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These posters of Boston Light are available at AllPosters.com:

Phare de Boston
Phare de Boston
Guichard, Jean
28 in. x 20 in.
Buy this Art Print at AllPosters.com
Framed   Mounted


Boston Lighthouse
Boston Lighthouse
Arra, Rob
Buy this Poster at AllPosters.com

Boston Light

Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, USA

Boston Light

Light Location: Little Brewster Island (AKA Beacon Island)

First Built: 1716

First Lit: September 14, 1716

Built By: the Colony of Massachusetts

Current Tower Construction & Facts:

  • Year Built: 1783
  • Tower Height: 89 feet
    • It was originally 75 feet.
    • In 1859 it was raised to 89 feet and a new lantern room was added.
    • 76 steps to the top
  • Construction
    • Foundation: Granite Ledge
    • Construction Materials: Rubble Stone/Brick Lining
    • Markings: White with Black Lantern
    • Shape: Conical
    • Relationship to Other Structures: Separate
  • Boston Light Fresnel Lens
  • Focal Plane: 102 feet
  • Material: Stone with brick lining
  • Current Optic: Second Order Fresnel Lens (1859)
    • 12-sided
    • Visible for 27 miles
    • Originally run by a clockwork mechanism that required frequent rewinding
    • Clockwork mechanism replaced with an electric motor shortly after the light itself was electrified
  • Characteristic: Flashing white every 10 seconds
  • Electricity:
  • Automated: 1998
  • Original Optic: Tallow Candles

Fog Signal Facts:

  • Site of the first foghorn in the country
    • Installed in 1719.
    • Requested by third keeper, John Hayes.
    • Originally a cannon fired during times of low visibility
    • The original served for more than 100 years.
  • A fog bell was installed sometime before 1872, when it was retired and replaced by a Daboll compressed air trumpet.
  • The Daboll compressed air trumpet was replaced in 1887 with a steam-driven siren.
  • Currently sounds every 30 seconds in fog

Currently Owned By: United States Government

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts ceded it to the Federal Government in 1789

Currently Managed By: United States Coast Guard

  • Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel are called Watchstanders
    • A new program to train them was started in 2000
    • A four to seven day stay is required for Watchstanders
    • Interested in serving as an Interpreter (tour guide) or Watchstander? Visit the Coast Guard Auxiliary website!
  • National Park Rangers are on-duty on the island when it is open to the public

Accessibility:

Special Facts:

  • Boston Light was the first lighthouse built in America
  • Boston Light is the only manned lighthouse in the United States, guaranteed to be manned by human hands by a special act of Congress in 1989
  • Last lighthouse to be automated on April 16, 19983 but it is still manned.
  • The tower is the country's second oldest lighthouse because the first tower at Boston Light was destroyed in the Revolutionary War.3
  • Listed on the National Register (Reference #66000133)

Other Buildings:

  • Fog Signal Building - 1876
    • Construction Materials: Brick
  • Keeper's House - 1884 (1885?)
    • Located on the opposite end of the island from the tower
    • Built because, with three keepers, the duplex house wasn't large enough for the keepers and their families.
    • Height: Two stories
    • Style: Victorian
    • Construction Materials: Wood
  • Cistern Building - 1884
    • Cistern holds over 20,000 gallons
  • Oil House - 1889
  • Boathouse - 1899
  • Duplex Keeper's House - 1859
    • No longer standing, burned down in 1960 because it was dilapidated and not needed by the Coast Guard
  • Foundations of former auxiliary light

Involvement in Wars:

  • Revolutionary War
    • The British, who had control of Boston, also had control of the lighthouse. In July, 1775 a group of revolutionaries burned the tower but repairs were immediately started by the British.
    • On the 31st of the same month, 300 revolutionaries commanded by Major Tupper under orders from General Washington stormed the lighthouse and burned it beyond repair.
    • The British left on June 13, 1776 and as they left they bombed the lighthouse, completely destroying it.
  • World War II
    • Darkened during the war to prevent illuminating boats for enemy submarines.
    • Re-lit in July 1945

Keepers: There have been more than 60 keepers of Boston Light!

  • Keepers have manned the light since it was first lit.
  • In 1861 a keeper and two assistant keepers were assigned.
  • George Worthylake - First Keeper - Sept. 1716 - Nov. 1718
    • First Lightkeeper in America
    • Earned 50 pounds a year
    • He ran sheep on the islands to supplement his income. He once lost 59 sheep in a storm because he he couldn't abandon his post.
    • Click to Enlarge - Copp's Hill Burying Ground, Boston

    • On November 3, 1718, When returning from Boston after petitioning and getting a raise to 70 pounds per year, his boat capsized and he, his wife, his daughter, Ruth, his friend John Edgewell, and the station slave, Shadwell, drowned. He was survived by his other children who helplessly looked on from shore. The Worthylakes and daughter Ruth are buried in a triple grave at Copp's Hill Burying Ground in Boston's North End overlooking the harbor.
  • Robert Saunders - Second Keeper - November 1718
    • A former sloop captain.
    • Drowned days after assuming his duties.
  • John Hayes - Third Keeper - Nov. 1718 - Nov. 1733
    • Had a gallery installed around the lantern room so he could clear the ice and snow from the glass.
    • Requested, and received, the first foghorn.
    • Set fire to the tower in 1720 and was fined three years pay (216 pounds) but he didn't pay it.1
    • Retired in 1733.
  • Robert Ball - Fourth Keeper - Nov. 1733 - Oct. 1774
    • Served for 40 years, the longest of any keeper.
  • William Minns - 5th Keeper - 1774-1776
  • Thomas Knox - 6th Keeper (in new tower) - Nov. 1783 - 1811
  • Jonathan - Bruce 7th Keeper - 1811-1833
  • Captain David Tower - 8th Keeper- Sept. 1833 - Oct. 1844
  • Joshua Snow - 9th Keeper - Oct. 1844 - Dec. 1844
  • Captain Tobias Cook - 10th Keeper - Dec. 1844 - Oct. 1849
    • Set up a cigar factory on Brewster Island and brought girls out to manufacture "Spanish Cigars" under poor conditions until he was discovered.1 (Editor's note: I have no information on what, if anything, happened to him as a result, contributions are welcome).
  • Captain William Long - 11th Keeper - Oct. 1849 - Sept. 1851
  • Zebedee Small - 12th Keeper - Sept. 1851 - June 1853
  • Hugh Douglass - 13th Keeper - June 1853 - Apr. 1856
  • Moses Barret - 14th Keeper - Apr. 1856 - Nov. 1862
  • Charles E. Blair - 15th Keeper - Nov. 1862 - July 1864
  • Thomas Bates, Jr. - 16th Keeper - July 1864 - Apr. 1893
  • Alfred Williams - 17th Keeper - Apr. 1893 - May 1893
  • Albert M. Horte - 18th Keeper - May 1893 - May 1894
  • Henry L. Pingree - 19th Keeper - May 1894 - Nov. 1909
  • F.E. Tarr - 20th Keeper - Nov. 1909 - Mar. 1910
  • Levi B. Clark - 21st Keeper - Mar. 1910 - Oct. 1911
  • George Kezer - 22nd Keeper - Oct. 1911 - Dec. 1911
  • Mills Gunderson - 23rd Keeper - Dec. 1911 - Apr. 1916
  • Charles H. Jennings - 24th Keeper - May 1916 - 1919
  • Captain James Lelan Hart - 25th Keeper - 1919 - 1926
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Maurice Babcock - 26th Keeper - 1926 - 1941
    • Previously served as keeper at Thacher Island, Bird Island and Gay Head
  • Ralph C. Norwood - 27th Keeper - 1941 - 1945
    • Served as assistant under Maurice Babcock and was promoted as the next keeper
    • Father of Georgia Norwood, the "Storm Child"
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Franklin A. Goodwin - 28th Keeper - 1945
  • Julio DiFuria - 29th Keeper - July 1945 - 1946
  • Eldon W. Beal - 30th Keeper - 1946
  • Leo F. Gracie (Gracia?) - 31st Keeper - 1946-1948
  • Stanley Batt - 32nd Keeper - 1948
  • EN2 Joseph F. Lavigne - 33rd Keeper - 1948-1950
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class John D. Hall - 34th Keeper - 1950
  • Robert C. Merchant - 35th Keeper - 1950-1951
  • EN1 Clinton M. Davis - 36th Keeper - 1951
  • EN1 Ray O. Beard - 37th Keeper - 1951-1952
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Robert A. Reedy - 38th Keeper - 1952
  • John Curran - 39th Keeper - 1952-1953
  • Paul B. Guy - 40th Keeper - 1953-1954
  • Hubert B. Jones - 41st Keeper - 1954-1955
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class John E. Horner - 42nd Keeper - 1955-1959
  • Boatswain's Mate Third Class James B. Collins - 43rd Keeper - 1959 - Apr. 1960
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Gottfried Schiffers - 44th Keeper - Apr. 1960 - 1962
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class William "Mike" Mikelonis - 45th Keeper - 1962 - April 1967
    • Coast Guard Keeper
    • Upon retirement was given the light that burned in the lighthouse on his last day
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Vernon T. Springer - 46th Keeper - Apr. 1967 - 1969
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Allick Rust - 47th Keeper - 1969 - Dec. 1971
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Dennis I. Reed - 48th Keeper - Dec. 1971 - Aug. 1972
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Edward J. O'Shea - 49th Keeper - Aug 1972 - Sept. 1973
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class James H. Clark, Jr. - 50th Keeper - Sept. 1973 - Jan. 1974
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class James H. Turner - 51st Keeper - Jan. 1974 - Oct. 1975
  • Boatswain's Mate Second Class Alan D. Achorn - 52nd Keeper - Oct. 1975 - Apr. 1977
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Carlon F. Brietzke - 53rd Keeper - Apr. 1977 - Oct. 1978
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Marvin D. Gonzalaus - 54th Keeper - Oct. 1978 - Apr. 1980
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class H.L. Murra - 55th Keeper - Apr. 1980 - 1982
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class James F. Burt - 56th Keeper - Aug. 1982 - July 1984
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Paul V. Dodds - 57th Keeper - Feb. 1984 - Oct. 1985
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Guy A. Veillette - 58th Keeper - Oct. 1985 - Apr. 1987
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Joe B. Lanard - 59th Keeper - Apr. 1987 - Nov. 1987
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class K.J. Galvin - 60th Keeper - Nov. 1987 - Apr. 1988
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Dennis Dever - 61st Keeper - Apr. 1988 - Jan. 1990
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Alexander "Sandy" N. Booth - 62nd Keeper - Jan. 1990 - Feb. 1992
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Wesley J. Pannett - 63rd Keeper - Aug. 1992 - June 1995
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Reid Hair - 64th Keeper - June 1995 - June 1997
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Scott Stanton - 65th Keeper - June 1997 - May 1999
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Richard Himelrick - 66th Keeper - June 1999 - May 2001
  • Boatswain's Mate First Class Pedro Gonzales - 67th Keeper - 2001 - ?
  • Sally Snowman - 70?th Keeper - Sept. 2003 - ?
    • First woman Keeper
    • First civilian keeper since 1941

Ghost Stories & Mysterious Happenings

  • Dennis Dever, a keeper, said that his radio would change stations by itself, switching to classical stations from rock.
  • Dever also reported seeing a mysterious figure in the latern room, dressed in an old-fashioned keeper's uniform. When he raced to the tower the room was empty.

Women at the Lighthouse

  • Ana Worthylake
    • First keeper's daughter
    • the first official lighthouse child in America
  • Georgia Norwood
    • Born at Boston Light in 19311 (Editor's note: I have seen 1932 listed as her birthdate as well).
    • Although not born during a storm (her mother had a false alarm a couple weeks before her birth during a storm), she was written about by Ruth Carmen in her fictional novel, Storm Child. Out of Print, this link is to AbeBooks where copies were for sale when I checked.
    • The real story was told by Georgia's son, Willie M. Emerson, in his book, First Light. Out of Print, but check Amazon anyway if interested. Your local library may also have a copy.
  • Josephine Noorwood
    • Wife of Ralph Norwood and mother of Georgia Norwood, the "Storm Child"
  • As referenced above, Tolbia Cook brought girls out to Brewster Island to fraudulently manufacture "Spanish" cigars.
  • Sally Snowman
    • Sally, a Coast Guard Auxiliary member, became, in September 2003, the first civilian keeper since the Coast Guard assumed management of the lighthouse. She is the first woman lighthouse keeper in the history of Boston Light.
    • Sally James Thomson, another Coast Guard Auxiliary member, were married on the island in 1994. They wrote a book, Boston Light: A Historical Perspective. This book is out of print, but can be purchased used from Amazon.com or Abebooks.com.

    Animals at the Lighthouse

    • Dogs
      • Salty
        • Shaggy black dog that lived with Keeper Mike Mikelonis
      • Salty II
      • Farah
        • Disliked being on the mainland
        • Coast Guardsmen painted her toenails pink
      • Shadwell
        • Named after the slave who lived with the first keeper and died with him when their boat capsized.
        • German Shepherd
      • Sammy
        • Black Labrador
        • Came to Boston Light in the summer of 1997
        • Previously served in two other Coast Guard Units
        • Born September 1990
      • Cats
        • Ida Lewis (~1992)
          • Named after a famous American woman lighthouse keeper


      Bibliography

      1. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). "Legendary Lighthouses: Great Lighthouses-North America" [Online] Available http://www.pbs.org/legendarylighthouses/html/natlgl.html, February 17, 2005.

      2. D'Entremont, Jeremy. "Boston Light" [Online] Available http://www.lighthouse.cc/boston/, February 17, 2005.

      3. D'Entremont, Jeremy. "Boston Light History" [Online] Available http://www.lighthouse.cc/boston/history.html, February 18, 2005.

      4. D'Entremont, Jeremy. "Boston Light History" [Online] Available http://www.lighthouse.cc/boston/history2.html, February 21, 2005.

      5. United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. "Boston Light - USCG Auxiliary District 1NR" [Online] Available http://www.uscgaux.org/~013/Boston_light/BosLight.html, February 21, 2005.

      6. ParkNet National Park Service. "Inventory of Historic Light Stations--Massachusetts--Boston Harbor Light" [Online] Available http://www.cr.nps.gov/maritime/light/boston.htm, February 25, 2005.

      7. Snowman, Sally. BostonLightkeepers: a comprehensive guide to Boston Light including its history and visitor information" [Online] Available http://www.bostonlightkeepers.com/, February 25, 2005.

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