Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!
We were planning to be in Boston for a long weekend and so I checked the National Park Service website to see what park units we could visit while there. What a pleasant surprise it was to find that the NPS run tours out to some of the islands in Boston Harbor!
We chose the Boston Light tour out to Little Brewster island. The Boston Lighthouse was built in 1716, which makes it the oldest working light in the United States…over 300 years old. The British occupied it during the Revolutionary War. Subsequently, the Patriots destroyed it.
Since the lighthouse was rebuilt in 1783, it is not the oldest US lighthouse. That honor goes to the Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey. In 1989, the Senate passed a law requiring that Boston Light always be manned. The NPS maintains the light in cooperation with the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard automated the actual beacon. The Keepers maintain the facilities and serve as tour guides.
We met the park rangers at the visitors center kiosk in town, near the carousel and Quincy Market. They led our group to a boat docked behind the aquarium.
The ride through the harbor to Little Brewster took about 45 minutes. One of the rangers talked about the history of the various islands during our journey. Along the way, we passed a fort from revolutionary war days, the Long Island Light and other sights. We had fantastic views of Boston as we pulled away.
When we arrived at Little Brewster Island, Sally, the light-keeper greeted us, dressed in colonial-era attire. Sally is the 70th keeper of Boston Light…and the first woman in the role in its long history. She and her coast guard husband live alone out on that isolated island!
Sally, her husband and the rangers each led the tour through the various stations on the island. We climbed the steps inside the lighthouse for a close-up look at the inner workings and the view from the top.
We explored tide pools below the keeper’s house and a cistern that provides the light keeper’s house with collected rain water.
Some tips…there is no shade on the island. Wear sunscreen, a hat, bring water. There is no public restroom on the island and the boat does not stay docked while you tour the island…use the boat’s facilities on the journey.
Location: Boston, MA
Designation: National Recreation Area
Date designated/established: November 12, 1996
Date of my visit: July 17, 2015