Pt. Retreat HistoryThe Lighthouses of Southeast Alaska were built in response to a number of dramatic and highly publicized shipwrecks associated with the gold rush in Alaska. In the late 1890s, watercraft of every description converged upon the Pacific Northwest ports to sail north. Once they passed British Columbian waters, there were few guides through the Inside Passage. Fog, rain, strong tides, and a rocky shoreline made this passage particularly difficult, especially for large steamships overloaded with prospectors and freight. By the time the construction of Southeast Lighthouses was funded by Congress, the gold rush was winding down, but still the vessel traffic continued to grow as fishing and other commercial enterprises took root and flourished in Alaska.