Baker Island Light

United States Minor Possessions – Pacific Ocean

Jarvis Island Light
Jarvis Island Light

At the beginning of World War II, an Imperial Japanese Navy submarine surfaced off the west coast of the Island.  Believing that it was a U.S. Navy submarine which had come to fetch them, the four young colonists rushed down the steep western beach in front of Millersville towards the shore.  The submarine answered their waves with fire from its deck gun, but no one was hurt in the attack.  On February 7, 1942, the USCGC Taney evacuated the colonists, then shelled and burned the dwellings.  The roughly cleared landing area on the island’s northeast end was later shelled by the Japanese, leaving crater holes.

International Geophysical Year:

Jarvis was visited by scientists during the International Geophysical Year from July 1957 until November 1958.  In January 1958 all scattered building ruins from both the nineteenth century guano diggings and the 1935–1942 colonization attempt were swept away without a trace by a severe storm which lasted several days and was witnessed by the scientists.  When the IGY research project ended the island was abandoned again.  By the early 1960s a few sheds, a century of accumulated trash, the scientists’ house from the late 1950s and a solid, short lighthouse-like day beacon built two decades before were the only signs of human habitation on Jarvis.

National Wildlife Refuge:

On June 27, 1974, Secretary of the Interior Rogers Morton created Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge which was expanded in 2009 to add submerged lands within 12 nautical miles of the island.  The refuge now includes 1,273 acres of land and 428,580 acres of water.  Along with six other islands, the island was administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  In January 2009, that entity was upgraded to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument by President George W. Bush.

Jarvis Island NWR
Jarvis Island NWR

A feral cat population, descendants of cats likely brought by colonists in the 1930s, wrought disruption to the island’s wildlife and vegetation.  These cats were removed through efforts which began in the mid-1960s and lasted until 1990 when they were completely eradicated.  Nineteenth-century tram track remains can be seen in the dried lagoon bed at the island’s center and the late 1930s-era lighthouse-shaped day beacon still stands on the western shore at the site of Millersville.

Public entry to any one including US citizens on Jarvis Island requires a special-use permit and is generally restricted to scientists and educators.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Coast Guard periodically visit Jarvis.


There is no airport on the island, nor does the island contain any large terminal or port.  There is a day beacon near the middle of the west coast. Some offshore anchorage is available.

Kingman Reef


Kingman Reef is a largely submerged, uninhabited triangular-shaped reef, 9.5 nautical miles east-west and 5 nautical miles north-south, located in the North Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between the Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa.  It is the northernmost of the Northern Line Islands and lies 36 nautical miles northwest of the next closest island, and 930 nautical miles south of Honolulu.

Scroll to Top