Lighthouse Keeper, Boston Harbor, and The Boston Light (1715.07.23)


The Massachusetts General Court authorized construction of the first lighthouse in America in Boston’s Outer Harbor on this date in 1715.  We hope you can find your way to the safe harbor of KRNN for a Boston Light tribute on Crosscurrents, 7/23 at 8 am.  BOSTON LIGHTHOUSE ON CROSSCURRENTS, 7/23 at 8 am  LIVE ON-AIR LINK:


The historic Boston Harbor lighthouse, known as Boston Light to locals, was built in 1716 on Little Brewster Island, a spot of land 8 miles east of Boston.

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: Separat

             Benjamin Franklin, 12 years old at the time, was urged by his brother to write a poem based on the disaster. The young Franklin wrote a poem called The Lighthouse Tragedy and hawked copies on the streets of Boston. Franklin later wrote in his autobiography that the poem was “wretched stuff,” although it “sold prodigiously.”

                A cannon, America’s first fog signal, was placed on the island in 1719. Passing ships would fire their cannons when passing nearby in times of fog, and the keeper would reply with a blast from the light station. The cannon, cast in 1700 and possibly relocated from Long Island in the inner harbor, served on Little Brewster Island for 132 years.

                        In 1794, Knox’s yearly salary as keeper was set by the federal government at $266.67, which was raised to $333.33 in 1796.

                   Although I have not read very much about the Light, I did notice a story onlineabout a dog after my time out there. When I arrived on the island, there was a
dog there named “Bear,”  a black Newfoundlander; it was rumored she was givento the Light by Mr. Snow and was sixteen years-old in 1968.

            By 1989, the Coast Guard had automated almost every lighthouse in the United States and Boston Light was scheduled to be the last in this process. Preservation groups appealed to Congress and the Coast Guard, and with the help of Senator Edward M. Kennedy funding was appropriated to keep Coast Guard staff on Little Brewster, making the island a living museum of lighthouse history

                    In September 2003, Sally Snowman was appointed as the new civilian keeper — the first civilian keeper since the Coast Guard took over in 1941, and the first woman keeper in the lighthouse’s long history.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.