Boston Light: America’s First Lighthouse Marks 300th Anniversary


bostonlightBoston Light, the country’s first lighthouse, was built 300 years ago on Little Brewster Island, Massachusetts. And she’s been guiding mariners into Boston Harbor ever since.


A Historical Treasure
First lit by candle on September 14, 1716, the original lighthouse structure was a rubblestone tower about 60 feet high.

 Over three centuries, Boston Light has undergone a multitude of repairs and renovations. She has been damaged not only by fires and storms, but also by war. During the Revolutionary War, the lighthouse was burned twice by patriot troops and was ultimately torched and destroyed by British forces as they left Boston in 1776.

In 1783, Massachusetts rebuilt Boston Light—this time as 74-foot high tower, lit by fish oil lamps.

In 1948, under the management of the Coast Guard, Boston Light was converted to electrical power. Today, she is equipped with a 1,800,000 candlepower light that can be seen from 27 nautical miles away.

In 1964, Boston Light was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

In 1989, Congress passed legislation requiring the station to be permanently staffed, making Boston Light the only remaining manned lighthouse in America. Coast Guard Auxiliarist Sally Snowman has been serving as the Boston Lighthouse keeper since 2003. She is the 70th keeper (and the first female) to hold the position.


Aid to Navigation
Boston Light is the oldest Aid to Navigation (ATON) in America. Today, the Coast Guard ATON system—which enables navigators to determine their position, chart a safe course and steer clear of hazards—has grown to include more than 48,000 federal buoys, beacons, and electronic aids.

“More than 73 million Americans are involved in maritime commerce, commercial fishing and recreational boating on our waterways, and we help them to get home safely,” said Capt. Scott J. Smith, the chief of the Coast Guard Office of Navigation Systems. “Our vast Aids to Navigation system started with the Boston Lighthouse and we celebrate its enduring contribution to our nation, our economy and our maritime heritage.”

Happy 300th Anniversary, Boston Light!


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