of Alaska Field Operations Supervisor Nick Hatch at Eldred Rock Lighthouse. Cruise and ferry passengers, as well as locals passing through, can't help but look at the octagonal, white and red structure atop a craggy cliff in the middle of Lynn Canal. If they were able to stop and look closer at the 114-year-old lighthouse, they'd see the bright white paint is peeling and that's the least of the concerns, Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association board member Justin Fantasia said. (Alex McCarthy/The Juneau Empire via AP)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The oldest original lighthouse in Alaska is in dire need of repairs.

The paint on the 114-year-old Eldred Rock Lighthouse atop a cliff in the middle of Lynn Canal is peeling, the Juneau Empire reported on Wednesday.

But Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association board member Justin Fantasia said the greater concern is the chunks of concrete falling from the building.

Fantasia was part of a team that went out to the lighthouse Monday to take stock of what needs to be repaired.

The Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association, with the help of the Marine Exchange of Alaska, is starting the process of taking over the lighthouse to better preserve it.

The U.S. Coast Guard currently owns it, but ERLPA Executive Director Sue York said she’s hoping to work out a lease so the association can take over the lighthouse.

Part of getting that lease is a site assessment where the current state of the lighthouse has to be documented, said Jonathan Wood, the Marine Exchange of Alaska’s representative on the ERLPA board. York took videos of the building, narrating as she went along. Fantasia gave advice about what kind of repairs could be done.

York and Wood both said the lighthouse is significant for the role it’s played in Alaska maritime history.

“Anybody who cares about history and all that, you don’t want to see something like this become a complete eyesore or even worse, collapse and become unrecoverable,” Wood said.

The association has raised awareness about the lighthouse with the Run 4 the Rock race that raises money for the lighthouse. York said there isn’t a fundraising goal yet, but they’re hoping to start ramping up efforts after they get the lease taken care of.

The lighthouse was built in 1905 and has been unmanned and automated since 1973. Its light is currently powered by a solar power panel.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com