Boston Light on Little Brewster Island, MA

Boston Light on Little Brewster Island, MA, photo by Chuck Turk

300 is a big number. And it’s worth celebrating,

Since this is my 300th post on this blog, it is a special anniversary for me. And fittingly, I get to share it with a lighthouse. Not just any lighthouse, but the first light station ever built on America’s soil – Boston Light.

In colonial America, Boston’s natural harbor was one of the country’s busiest.  Responding to a plea by Boston merchants, Boston’s first lighthouse was built on Little Brewster Island to guide ships going to the harbor. The lighthouse was first lit on September 14, 1716, and three years later, John Hayes, the third keeper of the lighthouse requested “some sort of gun” with which to communicate to ships in the fog.  Consequently, in 1719, a cannon was added to the property, becoming the country’s first fog signal. In 1851, the cannon was replaced by a 1375-pound fog bell.

Boston Light's keeper' House, photo by Chuck Turk

Boston Light keeper’s House, photo by Chuck Turk

Boston Light with Fog Bell, photo by Logan Lyttle

Boston Light with Fog Bell, photo by Logan Lyttle


Because of its importance to the harbor, the lighthouse became contested property between the British and the colonists during the Revolutionary War As a result, the tower was blown up by the British as they left the area.


In 1780, Massachusetts Governor John Hancock requested funding for a replacement, and the new tower was built, then lit in 1783.


By 1989, every lighthouse in America had been automated except Boston Light.  Preservationists convinced the state to maintain the lighthouse property as a living museum of lighthouse history.  Even though the light was eventually automated in 1998, the Coast Guard Stipulation Act of 1989 required that the light be operated and manned by the Coast Guard on a permanent basis.

Boston Light Station still has many of its original buildings – the keeper’s house, oil house, fog signal house, and cistern building, as well as the tower itself, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Little Brewster Island is now part of the Boston Islands National Recreation Area and has national park rangers on duty during the summer months.

Keeper Sally Snowman waving a welcome at Boston Light

Keeper Sally Snowman waving a welcome at Boston Light, MA, photo by Chuck Turk


The first lighthouse station in America, Boston Light is also the last one to have a keeper. In 2003, Sally Snowman was appointed by the Coast Guard to be a civilian keeper at the light, a position she still holds, serving as a tour guide while the Coast Guard maintains the mechanics of the light.  Sally, a native of Boston, is the 70th keeper of the light and the first female appointed to the position.

You can see Sally today when you visit the light waving her handkerchief as you approach, just as women at light stations have done for centuries as they welcomed mariners back home.

Boston Light, Me and Sally

Sally and Me at Boston Light, MA, photo by Chuck Turk



I had the honor of meeting Sally and visiting Boston Light this year, and now feel a deeper connection to the lighthouse history of this nation. If you have the opportunity to be in the Boston area, please schedule a trip to the lighthouse. If you can’t, you might want to get the book Sally and her husband wrote about the lighthouse, Boston Light, A Historical Perspective.



“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.” Deut. 32:7


Bsston Lights, MA, photo by Chuck Turk

Bsston Lights, MA, photo by Chuck Turk