Oktoberfest raises funds for SE lighthouse group

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2002

A German buffet, music and dancing will help raise money for the nonprofit group restoring the Five Finger Lighthouse south of Juneau.

The Oktoberfest celebration will be Saturday, Oct. 12, at Mike's Place restaurant in Douglas. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the Juneau Lighthouse Association event. Tickets are $35 and are available at both locations of Hearthside Books. Advance purchase is recommended.

The Alaskan Brewery is co-sponsoring the event, which will include an award ceremony for the Autumn Pour Homebrew competition. Door prizes will be handed out and special consideration will be given to those who appear in Oktoberfest costume. All proceeds will benefit the restoration of Five Finger Lighthouse.

"We had a very busy and productive summer down at Five Finger this last year. The Juneau Lighthouse Association completed the painting of the lighthouse and outbuilding structures with the help of member volunteers," said association member Jennifer Klein. "The Coast Guard, through a subcontractor, spent thousands of dollars cleaning the soil around the lighthouse and removed unused fuel tanks."

Over the summer, mystery writer Sue Henry and friends spent a week working at the lighthouse and doing research for a new book featuring Five Finger Lighthouse.

Five Finger Light Station is the site of the first U.S. lighthouse to be completed and operational in Alaska. It is 64 miles south of Juneau at the entry of Stephens Passage and Frederick Sound.

Increased shipping in Alaska's Inside Passage due to the Yukon gold rush and discovery of the rich fishing grounds convinced the federal government to appropriate more than $425,000 to establish six light stations in Alaska.

On March 1, 1902 the lanterns at Five Finger Light Station and Sentinel Island Lighthouse were lit, signaling a new era in Alaska maritime history. The original Five Finger structure burnt to the ground in 1933 and was replaced with a reinforced concrete structure in 1935. In 1984 Five Finger became the last Alaska lighthouse to be unmanned and in 1997 the Coast Guard awarded a 30-year lease to the Juneau Lighthouse Association.

The association's intent is to preserve and maintain the lighthouse and make it accessible to the public, Klein said.

Once restored, the association hopes to establish a marine research site and a public educational facility focusing on the marine and maritime significance of this area.

"Visitors to the island will experience the workings of a lighthouse on a remote site while enjoying the unparalleled beauty of this area," Klein said.

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