Lighthouses of Guam
Guam is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands
in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Spain colonized the island in 1668
and controlled it until U.S. forces captured it during the Spanish-American
War in 1898. During World War II Guam was occupied by Japanese forces
from late 1941 through July 1944, when it was recaptured by American
forces in bloody fighting.
There are no traditional lighthouses today in Guam, but the island does
have a very poorly known lighthouse history. There are two obvious sites
for lighthouses. Orote Point, on the west side of the island, is a steep
promontory marking the entrance to Apra Harbor, the island's only protected
anchorage and port. Ritidian Point, at the northern tip of the island,
features a precipitous cliff looming over a sandy beach.
Spain built a small lighthouse at Orote Point sometime in the late 1800s.
There are no images of this lighthouse available, and it seems to have
vanished completely. At Ritidian Point, the U.S. built a lighthouse
of some kind in 1932. Again, no images are available. Probably
this lighthouse did not survive World War II.
Today ordinary post lights are in place at both locations. Does anyone
have photos of the Ritidian Point lighthouse, or has anyone seen images
of the Spanish lighthouse at Orote Point? if so, please share what you
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume
M of the
Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers
are from Publication 111. USCG numbers are from
Volume VI of the U.S. Coast Guard Light List.
- General Sources
- World of Lighthouses - Guam
- Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
- Online List of Lights - Guam
- Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
- NOAA Nautical Chart On-Line Viewer: Pacific Islands
- Nautical charts for the island can be viewed online.
Ritidian Point Light, April 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Selena Hoy
- [Ritidian Point (2?)]
- Date unknown (station established 1932). Active; focal plane 175 m (573 ft); white flash every 6 s.
6 m (20 ft) white post light. The tower also carries a black and white, diamond-shaped
daymarker. The light can be seen in Selena Hoy's photo
of the bluff at Ritidian Point; a small portion of this high-resolution photo
appears above. Bing has a satellite view of the site. Pete Payette writes
that a lighthouse was built here in 1932 but was destroyed during the war; according to Michel Forand, a 1933 U.S. Lighthouse Service list describes this as a 13.5 m (44 ft)
skeletal tower, and the same light appears in a 1937 French light list for the Pacific. The modern light stands on the concrete foundation pad of the 1932 lighthouse. In 1993, 385 acres at Ritidian Point were transferred
from the Navy to the Fish and Wildlife Service as the first unit of the Guam
National Wildlife Refuge, but we aren't sure if this includes the light
station. Located high above the northernmost point of the island. There is a road to the light, but it is probably closed to the public. Site probably closed. Admiralty M8382; NGA 10981; USCG 6-30660.
- * [Glass Breakwater]
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white flash every 4 s. 8 m (26 ft) steel post mounted on a concrete pad; the post carries diamond shaped daymarks painted in a black and white checkerboard pattern. A photo is available, Lightphotos.net has a closeup, and Bing has a satellite view. The Glass Breakwater encloses the north side of the entrance to Apra harbor. Built shortly after World War II, it is named for Captain Henry Glass, captain of the U.S. cruiser Charleston, which captured Guam from the Spanish in 1898. Located at the end of the breakwater; accessible by road. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty M8386.2; NGA 10984; USCG 6-30710.
- Apra Outer Harbor Range Rear
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. Approx. 17 m (56 ft) triangular cylindrical skeletal tower carrying a rectangular daymark painted red with a white vertical stripe. Google has a street view, and Bing has a satellite view. The front light is on a post. Located on a peninsula opposite the Guam Port Authority terminal on Cabras Island. Accessible by road, but it's not known if the road is open to the public. Site status unknown. Admiralty M8386.1; NGA 10983.1; USCG 6-30705.
- * [Orote Point (Point Udall) (3?)]
- Date unknown (station established 1929). Active; focal plane 69 m (226 ft); white flash every 5 s.
7 m (23 ft) white concrete post light. The tower also carries a black and
white, diamond-shaped daymarker. No closeup photo available, but there's a
a view from
the sea below, the tower can be seen
in a distant photo of the point, Lightphotos.net also has a distant view, and Google's satellite
view shows the nearby communication towers. Spain built a small lighthouse on Orote Point
late in the 1800s, according to Part B of the National Park Service's report Archaeology and History
of Guam. Nothing remains of this tower. Apparently it did not survive long, since a Secretary of the Navy report in 1904 lamented the lack of a light on Orote Point. There is a popular overlook
on the point very near the light. In 1987 Congress renamed the point for former Arizona congressman Morris Udall, but most residents still call
it Orote Point. Located atop a steep bluff on the south side of the entrance
to Apra harbor, on the southwestern side of the island. The area is a U.S.
Navy reservation but is generally open to visitors with proper identification
(driver's license, car registration, and insurance). Site open, tower closed.
ARLHS GUM-001; Admiralty M8384; NGA 10982; USCG 6-30685.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Notable faux lighthouses:
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Posted July 24, 2008. Checked and revised September 28, 2017.
Lighthouses: 1. Site copyright 2017 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.